TO halt the worsening political crisis in Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) has set up a fact-finding and reconciliation committee to resolve the issues.
The NWC also upheld the suspension of the state APC Chairman, Mr Anselm Ojezua, who was suspended by 11 of the 16 members of the executive council.
The APC, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it was concerned by the worsening situation in the state chapter.
The party said a lasting solution to the disagreements would be found.
On Ojezua’s suspension, the NWC adopted the decision of the state executive council because due process was followed in arriving at the decision.
It said the suspension would remain until the fact-finding and reconciliation committee produced its report.
The statement reads: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has watched with grave concern the political development within the party ranks in Edo State and is deeply disturbed by the recent turn of events.
“We note that this is happening in spite of the various steps the party has taken to find an amicable resolution.
“Recall that party leaders such as the Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, and other eminent party leaders, had all tried at various times to ensure that the issues do not escalate. Sadly, these interventions have not yielded desirable results.
“However, the immediate concern of the NWC is how to ensure that unity returns to the ranks of the party in Edo State. In achieving this, we have decided to constitute a high-power fact-finding and reconciliation committee of party leaders to meet with all disputing parties to ensure that all issues are addressed and resolved.
“Meanwhile, the meeting of the NWC, which held today, Wednesday, at the Party’s National Secretariat received a notification of the suspension of the Edo State APC Chairman, Anslem Ojezua, by 11 of the 16 members of the Edo State Working Committee (SWC). We have reviewed the process they followed and conclude that they have fulfilled the required conditions.
“We, therefore, uphold the suspension of the Edo State APC Chairman, Anslem Ojezua, while we await the outcome of the fact-finding and reconciliation committee.
“Please note that the NWC’s objective and cause of action is strictly to address the root causes of the disputations and reconcile all parties to make our great party even stronger.”
The crises involving the APC in Edo State took a worsened yesterday as the State Working Committee (SWC) suspended Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, over alleged anti-party activities.
Factional Chairman and Secretary of the Edo APC, Col. David Imuse (Rtd.), and Lawrence Okah, said the decision to suspend the governor and his team, comprising his deputy, Shaibu, and Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, was borne out of the need to protect the party from destruction.
The party’s SWC also passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as well as the secretary of the party in the state, Okah, both of whom had earlier been suspended by the faction led by Ojezua.
According to the SWC, the crises rocking the party resulted from alleged unguarded activities and inflammatory comments of Ojezua, as well as the pursuit of Obaseki’s second term bid.
It also faulted the reported suspension of Oshiomhole, describing it as absurd, as it is not the place of a lower office to suspend occupiers of a higher one, describing the suspension as void and of no effect.
“There is clear and unambiguous evidence by the admission of the governor himself that he actively supported and worked with opposition candidate in areas where his favoured aspirants did not pick the party ticket.
“This pattern of anti-party activities led to widespread electoral loses in Edo South Senatorial District, including the Ward and Local Government of the Governor where we lost.
“In the desperate bid of Mr Obaseki to suppress all forms perceived opposition and in his determination that no credible opposition emerges in the forthcoming primary, elected council officials are indiscriminately removed from office with impunity.
“In light of the foregoing, it has become obvious that Mr. Obaseki has become a liability to the APC. We can no longer fold our arms and watch him drag our collective political fortunes into the abyss in his desperate bid to destroy the party.
“The only option is to protect the interest of all stakeholders who have laboured assiduously to build the party.
“Consequently, we hereby pass a vote of no-confidence on Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki and his team comprising Phillip Shaibu (Dep. Governor) and Osarodion Ogie (Secretary to Government) and they are hereby suspended from the Party,” the SWC said.
APC leaders loyal to Oshiomhole met at the Benin City residence of General Charles Airhiavbere, a governorship aspirant of the APC, over fears of possible attacks.
It was a gathering of Edo APC leaders opposed to the second term ambition of Governor Obaseki.
Present at the meeting were Rev. Peter Obadan, Patrick Obahiagbon, Samson Osagie, Henry Idahagbon, Stanley Odidi, Osakpamwan Eriyo amongst others.
Addressing party faithful, a former House of Representatives member, Patrick Ikhariale, listed many wrong-doings by the Obaseki administration and Ojezua.
Ikhariale said the governor deviated from the APC manifesto and apologised to Edo people for Obaseki’s alleged maladministration.
