A governorship aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, Osagie Ize-Iyamu has stated unequivocally that he is a bonafide member of the party. Ize-Iyamu made this clarification in a statement Thursday night in reaction to a statement by local government chairmen of the party loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki. The emergence on Tuesday, of the pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and former secretary to the state governor, SSG, as the consensus aspirant of the intra-party opponents of the governor, had rattled the latter’s camp. In the light of this development, Ize-Iyamu would be Obaseki’s main contender for the APC governorship ticket at the party’s primary election fixed for June 22, 2020.
At a press conference on Thursday, the 18 local government chairmen had disowned Ize-Iyamu as a member of the party. “We, the Local Government Area Party Chairmen of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, wish to inform the general public for the avoidance of doubt that the purported agreement to return Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a consensus candidate of APC in Edo State is totally false and without foundation. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is not a member of our Party. He led his followers out of the APC in 2014 and even contested the governorship election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2016 election, which he lost.”
But countering their allegation, John Mayaki, the director of communication and media to the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation went down memory lane to recall how Ize-Iyamu was one of those who not only formed the APC but drafted the constitution of the APC. Mayaki said “It is quite unfortunate that many of these people don’t read; they have not sat down to even read the APC constitution. The APC, apart from being a progressive party, was deliberately formed to be a mass organisation and one of the things those who drafted the APC constitution (including Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu) did was to make it easy for Nigerians, irrespective of who they are, to be able to join a party like the APC without people like these renegades trying to put hurdles in their way”.
Describing politics as a game of numbers, Mayaki stated that “Ideally, you would want to welcome people to your party”. According to him, “If you look at the constitution of the APC, article 9, you will find out that, unknown to them, you can go to your ward and register; or you can even do online registration – the essence of this is to ensure that nobody is deprived”.
Chiding the governor, Mayaki said when Ize-Iyamu, among others, were putting the party together, “the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki was not there and nowhere to be found” and queried how a man who should be a beneficiary of a house that he helped to build should be stopped from gaining access into the house.
Dismissing the allegation of his principal’s non-membership of the APC, Mayaki explained that “knowing the rules, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu went to his ward chairman, Mr. Ogbebor in Ugboko ward in Orhiomwon to say himself, among his teeming followers, were coming back home, and he was given the party card. The party chairman brought him a party card and the day he was declaring, he raised up his card and said ‘gentlemen, what I am doing is just a mere ceremony’. But the truth about it is that he has actually gone to his ward to register; he openly tendered his party card and they were shocked”.
Mayaki further stated that “What these people don’t understand is that in the APC constitution, there is even an alternative – the online option. And so, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu applied – nobody can quarrel with the online registration; he has the slip, the registration number, his name is on the portal of the party. Again, unknown to these renegades, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu does not really need to rely on that card because with his online registration, nobody can challenge his membership of the party. What they are doing is an exercise in futility.”
Meanwhile, the consensus aspirant has continued to receive messages of congratulations on his emergence as the aspirant to challenge incumbent governor at the June 22, 2020 primary election of the party. Pius Odubu, former deputy governor and a member of the coalition of APC governorship aspirants, in his message not only congratulated the winner but assured him of his support “during the forthcoming primary election and the subsequent general elections”. Odubu, in a personally signed statement, said “I wish to seize this opportunity to inform all members of the ODUBU CAMPAIGN ORGANISATION and our teeming supporters that the authentic APC aspirants in Edo State, together with our party leaders, have agreed on a consensus candidate for the Edo 2020 gubernatorial primary election. He is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu”.
Odubu said “our shared vision for the development of our dear state is sufficient impetus for a robust collaboration and support for the victory of our party in the September 19th Governorship elections”.
And in a statement on Thursday, a group of “Former PDP House of Assembly candidates” who contested the 2019 EDHA election and later moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC), said Ize-Iyamu’s emergence was “a testimonial of his persistency, popularity, and acceptance across the state”. They said his political sagacity and clout paved way for “this monumental feat”.
In a statement in Benin-City by the group’s public relations officer, Emmanuel Ojo Akhigbe-agge on behalf of the chairman, Cornelius Amhiegbereta, the candidates collectively applauded Ize-Iyamu for putting himself forward for leadership which preceded his confirmation. About 13 in number, the erstwhile PDP candidates believed Ize-Iyamu’s emergence “would further heal the party and foster more unity among party leaders, and take APC to a greater height due to the fact that he is a unifier”.
Amhiegbereta appreciated other aspirants, leaders and stakeholders for putting the interest of the party first, describing them as the real patriots of the party for distinguishing themselves and imprinting their names in the history of the APC, which, he said, would forever be memorable.
Also congratulating Ize-Iyamu, Bisi Idaomi, a lawyer and chieftain of the party, said there was no gainsaying the fact that “Pastor Ize-Iyamu is a top-notch politician, who enjoys massive support of party faithful across board”, noting that his wide acceptance and love was consequence of his all-inclusive leadership style as a grass root politician. “I have no iota of doubt that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will pick the APC ticket seamlessly judging from his political strength and structure which is a hallmark of a dynamic politician”. Idaomi expressed her profound appreciation to “all the aspirants that upheld the party’s supremacy in accepting the outcome of the seven-man committee which I refer to as the seven wise men led by distinguished senator, Franccis Alimikhena”.