The lingering squabbles between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, came to a climax yesterday as Obaseki announced his exit from the party, hours before an Appeal Court sitting in Abuja sacked Oshiomhole.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday, upheld Oshiomhole’s suspension as a member and national chairman of the APC. The Federal Capital Territory High Court had earlier in March, ordered the suspension of Oshiomole as chairman, restraining him from parading himself as such.
The court also withdrew Oshiomhole’s rights and privileges as APC national chairman, including his security details.
The appellate predicated its decision on the ground that Oshiomole as the first appellant is based in Abuja, while APC also had its national headquarters in Abuja.
Reacting to the development, prominent stakeholders of the party, including the Edo State chairman, Anselm Ojezua, and the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. OsitaOkechukwu, said: “a Daniel has come to judgment.”
While contending that the suspension would give APC the opportunity to right wrongs and illegalities committed by Oshiomhole in the past few weeks, Ojezua doubted if the damage already is done could be rectified.
Ojezua disclosed that Edo State chapter of the party would meet today to examine all sides of the issues, stressing that in the absence of the national chairman, the deputy, Senator LawalShuaibu, would take over.
On his part, Okechukwu said the Appeal Court ruling was good riddance, remarking that Oshiomhole was busy playing God, instead of guiding the party on the path of core progressive tenets.
Governor Obaseki said he decided to resign his membership of the APC because Oshiomhole was “scared of educated people because he did not go to school and hate those who have something to offer citizens.”
His exit from APC came barely one week after he was disqualified from contesting the party’s primary election to actualize his second term did.
The Edo governor, who spoke to State House Correspondents while on his way out of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, denied the allegation that his credentials were fake.
“You remember that, in my last tweet, I said that I’ll make a decision after my disqualification was announced by APC. I said I would make a decision after consulting with the leadership and my supporters in Edo State, and also have informed the President.
“I’m just here today to inform you that I have formally decided to resign my membership of the APC. Having done that, I will now announce in the next few days my specific line of action and on what platform I will be contesting the gubernatorial election,” Obaseki said.
He specifically attributed his decision to resign from the APC to the lingering quarrel between him and Oshiomhole.
“I’m sure the whole country knows what has gone on with me, the party chairman and the party leadership which culminated in my disqualification as a gubernatorial aspirant. Upon that unfortunate decision by the chairman of the APC, I’ve decided to go and seek my gubernatorial aspiration on another platform,” Obaseki said.
He boasted that he would stage an upset during the governorship election and put a lie to the APC chairman’s position that “being a sitting governor is not a guarantee for victory at the polls.” “Time will tell. Let us go to the polls and Nigerians will see,” the governor boasted.
On alleged inconsistencies in his credentials, Obaseki said: “Someone who hasn’t gone to school, who doesn’t have certificate himself, will not know and understand what inconsistencies in certificates are; that’s the starting point.
“What is the inconsistency? There’s no inconsistency in my certificates. The issue was in 2016 when I contested for the gubernatorial election, I could not find the originals of my certificates because I hadn’t required them for more than two decades. So I deposed to an affidavit that I couldn’t find the originals. Subsequently, I found all the original copies of all my certificates and they are with me. So, I don’t understand what’s inconsistent about that.
“Maybe the inconsistency is in the NYSC certificate where he said my surname was missing an ‘i’ at the end, but if you look at that, it was like a cursive, it was written in a cursive manner. So if that’s inconsistency for him, then it’s really sad that people of that quality are leading Nigeria’s ruling party.
“For him, it was just to look for an excuse to take whatever decision he wants to take and it’s really sad that the party structure today gives him that sort of authority without checks. That is dangerous for any system or institution.
“When you give authority and responsibility to people who don’t have character, people who do not have finesse, a sense of justice, then that institution is imperilled.”
On what he discussed with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors at the weekend, Obaseki said: “First, these are my brother governors who are from my sub-region, some of them have gone through a similar experience I’m going through. It’s only proper that when you have challenges of this nature, you’ll go and talk to people who have gone through a similar experience for advice. That’s basically what I went to do with them.”
Further on the Edo APC crisis, Obaseki accused Oshiomhole of failing to provide a level playing field for all party members.
“He has not provided a level playing ground, even in the selection process, the disqualification process. What is the basis for disqualifying someone like Chris Ogiemwonyi?
“You are afraid of people who are educated because you didn’t go to school. You are afraid of people who have something to offer because all he knows how to offer is brigandage, crisis. So for us, Nigeria has to move forward beyond some of the characters who are currently overseeing our political space and they are scared. They are scared that when people of substance, when people who are proven, when people who have succeeded in other aspects of life, come into politics, they will be history.
