I read with shock the interview granted by Right Hon Frank Okiye, the speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly. He accused the national party leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the crisis rocking the Edo state House of Assembly. He laid the blame squarely on an amorphous group Edo Peoples Movement loyal to Oshiomhole. He ended up saying money, the state treasury was at the root of the struggles in Edo state.
He exonerated the Edo state Governor Godwin Obaseki of any wrong doings as far as the crisis is concerned.
Hear him: ‘The truth is that the Edo State Assembly and my office as the speaker are not the real target of this crisis. In fact, I can’t find myself anywhere in the whole scheme. The plot is actually aimed at Governor Obaseki and stopping him from getting a return ticket as governor next year. Comrade Oshiomhole is actually after Obaseki, the state Assembly was only a smokescreen to his plans. The idea now is to take over the house, destabilise the state and possibly impeach the governor. The Edo Peoples Movement that originated this crisis has boasted that they will ensure that the governor does not come back for a second tenure. But I said to people that that is not the decision for them to make for our state. We don’t know what Oshiomhole wants. Oshiomhole is the one behind Edo Assembly crisis and he is simply after Obaseki. However, the door is open for the remaining lawmaker-elect, they should come to the Assembly, complete and regularise their documentation and they will be sworn in’.
Is the speaker a true party man? Oshiomhole as a former Governor and National chairman of the APC can’t be painted in this light by a true party man. And, I doubt if Oshiomhole is all this mean? Oshimhole wants the progress of the party but the opposition is bent on frustrating his plans and the best way to get at him was to destabilize his home front using his party men. Or what do you think?
Who is bent on introducing hooliganism into our party in Edo state? Why should we give such a chance? Our Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and his entourage were attacked at Etsako West Local Government Area. What is the implication for the 2020 governorship election in Edo? Why is Edo state that is APC state turning into a battlefield? Who is sponsoring these hooligans against our party?
After the attack Governor Obaseki had said, “It is really unfortunate that we can’t feel safe in the house of our national chairman. I am not sure that if I went to the house of the national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party they would attack me the way they did in the house of our chairman.
“It is really unfortunate that this thing has degenerated to this extent, but we will continue to pursue peace. We cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years.’’
But, Oshiomhole alleged that the deputy governor of the state mobilised thugs that attacked his residence at Iyamho. He said he had a video evidence showing that the deputy governor rode on a motorcycle in the company of hundreds of okada riders to the venue of the convocation.
“The police had to use teargas to disperse the thugs when the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria insisted he could not deliver lecture under such circumstances since he was not invited to address a political rally.
However, the deputy governor, denied having a hand in the attack, saying he was also attacked by the alleged political thugs.
To worsen it, the Edo State Government also alleged that the attack was premeditated and executed with the connivance of Comrade Oshiomhole.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, demanded that an unreserved and unconditional apology be tendered to all persons who were victims of the attack.
According to the statement, “Oshiomhole invited guests to his residence and obviously was aware of the build-up of thugs within his compound in advance for the arrival of the governor and dignitaries.
Also, the Edo People’s Movement (EPM) blamed Governor Obaseki and his deputy for the attack and gave them seven days to apologise to Oshiomhole.
A statement by its convener, Henry Idahagbon, said the attack had seriously embarrassed the APC in the state. “We are wondering what the governor and his deputy would be looking for at the residence of the national chairman if not trouble. This is because they were never invited for lunch. The incident at the gate of the national chairman’s house was masterminded by the state government so as to give Oshiomhole a bad image,’’ he stated.
The now suspended APC chairman in the state chairman, Anselm Ojezua, a lawyer, condemned the attack and called for the prosecution of those involved.
“I expect that out of regard for the victims of the attack, there would be criminal prosecution. I am aware that those involved are identifiable, so I expect immediate investigation and prosecution. “It is a very unfortunate situation and shows that the situation in our party is fast deteriorating. I call on the national chairman of our party and the governor to review the situation and do the needful because they will have to take responsibility for whatever happens subsequently,’’ Ojezua said.
Also reacting to the incident, Senator Domingo Obende, said, “I am shocked at what I saw. If this is the hospitality a party national chairman can offer his visitors and important dignitaries in our country, then our journey can be better imagined than concluded.’’
These were staccato of voices without anyone taking responsibility. Is this what our party wanted in Edo? Who is standing up for peace and progress of our party? We need selfless people without attachment to the crisis to stand up and be counted in restoring peace in Edo.
Edo State APC caucus in the National Assembly are divided in calling for a proclamation for the inauguration of the House of Assembly and passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman.
But good enough, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) has set up a high-powered fact-finding mission to resolve the issues.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said it 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.
APC said it’s immediate concern of the NWC is how to ensure that unity returns to the ranks of the party in Edo State and thus has constituted 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.
Where are the peacemakers in Edo state and APC across Nigeria? This is the time to nip this crisis in the bud. This time bomb shall not be allowed to explode as it will serve no one any good. PEACE IS THE BEST OPTION FOR NOW.
•Chief Umenzekwe is an APC stalwart from Anambra State