BY: AKEEM OGUNTAYO
Godwin Obaseki, the Edo state governor is facing the most crucial battle of his political career in a bid to get a return ticket of the ruling party in the state, All progressive congress, APC, come 2020. Since he came on board in 2016, the expectation of party leaders and other political forces within the party, that made sure he won the election has been cut short due to internal bickering and his style of governance.
The embattled governor is been accused of dumping party leaders and supporters who were there for him in 2016 even when the then deputy governor , Dr Pius Odubu had all it takes to win the party primaries and general election , they had to abandon him on the orders of the former governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who was the major brain behind Obaseki’s victory.
Verbatim magazine gathered as part of the complains of party leaders against governor Obaseki is his inability to carry party leaders along in his government but instead prefers a close government which has cut off these party leaders who were used to the old style of playing major roles in decision making of the government. They are also not happy that they are not getting patronages from his government, instead contracts are awarded to his Lagos friends who comes to do all the state contracts, with the governor going home with 20 percent from every contracts.
Other reason that may also work against him is the cold war between him and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. Though both of them have kept mute on the cold war , but it is very obvious that all is not well between the two, Obaseki has started building his own political structure in the state. According to a party source, who spoke to our correspondent, said the body language of AdamsOshiomhole made it clear that he is rooting for his former deputy, Dr pius Odubu. Our source further reveal that Oshiomhole is regretting why he did not allow Pius Odubu then to pick the party’s governorship ticket in 2016, he is said to be happy that Odubu has really proved to be a party man for staying put in the party despite the way he was treated in 2016 .Oshiomhole, our source further reveal his not happy with Obaseki the way he handled the presidential and national assembly elections in the state, where the opposition party , People’s Democratic Party, PDP ,won eighty percent of the election in Edo state considering the fact that he is the national chairman of the ruling party.
More worrisome according to the party leaders is the fact that Oshiomhole’s security votes then was 500 million naira and he was able to meet the needs of everybody and still delivered on his campaign promises while Obaseki who gets 900 million has abandoned everybody, except his close associates leaving party supporters to suffer. Although, those on Obaseki’s camp believes that the achievements of Godwin Obaseki will make things easy for him to get a second term.
Obaseki’s camp in the state believe strongly that he is the better candidate for the party because of his numerous achievements, which is a big advantage for him when the time comes to determine who becomes the party flagbearer. This same group of party leaders are strongly against Oshiomhole’s overbearing attitude in the affairs of the state, they said he had his time ,he should allow Obaseki run his government the way he deems fit.
Speaking to Verbatim magazine, a leader in the party and former state publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Godwin Erhahon commended Obaseki for his achievements as a governor in the state, but lack the quality of a team player. According to him, Obaseki is not a politician and that is why he has been misled by bootlickers.”He believes so much in acrimony, people coming to lie to him without finding out the true nature of things and he lacks regards for those who brought him in as governor.
” He sees himself now like an emperor, everybody must be accountable to him and he believes everybody around him is an enemy, he has excluded the party , party leaders from his government and almost all the contracts are done by none indigenes”.
Comrade Erhahon also added that, “It is wrong to say APC Leaders are ganging up against Governor Obaseki. Rather, it is Governor Obaseki who has been leading a gang-up against the legitimate party leaders. The leaders are only reacting to attempt to render them irrelevant,” he summed up.
Also, political heavyweights in the party are angry that the governor banned them from coming to government house when it is not government related issues that party issues should be handle in the party secretariat and such issues should not be brought to government house. These sets of party leaders said they are ready now to take their pound of flesh on the governor with their strong determination that Obaseki will suffer the same fate of Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. Our source further said that even if Obaseki decides to build political structure everywhere and without the national chairman Adams Oshiomhole, he will surely go like Ambode.
On his part, Hon Johnson Edo, a party leader and financial Secretary of APC in Oredo local government area, said the rumoured cold war between governor Obaseki and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole is a figment of imagination of those peddling the rumour. He told Verbatim that their relationship is very cordial and those complaining of not been carried along are economical with the truth on ground. “It depends on what they mean by not being carried along because this government its people friendly and it has done so much for the people “.
One other party leader who does not want his name mentioned said all the allegations against the governor were designed to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Stressing that those leaders who want the governor out are doing so because the governor did not bring the state money for them to share since all they know how to do is to share the state funds and organise endless parties with the state resources which this present governor is not ready to do.
As a build up to 2020 governorship election in the state, our findings reveal that outside the incumbent governor, RTD GN Charles Arhiavbere and Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi are also interested in the race in the party. However, the former deputy governor, Dr Plus Odubu has been silent on his interest but a party source said the big masquerade will be unmasked at the right time when the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole gives the go ahead.
However, in a bid to build a strong political structure to fight Oshiomhole come 2020, governor Obaseki has extended olive branch to some leaders of opposition party in the state to seek their support in his quest to return back to Osadebe avenue, the seat of power come 2020.. According to an informed source who spoke to Verbatim magazine, disclosed that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state its hundred percent ready to give Obaseki the party’s ticket if he is denied the return ticket in APC.
In solidarity and support for Obaseki, some leaders of the opposition in the state paid him a visit at government house.The first person to visit the governor was chief Gabriel Igbinedion, a chieftain of( PDP) and father of the former governor, Lucky Igbinedion. On his visit, he commended Obaseki on his giant stride in the state while urging him not to listen to side talks and promise to to join hands with him to put an end to stomach infrastructure in the state.
Also, former minister of external affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, who is also a chieftain of PDP advise the governor to remain focus and continue to work for the good people of the state, when he paid a solidarity visit on the governor. According to him, Obaseki has warmed his way into the hearts of Edo people with his impressive performances since he took over the affairs of the state.
As the gale of visit to governor Obaseki continue, former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) was at government house on a visit to Obaseki to show support and encourage him to remain Strong in his determination to turn the state around. The former head of state commended his sterling developmental stride and urged Edo people to continue to support him. Gen. Abubakar who had a close door meeting with the governor later said,” I served in Benin long ago and I cannot believe the level of development made so far, I commend the governor for the successes he gas achieved “.
As part of the on going cold war between governor Obaseki and his predecessor Oshiomhole, a group that goes by the name EDO YOUTH FORUM had in its press conference urged the national leadership of All progressive congress(APC) not to make the mistake of giving Obaseki a return come 2020. According to the chairman of the group, Comrade Osaro Imasuen , the state still needs the continuity of APC government but not with Godwin Obaseki or else the party will suffer the defeat it experienced in the last election of national assembly and presidential election. According to the group, Obaseki has executed half baked road project and scam 200,000 jobs for Edo people that never saw the light of the day.” The national chairman and leadership of the party should not take the risk to allow Obaseki fly the party’s ticket considering his numerous wrong since his assumption of office “.Another group in APC call Revival group, under the leadership of former commissioner for justice and Attorney general, Barrister Henry Idahagbon, has vehemently register its displeasure towards governor Obaseki and passed a vote of confidence on the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The group said its satisfied with the leadership of Oshiomhole and that disclosed it will soon call for a meeting where decision will be taken on the way forward. The group accused Obaseki of neglecting party leaders who made him what he is today as governor and wonder why Obaseki will be boasting that he wants to retire party leaders who made him governor.