All Progressives Congress (APC) governors have resolved to check the slide in their party by reconciling warring National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Some of the governors, it was learnt, have decided to sink their own differences with Oshiomhole in order to reconcile him and Obaseki in the party’s larger interest.
Sources said they are worried that if they do not act now it may cost the party the Edo State governorship election coming up next year.
Governors Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babagana Zulum (Borno) are spearheading the peace move. Though seen as Oshiomhole loyalists, they are said to have convinced their colleagues on the need to close rank in the party’s interest, citing what happened in Zamfara and Rivers states in the last general elections. The party was disqualified from the governorship election in both states because of internal crisis.
The governors are working with some concerned party leaders and chieftains from the South-south to end the Edo crisis.
Their mission is to ensure that Obaseki’s second term does not hit the rocks in order not to split the party and allow the opposition to carry the day in the 2020 governorship poll in the state.
They are afraid that his face off with Oshiomhole may jeopardise his second term bid and endanger the party’s chances in the election. There have been calls from some quarters for Oshiomhole’s resignation because of the crisis.
The defection of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship election Pastor Osagie Ize-iyamu who Obaseki defeated in the 2016 governorship poll to APC is fueling talks that he may pick the ruling party’s ticket for the 2020 election.
Ize-Iyamu is believed to have the support of some allies of Oshiomhole. “Some allies of Oshiomhole have assured Ize-Iyamu of the ticket as a replacement for Obaseki,” a source said yesterday.
But the source added: “There are serious moves to end the crisis. Obaseki and Oshiomhole must be re-united. That is the only way to ensure peace in Edo. Many people, including some APC governors, have waded in. And it is not yet too late for the issue to be resolved.
“Following the series of meetings held in Abuja last week, I can categorically tell you that we have resolved to end the crises in the party and the one in Edo is very central to resolving many of the issues at hand. APC governors and other party leaders are in the forefront of the re-energised effort to end the rift.
“Those championing the new move are largely pro-Oshiomhole governors. They believe both Oshiomhole and Obaseki are crucial to the success of the party in the forthcoming governorship election in the state. They are also of the opinion that the issues between the two can be resolved in the interest of the party. More so, while they are strongly committed to ensuring that Oshiomhole remains in office as national chairman, they also see Obaseki as a brother governor who merely needs to be reconciled to his predecessor”.
The Nation gathered that at a meeting of APC governors to adopt a position on Oshiomhole, those for him urged their governors to unite and not divide the party. “Nearly all the governors, about six of them, who argued endlessly in support of Oshiomhole at the Abuja meetings, are of the opinion that the two gladiators of Edo APC should be reconciled.
“As we speak, we have been joined by prominent leaders of the party in the South-south zone as well as some leading monarchs, in a renewed bid to save the party from possible loss at the poll next year. Many of them see an amicable resolution of the Edo APC crisis and one of the major ways to end many issues currently disturbing the peace of our great party. There is no point pretending that we can do without either of these two great party icons. We need them both and we will ensure a resolution of the crisis very soon,” another source added.
The Nation gathered that a reconciliation team has been raised and it is expected to meet Oshiomhole and Obaseki separately first, before inviting both of them for discussion. “They are both willing and ready for discussion and that will be done soon. The plan is to meet them separately first to hear their views afresh before engaging them in a peace meeting that will tackle all issues raised by both parties with a view to getting them to disagree to agree.
“Afterwards, supporters of both camps will be met and appeased. This is necessary to ensure the success of the efforts. For now, the plea is for all parties to stop every action and inaction that can further cause chaos. There is nothing too difficult to resolve just yet. People disagree. But once there is genuine and sincere effort to end such disagreement, all parties should give peace a chance,” the source said.
Also yesterday, some senior citizens from the state’s three senatorial districts, under the aegis of Edo Senior Forum (ESCF), said they would support moves to reconcile Oshiomhole and Obaseki ahead of the 2020 election.
They called on aggrieved leaders of the party to eschew politics of divisiveness and embrace peace for the state’s development.
The elders, comprising prominent traditional and community leaders, retired top civil servants and ex-military officers, former elected and appointed public office holders, as well as serving party leaders from across the state, said they were behind APC because it has brought development and good governance to the state.
The group’s leader, Sir Alfred Eidenojie, his deputy, Chief Osagie Oduware and the secretary, Alhaji Yisa Ikharo, urged well-meaning Edo people to ensure that the PDP is not allowed to take over the state from APC next year.
According to them, the state still needs the policy thrust and direction it is currently enjoying under the leadership of APC.
Eidenojie said: “As fathers of the state, we urge all concerned to move swiftly in reconciling the differences between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor and former governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. As we have been saying, while we remain non-partisan as elders and people who have served the state in various capacities before retiring, we are pleased with the stride of the ruling party so far in Edo State since taking over the Government House in 2008 following the emergence of Oshiomhole as governor”.