He alleged that Obaseki has agreed to pay the PDP the sum of N6billion to join the PDP.
Reacting to the allegations, Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said the governor remained focused on governing the state
Osagie said those who took the decision to suspend Oshiomhole have the right to do so.
“EPM is not known in the state. Airhiavbere is a suspended member of the APC. His residence is not APC secretariat.
“What they did is not known to the party. Firstly, some members in that meeting which was held in the house of an individual, is not a party meeting, they should have held the meeting at the party secretariat if it was real.
“Some of them have been suspended from the party. So, they do not have the right to do what they did”.
“Today, a leadership meeting of the party was held where the suspension of the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was ratified. But, Governor Obaseki remains focused in governing the state”, Osagie said.
Ikhariale said the money paid by Obaseki was the cause of the rumblings within the Edo PDP.
He said: “Governor Obaseki, his deputy, Phillip Shuaibu, Anslem Ojezua and Osarodion Ogie (SSG), from available information from top leaders of the PDP, have concluded plans to defect from the APC and seek re-election on that platform.
“As part of the negotiations, the governor has agreed to pay to the opposition party the sum of N6billion out of which some leaders of the party (PDP) have received from him the sum of N3billion.
“The balance is to be paid as soon as the governor secures the party’s ticket or formally defect as he is likely to do in the few weeks.
“In fact, this is why the rumblings in the PDP leading to the suspension of those leaders involved by a group known as the Integrity Group in the PDP?. It is, therefore, not surprising that the governor is working tirelessly to destroy the APC in the state.
“Consequently, we hereby suspended Governor Godwin Obaseki, Phillip Shaibu and Osarodion Ogie from the party for anti-party activities and urge the National Working Committee to set the machinery in motion for further disciplinary action against them. “
They denounced and dissociated themselves from the recent endorsement of the governor by a few party leaders for a second term, saying that, from his antecedents, he does not deserve such endorsement.
“We wish to state that at the appropriate time the APC National Working Committee will initiate the process of party primary for the selection of the party’s gubernatorial candidate,” the leaders stressed.
But, Obaseki’s spokesman Osagie said any decision by members of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) cannot stand because it is not recognised by the party’s constitution.
He said in a statement: “The rogue organisation claiming to have suspended the governor, the deputy governor and the Secretary to the State Government in Edo State is outlawed by the APC in the state.
“This group was operating against the provisions of the constitution of the APC and was proscribed by the party. The group is, therefore, unknown to law. Hence, it cannot take any disciplinary action against any member of the APC.
“The kangaroo meeting of the rogue group was held at the residence of Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, who himself has been suspended by the party in the state.
“So, whatever decision that might have been taken by the group is ultra vires, null and void.”
Also yesterday, the Executive Council of the APC, Edo State Chapter, ratified Oshiomole’s suspension.
The decision was reached at an enlarged meeting of the council and other party chieftains with the governor in Benin City.
The leaders said Oshiomhole’s suspension became necessary because he has been deploying divisive tactics to cause disharmony in the party in collaboration with the banned EPM.
Addressing APC leaders from the 18 local government Areas, Ojezua traced the genesis of the crisis to last year’s primary.
He said: “All these started during the party primary in 2018, when we conducted the primary to nominate candidates for the general elections held in 2019. It appeared that after those elections, Edo APC didn’t know peace again.
“The issues were later aggravated in April and May 2019, which culminated in the formation of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), an infamous group we proscribed in our last meeting.”
Ojezua said the news of his removal was shocking, as the state Working Committee, which purportedly removed him, did not have powers to do so.
“Our constitution has a provision to remove officers at the state level. It is only the State Executive Committee that has the powers to remove any officer.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), 15 chairmen of the APC chapters in the local councils and 23 out of 35 members of the State Executive Committee passed a vote of no confidence on the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, while a vote of confidence was passed on my person.
“The APC local council chairmen have found out that Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC and following the findings, lost confidence in the leadership of the national chairman by passing a vote of no confidence on him.
“Considering the stand of these chairmen and also based on the report from organs of the party, we affirmed the suspension of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from APC in Edo State,” he added.
Obaseki said he was not happy with the political developments in the state, especially the disruptions from a once-trusted leader who he said has thrown caution to the wind to cause disaffection among APC members in the state.