The proposed All Progressive Congress (APC) has ignited a political battle in Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Edo State ahead of the 2015 National and State Assembly elections and 2016 governorship election in the state. As Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s second term tenure will expire in 2016, the political musketeers in the ACN want to seize the structure of the APC for their political interests which had led to a big battle for the soul of the proposed party in the state.
The battle actually commenced during the party’s primaries for the local government council elections held 20 of April when the two major camps in the ACN, that of the former South South Vice-Chairman of the ACN, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and that of the deputy governor of the state, Dr Pius Odubu, struggled to gain control of the 18 local government councils so as to have grip of the political structure of the councils with a view to achieving their rumoured governorship ambition.
But Oshiomhole, who has become a master in the politics of the state, countered their moves through Edo in Safe Hands, a political group made up of his core loyalists. The group is led by his former Chief of Staff and the current Commissioner for Works, Osarodion Ogie, and the Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly, Philip Shaibu.
With the blessing of the governor, this group wrestled power from the two blocs and handed them over to Oshiomhole. Apart from two or three of the council chairmen that their loyalty is still being tested, others are hundred per cent loyal to Oshiomhole.
After their woeful defeat in the hands of Oshiomhole, loyalists of Ize-Iyamu and those of Odubu went back to the drawing board to re-strategize. Luckily for Odubu, the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ehenede Erediauwa, has come up openly to campaign for him, asking the governor to allow his deputy succeed him, citing his loyalty.
On the other hand, Ize-Iyamu, who has been accused of being the arrow head during the administration of Governor Lucky Igbinedion, has said he had no hand in the alleged failure of that administration but rather adduced the politics of godfatherism, PDP crisis and the debt incurred during the military administration in the state as reasons for the failure of the administration.
He however posited in a lecture that the administration could not be said to be a total failure due to the achievements it made in health, industry and repayment of debt, insisting that the administration could have done better if not for the factional crisis that erupted in the PDP then.
However, following his experience in the hands of the governor’s men during the local government elections, Ize-Iyamu collaborated with the Olaghodaro group geared towards ensuring that his men were not left out in the proposed APC in Edo State.
The group has built its structure in all the state’s local government councils waiting for the registration of the APC. When the Odubu group found out that they were bring uprooted in the councils by the Olaghodaro group, they came up with the Tiger Group to checkmate them.
Consequently, the groups held meetings despite the warnings from the governor that he does not want to be distracted with the politics of 2016. The state chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Comrade Godwin Erhahon, expressed concern that some CPC and ANPP members were already being invited for meetings in the name of the yet to be registered APC and warned that such act would jeopardize the merger in the state.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that following the meetings by the groups, the leaders of the party no longer hold ACN meetings and that the situation angered Oshiomhole who now decided to fix the situation his own way, because as the two groups met, the governor’s men, led by Ogie and Shaibu, were monitoring the situation and waiting for the green light from their boss to strike. And they struck eventually.
How they struck
Three weeks ago, Oshiomhole invited all the council chairmen for a meeting where he expressed his disappointment that having been voted into office three months ago, he expected them to concentrate on how to deliver the dividends of democracy to their people rather they have been holding meetings on how to succeed him (Oshiomhole) in 2016.
He asked the chairmen, “how will you feel when you hear that people are holding meetings on how to succeed you as chairman of the council just few months after your election? The chairmen echoed “we will not be happy”. The governor warned the chairmen to desist from such meetings otherwise he would not hesitate to use the apparatus of the party to deal with them.
He went on the inform them that his desire was to ensure that all his projects were completed and news one built for the people and would not want to be distracted with the politics of succession. The chairmen went home. Obviously he was talking this way due to his labour background, but the core politicians whom
he met in the ACN knew that the battle for 2016 has just begun. However, in a bid to neutralize the Ize-Iyamu and the Odubu structures, the governor’s political adviser and a political heavy weight in his own right, Charles Idahosa, came up with a political group, Edo Solidarity Movement (ESM) penultimate week.
This group is made up of all the governor’s men including Rev Egharavba, Modino Emovon, Gentleman Amegor,Alhaji Usman Shagadi and Benson Edosanwan. Sunday Vanguard learnt that before the emergence of this group, the Ize-Iyamu group had promised to dismantle its structures across the state in order not to distract the governor.
But Idahosa, who is seen to be neutral between the two groups, led the group to its first general meeting at Urhokpota hall, where they declared their loyalty to Oshiomhole. Their own message was that they will not allow any group or individuals hijack the forthcoming APC, insisting that the governor must have a hand on who succeeds him in consultation with the leaders.
Charle T, as he is fondly called is leading this group but, in the shadows, you have the governor’s associates, Ogie and Shaibu. The group zeroed on Idahosa because of his declaration that he has no governorship ambition. Though some Odubu loyalists are in this group, the group is in form control of the governor’s men.
Ize-Iyamu is a political tactician and his camp viewed the formation of this group as a political missile against his political interest despite his assurance to the leaders of the party that he was dissolving his political structure in the interest of the party.
However, in a meeting held at Government House, on Tuesday, Chief Tom Ikimi berated the leaders of both camps and ordered that any form of meetings geared towards getting Oshiomhole’s successor must cease. He stressed that the governor must not be distracted and that at the right time the governor will be the one to anoint his successor.