Is Obaseki, Oshiomhole Feud Insolvable?

Osinbajo, Obaseki and Oshiomhole...will they ever work together again

With the obvious failure of preventive diplomacy, there might be no more solutions to the feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his godfather, Adams Oshiomhole writes Adibe Emenyonu

Looking at the hardline posturing of Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State ahead of next year’s governorship election in the state, following their seemingly irreconcilable difference, the choices before them are even the more unattractive.

Since the dispute between the two, there had been several moves to make them sheathe their sword for the purpose of next year’s governorship election and ultimately in larger interest, but all had been to no avail. Both of them are still talking tough like garrison commanders while their followers not only applaud, but have also pic ked up the gauntlets.

THISDAY gathered that the revered Benin Monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II had on several occasions intervened in the dispute. One of such moves had necessitated his visit to Aso Rock to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to talk to the two of them so that peace could reign and development given its pride of place.

There was also the reported mediation by two mutual friends to the two of them, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group and the Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to make peace. That also failed.

It was also learnt that at some point, though not verified, the APC National Leader, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu had spoken to both Oshiomhole and Obaseki to give peace a chance.

Rather than harken to these voices of reason, the duo had continued to carry on in their warfare in an even fiercer manner than anticipate.

Thus, with these hardline posturing, many fear that the Zamfara and Rivers States scenarios, which played out during the last governorship election that led to the defeat of the APC by the rival PDP could repeat itself.
There is no denying the fact that Obaseki has endeared himself to a large percentage of the people, and much more with the comic propaganda of “I don’t want to share Edo money to politicians”, which of course has resonated with a majority of the people and earned him huge support from even voters outside his party, where he has earned some sort of notoriety from powers that be.

His abolition of touting remains pleasant with the people following the air of freedom commercial vehicle drivers now breathe.

“Obaseki’s style of governance is blending investment with politics to ensure Edo people are happy”, said Taiwo Akerele, Chief of Staff to the governor, who claimed his principal was unequalled.

But now that the governor has fallen out with his party’s national chairman, can his support base help him win the governorship ticket cum election next year with or without his party, APC?

This also leads to the question of which party is Governor Obaseki going to contest in 2020 in Edo State, if eventually he lost the party’s ticket. As it stands, many of the permutations have remained fluid and scary.
If he remained in the APC, can he win the party’s primary election? If he decided to defect, can his popularity earn him victory? And if the APC denied him ticket, can the APC win without him?

These questions are germane to the context of debate, first, because the governor has fallen irreparably with the APC at the national level, aside being in the same duel with his chairman, Oshiomole, which is now a public show that needs no further inquisition. For him to clinch the party’s ticket would be another wonder of the world.
This, as gathered, has further fuelled the speculations that he wanted to dump the APC for another party. The accusation first came from a chieftain of the party and Edo 2020 governorship aspirant, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere during a media briefing in Benin City, which was also echoed by Chief Press Secretary to Oshiomhole, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem.

Obaseki has, however, denied the allegation of leaving APC saying, “APC belongs to us; we are going nowhere”. He gave this assurance, when he received members of the Godwin Obaseki Support Group (GOSG).
He also noted that the misbehaviour of a handful of individuals in the party would not make him leave the party for them, rather, they should be the ones to leave.

Unfortunately, the denial and tough stance of Obaseki on APC have not in any way dissuaded his opponents, who have continued to allege that he has perfected plans to defect to Action Alliance, the political party formed by former Governor Rochas Okorocha for his son in-law, Uche Nwosu to actualise his governorship.

Those accusing him said the move came after his failed attempt to curry the favour of rival PDP to fly their flag.

A reliable source from the state APC, who pleaded anonymity, opined that the option for AA came when the move to dump APC for PDP failed. The source informed that the PDP option failed to click, because the party leadership feared Obaseki has the tendency to display the same attitude that made him fall out with his APC leaders. “It will amount to political immortality if tomorrow he comes and wishes to be given the ticket on a platter of gold, because already, PDP has at least three aspirants vying, namely; Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, an Abuja-based school proprietor and businessman; Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, former governorship candidate of the party in 2016; and Hon. Ogbeide Ihama, presently representing Oredo federal constituency in the House of Representatives”, said another PDP faithful, who also craved anonymity.

Since the PDP option failed, another question is, will Obaseki form his own political party and cause a kind of mass movement with some ethnic tilt behind him? But that might seem a structurally deficient tactics that hardly works in Nigeria

A likely viable option, according a political analyst, is to fine a way to reconcile with his party and forge ahead. But unfortunately, that appears even more impossible as there is believed to be something much deeper that is responsible for their fight that nobody knows except the two in the ring.

Again, should Obaseki be forced out of APC, will the party be able to win the election in Edo going by the formidable strength of the opposition PDP in Edo State. To answer those remains the responsibility of the Oshiomhole-led APC. And the to do that is to cultivate tolerance of divergent views as a fragmented military force hardly wins battles, otherwise, Edo might likely join the league of states governed by the opposition party, not necessarily the PDP.

Nevertheless, ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Edo State, the state chapter of the PDP at a meeting recently, resolved not to zone the positions of chairman and governorship seat, which is strategic.
The party, it was learnt, has perfected plans and would cash in on the near irredeemable crisis in the state APC to leverage.

For the first time since he left office in 2007, former governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, came out openly to participate in a PDP function by hosting a stakeholders’ meeting with a resolve to seek the best materials for the positions of governor and state party chairman, irrespective of senatorial district.

Not only that, the party leaders also discussed the roadmap to 2020 with all the speakers – from Chief Tom Ikimi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who spoke on behalf of Edo Central; Senator Victor Oyofo, two-time Senator, who spoke on behalf of Edo North; and an affirmation from Igbinedion for Edo South. The plot was to win the governorship election.

And should APC, because of irreconcilable differences between its warring leaders, allows this to fester than necessary, victory might slip off away its grip and might be left gnashing its teeth while the opposition savours a long-sought victory.