Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
The move to stop Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, from flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2020 governorship election in the state appears to be gaining momentum by the day, going by feelers from relevant quarters.
The governor has been engaged in a running battle with his friend and predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the national chairman of APC.
The crisis between the two men assumed a worrisome dimension at the weekend as Oshiomhole, who was in Benin for a function, claimed that his residence was besieged by thugs loyal to the governor. But the police refuted the claim.
Relating what happened, Oshiomhole’s spokesman, Simon Ebegbulem, said: “The national chairman was in Benin on Saturday to attend a birthday party. While he was still at the party around 8p.m, the state government sent thugs to his house. They were over 50, singing war songs.
“They blocked the entrance of his gate until the security people there called those with him (Oshiomhole) to alert him about what was happening. That was how APC youths were swiftly alerted and they stormed the house with policemen.
“The thugs fled when they saw the youths and policemen. We are wondering what thugs will be doing at the residence of the national chairman at that time of the night.
“If the national chairman had arrived there without knowing, they would have attacked him. We are accusing the state government because the governor has been clamping down on all those opposed to him.”
Ebegbulem claimed that the action at Oshiomhole’s home was part of the resolution reached at the last exco meeting that all opposing Obaseki’s second term bid be attacked.
Obaseki has, however, denied knowledge of the attack. The governor’s spokesman, Crusoe Osagie, said: “It is a lie. There was no attack. Nothing happened in the area where Oshiomhole lives.
“The Edo State government has said it has no knowledge of the purported attack on the person or residence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
“We have no knowledge of the attack. We have also reached out to the police, and they affirmed that they do not know about such an attack.”
Speaking on the issue on Monday, a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the rift between Oshiomhole and Obaseki has become “unresolvable”.
“At this stage, two captains cannot be in a ship. The national chairman is focused on the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi governorship election. The Edo governorship election is next year. By that time, we will all know who is in charge.
“But from the look of things, I don’t think the governor can get the party’s ticket to seek re-election. Oshiomhole, being a tough man that he is, has already made up his mind on that and I don’t think anything can change it,” he said.
However, Anselm Ojezua, Edo State chairman of the APC, said based on the governor’s performance so far, there was no reason why the national leadership of the party would want to deny the governor a second term ticket.
“There is no evidence to that effect. Nobody in the national leadership has mentioned something like that. Nobody has said they are denying him ticket. I am not aware of it,” Ojezua said.
Speaking on the alleged attack on Oshiomhole, Ojezua exonerated the governor, saying he was not in town when the alleged attack took place.
“The governor was not even in town when the alleged attack took place,” he said.
In a related development, Prince Tony Momoh, one of the national leaders of the APC, Monday raised the alarm that the party might lose the state to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if the issues between the two political gladiators were not quickly resolved.
Prince Momoh said: “I have not spoken with Oshiomhole and Obaseki, so I don’t know the truth on the latest issue of attack even though the police has confirmed there was no attack. I am a national leader.
“I am a man of peace in the political house that we all live in. So, the question of blaming Oshiomhole or Obaseki openly doesn’t arise.
“I will call Obaseki and Oshiomhole and what they tell me is going to be how to resolve the impasse if there is any between them. If we don’t do that, we may lose Edo State.
“The issue of whether the governor gets the ticket is a question of the primary. If we have primary in Edo State and the governor is interested in a second term, he will contest with others and whoever emerges, wins.
“But if Oshiomhole and Obaseki quarrel in Edo State to the extent that one tries to see the end of the other, then we will lose Edo State.”