By Suleiman Umaru
Adams Oshiomhole , a former governor of Edo state and National Chairman of All Progressive Congress, APC, is not a happy man. Oshiomhole’s source of unhappiness is about what is happening in the party in the state, which appear to have been factionalised a armed thugs has thrown the state into a theatre of war.
The incident of last Wednesday as the party prepares for a rally in Benin city, the state Capital speaks volume. Political watchers believe that both for the intervention of Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, to cancel he rally, when it became apparent that there was trouble ahead because of the mayhem being unleashed on party supporters who had trooped out in their thousands to welcome APC National Chairman to the state by the thugs, the situation would have been worse.
The APC National Chairman, was said to have been accompanied to the state by some members of the party National Working Committee, NWA, in order to receive Osagie Ize-Iyamu., a Clergy man and former Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship Candidate in the state, who was said to have contested against Godwin Obaseki, the incumbent governor, in the 2016 governorship election .
The former Edo state governor and Labour activist was said to be happy to be in the state to receive the PDPD Chieftain , because of the over 30,000 of his supporters , he was bring into the APC. At the last governorship election in the state , the margin of his loss, as a Candidate of the PDP, to Obaseki, the APC, flag bearer then, was said to be 50,000, going by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, records, an indication that the PDP, Candidate may lose with about 80,000 votes to APC Candidate in the 2020 election.
Indeed, the APC National Chairman may have been emboldened to visit Edo, his home state because of the approval of granted to the request of Amusa David, a retired Army Colonel , and incidentally the leader of a faction of the party loyal to him organizing the rally to welcome the PDP decampees for deployment of police personnel to provide security at the rally by the IGP.
He got it wrong as party thugs embarrassed him. They were said to have taken the opportunity of the visist to take over the Benin Airport road awaiting when his Helicopter would touch. When it became clear that he had landed at the airport and being taken to his residence, they were said to have started ‘’shooting sporadically to scare the Abuja based politicians.
Eyewitness account said burn-fires were made at strategic locations in the Edo state Capital while roads leading to his residence were blocked by heavy –duty vehicles.The source disclosed that security operatives including soldiers who had been on escort team had struggled for about an hour to disperse the angry armed party thugs to avoid inflicting harm on the APC National Chairman.
Ahead of the Friday, December 13, 2019, party rally in the state Capital, 15 people were said to have been injured during the alleged clash between supporters of Oshiomhole in the state and those of Obaseki, the state governor. But the APC National Chairman , would not believe that it was a clash between a non- existent factions of the party.
He may have alluded that they were PDP thugs going by his comments. ‘’’I know you are hurt with what you are passing through here , particularly when those decamping to the party were people who fought us in the last election’’. Given an insight into why they were in the state, he said ‘’ we were in the state to welcome Ize-Iyamu, a former PDP governorship Candidate in the state and thousands of his supporters to the APC’’ but noted that it have resulted into’ ‘’unleashing mayhem on the people’’.
He may have contradicted himself when he asked the supporters to be calm, noting that ‘’APC is our House and we will not destroy it and therefore , will not want anybody to be killed’’. He was said to have made the party supporters realise that he is not a coward for preaching peace in the midst of provocation by the alleged PDP, thugs’’ who were APC members opposed to his interference to the state party Affairs from Abuja. Those who knew me , referring his days as a labour activists, knew that I am not a coward, I am not afraid of fight but I will not ‘’.
Investigation by The Value News shows that the build up to the mayhen in Benin, the Edo state Capital, started when information filtered out that a faction of the ruling APC in the state led by Oshiomhole, plans to hold a rally , to welcome Ize-Iyamu, a former Chieftain of the PDP and his supporters to the party. Note that there have been a rivalry between the APC National Chairman and Obaseki, the state governor, over control of the party machinery.
Insiders told The Magazine that Oshiomhole who had been at dagger drawn with Obaseki, believed in political circles to be his godson had withdrawn his support from him because of alleged disloyalty. It was not surprising why the former Edo state governor, never supported Obaseki re-election bid, was said to have done everything within his powers to stop him and plant his crony as the next governor of the state. Perhaps, to avoid aggravating the crisis in the party, the last Wednesday mayhem, by armed party thugs had not been attributed to Obaseki, but PDP.
Insiders informed The Magazine, that APC , had been factionalised since last November, with a group led by Amosu, mained their loyalty to the APC National Chairman , while the second group was backed by Obaseki, the state governor.
There are fears in party circles that if the crisis in the party are not properly handled by President Muhammadu Buhari by reconciling all the warring parties, APC, may likely lose Edo state to the Opposition PDP. The party appeared to have cashed in on the struggle for supremacy and control of the APC machinery to put its House in order in order to spring a surprise .
There have been conflicting reports that in spite of the cancellation of the APC rally by the IGP and the ban on political rallies in the state, the rally was said to have taken place at the former PDP governorship Candidate’s residence, to show how desperate he was to join the APC, in order to achieve his hidden political ambition.