images-17The fact-finding and reconciliation team set up by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), led by Prince Olagusoye Oyinlola, to resolve the crisis in the APC in Edo State, arrived penultimate Thursday and held their first meeting with Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Other members of the delegation included Hajia Fatima Muhammed, a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT); Alhaji Ahmed Abdulahi, Prince Martins Bisong, Senator Osita Izunaso and Senator Ndoma Egba. Their mandate was to unravel the cause of the dispute between Oshiomhole and his deputy, Dr Pius Odubu and also find lasting solution to the crisis which had engulfed the party ahead of the September 10 governorship election in the state. Rescue mission Odubu-Oshiomhole Prince Oyinlola who disclosed that the negative press emanating from the state necessitated the decision by the national leadership to send the delegation to the state, said the intention was to resolve the crisis in order not to give the state back to the PDP. Addressing Oshiomhole when they paid him a courtesy visit, Oyinlola who condoled with the government and people of the state over the demise of the Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa, whom he described as a father to all, said they were in the state “with a specific mandate to bring the great APC family in Edo State together once again. We are here today on behalf of the national leadership of the party with a specific mandate to bring the APC family together. We must not become like a tribe of people who got victory but failed to manage it. We will continue to brief you as we go ahead with our assignment in Edo state.” “Some PDP defectors to ACN behind APC crisis” Oshiomhole who gave an insight into root of the crisis, said some people who defected to the then ACN from the PDP were behind the crisis. He however expressed surprise that nobody from the national secretariat had called him to find out the cause of the problem before sending the fact-finding committee. This, he said, could signal that the rumoured rift between himself and the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was true. Oshiomhole said: “I want to thank you for coming on the strength of the very bad press that we have seen particularly over the past two months. So, I can understand that anybody picking up the newspapers and reading those stories will imagine that Edo State Government House is on fire, the House of Assembly is burning. The truth is that this might be the wish of our enemies. The more dangerous enemies are those who have purportedly joined the APC, but their soul is in the PDP. By their choice of language, style and tactics, it is clear that they wish to be in APC while actually working in futility, hoping that they can discredit APC so that their own party that we have grounded, dismantled and rested can hopefully be revived. I have no doubt that the God that we worship and who directed our thoughts and empowered us to dismantle the PDP rigging machine, that God is on duty. And as long as He is on duty and we served him sincerely, no man born of a woman can undo what God has done. “I like to remind you that when we arrived here in 2007, everybody in this state told me it was not possible to dethrone the PDP, that they had the money and they boasted of it. We were also told they had the control of the military and they celebrated it. They had control of the police, the immigration, and that they had everything. They zoned Edo State to various warlords. Different parts of Benin City were partitioned to different warlords. I brought my skills here as a labour man and we fought. They stole my mandate, I pursued them. I reclaimed it and I became a governor. In 2012 we went for the real battle and for the first time in the history of the Midwest Region and the old Bendel State and Edo State, no living or dead politician has had such uncommon support or goodwill, translating to electoral victory across all the 18 local government areas, including the enclaves of the three ruling families that I used to address as godfathers. I accomplished this feat in spite of their federal might in Abuja. “Then the Police Commissioner was afraid to pay me a visit. But all of these crashed and I won 73 per cent of the votes in Edo State. So I believe that if I could win all of these in spite of federal might, with the help of God, we will do it again. Today we thank God; we started without one councillor from my party. We started without one local government from my party. We started against a PDP state government and federal might yet we achieved what I just narrated. We fought battles and we conquered people they thought were invincible, so we are tested and trusted and the confidence flows from what people can vow for, not empty rhetoric. I think the weakness we have now is that Abuja wants to settle us. I also plead that Abuja should also settle itself. We are privileged to have a good representation at the national secretariat; nobody has ever picked up a phone on the face of a headline story to say to me ‘Comrade what is it that we are reading; what is the problem?’ “Perhaps, in seeking to settle us, we also need to settle Abuja otherwise we might be shedding crocodiles tears. When you read the language of some of these people on the headlines that I spoke about, you will wonder if it is coming from people in the same party. When you trace their record, you will find that these are people that came from PDP that we rehabilitated because we thought they were decent people. “They are now the ones, having benefited from my labour, are using the most uncouth and violent and even vulgar language to describe my person. Each time they make a statement they always say things like  unless the Comrade wants to return the party to PDP, but this state cannot return to PDP. We have done enough that Edo people have bought our party. And we can distinguish the fifth columnists from the genuine APC people. I am talking about those in Edo who jumped out earlier from PDP when they knew their party had been grounded; they are the ones behind all these. When they make those statements that we want to return Edo to PDP, I will say  who is talking?For me, things have been blown out of proportion. But