Lagos – As the political crisis in Edo State continues to deepen, the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, has continued to enjoy massive support and daily endorsements from stakeholders within and outside the state, a development that has not gone down well with the camp of his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Our correspondent gathered that Oshiomhole’s loyalists fear the former labour leader may be losing his grip on politics in the state.
While Oshiomhole, who is the national chairman of the party, may have made up his mind to deny Obaseki the party’s ticket in next year’s governorship election, many concerned stakeholders in the party are of the opinion that the APC could lose the state if the governor were denied a second term ticket.
There has been a no love lost between Oshiomhole and Obaseki since the beginning of the current political dispensation.
Loyalists of Oshiomhole have described Obaseki as an ingrate and promised to visit him with the ‘Ambode treatment’.
However, Obaseki, who has said that his second term is non-negotiable, is gathering massive support from stakeholders in the party and the state who feel that he is fighting against certain forces who are hell-bent on holding the state to ransom.
Aside his colleagues in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) who have thrown their weight behind him, Obaseki is also enjoying the support of the Edo State chapter of the APC.
The state chairman of the party, Anselm Ojezua, who was once Oshiomhole’s loyalist, has endorsed all actions taken by the governor so far.
The governor also enjoys the support of prominent party leaders in the state, notable among them Chief John Oyegun, the immediate past national chairman of the party, and Chief Charles Idahosa, a former political adviser to Oshiomhole.
Teachers in the state, under the auspices of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), recently endorsed the governor for a second term in office, while the Edo chapter of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) to give the party’s ticket to Governor Obaseki to seek re-election in 2020.
Also recently, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), National Butchers Union, Market Women, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), youths and students held a solidarity march to endorse the governor for a second term.
Most importantly, a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, during a visit to the state also endorsed the governor for a second term in office, noting that the governor had done exceptionally well in infrastructure and economic development in the state.
He also urged the governor to continue the good work he had started.
According to him, “I was in Edo when he was elected governor of the state. I know the efforts he has contributed in the state. He should continue the good works he is doing as governor. He is doing exceptionally well.”
Speaking with our correspondent, Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, said the gale of endorsements for Obaseki was an indication that he had justified the mandate given to him by the people of the state and they want him to consolidate on his achievements beyond 2020.
He said: “The whole of Edo State is unanimous in their endorsement of Obaseki. All the noise in some sections of the media and in some other places are just from a very few people who, over the years, have developed entitlement mentality and itchy fingers so as to continue to benefit from government.
“In terms of the actual populace in Edo State, there is a unanimous belief that the governor has done well and so deserves a second term in office.
“If you talk to the civil servants, farmers, pensioners, teachers, artisans, professional bodies, they will tell you that if it is about performance, the governor has done well and they want him to continue in office for another four years.”
Also speaking, some concerned political leaders in Edo have described as ignorant those saying Obaseki would receive the ‘Ambode treatment’ when he decides to seek re-election.
Festus Etokhana, one of the APC leaders in the state, said the ‘Ambode treatment’ cannot work in Edo State because unlike former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, who was rejected by APC leaders in Lagos, Obaseki enjoys the support of Edo APC leaders.
“There are many reasons why Obaseki can’t get the ‘Ambode treatment’ in Edo. One, the politics of Edo is very different from Lagos politics. Two, the governor enjoys the support of Edo APC leaders, Ambode did not. Even when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu wanted to pardon him, the leaders said they will revolt against him.
“In Edo here, 80 percent of APC members here are with Obaseki. The State Exco, led by the party chairman, are solidly behind him.
“Many elders of the party have risen in his defence when this issue started. So, how will he get the ‘Ambode treatment’ here in Edo?” Etokhana asked.
However, speaking with our correspondent, a loyalist of Oshiomhole, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there would be interesting times ahead as the former Edo governor would direct his energy to the political situation in Edo after the conclusion of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
“The national chairman has not even interfered in Edo politics at all. He fights one battle at a time. He has been focused on the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections which will take place this weekend.
“After the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa have been concluded, he will shift his attention to his home state of Edo, which is the next governorship election. By then, we will know who really is in charge of the politics of the state,” he said.