Will Obaseki Survive This Battle?

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With Governor Godwin Obaseki out of the equation within the APC, the options before him are very limited. Adibe Emenyonu reports

There are other political parties in the race to the Edo State Governorship election slated for September 19 this year apart from the two rooted rivals, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Before now, analysts had predicted a two-way fight, that is, a contest between candidates of the ruling APC, and the PDP.

But, as it is now, the political space may be expanded to accommodate more than the predicted two-way due to the outcome the screening of aspirants by the APC, which disqualified the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and two others namely: Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, an ally of the governor and Dr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, a strong supporter of Adams Oshiomhole from contesting on its platform.

Though the party provided a window through the appeal panel set up alongside the screening committee, there is no likelihood that Obaseki and Iduoriyekemwen will appeal.
But Obaseki, who first reacted said he would not appeal what he described as his unjust disqualification by the Governorship Primary Screening Committee of the (APC), noting that the action is ‘a mockery of the democratic process.’

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki said, “We have watched the mockery of democratic process, which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, is administering and superintending over in our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It has been an unfortunate, disheartening and dreadful spectacle.

“We had initially asserted that going by the open display and enthronement of illegality by one man in the party that comprises several organs and eminent personalities, there is no way that Governor Godwin Obaseki would get a fair assessment in the run up to the nomination of candidates to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election.

“It is unfortunate that this open show of shame, illegality and travesty of justice is the brand of democracy, which Comrade Oshiomhole has reduced the APC into. The situation is quite saddening, because this is a party supposedly reputed for change, equity and social justice.

“We have, therefore, decided that it would be effort in futility to appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation and screening process of the APC will be, especially, when Comrade Oshiomhole has declared that he is the Supreme Court and ultimate determiner of the fate and future of our great party.

“We wish Oshiomhole luck in his maladministration of the party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to find the path to true liberty, freedom and justice. We call on all party members and the teeming supporters of Governor Obaseki to remain calm and await further directives,” he added

However, Obaseki might be standing alone here as information available to THISDAY indicated that the other two disqualified aspirants, Ogiemwonyi and Iduoriyekemwen have said they would take their case to the party appeal panel.

Iduoriyekemwen through a source close to him said since his only offence was taking the party to court on the mode of primary, “I will appeal the outcome of what the Screening Committee did”, adding that the body failed to limit itself with screening but at the same time became a disciplinary body.

Similarly, Ogiemwonyi has indicated his readiness to appeal his disqualification, acknowledging discrepancies in the spelling of his name during issuance of certificate, adding that he has already sworn an affidavit to correct it and will soon make it available to the appeal panel for consideration.

Going by this latest development, it is obvious that APC may not have Obaseki on their ballot for the primary but those who scaled through or may be allowed to contest after the outcome of report from the appeal panel.
Should this happen, what is the next line of action for the Edo State governor? Will he just retire like that? Or will he seek another political platform to actualise his second term ambition?

The second option is likely going to answer the questions flowing from the feelers that there are two plans in the offing. One, according to information valuable to THISDAY, is that he had secretly registered in his ward 4, Oredo as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knowing full well that going by the political difference between him and Oshiomhole, and with the failed plot to remove Oshiomhole as APC chair, which he championed, he might not get Justice.

Another consideration is getting tickets in a different party other than the PDP. According to a strong source, the governor has perfected move to cross to the Action Alliance (AA) one of the political parties allegedly floated by a former governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha to help his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu to actualise his governorship ambition.

Although all these allegations have been debunked by his loyalists, one thing is certain and that is, it’s not over for the embattled governor of Edo State as according to a party chief loyal to his course, “whether Oshiomhole likes it or not, Obaseki will contest the state governorship election and he is going to win.”
When this is achieved, the party chief continued, “Everyone including Oshiomhole will be put to shame that no man is God.” Chairman of the Edo APC loyal to Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua also gave allusions to this when he spoke Friday evening, while speaking to party supporters to remain calm following the disqualification of Obaseki, noting that the governor has performed credibly and would be reelected for a second term.

Though Ojezua did not spell out how, he simply said: “They didn’t say he will not contest the election but that he will not contest under the platform of the APC.”
Against this backdrop, there is credence that one of the two options highlighted earlier may be adopted by the faction.

Should this happen, it will be a battle royale between party members loyal to the governor, and who are majorly political appointees, the 10 member state house of assembly and others sympathetic to his cause, while those to wage war for Oshiomhole and his group will comprise of other APC faithful, which includes the 14 members-elect, who were refused inauguration and the five APC House of Representatives members.
Although the battle has just begun, it is clearly no longer fluid as events have begun to assume shape. The jury is still out.