Ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding today, some aggrieved members, yesterday, stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja demanding the sack of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party.
The protesters, numbering over 500, brandished several placards with various inscriptions accusing Oshiomhole of promoting rancour and de-marketing the party.
They claimed that Oshiomhole’s style of leadership has resulted into crisis in many states. They also argued that with APC in the hands of Oshiomhole, the party’s fortunes would continue to decline and members of the party will be worse for it.
Although the angry protesters made frantic efforts to gain access into the premises of the secretariat, security men prevented them from going through the gate.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Iyoha Toni Osakbovo, said the protest was geared towards saving the soul of the APC as a national party.
According to him, Oshiomhole was expected to uphold the party’s constitution, but has allegedly been working against it, leading to division in the party, especially in Edo State.
“I’m from Edo State and I am a member of APC Patriotic Stakeholders’ Forum. We have come to save our party, the person that we gave the mantle to uphold our constitution, we have realised that he is the person attacking the constitution.
“He swore to protect our great party, but so far, what we have seen is not what is working. He is the person attacking the constitution; he has factionalised the party in our state, Edo. As I’m talking to you now, he has created a faction in the party.
“We are begging Mr. President to come to our aid because the person that is supposed to uphold the constitution is now the person that is destroying the constitution. Our constitution is very clear, the National Working Committee (NWC) has no disciplinary power, but under Oshiomhole, the NWC is usurping the power of NEC. There is nowhere in the constitution that says NWC has disciplinary power, but how come under Oshiomhole the issues are now different? So, we are begging the president, it is time for us to start healing, enough of fighting,” he stated.
The protesters warned that if Oshiomhole refused to resign, they would mobilize more party members against his leadership.
However, the Edo State Caucus of the APC in the National Assembly, yesterday, passed a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole and wants him retained as the National Chairman of the party.
The caucus, led by Senator Francis Alimikhena, House of Representatives’ deputy majority leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Johnson Ogbunna and Hon. Julius Ihonvbere made the declaration yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja.
The caucus, which expressed displeasure over the crisis situation in the state, alleged that the “new culture of terrorism and political gangsterism” was designed to intimidate party members, officials and the general public as well as pave way for Governor Godwin Obaseki to obtain a second term by hook or crook.
Apparently linking the protest to the crisis rocking the party in Edo State, the lawmakers advised Governor Obaseki to immediately issue another proclamation as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and have all the 24 elected members of the State House of Assembly properly inaugurated to enable them to duly represent their constituents and make invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the state.
They also urged the governor to stop forthwith all forms of intimidation and harassment of elected officials, appointees and perceived enemies.
“We the APC caucus in the National Assembly, hereby without hesitation, express our undiluted and absolute confidence in the sterling and patriotic leadership of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has been doing excellently well and just won two tough elections with landslides.
“We advise Governor Obaseki and his management to appreciate the damage they are doing to the state and APC with their undemocratic and unorthodox political actions and to retrace their steps.
“When the majority of the Executive came together and suspended the APC state chairman for anti-party activities, poor judgement and gross dereliction of duties, the governor organised a kangaroo meeting to suspend not just those members from the party, but also the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
The lawmakers also expressed concerns over the insinuation from Governor Obaseki and his team that the 15 out of the 24 members of State House of Assembly who were allegedly not loyal to him, planned to impeach him.
While condemning the terror unleashed against the 15 lawmakers at Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City by thugs led by the Governor’s Chief Security Officers, the caucus maintained that: “This action was followed by wanton acts of violence, intimidation, gross violation of the rights of citizens and the use of hate speech on anyone perceived as being opposed to the governor.
“In fact, within a short time, all those perceived not to be loyal to the governor and his deputy were sacked from their jobs. These included commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, and supervisory councillors. Four local government chairmen were framed on dubious grounds and also removed from office.
“The governor and his deputy abridged the rights of APC members to freely associate and organise themselves and threatened the leaders of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a socio-cultural pressure group within the party. Their businesses were marked for demolition and their homes monitored by thugs.
“The shameful acts of indiscipline and political rascality displayed by the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Phillip Shuaibu during the first convocation ceremony of Edo University, Iyamho when he mobilized thugs and motorbike riders to what ought to have been a serene ceremony, was just one more effort to step up the culture of intimidation, arrogance of power and uncivil disposition by the custodians of state power and a failed effort to humiliate the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.
But two members of the APC caucus, Hons. Patrick Aisowieren and Dennis Idahosa have dissociated themselves from the press conference held by the caucus and the vote of confidence passed on the National Chairman of the party.
When contacted on the development, Aisowieren and Idahosa denied knowledge of the press conference, saying they were not aware of it.
“I am not aware of it,” Aisowieren simply said via a text message. For Idahosa, he said: “I didn’t attend any caucus meeting today as stated in the press statement.”
Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has dismissed the purported endorsement of Oshiomhole ahead of the NEC meeting.
According to him, the statement credited to a faction of the Edo Caucus in the National Assembly was the handiwork of Oshiomhole’s media aides “who are hell-bent on spewing falsehoods and propagating alternative facts to hoodwink the public. The statement should, therefore, be disregarded in its entirety.”