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Politics of defection, rallies in Edo APC

In this piece, Governor Godwin Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media Crusoe Osagie examines the politics of defection and rivalry fuelled by rallies within the All Progressives Congress (APC) amid the battle of supremacy between the camps loyal to the governor and the National Chairman Adams Oshiomohole

 

The crisis between the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki, took another turn for the worse last week.

A battle that further gives credence to what a section of the state APC has described as “show of desperation, growing unpopularity and the fall of the national chairman”.

Ordinarily, like the biblical prodigal son whose return was a fanfare, the second coming of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his supporters into the APC should be a cause of joy and celebration, having given incumbent Governor Obaseki a tough race in the 2016 governorship.

But this is not the case for the decampee, whose movement from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has doubled the tension and altercation in the state, inflicting more pains and anguish on party members and residents.

All thanks to the national chairman who in a bid to test his power and popularity is bringing in the new member to the Edo APC through the back door, neglecting the units, wards, and local governments and state.

Worst still, the state governor and party chairman were neither informed of the defection, nor its rally. The governor specifically noted, “I have checked with the state APC secretariat and as far I am concerned, the party has not announced officially that they will be having a rally”.

Already, over 20 people are said to be lying in pains at the Central Hospital, Benin City as a result of various degrees of injuries sustained in protest against the proposed defection ‘mega rally’, while property worth millions of naira, including two vehicles that have been destroyed.

Thousands of Edo youths had on Thursday marched from Ring Road to the Benin Airport, setting bonfires on different parts of the dual carriage Airport Road in protest of the rally scheduled to take place on Friday, 13 December 2019 at Garrick Memorial College in Benin City, thereby causing hours of traffic gridlock, even as motorists made detours through other routes to the city centre.

Spokesman for the protesters, Mr. Imafidon Utete said they were on the streets to protest against plans to disrupt public peace under the guise of receiving PDP members.

He claimed that the rally is not only ill-timed but a threat to the peace and security of residents, as result of rising cases of cult activities in the state.

Expectedly, hell was let loose on Thursday night when some youths alleged to be loyalists of Adams Oshiomhole invaded the state, shooting sporadically and injuring several youths and party members, while others scampered for safety.

In the response, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, who cited ‘overriding internal security interests’, suspended the rally till further notice.

In a letter addressed to Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IGP, ACP Idowu Owohunwa, the police said, “In cognizance of the security consequences of the proposed mega rally, I am to confirm that the Inspector General of Police has directed the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command to emplace appropriate security framework that is directed at suspending the rally until further notice”.

Also, the Edo State Government placed a total ban on political rallies, demonstrations and processions in the state over rising security concerns occasioned by the spike in protests around Benin metropolis, warning that anyone who allows his property for political rallies would have his certificate of occupancy revoked and forfeited to the state government. The government also placed a ban on the use of public schools for political rallies.

According a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq.,“The government of Edo State has, over the past few days, made clear its position that the plans by some identified mischief-makers to organise an unauthorised political rally in Benin City was capable of leading to a breakdown of public peace and also a danger to the persons and property of Edo citizens.”

But, despite the warnings and uncertainties in the political space, Ize-Iyamu backed by his lord, Oshiomhole, in what social media analysts term, ‘a bride paying his own bride price’, illegally went ahead with the defection in his residence with less than 100 people, as security operatives guarded the Garrick venue in compliance of the police directive.

Angry youths had arrived at the venue on the D-day, dispersing artistes and musicians contracted to perform at the rally, as well as Oshiomhole’s supporters, who felt they had lost the battle in the state.

Journalists who visited the proposed venue for the rally met it in outright abandonment, with chairs and canopy covers littered like a riot-zone.

Read Also: Oshiomhole must go, Edo APC insists

 

In what some section of the media termed a ‘house arrest’, the police kept surveillance on the key leaders of the warring factions of the party, including Oshiomhole to avert the breakdown of law and order in the state, as they appeared ready to cause violence with the slightest opportunity.

Given the depths from which he rose to the top having served eight years as the governor of Edo and now National Chairman of the APC, does the failure of the rally portray the end of Oshiomhole as a political deity?

Indeed, it is a worrying time for the national chairman who seems to have lost grip and popularity in his home state, which ordinarily should be his strength.

This is as APC governors are speedily pulling tricks to oust the chairman. Keenly aware that he has grown virally unpopular within the state chapter of the party and the national level, Oshiomhole has grown desperate and ready to do the bidding of anyone who can save his job, no matter the consequence.

According to a party member who spoke at the weekend, “The outcome of the failed mega rally is a testimony to the increasing unpopularity of Adams Oshiomhole in his home state and a proof that he would soon crumble.

Governor Obaseki is fully in charge of the party structure and will win Oshiomhole in any political duel because Edo people are strongly with him.

Apart from being politically in charge, the governor has set very high, even stretched standards, evidenced in unprecedented transformations in hard infrastructure and fundamental reforms”

What should have been a triumphant entry of Ize-Iyamu to the ruling APC was flawed because he chose to pitch his tent with a man who appears to have been defiled in his home state, as a result of his desperation to oust the governor against the will of Edo people.

Some party members alleged that the national chairman is currently unable move freely without thugs and security personnel because he has lost grip of the party structure and seeking who will fall with him.

From mega rally to a disgraceful parlour meeting, it’s a faulty start for Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a bad sign for his political aspirations and growth.

With his coming to the APC done in illegality and chaos, one begins to ponder what he will be bringing to the table of the party.

 

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