Obaseki-Ize-Iyamu’s Contest: As APC Govs’ Meetings With Oshiomhole, Tinubu Hit Brickwall, Obaseki’s Fate Uncertain

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  • Amid Raging Controversy In Edo APC, PDP Waiting In The Wings
  • Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu In Tough War As Odubu, Ogiemwonyi, Weigh In

To rally support for their  colleague in Edo state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors on Monday held a meeting with the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, seeking a last-ditch solution that would grant Governor Godwin Obaseki, leeway ahead of the contentious APC primary.

The meeting is coming less than 24 hours after the Governors met with a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who reportedly insisted on the direct mode of primary adopted by the APC National Working Committee (NWC).

To further make the party see reasons for the indirect mode of primary as canvassed by the pro-Obaseki faction, the APC Governors met at the National Executive Committee Hall of the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja, with the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole  presiding.

The governors present at meeting include the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, Ondo State governor – Rotimi Akeredolu, Lagos State – Babajide Sanwo-olu, Gombe State – Mohammed Inuwa – Gombe, Kano State – Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Kwara State – Abdul raham Abdulrasaki.

As reiterated by Tinubu, Oshiomhole also insisted on direct primary, telling the governors at the meeting that the APC NWC had already approved the direct mode of primary for the Edo and Ondo nomination process.

According to a source, Tinubu had on Sunday asked Obaseki and his Ondo state counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu to submit themselves for the direct primary mode in their respective states. At the meeting, he reportedly advised Obaseki to go out there to test his popularity in the party’s direct primary scheduled for 22 June.

The meeting hosted by Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu at the Lagos House Marina had in attendance governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Mai Buni (Yobe), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Abubakar Bello (Niger) and Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos state.

As things stand in Edo state, political pundits believe should the party go ahead with the direct primary, it would be a tall order for the incumbent Governor to overrun his rival in the APC — an immensely popular political figure — Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and pick the party’s ticket. Already, The New Diplomat gathered no fewer than seven formidable aspirants in the APC faction loyal to Oshiomhole, including former Edo State deputy governor, Dr Pius Odubu, former Minister of state, and retired NNPC bigwig, Engr Chris Ogiemwonyi, and a retried Army General, Major-Gen Charles Arharviere have all stepped down for Ize-Iyamu to clear the path for his unhindered emergence.

Also, Ize-Iyamu who has obtained party nomination form to challenge Obaseki at the primary is reputed to be a thoroughbred grassroots politician who commands statewide support in Edo as seen during the 2016 guber poll which he narrowly lost to the APC as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the time.

Worried by the formidable opposition he has in Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki and his loyalists were said to be looking at a primary that would enable the Governor emerge as the APC candidate without  much contest from Ize-Iyamu. And this, according to insiders explains the reason behind the push by the APC Governors to salvage the political situation in Edo APC and save their colleague.

Aware of the tough battle that awaits Obaseki at the primary, a source hinted that Obaseki is considering a last minute move to the the PDP should he fail to emerge as the APC candidate. On the flip side of the political calculations, the Opposition’s PDP in the state may appear quite over the entire waiting game, but the source noted that the party has not ruled out the chance of having the Governor in their fold to pick the party’s ticket at whiskers.

Some stalwarts of the PDP have continued to hint that the PDP is willing to give the Governor the party governorship ticket without much ado but with a proviso: the PDP must produce the running mate, in which case deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu would have to be dropped for the PDP to fill that role. However, Governor Obaseki maintains that he is going nowhere else as he has his own house in the APC and he would not leave his house for someone’s else.

Recall last week, National Working Committee (NWC) announced that direct primary will be adopted for the Edo APC shadow poll.

Obaseki and his colleague Governors met with Tinubu to reportedly prevail on the APC leadership by giving Obaseki the right of first refusal, but the meeting was said to have ended without any concrete promise.

According to the source, Tinubu reiterated his belief in fairness to the incumbent governors and other interested governorship aspirants in the two states.

“Asiwaju also said he believed in the direct primary. His argument was that the direct primary will boost the confidence of the flag bearer as he prepares for the main governorship election.”

“Asiwaju Tinubu may have intervened in this sensitive nomination matter with a benefit of hindsight because as he rightly pointed out, direct primary produced Oyetola as Osun APC candidate and Babajide Sanwo-Olu as flag bearer in Lagos State.

“Besides, I think Asiwaju Tinubu is of the opinion that where there are more than one contender, primary should be adopted to foster equity, fairness and justice.”

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'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.

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