-Obaseki fires back ‘I will not step down’
-As Oshiomhole, other party leaders allegedly back ex-deputy gov, Odubu
Is there a conspiracy to stop the second term bid of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki? This poser seems to be resolved in the affirmative amid frenetic political developments in the state.
The quest of Godwin Obaseki to win a second term as governor of Edo State now looks more daunting than ever, following the emergence of evidence than Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of the state and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) alongside some party leaders in the state, have endorsed Pius Odubu, former deputy governor in the last administration.
Already, leaders of Edo State chapter of the APC are divided along camps led by Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole.
Even though Obaseki and his predecessor have kept mute over the rumoured cold war between them, their supporters ahead of the 2020 battle for the governorship ticket continue to sound the political battle cry, fueling strong speculation that Oshiomhole may have severed ties with his successor. It was gathered that since it became clear that some top Abuja-based Edo APC leaders are plotting to stop Obaseki from picking the party’s ticket, he has been building political structures across the state to checkmate his opponents within the party.
Oshiomhole, The Witness learnt is said to be supporting his former deputy, Pius Odubu, who he believes is the most suitable replacement while former federal lawmakers, Hon Johnson Oghuma and Hon Gani Audu, are also said to be penciled down by Oshiomhole to replace Obaseki’s deputy governor, Comrade Phillip Shaibu.
Other names touted to be eyeing the seat of the incumbent governor are former minister of state for works, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, Retired General Charles Arhiavbere and Honourable Osarodion Ogie, who is the current secretary to the Edo State government.
Obaseki’s alleged ‘sins’ against Oshiomhole
Recall Obaseki won the heart of his former boss, Comrade Oshiomhole who fought his battle to become the governorship candidate of the APC in 2016 and subsequently, the governor.
After Obaseki emerged governor, the relationship between him and Oshiomhole was cordial until very recently when a cold war ensued between them.
Though Governor Obaseki has always maintained that he has no problems with the ex-governor, feelers from the state prove the contrary.
What has now become a war, the magazine learned, started during the APC primaries, when the former helmsman wanted to impose his candidates for the National and State Assembly elections on Governor Obaseki, a situation the governor vehemently opposed.
Though Comrade Oshiomhole succeeded in imposing some candidates on the party, Governor Obaseki refused to support the candidates as a result of this, most APC candidates lost at the National Assembly election.
Obaseki on taking over the mantle of leadership in 2016 ruffled political feathers in the state when he boldly banned revenue contracts hitherto given to some APC leaders and disbanded community development associations (CDA) engaged in illegal sales and allocation of lands.
This major activity had been ‘goldmine’ of sort to some party leaders. The decision was roundly applauded by majority of Edo people but perceived in political circles as a show of ingratitude, especially from the camp of those who felt they supported his emergence.
A source said Obaseki had complained to close associates that he is choking under the overbearing attitude of his predecessor and that he wants to be his own man. It was learnt that Obaseki was expected to take care of some APC political boys loyal to the former governor, but that they were the first he got rid of the moment he was sworn in.
Besides, some political leaders were said to have complained bitterly of the lack of patronage from the governor and vowed to ensure that Obaseki is denied second term ticket come 2020. They were said to be unhappy with his leadership style. The governor was also accused of empowering his Lagos-based cronies with juicy contracts against politicians who had worked and supported his emergence. They had threatened to work against the governor during his re-election.
Oshiomhole is not also happy the governor dumped all the associates and supporters as soon as he took power, sources divulged. The governor has simply refused to patronize them as usual rather he populates his kitchen cabinet with his own people.
It was gathered that Governor Obaseki has continuously told Comrade Oshiomhole’s supporters it would not be business as usual as “taxpayers’ money cannot be dispensed for political patronage,” another source said.
The source said, “We are taking development to those in the grassroots, we will not share money like the governments did in the past.”
“Now that the 2020 governorship election is around the corner, the aggrieved party men and women said they are poised to have their own pound of flesh on the governor.
“They have resolved among themselves that they will stop Governor Obaseki from securing a second term in office.
One of them told our correspondent that “the APC leaders have commenced a search for a good replacement of the governor in 2020.
“We have been able to stabilize the party because majority of our members are aware that the governor will not be granted second tenure. This is the reason some of our members and leaders have continued to remain calm and steadfast in the party.
We have never had it so bad. Governor Obaseki turned his back on us as soon as he became governor, now we are prepared to pay him back in his own coin by making sure he’s not returned as the party’s candidate for next year’s election.”
But some angry party leaders told this newspaper that the governor can still redeem the situation. They insist that they are prepared to work with him if he’s ready to carry everybody along.
“Governor Obaseki’s second term bid rests squarely in his hands, if he is serious let him redeem the situation now before it is too late,” the APC leader who pleaded anonymity said.
Another factor insiders said also working against Obaseki is the governor’s alleged romance with the speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon. Kabiru Adjoto.
Knowing the fragile nature of the friendship between the governor and his predecessor, sources divulged that the speaker employed deceit to use Obaseki to clean his dirty mess.
“Adjoto told the governor that Oshiomhole brought money to the house with the intent of impeaching him (the governor). He said the plan was to bring in the impeached deputy speaker, Victor Edoror, so that the governor can easily be impeached.
“The governor bought into his plan to remove Edoror and others he thought were threats to him,” a source privy to the event told our correspondent.