There is pervasive uncertainty in the camp of the embattled governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki who on Tuesday morning announced his exit from the ruling All Progressives Congress APC. Obaseki is presently locked in intense negotiations and horse-trading with the leadership of his intended party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Feelers from the governor’s camp however indicated that majority of his supporters may not go with him to his new party. A source close to his camp told TELL that “it will soon dawn on him that he is a General without troops. He will look back and he will not see anybody. All his alleluia boys and cheer leaders will dump him”.
The magazine gathered that even his closest allies are already reaching out to a leading APC aspirant, Osagie Ize-Iyamu with the intention of working with him. They were said to have declared that they were not ready to follow Obaseki to the PDP as one of the founding members of the party. Many of the House of Assembly members in his camp are also said to have decided to stay put in the APC. Massive resignations are expected to hit the government of the embattled governor in the next few days.
However, in a statement, in Benin, the governor’s spokesman and special adviser on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, announced that the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu had also dumped the APC. In his resignation letter addressed to the Ward Chairman, APC Ward 11, Etsako West Local Government Area, Shaibu said, “I write pursuant to Article 9.5 (i) of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to formally resign my Membership of the All Progressives Congress and to inform you of my formal withdrawal from all or any of its proceedings and processes whatsoever. Please note that this resignation takes immediate effect”.
Osagie explained that Obaseki’s resignation came as result of his resolve to continue the battle to protect the resources of Edo people and sustain good governance in the state.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the resignation of the governor from the ruling party. The national leadership of the party said it was not aware of Obaseki’s resignation and defection to another party. National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said “The party has no record of the reported defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the Progressive party. We cannot comment at this moment on media reports suggesting the Edo governor or anyone else has left our great party”. Obaseki had on June 12, 2020, been disqualified from participating in the June 22, 2020 Governorship Primary Election of the party in the state by the Professor Jonathan Ayuba-led screening committee set up by the National Working Committee, NWC, to scrutinize the credentials of the six aspirants jostling for the ticket of the party.
Curiously, the factional chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua said he would not move with the governor.
Ojezua, a lawyer, said he was elected as chairman of APC with a four-year mandate which expires by 2022. “I won’t move. As you can see, I still have my mandate as the elected party chairman of APC in Edo State which expires by 2020 and I intend to complete that mandate”. Political watchers however see his position as part of the sinister plot to further destabilize the APC.
In his reaction, David Imuse, a retired army Colonel and chairman of the Adams Oshiomhole-led faction of the party described Obaseki’s exit from the APC, as “a highly welcome development”. According to Imuse, “In fact, it is much expected and it is a good riddance to bad rubbish”. He said “The party remains the party; we are preparing for our party primaries. So, by Monday, all of you should be prepared to witness the direct primary which is going to be a seamless operation because the major pollutant and irritant in our party has filtered himself out; so, the party is in a joyous mood. I believe you can feel it from my voice”.
Imuse insisted that the governor leaving the party would not affect its chances at the polls, stressing that “Membership of political parties is voluntary so he can go to anywhere he likes; it is his constitutional right. It has no effect on APC”.
On his part, former deputy governor of the state, Peter Obadan, said, the APC is better without Obaaseki. He was confident that by November 12, 2020, another governor would be sworn in. “Well, I think the politics will be bright, he is going to commit himself. Nobody is going to stop him from that; but on the 12th of November, he is going to handover to another governor to be elected because it is not going to be Obaseki this time around. I think politically we are better off in APC. All the headache gone; all the stress eliminated. And you know politics goes beyond money. And how I wish we know that power is transient; when you are there, people hail you and the moment you step out of the place, you are rejected”.