EDO State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has asked National Chairman of his ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to steer clear of all the processes leading up to the June 22 governorship primary of the party in the state because he is an interested party.
He also denied secretly obtaining the Nomination and Expression of Interest forms of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, following his face-off with Comrade Oshiomhole.
Speaking, yesterday, when he returned his forms to the APC National Organising Secretary, Emma Ibediro, the governor also dismissed claims that he betrayed his benefactor, saying apart from making sacrifices for his sake, Oshiomhole was the one who betrayed the cause.
However, Obaseki’s demand on Oshiomhole to recuse himself from the APC governorship primary in Edo elicited caustic rebuke from some APC chieftains who said the governor had no right to ask the national chairman of the party to vacate his constitutional duties.
Among those who picked holes in Obaseki’s call are former House of Representatives Minority Leader and chieftain of APC in Edo, Samson Osagie, a close aide of Oshiomhole and a member of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party.
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Asking Oshiomhole to recuse himself from the activities leading up to the primary election in Edo State, Obaseki said the APC national chairman was an interested party and could, therefore, not sit in judgement over his own case.
“I am using this opportunity to call on Comrade Oshiomhole to recuse himself from the Edo nomination process because he is an interested party. It is against natural justice for a man to be a judge in his own case. So, I think the honourable thing to do is to recuse himself and let us have a free process, reconcile and build our party.”
4 years not enough for me
Obaseki also spoke on why he was desirous of ruling the state for a second term, saying four years were not enough for him to crystallize his reforms.
“Three years is not enough, four years is not enough to crystallise all these reforms. So, another four years will give me that opportunity to consolidate on what we have done and that is the promise of the APC.
“We are a reformist party, we are a progressive party. That is why I am here today to indicate my interest and my desire to run for another term as governor of Edo, so I can continue in the service of my people,” he said.
Direct or indirect primary, I’ll win — Obaseki
On the mode of primary, the governor said he would pick the party’s ticket, irrespective of the method adopted in electing its candidate, but added that the party’s constitution must be obeyed with respect to the voting method.
His words: “The basis of any democracy are rules; that is why the most important document in our party is our constitution. Our constitution is very detailed and it spells out clearly how we should undertake our affairs as a party.
“The constitution stipulates what mode of primaries are allowed in our party and how decisions to the type of primaries you want to run should be arrived at. It is clearly stated in our constitution, and so for me, I believe that ours is a lawful party and we will do things according to the constitution of our party.
“So, direct or indirect, I am certain I will win the primaries but we have to respect our constitution and follow its provisions.
Obaseki also described as absurd speculations that he might have obtained the nomination and expression of interest forms of the PDP as an alternative, should he fail to clinch the APC ticket.
“It is very absurd. I am someone that is very exposed. How can I collect forms from two parties when we have had rulings in the past disqualifying people on that basis? I am a party man to the core. APC is my party because I come from a progressive political family.
“I believe in the ideals of APC, I believe in our President, I believe in what he stands for, so I am a party man to the core. I am not an old-styled politician. I represent a new direction of politics that is based on facts and truth, not lies.”
The governor explained how he sacrificed eight years of his life serving the administration of Comrade Oshiomhole when he was governor of Edo State.
He faulted claims by the Oshiomhole camp that he betrayed them, saying on the contrary, it was the party’s national chairman who betrayed the cause he instituted.
Noting that his group made a lot of sacrifices to ensure Oshiomhole’s emergence as APC national chairman, Obaseki said he visited APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to see how the party could be saved from its self-destruct mechanism.
He said: “In life, everybody gets helped, everybody gets assisted. The person you talked about, he had no money when he left labour to contest. We knew what we did to make him governor. I sacrificed eight years of my life, pro bono. I collected no kobo to serve him in Edo.
“Today, we know what we have built because of where we started from. So, when you talk of betrayal, the biggest betrayal can be when people betray a cause, when they betray an idea. That is the greatest betrayal of all. It is like betraying God.
“When you said to God, this is what I stand for and then God gives you power, then you turn around and do the exact opposite. There is no greater betrayal than that. So, when you talk about betrayal, let us be very clear. I want to put it on record that I am grateful he assisted me, just as I assisted him. I know the sacrifices we made to make him national chairman. So, what are we talking about?
