The battle for 2015 elections and 2016 governorship election in Edo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is a great challenge for Governor Adams Oshiomhole just as it seems the governor has succeeded in grabbing the structure of the new party in the state with the constitution of an interim committee of the Edo APC which is expected to run the affairs of the party until substantive executive is elected sometime next year.
But the constitution of the interim committee, led by Chief Osaro Idah, has pitted the governor against some leaders of the party, including the former South-south Vice-Chairman of the former ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Ize-Iyamu was the Secretary to the Edo State Government during the administration of Governor Lucky Igbinedion. He has not hidden his desire to run for the number one seat in the state at the end of Oshiomhole’s tenure.
Hence the pastor, who is from Orhiomnwon LGA, where Oshiomhole’s deputy, Dr Pius Odubu, also hails from, would want to have control of the structure of the new party in the state, particularly when he is faced with challenges from the camp of Odubu and the Edo Solidarity Movement (ESM), a political machinery led by the Political Adviser to the Governor, Charles Idahosa.
This movement, which seems to have political understanding with Edo in Safe Hands, another group led by the Commissioner for Works and former Chief of Staff to the governor, Barr.Osarodion Ogie, and the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Philip Shuaibu, are die-hard supporters of Oshiomhole and are willing to unleash their political skills against any perceived enemy of the governor any time they are called upon.
However, after the constitution of the interim committee of the APC led by Idah, Ize-Iyamu saw it as a ploy to kick him out of the governorship race. The argument of those in his camp is that it would be difficult for him to get the governorship ticket of the party since key leaders of the interim committee are members of the Edo Solidarity Movement. It was said that the pastor, a tactician when it comes to political situations, walked out in that meeting where the APC interim leaders emerged after he disagreed with the choice of the governor.
The Vice Chairman of the APC in the South-south, Chief Tom Ikimi, was said to have seen reason with Ize-Iyamu but he became helpless when they failed to grab the structure of the party.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that Oshiomhole’s camp is not too happy with Ikimi particularly after Mrs Evelyn Igbafe, an APC chieftain, used abusive words on him during a meeting at the Igueben chief’s residence. Oshiomhole’s camp allegedly believed that Igbafe’s action was masterminded by Ikimi whose relationship with the governor is now said to be frosty.
While Ize-Iyamu is angered with the current structure which he believes is in favour of Odubu, the deputy governor, who is regarded to be very loyal to his boss, has been calm because while Ize Iyamu is being hunted due to his role during the Igbinedion administration in the state, Odubu is receiving the endorsement of the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom who has on several for a admonished the governor to hand over to his deputy for showing absolute loyalty in the past five years.
And luckily for Odubu, he has always fought his political battle with in the structure of his boss while Ize-Iyamu has his own political structure different from that of the governor. When Ize-Iyamu’s camp insisted that Odubu will not come back for second term, the governor’s structure, Edo in Safe Hands, came to his rescue and that settled the matter.
And on the issue of 2016 governorship election in the party, it was learnt that Oshiomhole is mindful of the challenges that may come with it, and therefore insisted that he must not be distracted from the infrastructural development being carried out in the state by his administration. He warned all those nursing governorship ambition under the APC that it was premature for them to commence electioneering activities, emphasising that the best way to completely annihilate the hopes of the PDP in the state is by providing basic amenities to voters.
While the governor is keeping the issue of who succeeds him close to his chest, he is scared not to be accused by the Benins who have given him immense support that he intends to hand over the state back to the Igbinedions who actually assisted him into power. That is the challenge Ize-Iyamu is facing and not as if he is not qualified to be governor.
Ize-Iyamu’s camp is said to be considering three options: First, to remain in the party and continue to fight and maybe things might change in future; two, to dump the party for Labour or PDP; three, to remain in the party and do a dirty job within if he is not given the ticket. The third option should worry Oshiomhole because Ize-Iyamu and former Governor Igbinedion applied it when they worked against their own party, the PDP, in 2007 and supported Oshiomhole’s ACN, just to teach the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, some lesson.
Their action eventually kicked out the PDP from Government House via an Appeal Court judgement. But if Ize-Iyamu decides to move to Labour or PDP, Captain Hosa Okunbor, a close friend of both President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Olusegun Mimiko, can always convince them to back the pastor. But they have to convince Anenih first to be able to give Ize-Iyamu the PDP ticket.
Though looking at Oshiomhole’s politics so far in Edo, he has become a political tactician that cannot be underrated. As a master negotiator, he is capable of taking the bull by the horn when the time comes. He may also decide to look elsewhere for a successor outside his deputy and Ize-Iyamu, depending on his political calculations. Luckily for him, he has succeeded in recruiting veterans under the umbrella of Edo Solidarity Movement to complement the efforts of the Edo in Safe Hands which appears to be the youth wing of the movement.
Again, Oshiomhole has a respected former governor, Chief Odigie Oyegun, who can play a stabilising role in the party. And if his feud with Ikimi continues, the governor will definitely rely on Oyegun to show leadership and, in his usual manner, checkmate Ikimi, Ize-Iyamu and Senator Ehigie Uzamere. Who it has been rumoured, may dump the APC for the PDP. The senator is perceived to have committed a political blunder when he decided to anoint an NDDC Commissioner without the consent of Oshiomhole.
It would be recalled that Oshiomhole embraced Uzamere and Senator Domingo Obende when they parted ways with Anenih in the PDP. That was during Uzamere’s first tenure as a senator. Then Uzamere fought against the attempt to stop Oshiomhole’s NDDC nominee, Don Omorodion, at the Senate by the Anenih forces and he won at the end and that gave the governor’s man the NDDC job. Oshiomhole was delighted and as a result backed Uzamere’s bid to return to the Senate for a second term in 2011.
At the end, Uzamere defeated Senator Daisy Danjuma of the PDP, making him the first senator from the area to get a second term. However, one year after the victory, Uzamere’s camp complained of being marginalized in terms of appointments and even choice of councillors and the local government chairman in his Ovia Local Government Council. Consequently, he decided to submit the name of one of his loyalists for the NDDC job when President Goodluck Jonathan gave him the nod.
But the move was punctured by a petition against the nominee from Oshiomhole and Anenih and that led to a stalemate. Since then, all has not been well between the governor and the two-time senator from Edo South senatorial district. Following what Oshiomhole’s camp now described as a political blunder committed by the senator, Oshiomhole, in a recent function at the home of his deputy, Odubu, apologized to the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Matthew Urghoghide, whom the party denied the senatorial ticket in favour of Uzamere.
On that day, Oshiomhole told Urghoghide: “You warned me that Uzamere will disappoint me but I did not listen; today he has disappointed me, so I apologize publicly to you”.
Tested and trusted
However, Sunday Vanguard learnt that Uzamere’s disagreement with the governor has forced the APC leadership in the state to reconsider their style of picking candidates, particularly ahead of the 2015 and 2016 elections. It was learnt that the party hierarchy may no longer be in a hurry to give tickets to new entrants, rather they would prefer to give to those who have been tested and trusted.
And while it is being rumoured that some of these leaders may dump the APC for the PDP, people like the former Minister of State for Works, Chief Chris Ogienwonyi, and three- time House of Representatives member, Barr.West Ehioge Idahosa, who were in the PDP, appear set to dump the party for the APC. The real action in the Edo APC will commences when registration of members commence early next year and that is when the political coast will be clearer.
But as it stands today, Oshiomhole is fully in control of the structure of the APC in the state and the undisputed leader of the party.