•To meet PDP South-south govs, aspirants
•To take final decision after consulting Buhari
•APC govs pledge to resolve Edo, Ondo crises
Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt, Okon Bassey in Uyo and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
With his disqualification from the race for the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September governorship election in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, at the weekend, began talks with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to actualise his second term bid.
THISDAY gathered that to secure the gubernatorial ticket of the party, Obaseki on Saturday night met with the Chairman of the main opposition party, Prince Uche Secondus, and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
He followed this up yesterday with a visit to Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who is very influential in the party.
After the meeting with Wike, Obaseki left for Uyo where he met behind closed-doors with his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Obaseki and Wike met behind closed-doors at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
Notwithstanding his talks with the opposition, Obaseki has said he would not take any decision on his political future until after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, APC governors, under the auspices of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), have resolved to intervene in the crises rocking the party’s chapters in Edo and Ondo states.
Sources confided in THISDAY that the meetings were part of the efforts to secure serious commitment and soft landing from the PDP leaders before Obaseki would take the final decision to join the party.
A source privy to the meetings told THISDAY that the governor would also meet the five PDP governors from the South-south in Port Harcourt, as well as all Edo State governorship aspirants of the party.
According to sources, Obaseki’s meeting with Secondus and members of NWC of the party was not conclusive as he was told to meet other stakeholders of the party.
The source said it was in continuation of the high-level meetings that the embattled governor visited Wike yesterday and would also meet the PDP South-south governors to seek their support in joining PDP.
According to the source, Edo State governor would between yesterday and today meet with PDP South-south governors in Port Harcourt.
The source said the choice of Port Harcourt as the venue of the meeting was strategic because the views of Wike would be needed.
The source added that this was because one of the major stakeholders in Edo State PDP and a former state Chairman of the party, Mr. Dan Orbih, is close to Wike.
Orbih, who has always been anti-Obaseki, is said to have thrown his structures behind Hon. Omoregie Ihama, who is the favourite of the three aspirants, if the choice Obaseki is eventually ruled out.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, confirmed the meeting with Wike, but said he was yet to ascertain the reason for Edo State governor’s visit.
He said: “It is true that Obaseki is here but for now, I cannot say why he is here.
But whatever is the matter, we will let you know in due course.”
Obaseki also visited Akwa Ibom State yesterday and met behind closed-doors with Governor Udom Emmanuel, as part of his consultations with PDP leaders.
The governor reportedly arrived the Government House in Uyo at about 4.00 p.m.
Sources told THISDAY that Obaseki left at about 6.00 p.m after a meeting with Emmanuel.
Details of the meeting were not disclosed as the visit was said to be a “private visit.”
While Obaseki was still holding talks with top PDP leaders, it was gathered that the Igbinedions (Gabriel and Lucky) have started mobilising support for him, alongside
Chief Tom Ikimi; but THISDAY could not confirm this claim.
THISDAY gathered that after that round of meeting with PDP governors, Obaseki would hold another round of meeting with the three governorship aspirants of the party.
The tree aspirants, Omoregie Ihama, Gideon Ikhine and Kenneth Imasuagbe, paid the mandatory N21 million governorship and expression of interest forms to signify their intention to run.
The trio were screened by the Hon. Kingsley Chinda-led committee, but for strategic reasons not unconnected with the ongoing talks with Obaseki, the outcome of the screening is not yet out.
THISDAY gathered that the reason for the meetings is to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page on Obaseki’s quest so as to forestall any crisis that may arise if all stakeholders are not carried along before the governor’s defection.
The source said: “If everything goes as planned, we are looking for a consensus ticket for Godwin Obaseki at the June 22 primary election, where the delegates will affirm his candidature.”
THISDAY gathered that though PDP has been in the opposition in Edo State for 12 years now, it does not want to make any mistake now that the opportunity has presented it to return to power since APC is seriously divided.
“We are aware that APC has a big financial machine behind it and they know the implications of the outcome of the September 19 governorship election on the political future of the APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
“If APC loses Edo gubernatorial election, it means that under Oshiomhole, the party lost Rivers, Zamfara, Bayelsa and Edo states due to internal wranglings under him.
“This could cause him the office of the national chairman and affect his political future.
“And Ondo State governorship election may follow such bandwagon. Therefore, APC would like to come out strong with huge financial war chest and none of the three PDP governorship aspirants are strong enough to meet APC financial bulldozer.