“For me, this fight is not about grabbing political power, it’s not about me, it’s not about trying to prove a sense of importance, no. It’s for us, 21 years into this Republic, democracy must mature, but as democracy is maturing, we now need to begin to show that politics cannot, and should not, be the preserve of a certain character of people.
“People of accomplishment, people of knowledge, people of character must also be accommodated in the political space. You don’t have to be a ruffian to be a politician, you don’t have to be a brigand to be a politician, you don’t have to be a thief to be a politician.”
On his chances of winning the election under a new platform, he expressed confidence:
“I’m sure of victory if you’ve scanned the environment, you’ve scanned the media, you’ve scanned social media, the reaction from people across the world, particularly the support Edo people at home and in the Diaspora, have for me has been unbelievable. They’ve said to me, ‘wherever you go, we go.’”
THE Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has also resigned from the APC.
In his resignation letter addressed to the Chairman, APC Ward 11, Etsako West Local Government Area, he said: “I write pursuant to Article 9.5 (i) of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to formally resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress and to inform you of my formal withdrawal from all or any of its proceedings and processes whatsoever.
“Please note that this resignation takes immediate effect.”
In a statement yesterday, the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said Obaseki’s resignation came as a result of his resolve to continue the battle to protect the resources of the Edo people and sustain good governance in the state.
The APC has kept a studied silence on the decision by Governor Obaseki to dump the party.
The spokesman, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, who reacted to the development, said the talks of Obaseki’s resignation belonged to the realm of speculation.
“The party has no record of the reported defection of Governor Godwin Obaseki from the progressive party. We cannot comment at this moment on media reports suggesting the Edo governor or anyone else has left our great party.”
However, a founding member of the APC, Tony Momoh, said the resignation of Obaseki from the party in Edo State would give room for peace and allow the party to strategise properly ahead of the scheduled June 22 primary and the governorship election later in the year.
Momoh, who is also one of the leaders in Edo APC, said: “The national headquarters of APC in collaboration with the Edo chapter would now have the rest of mind to go ahead with its direct primary to chose whoever it deemed fit to bear its flag in the coming governorship election instead of the situation where the incumbent would remain in the party and be pushing for indirect primary as against the position of the NWC that has approved direct primary.”
“I don’t see how our party could have held a peaceful primary with the incumbent who wants indirect primary sill in power. There would have been the possibility of bloodletting.”
On the fear that APC may go into the governorship election as opposition instead of a ruling party, Momoh said: “The onus is now on the party leaders to get its candidate, strategise and campaign to win the election. There are 15 political parties, and one of them must definitely win, which doesn’t necessarily have to be APC.”
MEANWHILE, the Vice-Chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, has refuted a media report which allegedly quoted him as saying that the University of Ibadan (UI) certificate of Governor Obaseki was fake.
Briefing the press at the main campus of the university in Ekpoma, Onimawo described the news which was published on an online platform as wicked, malicious and outright falsehood.
The VC maintained that he did not at anytime grant interview to any journalist or held any talks on the issue, adding that even during interpersonal interaction, he never made such comments to anybody.
Onimawo said that while the anonymous writer claimed in the write up that he (vice-chancellor) graduated from UI in 1977, his actual year of graduation was 1982.
The vice-chancellor, who stated that Godwin Obaseki was a bonafide alumnus of UI and a student in Zik Hall, urged the public to discountenance every part of the publication and threatened the online medium to retract the story or face legal action.
“In fact in 2018, the University of Ibadan Alumni Association chose him as the distinguished alumni lecturer, and I accompanied him to Ibadan for that event. So how can I turn around to say that the same governor was now asking me to make him belong to the alumni association? So such publication can only be from the pit of hell. I want the public to discountenance every part of the said publication.”
ALSO yesterday, the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Morenike Ogunwomiju adjourned hearing in the suit filed by a faction of the APC to Thursday 18th June 2020.
The faction loyal to Obaseki, who earlier in the day resigned his membership of the APC, comprises the factional Edo State Deputy Chairman of APC, Kenneth Asekomhe and one of the governorship aspirants on the party’s platform, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, who were last week expelled from APC by the National Working Committee for anti-party activities.
The suit has as appellants, the APC and Oshiomhole.
While the NWC of APC insists that the governorship primary election in Edo State should be by direct mode, Obaseki’s faction is calling for an indirect mode of the primary.
The respondents are Asekomhe, Iduoriyekemwen, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inspector-General of Police.