Titanic Battle Looms in Edo as PDP Woos Gov Obaseki

Godwin Obaseki
  • APC mobilises Captain Hosa Okunbo as counterforce

Olawale Olaleye

The raging disagreement between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his estranged benefactor and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, may have finally come to a head, with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stepping into the battle, THISDAY has learnt. PDP is said to be making quiet overtures to Obaseki to get him to defect.

But in a seeming counter offensive, a section of the governing APC in the state is alleged to be making frantic moves to poach a prominent businessman and philanthropist, Captain Hosa Okunbo, as a choice that could undo Obaseki’s calculations in his bid to secure re-election.

Should Obaseki defect to PDP, and Okunbo caves in to the APC overtures to fly its flag, then a titanic race would be in the offering. The PDP is quite formidable in Edo State and the stakes couldn’t be higher in such a scenario. Edo State is the only state under the APC control in the entire South-South zone. Should Obaseki defect to the PDP, the APC would have lost its only presence in the zone while the PDP would consolidate its grip. Okunbo is an immensely successful businessman with a massive war chest and name recognition in the Edo state and beyond. He is very well connected in business and political circles.

Obaseki and Oshiomhole have had a running battle for some time over political interests. Both men had engaged in a hushed battle until the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly, when the governor seemed to outwit his former boss by influencing the choice of the speaker.

Oshiomhole fiercely condemned the development, saying the action of the governor cannot stand the test of the laws of the land. But Obaseki responded, saying Oshiomhole has openly shown bias. Although Oshiomhole has since that initial exchange appeared to have reclined to his shell, Obaseki has continued to make public statements, suggesting that all is not well.

Apart from dismissing recent moves by the House of Representatives to intervene in the matter, the most recent of Obaseki’s vituperations was the allegation that someone was scheming to use state lawmakers to control him. It was an apparent reference to Oshiomhole over the recent battle for the soul of the assembly.
In addition, Obaseki has begun moves to probe some contracts in the state awarded during Oshiomhole’s tenure.

It was amid this unsavoury situation within the ranks of the APC that the PDP was said to have stepped in and tried to woo Obaseki to run on their platform and worry less about the harm the APC and Oshiomhole could do his re-election bid.

But in apparent anticipation of the antics of the governor, the APC was said to have pondered a counter move and in the process narrowed down to Okunbo to tackle Obaseki and give him a run for his money.

When THISDAY contacted him , Okunbo did not deny the moves. He merely responded, “Not for now,” an answer that could mean he was yet to give a definite response to the APC.

Similarly, when the PDP leadership was contacted, an officer, who pleaded anonymity, said, “That’s a plan and strategy no serious politician would let out at this time. Just wait for it.”

From all indications, the real battle is just beginning in Edo State, with Obaseki and Oshiomhole clearly at dagger’s drawn over control of the state. Although a few other sources in the APC had said efforts were being made by some persons in the party to end the crisis by reconciling both parties, it is not known yet whether the two gladiators would be willing to submit to the new reconciliation moves.