Uncertainty continues to reign over Governor Godwin Obaseki’s re-election bid as the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu has parried plea to give an outright assurance on his (Obaseki) fate ahead of the party’s governorship primary for Edo State scheduled for June 22.
Yesterday, Obaseki and eight other governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, on Sunday, held a meeting with the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, at the state House Marina, Lagos to seal make a case for the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
The meeting, held at Lagos House, Marina, the official residence of the Lagos State governor, which lasted over two hours, centred on the need for Tinubu’s intervention in the feud between Obaseki and the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, which according to the governors, might cost the Edo State governor a second term ticket.
The governors, who flew into Lagos in the afternoon to plead with Tinubu to intervene in the matter, were led by the Chairman, Progressive Governors Forum (a forum of governors elected on the platform of APC) and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.
On the delegation were Obaseki, Sani Bello (Niger), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Mai Bunu (Yobe) and Simon Lalong (Plateau).
They all implored the APC national leader to save Obaseki from the kind of humiliation, which the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, suffered during the party’s primaries ahead of the 2019 elections.
“The governors practically begged Tinubu to ensure that the party would be fair to their colleague during the Edo governorship primary election and that Obaseki should not be muscled out,” a source at the meeting revealed.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) has adopted direct primaries to elect the party’s candidate for the Edo State governorship election, which many believe, might give an edge to Obaseki’s main challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is backed by a faction of the party in the state loyal to Oshiomhole.
It was gathered that Tinubu’s response to the plea by the governors was that every member of the party should be given equal opportunity to vie for the governorship ticket and that direct primary election as approved by the NWC is a test of democracy and popularity of aspirants.
The source further told our correspondent that the position is not far from the APC national leader’s earlier position that “Obaseki must reconcile with Oshiomhole.”
He added that six of the governors at the meeting later moved to Abuja, where they held another meeting with Oshiomhole last night. The governors are also expected to hold another meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the Edo issue today.
While it was not clear whether the APC national chairman gave the governors his words to back down from the battle between him and his predecessor, TNG’s source revealed that among the conditions tabled by members of camp before any negotiation with Obaseki include immediate inauguration of 12 members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly loyal to Oshiomhole and dropping of the state’s deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, as running mate in the forthcoming governorship election.
“Members of Oshiomhole’s camp are insisting that Governor Obaseki should immediately forward a proclamation to the speaker of the Edo State Assembly for an immediate inauguration of the 12 members-elect of the House, who are yet to take their respective seats since June last year.
“Besides that, they are also demanding that Obaseki should drop his deputy, Shaibu, as running mate. Despite these conditions, the governor is not even sure of getting the party’s ticket as forces oppose to him within Edo APC keep swelling by the day.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the Association of Local Government Chairmen of Nigeria (ALGON) has thrown its weight behind the adoption of indirect primary election by the state chapter of APC to elect the party’s candidate for the gubernatorial election.
Representing Edo State ALGON chairman, the chairman, Etsako Central Local Government Area and vice-chairman of Edo ALGON, Comrade John Akhigbe, at a press briefing yesterday, said it is irresponsible and humanely reckless for any group or an individual to propose a direct primary nomination process for a political party at a time the world is battling with the coronavirus pandemic.
His words: “Edo State chapter of ALGON hereby make clear our resolution that indirect primary is the safest option, the most humane and healthy alternative for the APC 2020 governorship primary.
“Edo State ALGON is shocked that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party opted to conduct a direct primary for the nomination of a governorship candidate in the 2020 gubernatorial election. We believe that members of the NWC will not want to be chronicled as political leaders who willingly sacrificed the lives of their members for ungodly purpose of securing political advantage in an election.”