Osagie Ize-Iyamu, former vice-chairman, South-southzone of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the 2016 governorship candidateof the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, whose return to the ruling party has beenshaking the table in the polity, has reacted to the insinuation that his APCmembership card may be fake. Ize-Iyamu, a pastor of the Redeemed ChristianChurch of God, RCCG, and former secretary to the state government, had whileformally joining the party Friday December 13, brandished his membership card whichhe explained he had obtained from his Ugboko ward in Orhionmwon localgovernment area. He told the tumultuous crowd of party faithful and well-wisherswho had thronged the venue of the reception rally to welcome him and thousandsof his co-returnees/defectors: “for those who are in doubt, the moment Imade up my mind to join the APC, I went to my ward and I am proud to say I haveregistered in Ugboko ward in Orhionmwon local government area”.
But speaking at what he called a world pressconference on Monday, Anselm Ojezua, factional chairman of the Governor GodwinObaseki-led political camp in the crisis-torn state chapter of the APC, saidthe membership card displayed by Ize-Iyamu was suspect. Responding to a question on the issue, Ojezua,whose suspension from his position had been ratified by the national workingcommittee of the party, said “the case of Ize-Iyamu is a very interesting one.Some members of my party have expressed some concerns about the level ofdesperation that was exhibited by the people bringing them in and the peoplecoming in. I have been in partisan politics since 1982 and I have never seensuch display of drama in comedic and tragic terms. What do I mean by this? It isunnatural for a visitor to determine the terms and conditions of visit into ahouse that is not his own. That a person will consider joining a politicalparty in which the governor is a member and as a matter of fact the leader, andyet the governor is not aware, the party executive is not aware”.
The embattled factional chairman said he had been in touch with all the local government party chairmen, none of them is aware. “They have also, in turn, asked their ward chairmen, none of them is aware; that is unnatural. It’s abnormal and therefore makes me feel a bit suspicious about the true motive of those people concerned. That is what I can say for now. But I have asked the chairman of Orhionmwon. The moment I saw him waving a card in that television, I called the chairman of Orhionmwon, and he also called the chairman of the Ugboko ward, and of course, they denied that there was any such dialogue between them and the gentleman concerned. But I believe that at the appropriate time, we will deal with those issues”.
However, in his reaction, a miffed Ize-Iyamu said the whole issue was becoming a huge joke. According to him, “they are further exposing their fear and apprehension. You would have thought that they would be celebrating that they are increasing. They are jokers”. While insisting that he went through the right and proper channel to obtain his card, Ize-Iyamu argued that “the local government chairman doesn’t have to be aware. The ward chairman is the one who issued out the card. They are carrying the matter to an extremely ridiculous level. They should start telling the world how many people they have checked whether their card is genuine or fake. From now, they have brought a new dimension; there are now fake membership cards in APC, Edo State”.
Speaking in the same vein, a former publicitysecretary of the party, Godwin Erhahon, said “Ojezua cannot be taken seriously.And so, nobody should take him seriously”. According to him, “in the firstplace, why did he have to inquire about the membership card that was granted toan in-comer? Is that normal? Does that not show signs of panicking thatIze-Iyamu is coming?” In his words, “whatever it is or not, Ize-Iyamu isalready in the party and the cards are not printed in Edo State; they areprinted from the national headquarters. And so, whatever the national headquartershas sanctioned is what is genuine and not what Obaseki and Ojezua claim aretheirs?”
Another ally of the returnee told the magazine that “a man like Ize-Iyamu who was a gubernatorial candidate, who was a national vice-chairman if he comes back to APC, why would he go and forge a membership card? The national chairman who now received him, is he fake? You can talk about your problem, but that the man is now your member is not in doubt”. Meanwhile, while the Obaseki-led faction was still sulking over their failed attempt to prevent the rally from holding, Ize-Iyamu had been in an upbeat mood and full of gratitude to those who made it possible. He in the same vein assured the governor that his coming into the APC is to add value for the progress and stability of the party. In his message of appreciation to all those who attended his formal declaration ceremony, Ize-Iyamu said he holds the office of the state governor and the person of Governor Godwin Obaseki in very high esteem.
Expressinggratitude to members of the National Working Committee of the APC led by “ourindefatigable National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for the encouragementand support prior to the ceremony and in the course of our reception”, theone-time SSG similarly commended the Edo State Working Committee of the APC,led by the state chairman, David Imuse, a retired army colonel, and gave kudosfor their commitment in ensuring that he and his supporters were formallyreceived into the party and for also gracing the occasion with their esteemedpresence. He also appreciated their followers “who in spite of extremeprovocation, remained calm and resisted the temptation of retaliation whichwould have made us to fall into the trap that our detractors had intended as anexcuse to unleash mayhem”. Ize-Iyamu sympathized with some of the gueststo the ceremony “who were victims of undue harassment by agent provocateurs”and who in the process lost some valuables.