Why I visited Tinubu
“The reason I went to see our national leader is that I do not want the party to be torn apart. I am a man of peace. For my colleague governors and I, we cannot see a party we built destroyed. We cannot see a ruling party, be so weakened and whatever it will take to secure peace, to secure harmony in the party, we are prepared to, I am prepared to make it.
“That is why I joined my colleagues to see the leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to assure him that we are all working for the same cause; we are all working to build our party. From 26 states, we are now 20. We don’t want to lose any more state. There is really no reason to. We should all drop our ego and work for our party and the unity of our country.
“On a final note, I am actively pursuing peace; actively pursuing harmony in our party, particularly at home, and I believe that we will secure peace.”
Our plans for Edo, by other aspirants
Also speaking, another aspirant, Engr Chris Ogiemwonyi, said if he became governor, he would tackle insecurity, unemployment, poor healthcare and poverty, saying “Edo State needs a governor who has empathy, love and care for the people.”
On his part, another aspirant, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, said he is in the race because the incumbent governor had been denied the right of first refusal but that he would prefer the indirect mode of primary to elect the party’s candidate.
Obaseki is a drowning man – Osagie
Pooh-poohing Obaseki’s call on Oshiomhole to steer clear of the APC governorship primary in Edo, Samson Osagie in a telephone chat with Vanguard, said: “The man is a drowning man. A man facing election should understand what the rules are. How can you stop a national chairman of a party from conducting primaries of the party? Is the national chairman an aspirant?
“A man, who lacks emotional intelligence in governance is the man we are talking about. If Obaseki still wants to contest the election through the APC platform, he has two options: Abide by the rules of the party, led by the National Chairman or look elsewhere.
“He has no valid reason to ask Oshiomhole to recuse himself from the primary. Defeat is staring him in the face. He is grabbing at straws. There is no way he can win the primary.”
Obaseki is seeking attention— Oshiomhole
In like manner, a close aide to the APC national chairman, described Obaseki as a man seeking attention and urged the governor not to drag Oshiomhole into his troubles
“Obaseki is just seeking attention. Oshiomhole has no business being at the venue of the primary because he is not an aspirant. The governor is only confused and obviously scared of the calibre of people who have come out to face him at the primary.
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“He should rather face his problem and leave Oshiomhole out of it. His problem is that the APC leaders in Edo have rejected him.”
Oshiomhole is not APC—Party official
Also contacted, a top party official who pleaded anonymity, punctured the governor’s argument that those not involved in the governorship race should steer clear of the primary.
Said the official: “Oshiomhole is not APC. He was talking to Oshiomhole in his personal capacity. There is no crisis between APC and Obaseki or anybody in Edo State and he (Obaseki) cannot ask the party to recuse itself. Which law says Oshiomhole should recuse himself?”
Obaseki lacks moral, constitutional right to demand so — Mayaki
Also, former Director on Media and Publicity to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole when he was governor of Edo state, John Mayaki carpeted Governor Obaseki over his position that Oshiomhole should steer clear of the APC governorship primary in the state.
Mayaki, who was chief press secretary to Obaseki at the beginning of his administration in 2016, declared as false Obaseki’s claim that he worked with Oshiomhole for eight years without collecting a kobo.
Mayaki, now Director of Communication and Media, Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation said Obaseki’s argument that by the virtue of his perceived feud with Oshiomhole, the national chairman would exert influence over the primary to the disadvantage of the governor is nonsensical.
“Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the party’s national chairman, one elected in a national convention, hence mandated by the party’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?’’
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On the issue that he did not collect salary when he worked with Oshiomhole, Mayaki said “that is a half-truth, one deliberately invoked at this exact moment to attract admiration. While Obaseki, as Chairman of the Economic Team, was not placed on official salary, he collected allowances that were greater than a commissioner’s wage. He was the same man who embarked on several foreign trips on behalf of the state government, sometimes five times in a single month, and returned to claim an estacode.
He added that Obaseki was rewarded with 10 per cent consultancy fee paid to Afrinvest to source funds for Edo in the capital market. According Mayaki, Obaseki had stakes in Afrinvest.
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