By Gideon Njoku
In a strongly worded rebuke, the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has told his successor in office, Adams Oshiomhole that: “Edo is not Lagos”
Both men were, also, former Governors of Edo state. But, there has been no love lost between them, especially, since Oshiomhole replaced Oyegun as the APC National Chairman in a not-too tidy manner. In what was seen by many as a palace coup, Oyegun was forced out of the high profile office in favour of Oshiomhole.
The I-don’t-care relationship between them became public since after the 2019 General elections. In the election, the APC lost five states to the PDP. In Rivers and Zamfara states, the party was barred by the Courts from presenting any candidates at all, except for the Presidency.
The losses and, the Rivers and Zamfara situations, have been blamed, by a number of the party’s stakeholders, on Oshiomhole’s style of leadership.
Oyegun was one of those who berated Oshiomhole for the losses, and compared his style of leadership to that of a motor park tout.
Not one to let such a broadside go, Oshiomhole replied in same manner, laying the blame on Oyegun, and dismissed him as a weak leader who let indiscipline reign during his Chairmanship of the party.
But the unfriendly disposition between both men worsened in the past two weeks with them throwing pot shots at each other.
The bone of contention, now, is the crisis rocking the Edo state chapter of the APC, which has pitched the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, against Oshiomhole. The former is the later’s successor in office. In fact, the later is the former’s political godfather. Obaseki was Oshiomhole’s Secretary to Government when he was the governor. The national chairman saw to Obaseki’s installation as his successor.
But soon, both men fell apart, allegedly, over Oshiomhole’s over-bearing intervention in Obaseki’s running of the government. An APC stakeholder in the state told this magazine: “Oshiomhole wants to run the APC and, also, run Edo state as its governor. He wants to be the ultimate political godfather in the state.”
Things came to a head when the Edo State House of Assembly couldn’t be inaugurated because Oshiomhole and Obaseki wanted to install a leadership they could control. Members were divided into two camps – one camp for Oshiomhole, and the other for Obaseki.
Last week, the Obaseki group pulled a fast one on the Oshimhole group, and even though they were only nine in number, picked and inaugurated the Assembly’s leadership.
Led by Oshiomhole, his camp, which is 15 in number, has cried foul, declaring the inaugurated leadership illegal. Oshiomhole says he is ashamed of his state. But the state APC, as well as Oyegun, has since congratulated the Assembly Leadership. Since then, both camps have been at each other’s throat, with the Oshiomhole group, allegedly, relocating to Abuja.
Oshiomhole and group say the election will not stand, that the governor’s proclamation of the Assembly was shrouded in secrecy. But Obaseki’s group dismisses their claim. The opinion in the state is that Oshiomhole plans to give Obaseki the Ambode treatment, an allegation which neither he nor his supporters deny.
Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past governor of Lagos state, was denied a second term in office by Lagos state APC stakeholders led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor, and National Leader of the APC. He is the ultimate godfather of Lagos politics.
Incidentally, Tinubu was the arrow head of those who sacked Oyegun and installed Oshiomhole as the APC National Chairman.
Most Edo state APC stakeholders say Oshiomhole wants to be a Tinubu in Edo. But Oyegun warns that Edo is not Lagos.
In an interview granted the Saturday Punch of June 22, Oyegun blamed Oshiomhole for the crises in the Edo state chapter of the party, and warns that the APC may lose the state to the PDP in 2023.
He says: “Godfatherism in politics is the unfortunate bane of our politics. It is the one that seeks to govern from the outside. Before decisions are made, you must be consulted. Before appointments are made, you must be asked for your list. Before the person you have godfatherd turns right or left, he must ask you which the correct road to take is, otherwise there are consequences.
“My state today is a good example. Look at the kind of situation it is creating”
Then, he added that “Edo is not Lagos”
In a separate satement on his behalf by his media assistant, Chief Ray Murphy, Oyegun pointedly accused Oshiomhole of anti-party activities.
He said:”If his actions against Obaseki are not anti-party, someone should then explain to me what is anti-party. The problem of APC is from a single man, who runs the party line an executive chairman.”
Oshiomhole denies the allegations of godfatherism, asking state house correspondents, who cornered him, to show him evidence.
“Edo people know me and I know them. I don’t need a short-cut to sustain my position in the system. But, you know that there is nobody in Nigeria who is not open to accusations”, he said.
Meanwhile, this magazine gathered that Oshiomhole’s legion of enemies, which include serving and immediate past governors are looking beyond Oshiomhole. They are in a discreet, frantic search for his replacement.