it is also the hallmark of a free association; the fact that everybody is free to speak their minds. No godfather to impose and decree a particular direction. For me there is no problem with that.” Obaseki, Oshiomhole’s choice After the Thursday courtesy visit, members of the committee met with stakeholders of the party the following day. Those present include the Governor and his deputy, Dr Odubu. A youth leader of the party, Tony Kabaka, and Bisi Idaomi and others showered praises on Oshiomhole’s leadership role in the state while they also justified the Governor’s preference for Mr Godwin Obaseki as the APC governorship candidate. As a matter of fact, Kabaka in that meeting noted that the Deputy Governor had spent 16 years in government both as a House of Representatives member and Deputy Governor of the state, and therefore urged him to give others the opportunity to serve. But in an apparent reply to Kabaka’s comment, Odubu in a meeting with delegates in Esan Saturday, asserted that his experience in government gives him an edge over other APC aspirants in the forthcoming governorship primary of the party. However, the high point of the meeting was when Oshiomhole started speaking and he went head on with his deputy. He reminded him how he (Oshiomhole) stood by him when some leaders of the party then wanted to drop him as his deputy while they were seeking re-election in 2012. While lamenting how he had allegedly been ridiculed by persons he perceived as loyalists of his deputy, Oshiomhole reminded Odubu that since 2007, he (Oshiomhole) has always won his ward, local government and senatorial district but that has not been the same with his deputy and some other leaders whom everyone sees as political gurus. Oshiomhole also took a swipe at a former member of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie whom he accused of using the media to rubbish his name. He described as blackmail the insinuation by Osagie that the state might lose the governorship to PDP if urgent steps were not taken to address the problems in the state. Oshiomhole, who remarked that most of the political gurus had been riding on his back to win elections, declared that the APC cannot lose the election despite the fact that Osagie lost his senatorial bid. While asserting that he was ready to lead APC to another victory come September 10, Oshiomhole noted that “in the last presidential election, we also tried to establish who is who in this state. Mr. Chairman, sir, I delivered my booth, I delivered my ward, I delivered my local government and I delivered my senatorial district. If we have a senator today from Edo State APC, he is from my senatorial district. If you have House of Reps members, they are from my senatorial district. Those fomenting this trouble could not deliver their booth, they could not deliver their wards even in an election which they were candidates. It is the empty drum that makes the loudest noise.” “If I contest election in Delta State, I will win” Oshiomhole who lampooned the PDP governors for boasting to take over Edo State, also reacted: “Last week I read a newspaper report that PDP governors in the South-South met in Asaba to say that they were strategizing on how to win in Edo. And I looked at those who were talking; if I contest election in Delta State, I will win. My pedigree speaks for me. I am not a radio-manufactured or newspaper-created activist; I can communicate vertically and horizontally. They are lucky but we are waiting for them. This is not the place where you destroy the card reader then every minute you ask what is happening in another local government. Then you increase number of votes and compromise INEC. If I defeated them when they were in power, is it now they will defeat me? They are free to wallow in their dreams, but if I contest election with any of them in their own states with or without card reader, I will defeat them. We are paying salaries, these same governors can’t pay salaries. So they think they can return Edo to Egypt. They are wasting their time; they will be defeated hands down.” Mission accomplished? After the well-attended meeting, Oyinlola told journalists that “we have interacted with so many stakeholders since we came. And one thing that can lead us to peace, contrary to my earlier opinion and belief, is that our Comrade Governor’s performance has surpassed those of other holders of the office before him. My belief until I came was that nobody had done anything to surpass the achievements of Samuel Ogbemudia. That was my belief, and when I said so, and I kept hearing from all stakeholders that nobody has done what Comrade has done in this state I asked the question, ‘You mean his achievements have surpassed those of Ogbemudia?’ They told me that it was Ogbemudia himself that said so. And that gladdened my heart. If we have a performing Governor who has done so much credit to our party, why then do we not want to continue with this kind or this trend of achievements by making sure that we go into battle united and deliver Edo State to APC? It is the only state that is under our control in the South-South Zone, and it is an open secret that some of the governments in other states of the South-South have gone to do a meeting on how to wrestle power from us in Edo State. Our good Lord will not allow that to happen.” He called for a level playing ground in order to secure victory for the party in the forthcoming governorship election. “That is the reason we are here. And I want to say we have interacted with the aspirants, and I can say, as a guideline to the interaction, they came up with what they believe is needed to be done for us to move successfully. All of them are talking about a level playing ground, and I said yes, there is no other sensor that we have on the ground both from the Governor and from the National Chairman of the party; we must allow a level playing ground. So, be rest assured that that is what is going to happen.” It was learnt that Odubu who did not make a comment at the meeting later met with his boss in company of the committee members where they allegedly decided to allow the sleeping dogs lie. He however has continued his campaign in the three senatorial districts of the state.

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