Tony Osauzo, Benin
Ahead of the 2020 governorship race, the political scene in Edo State is alive with claims and counterclaims, with a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), alleging that Governor Godwin Obaseki actually plotted to abandon the party and seek his second term bid in another party after realising that it would be difficult to get a second term ticket because of the way he had handled the party.
Addressing journalists in Benin City, Airhiavbere said the crisis in the APC in Edo became obvious after the presidential election where the party lost in Edo South and Edo Central and that it needed the massive win from Edo North for President Muhammadu Buhari to scale through in the state.
He alleged that the incompetence of Obaseki was responsible for his falling out with the leaders of the party including his predecessor, Oshiomhole.
“Since after the last presidential election, there has not been governance in Edo State and if we allow him, the opposition will take over. It has been all over the place that he has been trying to cross carpet, trying to look for soft landing but his main assets which are the APC leaders; he has left them in disarray.
“Are you not worried that in a state where you have 24 over 24 in the House of Assembly, there is division, are you not worried that in a state where the governor said he was endorsed by his immediate predecessor in office, he is having problems with him?
“The presidential election in February, gave an account of APC political instability in the state. During that election we lost in Edo South, we lost in Edo Central, only Edo North produced the percentage that was required for the president to scale through in Edo State and that was the beginning of the problems of the APC coming to the public.
“It became clear that if we don’t do something quick, there will be problem. Edo State has had the privilege of producing two chairmen, the founding father, that is Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Comrade Oshiomhole, the two of them have been governors of this state so we the leaders of APC cannot afford to fold our arms and watch things go bad. When you know the strength of your enemy, you must go back to the drawing table and make sure that the enemy does not overrun you and that is exactly what the leaders of APC in Edo State are doing. Don’t forget that Edo State is the only APC state in the South-South and we cannot afford to lose it to the opposition,” Airhiavbere said.
On the threat of the State Chairman of APC, Anselm Ojezua, to suspend members of the Edo People’s Movement, Airhiavbere said EPM is a pressure group and there was Obaseki/Shaibu Movement (OSM) in same political party before EPM came on board.
“What we all preached during the campaign is continuity that is continuity of Oshiomhole’s eight years of development strides in the state. I have done analysis of the past three years and which I am sure by November 12, 2019 he will give us his scorecard and we are all waiting for it.
“EPM is not the only pressure group; before EPM came on board, there was OSM. OSM was established for a 4+4 to ensure that Obaseki/Shaibu win the primaries.
“And there is also another group in the same political party. Edo Political Movement will be the pressure group that will also win in APC in the next election.
“It is a pressure group not political party and they have Obaseki/Shaibu Movement. Everybody has a right to express themselves and the aim is to make sure APC wins in the next election.”
But in his reaction, the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie described the allegation of defection as a lie from the pit of hell.
“Governor Obaseki is firmly rooted in the party in the state, he has recorded 100 per cent in his political career, he is performing, he is the leader of the party, he controls the party so who will he leave the party for? That allegation is a complete lie from the pit of hell. Governor Godwin Obaseki has a very robust relationship with the presidency and his party at the centre. His party is the ruling party in the state and at the centre so where is he leaving to and why should he leave?
“The good records of Obaseki cannot be compared to that of Airhiavbere. Obaseki contested for election once and he won. Airhiavbere has been contesting and has always lost even when he was a candidate of another party in 2012, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole defeated him in the entire 18 local government areas of the state. He should be asked where he gets money to always contest elections,” he said.