Edo Primary Will be Transparent, APC Assures Obaseki

Godwin Obaseki
  • Court adjourns suit seeking to knock out Ize-Iyamu

Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The All Progressives Congress (APC) thursday assured Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, of its impartiality in the process that will throw up its governorship candidate in the September election in the state.

It said the party would be transparent and be fair to all aspirants in the primary scheduled for June 22.
The assurance came against the backdrop of Wednesday’s call by Obaseki for APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, to recuse himself from the process of picking the party’s governorship candidate.

Obaseki and Oshiomhole have been locked in a power struggle for the control of the state chapter of the party, triggering a war of attrition that has led to the factionalisation of APC in Edo State.

The governor had advocated Oshiomhole’s recusal on the ground that he is interested as no fewer than four persons from the APC national chairman’s camp of the party in the state, including a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, are gunning for the party’s ticket to stop Obaseki’s second term bid.

Obaseki feared that Oshiomhole, his predecessor, might not be fair to him, having openly supported Ize-Iyamu to emerge as the APC governorship candidate.

APC also said it has a register of all its members nationwide and would comply with the recent directive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to submit the Edo State version, ahead of the primary.

However, despite talking tough on the crisis in the state chapter of the party, Obaseki yesterday launched a troubleshooting deal to resolve the differences between him and the Oshiomhole group.

The governor named the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Hon. Simon Lalong; Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Senator Ehigie Uzamere, to reconcile members of the Edo State House of Assembly.

The non-swearing of 14 members of the state legislature, who belong to the Oshiomhole group is one of the sore points fuelling the crisis in the state chapter of the party.

However, APC spokesman, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, told THISDAY yesterday that while he is unaware why Obaseki asked the national chairman to recuse himself from the process of the primary, he said the party would be fair to all the aspirants.

He stated: ‘’I don’t know what informed the comment of His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki. I am sure our national chairman is capable of responding to that. But the governor didn’t say the party should recuse itself. In any case, I don’t know the role the national chairman is going to play.

‘’APC, as a party, will be fair to all the aspirants; we will be very transparent in the process leading to the primary and the primary will be conducted in a transparent manner in line with the constitution of our party.’’

He also responded to the recent request by the INEC for Edo APC’s membership register, ahead of the primary, saying the party will do the ‘’needful.’’

‘’APC is one party; the National Working Committee (NWC) has its membership register across the country. And we will comply with the directive of INEC. There is no controversy over that,’’ Issa-Onilu said.

However, a former Executive Director of Media and Publicity to Oshiomhole, Mr. John Mayaki, has faulted Obaseki’s call that the party’s national chairman should steer clear of the governorship primary.

Mayaki, who is now the Director of Communication and Media, Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, said: “Obaseki argues that by the virtue of his perceived feud with Oshiomhole, the party chairman will exert influence over the primary process to the disadvantage of himself, the governor.

‘’But that is a nonsensical argument, an unwarranted demand. Mr. Adams Oshiomhole is the party’s national chairman, one elected in a national convention, hence mandated by the party people’s will and constitution, to preside and oversee all activities concerning the party.

“How then will Obaseki, in his arrogant overestimation of his authority, demand that the national chairman abandon his responsibility? But if we must follow Obaseki’s logic, then it will imply that he, as the state governor, who wields and can exert influence over the state, should as well stop being governor so he would not influence the primary election process to the benefit of himself or the disadvantage of others.’’

Obaseki Asks Lalong, Sanwo-Olu, Uzamere, to Reconcile State Assembly

Obaseki has, however, raised a three-member panel, comprising Lalong, Sanwo-Olu, and Uzamere, to reconcile members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly.

In a statement yesterday by Obaseki’s spokesman, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, the governor said the constitution of the reconciliation committee was part of moves to restore harmony and peace in the state chapter of the APC.

The governor said he was committed to peace, adding that a united front would make the party stronger, more cohesive, and help to foster more development in the state.

He added that the committee, which commences work immediately, will reach out to all parties in the dispute and ensure that all grey areas are addressed.

Court Adjourns Suit Seeking to Knock out Ize-Iyamu

An Edo State High Court, sitting in Benin City, yesterday reserved proceedings in the suit seeking to restrain Ize-Iyamu from parading himself as an aspirant entitled to participate in the state APC primary.

Joined in the suit are APC, as the first defendant; Oshiomhole sued for himself and on behalf of the National Working Committee of APC as the second defendant; and Ize-Iyamu as the third defendant.

Pastor Kenneth Asekomhe on behalf of the factional state executive loyal to Obaseki; Mr. Benjamin Oghumu, on behalf of himself and Executive Committee of APC in Orhiomwon Local Government Area and Mr. Matthew Ogbebor, on behalf of himself and the Executive Committee of Ugbogbo Wards 5, (all plaintiffs/claimants) approached the court for an order, restraining Ize-Iyamu from parading himself as an APC aspirant.

The claimants also demanded an order of the court, restraining the APC from recognising Ize-Iyamu as an aspirant of the party in its primary, scheduled for June 22 or any other date, to select a candidate to represent it in the state governorship election slated for September 19.

The claimants also want an order restraining the APC from granting a waiver to Ize-Iyamu to participate in the APC primary.

According to the claimants who were represented by Mr. Kenneth Mozia (SAN) and Mr. Santos Owootori, they sought to know whether Article 31(2) of APC constitution is not in conflict with Section 177(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, as it relates to qualification for election to the office of a governor.

They also wanted to know whether having regard to the provision of Section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, if the APC can validly grant a waiver to Ize-Iyamu to make him eligible to contest in the primary, among others.

However, an argument ensued when defendants’ lawyers, led by Mr. H.O. Ogbodu (SAN), and Mr. Victor Oyosuma, appeared in the matter and demanded to be served the motion papers and originating summons.

Consequently, Justice H. Ahaomoje declined to grant the ex-parte motion but instead gave the defendants 10 days to file their response while counsel to the claimants were given two days to reply.

Justice Ahaomoje adjourned the case till June 17.

Obaseki Appoints New Information Commissioner

Meanwhile, Obaseki has approved the immediate appointment of Mr. Efe Stewart, as the new Commissioner for Information and Orientation.

His appointment followed the resignation of the incumbent, Mr. Paul Ohonbamu.

The approval for Stewart’s appointment was contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, who said the appointment was with immediate effect.

Until his appointment, Stewart was the Public Relations Officer, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Uselu in Benin City.

He is from Ward 9, Egor Local Government Area (LGA) in Edo State and a top contender for the Chairmanship of Egor LGA, in the last local council elections.

Ohonbamu’s resignation came barely nine weeks after the Chief of Staff to Obaseki, Mr. Taiwo Akerele, quit his position.

Ohonbamu was a two-time member of the Edo State House of Assembly, who was at various times the minority leader and deputy speaker.

In his letter of resignation, dated June 4, 2020, and addressed to Obaseki, the former commissioner, said: “I have decided to step aside as a cabinet member and operate outside‎ it for the general good of Edo State and pursuit of happiness for the citizens.”

Reacting to the resignation of Ohonbamu, Obaseki, through his spokesman, Osagie, told THISDAY that the development was no evidence of any crack in the Obaseki’s camp, adding that team is focused.

“There is no crack whatsoever in our camp. We are very intact; very firm and focused on our political process. But in any political process, there are people with sub-optimal integrity. These people did not resign because they wanted to resign; they resigned because they knew that they did not fit into the process. If you notice, you will know that we always have immediate replacements for them because we know them. We are not taken by surprise and that is why we have an immediate replacement,” the governor explained.