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Edo PDP: The Cost Of Victory

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Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appears to be in a fix. The party is waging an inexplicable war against itself. Chieftains are at loggerheads. Why should an opposition party that has now become a ruling party not make use of its new status to fortify the structure, strengthen its membership and forge cohesion?

Although the chapter reclaimed power last year, it lost its peace afterwards. Utterly divided, Edo PDP is finding it difficult to manage its electoral feat. It is enveloped by strife and rancour. What should ordinarily unite the party has turned out to be a divisive factor.

The new party symbol is Governor Godwin Obaseki, who a few days ago savoured the rally held in his honour for his triumph at the court. The event amounted to a decoy to give an impression of unity. But, there is mutual suspicion between him and other PDP leaders.

The polarisation revolves around the founding members who lacked electoral assets to give the chapter victory and newcomers or defectors who had resources to swing the pendulum of victory.

Obaseki became the automatic leader of a party he did not fully understand. Neither did the party understand him. The two camps were only united by the determination to wrest power from the APC of Comrade Adam Oshiomhole and Pastor Osage Ize-Iyamu.

PDP chieftains hailed Obaseki’s defection. Yet, he was perceived as a stranger who should give many concessions to old party members who nurtured the platform. Ironically, the activities of the governor had previously weakened the PDP when he was an APC governor.

The governor worked hard to retain control. It would have been impossible without the cooperation of Edo PDP leaders. But, he may now need to work harder to restore peace and harmony to the vehicle he rode to power.

The thinking is that the chapter has been donated to the governor. In another breath, there is the pervading feeling that certain conditions were momentarily fulfilled before the emergency parley was consummated in desperation.

At issue is Obaseki’s style. He was prepared for the election. He won, despite the hurdles. The governor invested much in the electioneering in terms of emotion, energy and huge financial resources. No State House is for the poor and stingy.

After winning, Edo started recording a lull in state administration. The government never took off fully after the swearing-in for a second term. Six months after, there is no Executive Council in place. It exco is at the half, made up of the governor, Deputy Governor, SSG and Chief of Staff. Impatient stalwarts who had endured the pains of being in opposition for 12 years demanded returns on their political investment. The gap is being filled by political figures; top civil servants, although the Body of Permanent Secretaries cannot replace the exco. This has generated discord.

Obaseki’s former godfather-turned tormentor, Comrade Oshiomhole, and his main rival at the poll, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, have congratulated him for defeating them in court. The governor said he only read it on social media. That means they must come physically, armed with congratulatory letters, to do obeisance at the Government House.

Obaseki re-echoed his disdain for godfatherism, a factor that played a crucial role in his ascendancy as governor in 2016. He is telling the world that he will not play the role of a godfather in 2024 when his second term will expire. Unmindful of the fact that he had already conquered, he has decided to continue the fight. To observers, the governor’s reaction to Oshiomhole’s and Ize-Iyamu’s post-litigation submission smacked of vendetta.

Also, Obaseki has ruled out reconciliation with the pro-Oshiomhole House of Assembly members, who “deserted.” These lawmakers opted for a choice that had boxed them into a corner.

They have suffered a lot in political isolation. In the House, they have become persona non grata, although they were legitimately elected by their constituents. The solution lies with the judiciary, the arbiter, Obaseki has maintained. The implication is that both the ruling party and the entire state are divided. The House of Assembly is made up of a fraction of lawmakers. This also smacked of a lack of certain political skills on the part of the chief executive.

Having eaten humble pie, a political solution should have been explored to resolve the House of Assembly crisis to end the mutual bitterness.

Two weeks ago, a section of the party challenged the governor to a duel. They were like ants before the powerful governor. Many chieftains had complained that they were left in the cold after the election, due to the delay in setting up the exco.

They earnestly wanted political benefits for releasing their platform for an outsider in his period of distress. They never understood the language of pre-election compensation or systematic ‘pay-off.’ They also protested that Obasekj was not carrying them along in state administration.

Why are the party chieftains lacking the skill to constructively engage their new leader and pour out their feelings to him in an atmosphere of brotherhood? Why are they failing to realise that they need to make some adjustments to the style of the governor, who they did not know much about when they agreed to work with him? Why the mutual bullying in Edo PDP?

It appears there is no love lost between the governor and the party chairman, Dr Tony Aziegbemi, in particular. Were certain partisan promises not fulfilled by the governor? Is the chairman expecting more that the governor can politically concede?

Last month, the aggrieved chairman had reported the governor to the National Working Committee (NWC), led by National Chairman Uche Seconds. But, can Second tame Obaseki? At a time, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike alleged that some top party leaders had become tax or rent collectors.

Aziegbemi accused Obaseki of attempting to dissolve the executive committees of the party at the ward, local government and state levels.

It was said that the governor wanted dissolution to permit harmonisation and guarantee accommodation for defectors from the APC.

The harmonisation canvassed by Aziegbemj was that Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu should step down for an old PDP member to take his place. The governor and his deputy kicked. Maybe, because it was not part of the pre-election agreement.

Last week, the chairman was shoved aside by the State Working Committee(SWC). The suspension was sudden. Only a few discerning PDP stalwarts could see the handwriting on the wall. The allegations against him are weighty. They include gross misconduct, fueling tension, promoting disunity and bringing the party into disrepute. These infractions were determined, based on the perception and judgment of the party leader, who expected total loyalty from party officers.

The suspension has further polarised the divided PDP chapter. The publicity secretary, Chris Nehikhare, announced the suspension, saying that a panel made up of some party officers has been set up to probe the allegations.

To underscore the polarisation and the escalated crisis, the youth leader, Ehis Destiny, disputed the suspension, saying that it was unwarranted.

The governor will surely have an upper hand. No party member can match his awesome power, influence, personal structure in the party, and resources at his disposal.

Giving an insight into the reason for the crisis, Destiny said: “Some powers that be, who believe that PDP in Edo is their private and personal estate, have tried to hijack the administration of the party in the state, even when they know what they are doing is wrong.”

Who will now forge unity in the Edo Chapter? Maybe, the National Reconciliation Committee, led by former Senate President Bukola Saraki.

But, will the warring gladiators listen to the panel?

SOURCE: THE NATION

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