Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos
As the political crisis between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, continues to deepen, state governors under the aegies of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) are throwing their weight behind Obaseki, who is one of their own, Daily Independent has gathered.
Speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday, one of the members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) from the North-West of the country, said many of the governors are backing Obaseki on account of solidarity with him and because many of them are also battling with the yoke of godfatherism in their respective states.
He also said the governors are particularly unhappy over insinuations in some quarters that Obaseki may be given the ‘Ambode treatment’ by Oshiomhole given his influence as the party’s national chairman.
Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, was denied a second term ticket by the leaders of the APC in Lagos State led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of the state and national leader of the party.
He, however, said the leadership of the NGF, under Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, has done a great job in mediating in the crisis, adding that he is confident that a solution will be brokered before the governorship election in Edo billed to hold next year.
“When the crisis first started, Governor Fayemi, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Emir of Kano brokered a truce between both men in Abuja on a weekend. If you remember, there was a picture that went viral where both men (Obaseki and Oshiomhole) were laughing at Presidential Policy Dialogue which took place at the Presidential Villa in Abuja in July. That was three days after the truce was brokered between them.
“The truth is that when the chips are down, the governors are together because the NGF is one united family and they believe that injustice to one is injustice to all.
“There is none of the governors that is not facing what Obaseki is facing in Edo one way or the other. All the governors are under the yoke of one godfather or another except in one or two states where the governor is the political leader.
“If you sit them down, I am sure 75 percent of them are facing the same issue Obaseki is having. The only thing is that many of them are just diplomatically managing it without letting it get out of hand or leak to the media.
“On the issue of Edo, it is because of the nature of Oshiomhole that is why the matter became a public issue. Left to Governor Obaseki, nobody will even know that there is a rift between them. Being a labour leader, Oshiomhole is combative in nature and doesn’t like his right being trampled upon. He is ready to fight to the last to ensure that justice is done.
“If Obaseki has the kind of temperament Oshiomhole has, more damage would have been caused by now. If Oshiomhole too had handled the matter the way Obaseki is going about it, the issue wouldn’t have blown out of proportion the way it is now. If you remember, despite the fact that the issues have been widely reported in the media, Obaseki was even denying that there is a rift between them before the matter went public.
“As for the governors, there is no division among them on the Edo political crisis. In things like this, they are always on the same page.
“They are on the same page not to join forces together to gang up against the national chairman but just to ensure that one, the matter doesn’t get out of hand and two, so that one of them is not humiliated out of office.
“I can assure you that Governor Fayemi and other governors are working round the clock to ensure the matter doesn’t get out of hand especially with the governorship election in the state taking place next year. They know if care is not taken, they may lose the state to the PDP which is hoping to benefit from the crisis.
“From what I know, the party doesn’t want to lose Edo because aside being the only state APC is controlling in the South-South, it will not be a good thing for the party to lose the home state of the national chairman to the opposition.
“Don’t forget that was what happened in Oyo during the last governorship election. If not for the crisis between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Adebayo Shittu, former Minister of Communications, there is no way PDP would have won the governorship election in Oyo State”, he said.
Also speaking on the crisis, Senator Oserhiemen Osunbor, a former governor of the Edo State, appealed to the gladiators to put the interest of the party and state forward.
The APC chieftain, who said he has offered private advice to both Oshiomhole and Obaseki, said it is better for those involved to sheathe their swords and resolve all differences because the state cannot make meaningful progress when leading personalities are at loggerheads.
“It is in the interest of the party that we should resolve all conflicts and crises. So, I think people should consider the overall interest of the party and the state because the state cannot really progress when leading personalities within the party are at loggerheads. So, I think the earlier these issues are resolved, the better for everybody”, he said.