Former Member, House of Representatives and All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain in Edo State, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, aka Igodomigodo, says the National Chair of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not instructed or engaged anybody or group to search for replacement for his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki ahead 2020.
Obahiagbon, a former Chief of Staff to Edo State Government under Oshiomhole administration told Saturday Vanguard in an interview that Comrade Oshiomhole knew that Obaseki would toe an independent stand on issues when he selected and campaigned for him to succeed him, therefore, was not taken aback at the recent developments in the state.
His words: “The National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole has not told anybody to go and organize for him on the understanding that he wants a replacement for the incumbent and I am sufficiently close to him to know so. The position of the Comrade National Chairman is one of avuncular neutrality and statesmanlike Olympian prediction for now.”
The lexicographer, who came out of his cocoon on the raging Edo APC conundrum, said: “I am still too dazed, benumbed, ‘flabberwhelmed and overghasted’ at the needless opprobrious miasmatic apoplexy and eschewable political haemorrhage oozing from Edo State or the land of Igodomigodo.”
“That I am still not gladiatorially habilimented speaks cornucopiously to the fact that the Comrade National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is in truth and indeed not yet fighting anybody and not in a war mood even though sufficiently provoked.
“I can see your facial expression of shock but that is the truth. Take my word to the bank. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is not fighting anybody,” he verbalized.
Where Osadebey Avenue occupants got it wrong
Contrary to the judgment of the governor and other leaders of the party in his camp, that Oshiomhole is the force behind Edo People’s Movement, EPM, he said: “This is where Osadebey Avenue (the seat of Edo state government) and its coterie of political handlers have and continue to get it wrong. I know for a fact that the Comrade National Chairman of APC knew and read about Edo People’s Movement and their agenda and its propellants for the first time on the pages of newspapers after its maiden public outing and he was not even in the country at that time.”
“The EPM , we are told by its drivers, is to rejig and provide vital life force for our political party in Edo state to make it a winning machine against the backdrop of its palpable calamitous outing at the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. They also want to shop for a replacement of the incumbent Governor because they believe his candidacy in the next election will amount to political thalidomide for APC.
“Now if you ask me, I do not see anything wrong with anybody or group of persons keen on making our party a winning machine, especially given our shameful excursus at the last Presidential and National Assembly elections . However, on its second stated mission of finding a replacement for Mr Governor, the position of the Comrade National Chairman is one of avuncular neutrality.
“This is because he holds the view very strongly that it is just too early to be discussing that issue as it will distract the governance process. He has not told anybody to go and organize for him on the understanding that he wants a replacement for the incumbent and I am sufficiently close to him to know so.
“But let us not also forget that the members of the EPM from what I have seen, supported very massively the incumbent Governor in his earlier bid and are respectable, grassroots elders and members of our party. Therefore, if he would heed my admonition, I would suggest a robust stratagem of engagement and not a war of attrition with them or anybody for that matter, who holds a dissenting opinion for as the late British war Prime Minister, Winston Leonid Spencer Churchill stated… “It is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”.
Why Oshiomhole shuns his Benin abode
Obaseki could not have been speaking from both sides of the mouth when he said that a certain political godfather wants to control him. His reply was a straightforward no to that observation. When Saturday Vanguard probed further, Obahiagbon chuckled, “Comrade Adams Oshiomhole wanting to control Governor Obaseki? How and in what manner has he demonstrated so?
“I have been with the national chairman several times when party members came to him with issues and his standard reply has always been ‘I am no more the governor of Edo state’. He has numerously turned down requests for legitimate intervention in my presence.
“Here is a man who does not want to even come to his house in Benin so that it will not be said that he is running an alternate government because of the sheer volume of political loyalists that troops to him whenever he is in town.
“And let me say this as a key player in the whirligig of events that threw up Mr Governor that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole knew abinitio that the incumbent Governor was going to be a self-regulating man in government and yet he put his goodwill and the entire state apparatus behind his candidacy.
“Everything, I mean everything in a way and manner that the victory of Mr Governor defied the predictions of bookmakers and patrons of necromancy given the peculiar circumstances of his emergence. Were the Comrade Oshiomhole looking for a political hallelujah boy, he certainly would have looked elsewhere. He was quick to tell everyone then, who tried to discourage him on account that the governor had an independent streak that he was not looking for a political hallelujah boy. Accusations of political control, no, no, no, not Comrade Adams Oshiomhole,” he stated.
Oshiomhole cannot fight Obaseki
On allegations of shutting the governor out of nominating people for federal appointments, Obahiagbon said, “The governor knows that no matter the breakdown in communication between them, the Comrade Oshiomhole he worked with for eight years is not so petty to work against his interest when it comes to the issue of federal appointments for Edo state sons and daughters.”
“Why will Comrade do that? No, he will not do such a thing. With all due respect and humility to his office, Mr Governor should be reassured that the National Chairman remains his bosom friend and is not fighting him at all no matter what his new friends are now telling him.
“A preponderant number of them did not give him a chance when his friend and brother, Comrade Oshiomhole defied all odds with his last breath in his support and for which he was vilified, flagellated and lacerated by these warmongering behemoths, “he said.
My troubleshooting mission in Govt House
“When I saw the things and heard the stories coming out from the government house, I drove to the place two times.
“I reached out to the Secretary to Edo Sate Government, Barrister Osarodion Ogie (my friend) , expressing my disbelief and bewilderment to the narrative from Government House. I impressed on him that he should do everything possible to bring about a thawing of the ice and reassured him that Oshiomhole is not fighting Mr Governor. I also told him that he must concede to me that if there was a fight from Comrade Oshiomhole, am one man that will be among the first persons to know and summoned to the war room.
