New Telegraph

December 10, 2023

How Obaseki, PDP romance went awry in Edo

September 19, 2020, is a day to be remembered by thousands of people in Edo State, it was a day voters went out in their millions to rescue Governor Godwin Enoghaghese Obaseki who was almost becoming a political orphan following his rejection from his former party the All Progressives Congress (APC). The PDP, no doubts, literally saved him and members of his cabinet from the shame and embarrassment he was facing at a time he needed a second term as governor. At that critical moment of his political life, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) provided him an umbrella where the existing political structure acted as foothold to secure the September 19 election victory for Obaseki.

However, if a prophet had predicted that the smooth romance that existed between Governor Obaseki and those who ensured his second dream became a reality will go sour within a few months that prophet would be labeled a prophet of doom. Saturday Telegraph can report authoritatively that the cozy relationship that existed within a few days of negotiation between Obaseki and the top PDP leaders has now gone awry following disagreement on control of party structure, mistrust, division, failure to constitute a new cabinet, inability to conduct local government election among other issues.

This has now resulted in a cold war in the party that people are beginning to question the whole camaraderie in the first place. If you take a critical look at the scenario, the Governor might also be right in his judgement of politicians, because the general notion, whether truthful or not, is that the man was made to pay heavily before he was able to secure the party’s ticket. Obaseki being a technocrat and financial expert may have felt hard done by hence he has kept his distance. Recall that in the heat of the negotiations, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers Sate had called PDP leaders tax collectors which somewhat buttressed the thinking then that Obaseki coming to PDP involved a lot of money. An impeccable source told Saturday Telegraph that it would only take wisdom and the grace of God to resolve the internal crisis that is currently ongoing in the PDP family across the state.

“Some of us who are political generals in this game warned against Godwin Obaseki coming to the party. The Obaseki that I know can never succumb to party will. I told them that this man will use the party to gain power and turn his back against us at the end but because of the greedy nature of some of our leaders they didn’t listen to me. Today all that I told them is playing out.” Chairman of Labour Party in Edo State Comrade Ogbaloi Kelly told PDP members not to expect anything tangible from Obaseki.

He said: “Why are PDP members complaining, have they forgotten how they milked Obaseki dry during negotiation. So they should keep quiet and allow the man to be.” Also a woman leader from Edo South, who doesn’t want her name in print, who was at the centre of Obaseki campaign train, convincing women said: “My son it is a pity that we I borrowed money to campaign for Godwin Obaseki, but today it is neglect that I have as pay back. If anybody tells you that there is no crisis in our PDP, that person does not like himself; there is big problem in PDP. Even those that facilitated his coming to PDP at the Federal level are no longer relevant to him.

If we from Edo South knew, we would have followed our big leader Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Well no regrets because 2024 lies head then we will know where his political powers lies.” Elder Ikhimepen Okharedia is among the persons that founded PDP in 1998 and one of the oldest PDP members in the state. Speaking on the present situation in Edo PDP, he said: “I don’t see what is happening now as crisis, what happened was that Obaseki’s coming to PDP was less than 12 hours negotiation, so not everything was put on paper. People that are wagging their tongues now about the party were not there when the negotiation of Obaseki coming to the party was made.

PDP gained and Obaseki equally gained. As at the time Obaseki came to PDP, the party had no strong candidates to fight APC. Obaseki was already a political orphan, so his coming to PDP was like a marriage of two persons a man losing his wife and a woman losing her husband.

“So, for me there is nothing like crisis, but one thing I know is that PDP members are not happy with him… Yes we are unhappy with him. It is almost seven months now you cannot constitute your executives, no local government election, and all the persons that stood behind you have now become your enemies.” Ihimekpen also points at another issue that’s affecting relationship between the governor and the party. He said: “Obaseki has not been able to tell the world why he has not constituted his cabinet; we have two documents guiding our actions – the party’s constitution and the Nigerian constitution. The party’s constitution does not stipulate that for Obaseki to constitute his cabinet, the party must do this or that, no, it’s a blank cheque.

By his position as governor, he is chairman of everything that has to do with the party. It’s not in our constitution that the governor should be the leader of the party but because of their financial muscle we have to let it be. “I don’t think party members are regretting; you know it was like between the devil and the deep blue sea then. The question they now ask is ‘should we have gone with Adams Oshiomhole? Incidentally I come from a senatorial district that would have been sentenced to perpetual slavery if Oshiomhole had got his way. Look, Edo voters do not hate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; it was Oshiomhole Edo people voted against.”

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