* Advises governor to defect to PDP
* Accuses Oshiomhole of masterminding process
By Deji Elumoye
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, on Monday added his voice to the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State from seeking re-election by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), describing the action as condemnable, very unfortunate, irresponsible, reckless and appalling.
Clark, in a statement personally signed by him entitled: “Edo State APC Crisis: No Individual is Bigger than Nigeria”, advised Obaseki to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if APC fails to upturn his disqualification, and fingered the National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, as the mastermind of the exercise.
The former First Republic federal Information Commissioner said: “I condemn, in the strongest terms, the disqualification of the incumbent Governor of Edo State by the APC screening committee under the leadership of a Professor, Ayuba Jonathan, over alleged inconsistencies in the governor’s academic credentials.
“What the Professor Ayuba Jonathan-led APC screening committee did is a shame to the academic world, not listening or accepting the statement from the Registrar of the University of Ibadan, the country’s premier university, instead, it resorted to adopting pettiness and irregularities, to achieve a predetermined outcome. The subsequent upholding of that illegitimate decision by the APC Appeal Committee is yet another action that leaves a sour taste in the mouth.”
According to the Niger Delta leader, these developments reminded him of one of the recent warnings by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of likely crisis in Edo and Ondo States if the party’s primary and general election are not properly conducted, drawing inference from the crisis which took place in both Rivers and Bayelsa States where more than 20 innocent persons lost their lives during elections.
Clark advised the PDP to cash in on the crisis if President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders fail to reverse the disqualification by inviting Obaseki to join the party as well as asking the state governor to defect to PDP.
He said: “If the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, including Mr. President, fail to intervene in this unfortunate crisis in Edo State, I would appeal to the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to take advantage of the situation.
“I repeat, PDP, should take advantage of this unfortunate crisis in APC, to adopt the incumbent Governor of APC, Governor Godwin Obaseki, as their candidate. It is a golden opportunity for the PDP to take over Edo State because Governor Obaseki has so far, done well. I want to believe that he will continue the good work if given a second chance. I also appeal to the people of Edo all over the world to support him to achieve his second term bid, and to PDP aspirants to also sink their interest for now in the overall interest of their Edo State.
“Likewise, I would strongly advice Governor Godwin Obaseki to in the overall interest of Edo people, declare for the Peoples Democratic Party, and contest for his second term, for him to complete his job to the people. He won’t be culpable of any blame; he has tried to be a loyal and dedicated member of his party. But unfortunately, his party’s hierarchy has betrayed and disappointed him, and has apparently, handed Adams Oshiomwhole the sole authority to decide who should be APC’s flagbearer in the next governorship election of Edo State. This is not right.
“Given the appraisal by a broad spectrum that he has given a good account of his mandate as governor, I urge Governor Obaseki and his supporters to be courageous and test his popularity with the people of Edo State and the electorate resident in the state.
“Let the people of the state and providence, decide his fate, not ‘one man’, or a group of politicians.”
According to Clark, “It is unfortunate that the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has been allowed by his party chieftains, including President Muhammadu Buhari, and my respected Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to perpetuate the happenings in Edo State.
“Though I had, since 2015, retired from partisan politics, as a leader, I have every reason to comment on the present political crisis in Edo State. More so, I had made it, categorically clear that I would continue to speak on national issues; on any matter that may affect the overall interest of Nigeria, and the Niger Delta region, in particular, where, I am the leader.
“Comrade Adams Oshiomwhole is aware of the role I played in his second term bid to become Governor of Edo State, an incident that made the PDP to falsely accuse former President Goodluck Jonathan of anti-party activities. Because I believed, at that time that he (Oshiomhole) needed a second term, which is a constitutional right, to complete some of the programmes he had initiated in his first term.
“The goings-on in Edo State are a repetition of what happened at the Lagos State Governorship primaries of the APC, in 2018, where the then governor was removed in a primary, which did not exist. It was a shame that the team that was sent to Lagos to conduct the APC primaries, at the time, under the leadership of a past governor of Cross River State, who had categorically stated at a press briefing, that there was no primaries, and that they were going to hold the primaries the following day. But, recanted his words, and later said there were primaries held. What type of party leadership is that?
“There is no doubt that there is no one that is indispensable, but to treat fellow party men, and countrymen, in the manner that was done to the former Lagos Governor, and now to Governor Obaseki, is most horrendous.
“While I am not a member of the APC or of PDP, or any other political party, for that matter; it is regrettable that the All Progressives Congress in Edo State is being destroyed as it was in some other states in 2019; when due to the same manipulation, and rascally interferences, leading to wrong decisions, the APC lost Zamfara State, Bauchi State, and Adamawa State, to the PDP, and did not have candidates in Rivers State, for the elections. Situations that were sufficient to be a serious lesson for the APC, on its leadership mismanagement, but it seems not so. It is, therefore, most disgusting that in 2020 APC is towing that same path in Edo State.
“As a two-time former commissioner in the old Mid-Western region, I know Edo people and therefore, would further appeal to them, whether at home, or in Lagos, or in the Diaspora, to team up with Obaseki, to thwart this evolving detestable tendency in our polity; and the ambition of one man who has now become the sole authority or administrator of the APC.
“Comrade Oshiomwhole may wish to reminiscence on his own words, which he had often, immodestly, expressed, ‘A situation where one man decides has been abolished. All I want is power to move to the people. The people should decide who becomes their leader…’
I also want to, further appeal to the National Chairman of APC, and his party that nobody should be allowed, for the sake of political predilections, to distort the peace and stability of Edo State, and by extension the Niger Delta region. We do not want what happened in parts of Rivers State, in the course of 2019 general election, and in Bayelsa State, during campaigns leading to the November 2019 governorship election in the state, where innocent citizens were killed to occur in Edo State.
“I repeat my statement is entirely based on the peace and stability of Edo State, and by extension, the South-south. I consider the situation in Edo State not only a challenge to Governor Obaseki and the Edo people, but also a challenge to all lovers of democracy, freedom, and justice in Nigeria and beyond. No individual is bigger than Nigeria!
“It is immoral and indecent for Adams Oshiomwhole to be manipulating the political space in Edo State, within the past three years, with the intention to maintain control of the political machinery in the state and sustain the silly idiosyncrasy of godfather and godson, now culminating in Obaseki been disqualified, even as a sitting governor from getting the ticket of the APC.”