“I informed him that I have not gotten such summons. He gave me his assurances; I also had a colloquy with Mr Governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr Taiwo Akerele and spoke to him in similar terms. It is either they did not believe me or they did, but were overwhelmed by forces beyond their control because events have since deteriorated and nosedived even sorely so to my utter bemusement.
Wrangling not good for our party
He admitted: “No serious political player will eulogize and encourage bickering among his party members, especially when election is imminent. The luck the Edo state APC is having seems to be that this infighting has happened early enough, thus giving us ample lacuna to sort out ourselves before the next governorship election.”
“That is not to say we must not begin sorting out the process in good time because I am one to admit that we have a formidable opposition in this state. On the whole, Edo state is an APC state, but we still have to work even harder to retain the winning trophy’.
Some party leaders, members worked against me to spite Obaseki
Hon Obahiagbon is one politician many, within and outside the state, wanted to be at the Senate in 2019 for apparent reason, but he surprisingly lost the last Senatorial election in Edo South, despite his reputation. What happened?
“We were certainly in pole position to win that election for at least two fundamental reasons – the fact of my popularity, which you just referred to and the fact that Mr Governor comes from the same local government and senatorial district with me.
“Nevertheless, it is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that most of our party leaders, followers and ‘grassrooters’ (certainly not all) worked against the party massively. Obviously, they were on a vengeance mission, according to them, to rubbish the Governor in his local government and senatorial district, to prove the point to him that they were angry at what they described as his politics of alienation.
“It has been variously alleged that the governor has emasculated the political class from the governance process and appropriated government to himself and a microscopic cabal. The political class saw the elections as the perfect opportunity to take their political pound of flesh from Mr Governor in his local government and senatorial district.
“They were so much in a hurry to make this point even though Mr Governor was not on the ballot. I know the spoiler role almost everyone played and these include some prominent members (surely not all) of the Edo People’s Movement from Edo South.
“Another factor that worked against my candidacy was the fact of my intimate closeness to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and I am shocked that this became an issue for obvious reasons. I was a marked man and variously dubbed as ‘Abuja candidate’ in strategic quarters so much so that I did not get strategic support when it mattered most.
…they even quaffed champagne
“You may be flabbergasted to hear that party members, who were eager to use my election and the presidential elections to teach Mr Governor a lesson quaffed champagne when we lost the election. I was also reliably informed that the quaffing of champagne to my senatorial loss was also in large measure at ‘strategic quarters’ because Oshiomhole’s man was electorally mauled down.
“But in all these, I remain a robot in the hands of God and my redoubtable anchorage in the footstool of God was why I did not find it difficult to congratulate my opponent who was declared winner in less than 24 hours,” he said.
They don’t understand Oshiomhole
Regarding the governor’s gripe over the conduct of the National Assembly primaries, he said:
I watched Mr. Governor vow on television that one of the fundamental causes of his grouse was that the National Working Committee of APC cancelled the primaries that had already been conducted in the state. If my senior brother, the Governor, was angered at that time, I would have expected that anger by now to have abated with the greatest respect.”
“I also recommend that the breakdown of communication should be worked on because this is what has encouraged hangers on, political jobbers, political contractors, political carpetbaggers, enemies and staunch haters of Mr Governor, three years ago, to suddenly populate Osadebey Avenue’s political space.
Assembly inauguration barefaced violation of constitution
Obahiagbon, a one-time member of Edo House, who spoke to Saturday Vanguard 48 hours before the Senate, Tuesday, gave Governor Obaseki a seven-day ultimatum to issue a fresh proclamation for Edo House of Assembly said, “Everything was wrong legally and morally with the June 17 inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly.”
“With due respect to the welter of legal opinions already expressed on this matter, I hold the view that section 91 of our constitution is the relevant provision. That section states very unambiguously that a House of Assembly shall be composed of not less than 24 and not more than 40 members.
“So a proclamation of the House of Assembly for only nine members was an egregious, flagrant and unbridled breach of the constitution and in fact, decisions taken so far by the Edo state House of Assembly are unconstitutional. In addition, when section 96 of the constitution talked about a quorum been one third of all members of the House, emphasis is on all members of the House.
“Therefore, you can only have a quorum within the context of 24 members and not the nine members that were so inaugurated on June 17. I submit that within the matrix and praxis of a community reading of both sections 91 and 96 of our constitution, what we have just now, as a House of Assembly is not standing validly.
“I so opine with the greatest respect and love to my friends, who are currently caught in that contraption .Let us not also forget the ungodly and unholy time of the night the inauguration took place and the unparliamentary attires worn by some of those members elect who were so inaugurated,” he further adumbrated.
What of the contention by Edo state government that the National Assembly lacked the locus to take over the House, he said, “Let me first of all say that the National Assembly has the plenary rights to take over the legislative functions of any House of Assembly that is unable to function and discharge its constitutional duties.”
He added: “And where in any state, you have an illegal contraption like you have just now in Edo state, by a community reading of sections 91 and 96 of our constitution, the National Assembly can so intervene.
So, what does he make of the various court injunctions against the security agencies and National Assembly?
Obahiagbon said, “Political dexterity and sober reflection rather than political bellicosity cum legal acrobatics are the way to go. Those who wish Mr Governor well will advise recourse to the salubrious path of reconciliation. That is the only way.
First Published by Vanguard Newspaper