By Osa Ekpen Director, Lawyer & Journalist, Special Adviser, African Bar Association (ABA)
The internecine war in the Edo state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC has deepened and become irreconcilable.
This is as a result of the unyielding position of the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, who is intent on playing godfather and his erstwhile godson, the incumbent Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
The differences between both men were initially heard in whispers until the inauguration of the members of Edo State House of Assembly, EDHA.
This singular incident brought out the glaring different political direction both men were headed.
They both refused to agree on a choice candidate for the speakership of Assembly.
While Governor Obaseki reasoned that allowing the choice of Oshiomhole as speaker would put him at a disadvantage, possibly risk of impeachment, Oshiomhole on the other hand wanted a measure of control of the political destiny of the state with his proxies in plum positions.
Their differences led to a divide whereby the state’s Assembly members elect were split through the middle with 10 members participating in the inauguration as legislators.
The other 14 refused themselves to be inaugurated and they subsequently moved over to Abuja, were they have been holed up at the behest of Mr. Oshiomhole. All efforts, including court cases to resolve the issues failed.
Sadly, the constituencies of the 14 members lack representation and a voice in the State House of Assembly!
One can only imagine the political and developmental consequence such absence creates on the well-being of the people who voted them for adequate representation.
Although, their seats have been declared vacant by the Speaker of Edo state House of Assembly, Frank Okiye, but it is yet to be seen if members who were not inaugurated into office in the first place can be entitled to such constitutional and legal courtesies.
The matter is subjudice as it is still before a court of competent jurisdiction to decide the fate of the absentee lawmakers.
The APC seems to have been embroiled more in controversies than good, in states across the country since Oshiomhole took over as national chairman.
The lack of internal democracy in the party under Oshiomhole has evidently caused APC serious electoral misfortunes and reversals. It was such self inflicted crises that resulted in the APC losing out in Zamfara, Rivers, Adamawa and Bayelsa states.
As if the past failures of the party is irrelevant, the long silence and apparent indecision of the APC leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has not helped matters.
The president in his avowed commitment to the principles of non interference has negligently allow crises in the party to fester, most times beyond redemption.
Ironically, President Buhari’s stance is contrary to the party’s constitution which regards him as the leader of the party.
Also, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu penchant to excercise a choke hold on the party, has also drained the APC of energy for cohesion.
This is said not to be unconnected with his ambition to run for president in 2023.
But if APC must survive, especially post Buhari, the various interests need to sheathe their sword and focus on driving the party on a path of cohesion and amity.
Most especially, as such undemocratic strangle hold has led the party into taking costly decisions in the past.
The choice of David Lyon and his deputy as the party’s candidate for the Bayelsa’s governorship election, is one error too many.
Therefore, in the coming Edo State 2020 Governorship APC primary election, it is the considered opinion of Midwest Herald that all parties to the disputes must show restraint in the interest of the so-called ‘larger picture’.
The national officers of APC must collaborate with Edo State branch of the party to conduct a free, fair and participatory primary election under the Covid-19 pandemic guidelines without jeopardizing the health of Edo people.
In similar vein, we urge the opposition political parties in the state, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to up its game and capitalize on the slip shod activities within the APC.
Edo State needs focused and purposeful governance, devoid of godfatherism and self aggrandizement.