THE battle for political supremacy between the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki appears to have split the Edo State APC caucus in the National Assembly.
Some of the members yesterday called for a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the House of Assembly.
They also passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman.
Others, however, claimed they were not part of the caucus meeting where the decisions were taken.
The state chapter of the party is in crisis as different factions suspended Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) has set up a high-powered fact-finding mission to resolve the issues.
Addressing a news conference, the APC caucus said everything possible should be done to stem the bickering tearing the state apart.
It said those calling for Oshiomhole’s resignation were paid agents.
The caucus urged Governor Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the State House of Assembly.
The state Assembly was inaugurated in a controversial circumstance on June 17, when nine out of 24 members-elect held an inauguration ceremony and elected Frank Okiye, as Speaker at past 9 pm.
Other members, said to be loyal to Oshiomhole, were not sworn in as Obaseki said they were not available.
The Speaker later inaugurated three other members.
The APC caucus said the APC Chairman has been doing exceedingly well for the party and playing a key role in winning two tough governorship elections.
But, the governor, through his spokesman, said some of the lawmakers denied being part of the caucus meeting.
Deputy Leader of the House, Peterson Akpatson, who read a prepared text, asked Obaseki and his supporters to retrace their steps.
The caucus also asked the governor to issue another proclamation as stipulated in the Constitution and have all the 24 elected members properly inaugurated.
They also said that all forms of intimidation and harassment of elected officials, appointees and perceived enemies must stop immediately while peace must be allowed to reign in Edo State.
Akpatason said as a caucus in the National Assembly, they have the right to air their view, adding that their decision predates whatever committee was set up by the leadership of the party.
He said: “Concerning supporting the National Chairman or the governor, I think you are getting it very wrong. We are standing for the truth and we want peace in Edo state.
“We want the obnoxious political situation in Edo State to be reversed. We want a situation where Edo will be known for what it has always been known for. The way to do that is to correct the anomaly that took place in recent times. We stand for the truth and nothing but the truth”.
On the issue of the second term for Obaseki, Akpatason said: “We are not talking about a second term or no second term here. We will take a stand on the issue of second term when the time comes.
“This is about Edo State and the interest of our people. When the time comes, we will not be afraid to take a stand. We did something in the past and we have the consequences to grapple with.
“Also, the power to return a governor rests with the people and not the House of Representatives or the national chairman.”
On protests against Oshiomhole, Akpatason said: “The action of miscreants who are sponsored will not deter us from doing our job. There have been protests all over the place – some for the governor and some for the national chairman and some for the masses.
“We are for the masses. We are for Edo people. Those who have money to spend, hiring people to Abuja to go and protest can continue what they are doing and will not stop us from doing our job.”
He said the crises began with the “unconstitutional” inauguration of a handful of elected members of the House of Assembly by Obaseki, adding that out of the 24 members of the House, only seven were invited for the swearing-in.
Akpatason said: “Preceding this illegal act by the governor, unprecedented violence had been unleashed on the majority 15 members at Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City by thugs.
“This action was followed by wanton acts of violence, intimidation, gross violation of the rights of citizens and the use of hate speech on anyone perceived as being opposed to the governor.”
Another lawmaker, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, said the issue was beyond the national chairman.
He said: “Election was conducted and we won 24. Five were inaugurated. What has that got to do with the National chairman? They were meeting in a hotel calling for peace and that they want to be inaugurated. Thugs went there to beat them up and scattered everything there. What has that got to do with the national chairman?
“All those who were felt to be disloyal were sacked. What has that got to do with the National chairman? This thing has nothing to do with the national chairman.
“This has to do with democratic values, democratic spaces with the constitutional right of the people of Edo to organise and walk freely in the state.
“People are always struggling to drag the national chairman into this. It has nothing to do with him. It has to do with the breach of democratic processes in Edo State by people that we know and not the national chairman.”