on Patrick Obahiagbon is a top member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. Obahiagbon served as Chief of Staff to Mr Adams Oshiomhole when the latter was governor of Edo. Before then, he was a member of the House of Representatives. In this interview, Obahiagbon shares his perspectives on the Edo APC crisis ahead of the party’s June 22 primary to elect its candidate for the Sept governorship election.
Que: There is so much tension ahead of the June 22 shadow election of the APC in Edo State. How did we get to this frightening stage?
Political alterations and democratic contestations are concomitant imperatives in a governorship shadow elections such as this but what has made this one toxic, deleterious and nauseous is the refractory predilection of the incumbent governor to come to terms with the fact that it is a constitutional right for others to aspire and contest with him. This sense of entitlement and messianic streak has provoked and foisted on the state an ambience of political bellicosity and belligerency occasioning the brutal and deprecable harassments of political opponents.
Que: The battle is between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole forces. But some eminent people including governors are trying to make peace. Do you see the possibility of a meeting point?
The battle is not between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole. That is the red herring across the political trail and obfuscation the governor and his political high priests seek to create. The battle is rather between Mr Governor and majority of the party members whose sense of dignity has been incontinently macadamized, shattered and battered by a governor who chose to elevate the politics of alienation, vilification, vendetta, scorched earth policies, olympian aloofness, jackboot weaponry and disdain for the political class that toiled so hard in his making as governor into a high art of state policy. For those trying to make peace, I say unto them that blessed are the peace makers for they shall inherit the earth and kingdom of God only that their belated efforts is a futile attempt to lock the stable doors after the political horses have justifiably bolted.
Que: You were a member of the group which arranged a consensus candidate among the aspirants opposed to Obaseki. The gang-up appears to be so strong that there is no dissenting voice among the aspirants to the outcome. What is going to be the fate of the outcome of that arrangement if the intervention on the misunderstanding between the governor and Oshiomhole is resolved?
The fact that about eight aspirants dotted the Edo political topography and that they have been able to historically build a consensus amongst one of them in the person of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu which, in itself, is unprecedented speak volumes for the righteous indignation against the governance modus operandi of the governor, especially given the crest of the people’s goodwill he rode to power few years ago. The consensus arrangement is now like the Rock of Gibraltar going forward and, like I said earlier, the issues at play cannot be reduced to a battle between the governor and Comrade Oshiomhole. That will be too simplistic with the greatest respect. Although both sides to the dispute have arguments against them, the thinking in some quarters is that the bulk of the blame lies with Oshiomhole for trying to be a godfather in Edo politics after he himself resisted godfathers as governor. To opine that Oshiomhole endeavoured to play the godfather at anytime has been a failed attempt by Mr Governor and his small supporters to divert attention from the real issues which verge on a total disconnect between the governor and the APC political establishment. He spat, disdained the political class and rubbished the sanctity of party suzerainty. All Oshiomhole ever requested of him was to be a bridge-builder and to stop desecrating the name and integrity of his fellow party men and women but he elected to be a political mines-layer rather than a political minesweeper. If Oshiomhole was looking for whom to control after he exited office, he certainly would have looked at another direction and certainly not him. That is the gospel truth.
Que: Do you agree that Edo Peoples Movement and Obaseki/Shaibu Movement have done so much to fuel the crisis?
The Obaseki/Shaibu Movement was premature and had no justification at all in birthing because that was a vote of no confidence on existing party structures that they rode to power. It was creating a needless dissension in the party. It was a strategic and tactical fiasco. The Edo Peoples Movement, on the other hand, came on board, from what I am told and read from their published manifesto, as a bold attempt to reconnect the party with its rank and file membership who had become so disillusioned and recumbent as their reaction to the aloof disposition of the governor. The people expressed this dissatisfaction with the governor when they ensured he lost his ward, federal constituency and senatorial district in the presidential and National Assembly elections as a political punishment for his aloofness. Their intervention, from that point of view, in collaboration with other well intentioned party members who operated within the APC was timeous.
Que: As a close associate of Oshiomhole, what are the Chairman’s minimum conditions for peace with Obaseki?
The National Chairman has nothing personal against the governor save that the majority of party members are not happy with the governor.
If the majority of the people approach the National Chairman this minute and say they have forgiven the governor his serial political sins, the Comrade Oshiomhole I know would file behind them and he has, in fact, since requested the governor to go and mollycoodle the injured and lacerated psyche of his party members but his request was unheeded.
Que: The APC faction loyal to Obaseki says it is the authentic executive and should therefore be the one to decide the mode of primary to adopt for the June 22 primary election. What is your perspective?
The APC Constitution is very clear on that matter. The NEC of the party has since requested the NWC to abide by direct primary in the conduct of shadow election in one of their meetings except the state chapters can plead exceptional circumstances to conduct indirect primary and let me say that the exceptional circumstances of the moment as per the COVID-19 situation is even more propitously disposed to the conduct of direct primary. The NWC has since communicated to INEC that it will be direct primary and so be it. And what is more, the APC faction loyal to the governor is not recognized by law within the matrix of legal and judicial jurisprudence currently extant but they are at liberty to continue to entertain themselves.
Que: In the event that Obaseki does not get the APC ticket for the Sept election, it is insinuated that he may defect to the PDP to actualise his second term bid. Do you care if he leaves APC?
There have been rumours of his likely movement to another political party if he doesn’t get the ticket of our party to seek reelection. But the truth is that the clear and present danger to our electoral victory is in his getting our ticket because like I asseverated earlier, he was trounced in his ward, federal constituency and senatorial district in the last presidential and National Assembly elections.
Que: There are fears that APC may lose Edo if it does not resolve this crisis and goes into this election as a divided party. Do you share this view?
No heebie-jeebies given the concatenation of events hereinbefore adumbrated which has made the popularity of the governor to suffer a leviathan attenuation.
Que: What is your message to Obaseki as the primary approaches?
My advice to him is to take a bow and thank all party men and women who toiled so hard to make him governor. He should also be humble enough to go make peace with his boss, Comrade Oshiomhole, and genuinely apologise for his actions and show appreciation for making him a Governor even if for a term. God used Oshiomhole to make him governor and that fact is indubitable.
Que: The impression from the Obaseki camp is that Ize Iyamu didn’t properly get waiver to contest the primary. What is the story of the waiver?
The fear of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu has become the beginning of wisdom in the Obaseki camp and that’s not surprising. Only those in the governor’s camp know what they mean by that assertion. The NWC is empowered to give waivers under special circumstances and they have rightfully done so. If they are not saying he is not a registered member of the party, they are talking about waiver. I am surprised they have not started to tell the whole world that he is too tall in height to qualify to become Edo State governor. Haba…
Source: Sunday Vanguard