Nigeria: Edo APC Governorship - Oshiomhole, Obaseki Head for Final Showdown

Abuja and Benin — The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, and the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, are heading for a final showdown ahead of the governorship primary of the party.

The supremacy battle between Oshiomhole and Obaseki had created factions in the Edo State chapter of the APC with parallel State Working Committees (SWC).

It is not yet clear which of the APC factions in Edo- one loyal to Oshiomhole and the other loyal to Governor Obaseki will produce the authentic candidate of the party ahead of the gubernatorial election as the case is still pending in court.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2016 governorship election in Edo has been picked as the consensus candidate of the Oshiomhole camp.

Ize-Iyamu who returned to the APC in November 2020 will slug it out with Obaseki in the party's primary slated for June 22, 2020.

Ize-Iyamu emerged as the consensus candidate in Abuja during a screening chaired by Sen. Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North) on Tuesday night.

It was gathered that Mr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, E.J Agnonayinma, Mr. Saturday Iwulekhue and Prof. Ebegue Amadasun, all governorship aspirants, participated in the exercise.

Sen. Alimikhena presented Ize-Iyamu as the consensus candidate on behalf of a seven-man screening panel. Recall that the faction recently conducted a mock primary to pick a consensus candidate but the exercise ended in fiasco over alleged lack of transparency and fairness.

Meanwhile, Ize-Iyamu has obtained his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.

After obtaining the forms, the former Secretary to the Edo State Government told journalists that he had learnt his lesson and was back home to be a member of the APC after he left the party in 2014.

He said, "We have resolved that before picking the ticket, we will support each other; even with finance, to enable us pick the form, and that was how I was picked. We mean well for our state and we are passionate about the development of Edo State as we are not happy with the pace of development, security challenge and other issues in the state; and that is why we need to change the incumbent government in Edo State."

When asked whether Oshiomhole has endorsed him, he said that would be after the party's primary.

One of the aspirants, Chris Ogiemwonyi, congratulated Pastor Ize-Iyamu and pledged to support him to realise his ambition.

Ogiemwonyi called on his supporters to join hands with him in providing the needed support for Ize-Iyamu to actualise his dream.

The Chairman of Obaseki's faction of the APC in Edo, Anslem Ojezua, yesterday, said Gov. Obaseki would present himself for nomination as the party candidate in the forthcoming primary.

Ojezua said this yesterday while responding to questions on Ize-Iyamu's emergence, saying nobody could push Obaseki out of APC.

The Publicity Secretary of the Oshiomhole faction, Chris Azebamwan, told our reporter that Ize-Iyamu was the APC candidate in Edo State, but that whoever wanted to contest could contest with him.

Azebamwan said, "Ize-Iyamu is the sole candidate of the APC, but any Nigerian who is qualified can so decide to contest; we will not close the door. Nomination forms are on sale and if you meet the requirements, you can purchase."

Meanwhile, a political group, Obaseki Mandate Forum, yesterday, obtained forms for Obaseki at the party's national secretariat ahead of the party's primary.

The Chairman of the group, Chief Nathaniel Momoh, said Obaseki in the last four years had proven capacity to move the state forward despite many challenges and distractions that had manifested in various forms.

Candidate cannot emerge in Abuja - Obaseki

Reacting to the emergence of Ize-Iyanmu as the APC governorship candidate in Edo State, Gov. Obaseki said the candidate of the party cannot emerge in Abuja.

Speaking through his media aide, Crusoe Osagie, the governor dismissed the reports that the Edo State chapter of the APC had in a meeting in Abuja picked Ize-Iyanmu as its consensus candidate.

He said the responsibility for selecting the gubernatorial candidate for the party resided with the Edo State chapter of the APC, while liaising with relevant national structures of the party.

He said, "The Edo State chapter of the APC, which is responsible for deploying the inner workings of the party towards the emergence of a candidate of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, resides and operates in Edo State; not Abuja.

"The charade in Abuja was not surprising as it was hatched by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and members of his Edo Peoples Movement (EPM).

"It is, therefore, hilarious to hear that a so-called consensus candidate for the party for the Edo State governorship was selected in Abuja. For us, this is a joke. Oshiomhole once again has set the APC on a journey to perdition in Edo State as he did in Zamfara, Bayelsa, Rivers, Taraba and several other states.

"The last time we checked, the timetable released by Oshiomhole's National Working Committee (NWC) fixed Edo primary election for June 22, and it is expected to hold in Edo State, but we now hear that they have conducted the primary election three weeks before the set date in a jurisdiction far away from Edo State, making a mockery of our great party, the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidency and all other institutions and esteemed individuals associated with our party," he said.

Fears over repeat of Zamfara episode

Daily Trust reports that the internal wrangling in the build up to the 2019 general elections cost the APC Zamfara and Rivers states.

In Zamfara, the battle between a former Governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, and eight governorship aspirants led by Sen. Kabiru Garba Marafa gave Bello Matawalle of the PDP the coveted seat.

After winning the governorship election, the Supreme Court nullified the victory of the APC following a litigation arising from governorship primary in Zamfara APC. The suit was filed by Sen. Marafa.

It was a similar scenario in Rivers State. The feud between top stalwarts of the party in the state led to a political misfortune for the party. The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and Senator Magnus Abbe fought till the Rivers State Government House slipped of the APC.

However, in Lagos State, it was an easy ride for the National Leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when he edged out a sitting Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in the build up to the election.

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