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Edo APC Primaries: Oshiomhole Cannot Be Umpire and Contestant at The Same Time – Anselm Ojezua

Regrets supporting his emergence as national chairman.

Says PDP option open to Obaseki.

While the deeply embattled governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki had been making desperate moves for peace with his erstwhile political benefactor, Adams Oshiomhole, his loyalists appear to be working at cross-purposes with him as they continue to beat drums of war thereby further widening the gulf. Anselm Ojezua, factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State is a case in point. In a telephone interview with Channels Television on Tuesday, Ojezua hurled furious tirade at the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole whom sources in the party claim installed him as state chairman of the party. Here are excerpts of the interview.

Implication of support for Osagie Ize-Iyamu by the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.

It is not true that Ize-Iyamu got the ticket. Ize-Iyamu is not even a member of our party and the party chairmen have said so since he himself has admitted that he did not register at the ward as required by the constitution of the party.

On the waiver said to have been granted Ize-Iyamu by the NWC?

The NWC cannot grant waiver him on a defective process. The constitution is very clear on how to obtain waiver. There are conditions which must be met. He hasn’t met them. You are correct; the national chairman is supporting him, yes. But he’s not a member of our party because the national chairman has a problem obeying the rules of the party. We have a constitution that guides us. He wants to act as a commander-in-chief; and it cannot work. Because he’s desperate to remove Obaseki, he is ready to break all the rules. This has been his hallmark since he became chairman. We have lost so many states – governorship – we lost Zamfara, we lost Bayelsa; we have lost so many. We couldn’t even contest Taraba, we couldn’t contest Rivers because the national chairman has a problem obeying rules and even obeying court orders.

Obaseki’s chances at the primaries under an NWC headed by Oshiomhole.

The NWC will supervise but they will do so according to the guidelines and the regulations established by the National Executive Committee which is an organ of the party superior to the NWC. When the NEC met in 2018, they took a decision that both direct and indirect are allowed by the constitution of the party and that every state will decide which mode they will prefer according to their peculiarity. In Edo State, we have met, we took a decision; we communicated same to him. Even before the purported meeting of the NWC, this man had already gone ahead to inform other people that this thing was going to be direct. He cannot do that. The national chairman is not a replacement for the working committee neither does he have the powers to usurp the powers of the National Executive Committee. Somebody has to tell him that.

Why all the meetings alongside fellow governors with the president and party leaders if the coast is clear to sail through?

Alhaji Tinubu is the national leader of the party. There is nothing wrong at all if everybody goes to him. In any case, everybody goes to him. The president is the leader of the party; there is nothing wrong. A governor wants to contest election and he goes to his leader to get his prayers and blessings; nothing wrong with that at all. And it doesn’t change the rules.

In your consideration of mode of primaries, did you factor in the peculiarity of COVID-19?

It was especially the COVID-19 that we considered; that first of all, it will be easier to manage 3,000, 4,000 people than to go and manage over half a million members and in the process endanger the lives of other citizens who may not even be members of the party. It is safer to congregate delegates in one venue that is large enough to accommodate them, and then create an atmosphere that will ensure social distancing, mask- wearing, screening and sanitisers and so on. These people now say you want to do it in 192 locations; a lot of people gathering in one location of course endangers the lives of our party members; simply because you want to pick one person to be a governor.

If he didn’t have an agenda, why should this bother him? Can he do his job and do my job? As national chairman, he should allow the state to function. The president has even said it several times; that they must obey and respect the organs of the party. The people who drafted that constitution were not foolish when they created ward executives, local government executives, state executives, zonal executives, and even national executive. But the national chairman behaves as if he’s just a commander in a battalion. We are not in a military system; we cannot allow that. The rule of law must prevail and it will be so.

Of fear that APC might lose the state and possibility of PDP being beneficiary of crisis.

I am deeply concerned and I am very saddened that the man who has the responsibility to ensure victory for our party is himself the very danger that is posed against our party; it is so unfortunate. Oshiomhole was a great beneficiary of Edo people’s goodwill; he has wasted all of it and it’s such a pity. I am very pained; I regret every step I took to ensure him emerging as national chairman. If I regretted anything in my life, this is one of them.

The way forward

You see, Oshiomhole has exposed himself as being interested in the outcome of this contest. He can no longer be an arbiter; he cannot be an umpire and a contestant at the same time. Oshiomhole should excuse himself from this process or the leadership of the party should make him do so. All we ask is that we follow our rules; we obey them and abide in the constitution of the party. He has serially abused that process and we cannot continue like that. Now, his own personal interest must give way to the collective interest of the party. This is our position.

Is PDP an option if the governor cannot have his way?

That is not a decision I will have to take on my own; I think that everybody will have to sit down and take a decision. This is not the first time we are experiencing this kind of anomaly in Edo State. If you recall, we had an issue like this in 2003 and that was what led to PDP losing Edo State. There was no other party in Edo until we started suffering from the abuses of our leadership. Today, Oshiomhole who fought the godfathers in Edo State is now worse than the worst godfather that we have ever experienced in the annals of our history. We cannot accept it; we cannot accept it. And I have said it several times; Edo State is not a colony of anybody or entity. We are a state for God’s sake”.

Is PDP an option in consideration?

In politics, every option is open to a politician, so long as it’s a collective decision.

Anselm Ojezua Photo
Anselm Ojezua, factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State
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