Apparently not excited about Ize-Iyamu coming intothe party, Ojezua disclosed that they would be going on their own membershipdrive. He announce that “we are establishing a committee; we call it themobilization committee to reach out to people of substance in other parties whowish to join our party the right and proper way as we are very open to receivethem”. Earlier in his address, launched into a tirade against Oshiomhole whom saidwas lacking legitimacy, temperament andmoral authority to lead the party. Chronicling the role Oshiomhole allegedlyplayed in the crisis rocking the party in the state, Ojezua, a formercommissioner in the former’s government, the party had come to the conclusionthat Oshiomhole lacked the capacity, temperament and moral authority to leadthe Party as National Chairman, noting, “In any case, having been placed onsuspension as a member of the party, he has lost the legitimacy to act in anycapacity in the party.”
He said “we draw particular attentionto Article 21 of the Constitution of the Party which relates to discipline ofparty members and the powers of respective organs of the party to takedisciplinary actions against members. In the circumstances, any action taken inthe capacity of national chairman, including documents he signs and meetings hepresides over, may well be futile as his membership is already compromised. Inparticular, we are guided by the admonition of President Muhammadu Buhari whohas consistently maintained that we must live up to the tenets and provisionsof the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress.”
According to Ojezua, “Mr. Presidenthas also maintained, quite rightly, that anybody who is not relevant in hisWard, Local Government Area and State cannot hold office at the National Level.
We, therefore, urge Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to do the honourable thing and resign or be precluded from functioning in office while his suspension subsists.” Chronicling the genesis of the crisis, Ojezua said, “Arising from the recent controversies and false narratives presented by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, (Suspended National Chairman of the APC), it has become necessary to set the facts straight and properly inform Nigerians of the true circumstances concerning the affairs of our dear party in Edo State. It is clear that there had all along been a grand plan to falsely create the impression of a crisis of leadership within the party in the State and these plans were hatched and executed under the directive of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and executed through his acclaimed “infantry division”.
He said “the ultimate objective ofthese activities appears to be a forcible regime change in our party indefiance of democratic norms and the wishes of the people” adding that “ourproblems started with the conduct of primaries to elective offices in 2018”. Ojezuaexplained that “in accordance with the resolution passed by the NationalExecutive Committee of the Party, the leadership in Edo State decided on theirpreference for the indirect mode as the preferred one for Edo State. However,the National chairman decreed that it must be done by direct primaries. Inorder not to unnecessarily heat up the polity being sensitive of the fact thathe is from Edo State, we complied”. He further stated that contrary to thecalendar circulated by the National Working Committee (NWC) where a separateday was dedicated to the conduct of the exercise for each position, the NWC didnot appoint a committee to conduct primaries in Edo State until the very lastday.
“What is even worse is that the primaries which we conducted were unilaterally and arbitrarily canceled by the suspended Comrade Oshiomhole, Chairman, as he then was, without reference to either the State Executive of the Party or the Governor of the State. Even a convict is first confronted with his offence before punishment is pronounced. Although we took serious exception to this naked display of abuse of power, we had to comply with his directive to conduct fresh primaries. Had we not done that, Edo would have been exposed to the fatal consequences that befell our brothers in Zamfara and a number of other States”.
Stating that after the presidential elections, the party received numerous reports of the anti-party activities by individuals closely linked to Oshiomhole, Ojezua posited that the objective was to justify the falsehood they were quietly peddling at the time, that the governor was a political burden to the party. “In the end, Mr. President scored 267,842 votes and recorded a higher percentage in 2019 than the 208,469 he scored in 2015 when Oshiomhole was governor. Governor Obaseki’s reputation and acceptability became even more evident during the House of Assembly elections where our party swept all the seats available in a historic and unprecedented manner; a feat never before achieved by any political party in the history of Edo State”.
On the activities of the Edo People’sMovement (EPM), the embattled factional chairman said, recently, whenOshiomhole’s “dissident group EPM attempted to set up parallel structures inthe Local Government Areas of the State, the State Executive Committee of APCconsidered that the matter was getting out of hand. The Committee met,pronounced the group unconstitutional and set up a committee to investigatereports of the activities of the group with a view to identifying thosepropagating it and to make appropriate recommendations to the State ExecutiveCommittee. One of those cited for investigation is the erstwhile StateSecretary, Mr. Lawrence Okah who was then requested to proceed on suspensionpending the outcome of the Committee report”.