“It was for this reason that PDP will present a candidate that has the financial strength to meet APC challenge in this matter. We have to present the best in terms of acceptability and financial muscle.
“None of the three as at now can meet this challenge.
“If everything goes as planned, it is expected that Obaseki could be asked to choose a deputy running mate from one of the three aspirants that are not from Edo South and others would be compensated with political appointments for themselves and their followers,” the source stated.
It was learnt that after critical stakeholders of the party had reached a consensus to admit Obaseki, PDP NWC would grant him waiver, depending on what was agreed on, to smoothen his emergence as the party’s governorship candidate.
Obaseki to Take Decision after Meeting Buhari
Obaseki has said he would unveil his next step after meeting with the president following his disqualification by APC.
In a tweet on his Twitter handle yesterday, the governor described his disqualification as an act of injustice.
“I appreciate the sustained show of solidarity, support and goodwill from Edo people and Nigerians in the face of injustice by the @OfficialAPCNg screening committee.
“I will be making my next move known after I complete consultations with my supporters and meet with @MBuhari,” he said.
APC Govs Pledge to Resolve Edo, Ondo Crisis
APC governors have stated their resolve to intervene in the current crises rocking the party’s chapters in both Edo and Ondo states.
The party also knocked out two other aspirants, Mr. Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, whose disqualification APC Appeal Committee and the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) subsequently affirmed along with that of Obaseki.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Mr. Abubakar Bagudu, in a statement yesterday after a teleconference meeting of the governors held on Saturday, said they had resolved to work for the unity of the party.
According to him, the governors “unanimously reaffirmed the commitment of all Progressive Governors Forum to work for the unity of our party; collectively agreed to work to ensure strengthening fair and democratic internal party mechanism for the selection of party candidates in all elections, especially in respect of Edo and Ondo states 2020 governorship elections.
“Forum members are confident that the party will resolve all current challenges and emerge stronger.”
Committee Can’t Uphold Disqualification Never Appealed, Says Obaseki
However, Obaseki yesterday faulted APC Appeal Committee for upholding his disqualification.
The governor, in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said there was no ground for the decision because he did not lodge any appeal before the committee.
“The charade of Adams Oshiomhole and his puppet screening committees seems to know no end.
“As if the embarrassment which they brought to the party through the shameless and unjust disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki by the screening committee was not sufficient, they have now gone ahead to announce that the appeal committee has upheld the dubious disqualification,” the statement said.
The governor wondered how the committee could uphold an issue that was not appealed.
The governor said he had been unequivocal in his stance that he was not going to appeal the so-called “disqualification by a screening committee that can best be described as a gathering of court jesters, who congregated to massage the ego of their paymaster, who is Comrade Oshiomhole.”
APC Faction Recommends Expulsion of Obaseki, Ojezua
The pro-Oshiomhole faction of APC in Edo State yesterday recommended the expulsion of Obaseki for violating the party’s constitution.
Also recommended for disciplinary action is Chairman of the pro-Obaseki faction of the party, Mr. Anselem Ojezua, and the Organising Secretary of the party, also loyal to the governor, Dr. Aisosa Amadasun.
Acting Chairman of the pro-Oshiomhole faction, Col. David Imuse (rtd), told reporters yesterday in Benin City that the three persons and others went to court in violation of Article 21, sub-section D5 of the APC constitution.
Imuse accused Obaseki, Ojezua, Amadasun and others of shopping for injunctions and rulings to circumvent the processes of law and the provisions of the party in defiance of democratic norms.
“In the light of this, the SWC of the APC Edo State has recommended to the NWC that Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Anselm Ojezua and Dr. Aisosa Amadasun should be expelled from the party for violating the provisions of our constitution,” Imuse said.
He added that after the bitter experience of losing the governorship of Bayelsa State in court after a well-deserved victory in the election, it would be foolhardy to allow a candidate with dodgy and faulty academic credentials to fly APC flag in the September 19 governorship election.
But Ojezua described Imuse as an impostor who should not be taken serious.
He said Imuse was the subject of contempt proceedings, which was initiated by him.
“Imuse is an impostor. He has no basis to speak on behalf of Edo State APC. He simply displayed mischief and ignorance. Everything he said is of no effect and it should be ignored.
“Imuse is the subject of contempt proceedings which I initiated and which I will pursue to a logical conclusion. Right-thinking members of the public should disregard the lies of drowning Imuse and his confused supporters,” Ojezua said.