Ahead of the March 18 state assembly elections in Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki and his former political godfather, Adams Oshiomhole have rekindled their rivalry as the duo bicker over moves to have their loyalists installed in the state assembly, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
Edo is one of the eight states where the governorship election will not be held in the now-rescheduled March 18 Governorship/State Houses of Assembly poll.
However, the forthcoming House of Assembly election in the state will rekindle the supremacy battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his erstwhile political godfather and predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Oshiomhole had supported Obaseki to succeed him in 2016 but the political allies turned foes after the 2019 House of Assembly election in which the party won the 24 seats in the assembly christened “24/24”.
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Soon after the victory, a crisis of who will produce the speaker of the assembly erupted. While Obaseki wanted Frank Okiye, Oshiomhole preferred a former speaker of the assembly, Victor Edoror.
The squabble led to the inauguration of 10 out of the 24-member assembly by 9pm leaving 14 constituencies without representation till date.
The crisis culminated in Obaseki’s disqualification from contesting the APC governorship primary in 2020 by the then Oshiomole-led National Working Committee of the party. Obaseki also fought back by engineering the removal of Oshiomhole as the APC national chairman.
Obaseki, who defected to the Peoples Democratic Party after his disqualification from APC, won the 2020 governorship election.
However, the results of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Election have sent jitters to the camp of the state governor. APC won two senatorial seats and five federal constituencies while Labour party won one senatorial district and two federal constituencies. Election is yet to be concluded in two federal constituencies.
The Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi won in the state with 331,163 votes, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC trailed him with 144, 471 votes while Atiku Abubakar of the PDP came a distant third with 89,585 votes.
Obaseki is also battling the National Vice Chairman South South of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, over the control of the structure of the party in the state. This led to the factionalisation of the party in the state.
Analysts say with the results, Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, lost their polling units, wards, federal constituencies and Senatorial districts to Labour Party and the APC.
Shocked by the defeat, Obaseki and his faction of the PDP commenced an aggressive campaign, appealing to the electorates to save the governor from impeachment by voting the candidates of the PDP so that they could have a majority in the assembly.
The PDP has been dishing out campaigns in Benin, Esan and Afemai languages with the intention of winning the peoples’ confidence.
Obaseki while meeting with Oredo women from ward 12, begged them to support PDP candidates and save him from impeachment move he alleged that Oshiomhole and the APC are plotting.
Represented at the meeting by his Chief of Staff, Osaigbovo Iyoha, he said, “APC is planning to disrupt all the good works the governor is doing. We are appealing to the people to stop them by voting PDP all the way.”
Analysts also believed that Obaseki ordered payment of arrears owed local council pensioners from 1984 to 2021 and also approved the immediate promotion of all civil and public servants whose promotions were due in 2020 as parts of last-minute moves to garner support for PDP in the State Assembly election.
The special adviser to Obaseki on Media Project, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement said Oshiomhole will not succeed in his plan against Obaseki, stressing that Edo people will again rise in defence of the governor during the assembly election the way they did in 2020 by voting massively for the PDP, electing a House controlled by the PDP.
“We are, however, confident that like it happened in 2020 when Edo people stood with the governor despite the bullying and intimidation by Oshiomhole and his paymasters, Edo people will again rise in defence of the governor at the polls to elect a House controlled by the PDP
“Obaseki has never placed his confidence in any man or godfather but in God and the people,” he said.
On his part, Oshiomhole’s spokesperson Victor Oshioke said Obaseki is scared of the looming consequences of his reign of terror in the state hence he is unnecessarily accusing the former governor without proof.
“All the evils of Godwin Obaseki are gradually but certainly catching up with him, even while he is still in office. One can only imagine how his life would be when he leaves office soon,” he said.
He said Oshiomhole did not mention impeachment in his message to Edo people but because Obaseki knows that he has committed many offenses, he is running helter-skelter to prevent a peaceful election that will produce an independent parliament in Edo State.
“Obaseki has governed Edo State like Herod. Totally insensitive to the aspirations, frustrations, and cries of the people who elected him. But on February 25, Edo people unambiguously rejected him and his PDP faction in the Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives polls. For the first time since the return to democracy in 1999, Edo State PDP failed to win any seat in the National Assembly, a direct consequence of his vicious and reckless use of state power to intimidate, oppress, terrorise and pauperise our people,” he said.
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