Former Edo state Governor, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, has lamented over the failure of attempts in the past to reconcile Governor Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He narrated how President Muhammadu Buhari, Oba of Benin, Ewuare II and Aliko Dangote tried in vain to placate the two warring politicians.
In a statement on Saturday, Osunbor, a professor of Law also said that the failure of the Reconciliation Committee set up by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to settle the dispute in Edo APC is a pointer to things to come in the governorship primaries less than three weeks away.
He, however, told APC leaders in the state to be wary of legal pitfalls after the guber election, should the current no-love-lost situation continue in the two APC factions.
He said “The crisis in Edo State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) which has simmered for about two years now threatens to boil over as we draw closer to the Party’s gubernatorial primaries on June 22. This portends disastrous consequences for the Party and the people of Edo State unless it is resolved promptly before the primaries.
“Given my position in the Party I have made efforts outside of public glare towards bringing about reconciliation by speaking to the two leading protagonists, the National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and His Excellency the Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki as well as some of their supporters.
“I also tried to rally some elders of the Party from the State to broker peace. It is common knowledge that our revered royal father, His Royal Majesty the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II made his own efforts including appealing to our President Mohammadu Buhari to help broker peace among these two illustrious sons of Edo State.
“It is also believed that their mutual friend Dr. Aliko Dangote made repeated efforts at reconciliation to no avail. So did a number of others that I know.
“When therefore the National Caucus of the party resolved at its meeting of 21 November 2019 to institute a National Reconciliation Committee to address the crises in various states of the Federation, which resolution was upheld by a decision of the National Executive Committee of the party the following day, there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel.
“However, this has not happened till date as the National Reconciliation Committee which was reconstituted in February 2020 has not yet completed its assignment.
“There is now a chance that the Committee may be confronted with a fait accompli and overtaken by events if the Edo primaries (and guber elections) are held before it concludes its assignment.
“That would be tantamount to medicine after death. It will be extremely risky and ill-advised for the party to conduct its primaries, talk less of going into the governorship election bitterly divided; hence it has become urgent and compelling to hasten the process of reconciliation of all aggrieved persons without further delay.
“The reason that reconciliation is imperative is that if the Party conducts rancorous primaries and goes into the governorship elections divided, winning will become more difficult than it should be ordinarily, given the weakness of the opposition in the State.
“Even if the APC candidate wins the election the victory will be tenuous because of the threat of litigation that is almost certain to follow. This is why we must as a party tread with caution.
“It is often erroneously thought that elections end when INEC’s Returning Officer announces a winner but this has over the years proved not to be.
“At best it can be likened to the end of the first half in a game of football. The second half which is even more decisive plays out in the Election Petitions Tribunal and courts of law and way up to the Supreme Court where it involves governorship election.
“If and when that happens the matter moves from the political arena to the judicial arena and no one can ever predict with certainty what the outcome will be or what the courts will decide. Examples are legion where the courts have shocked many by declaring a different result from what was announced by INEC because a political party had violated its own constitution, the Electoral Act and other laws including infringing on the rights of its members or engaged in one form of impunity or the other. Let us not forget so soon how in 2007 the Supreme Court punished PDP for the injustice they did to Ararume.
“It is unhelpful at this stage to dwell in polemics, apportion blame or argue as to whether it is best to adopt direct or indirect primaries which at any rate enjoy equal legitimacy (along with consensus) under Article 20 of the APC Constitution.
“There is no doubt at all that the APC Candidate will win the forthcoming election but we must be mindful not to lose the victory in court because of a flaw in the process that produced the candidate.
“The pain of such a loss will be too agonising to bear. The leaders of the main opposition in Edo have been quoted in the media as saying that they are hoping and praying to benefit from the APC crisis so that they can recover through the court the governorship that they lost in the court. APC must not make the mistake of “gifting” them the governorship whether by act of commission or omission.
“For now the signs are not good. There is danger ahead. We must avoid pitfalls. I, therefore, make this clarion call on the APC national leadership to act urgently and decisively to put our house in order by fostering reconciliation before it is too late. We need to tread with caution.”
Recall that both Governor Godwin Obaseki and his estranged benefactor, the immediate past governor of Edo state, Comrade Oshiomhole, who is also the national chairman of the ruling APC have been having protracted differences that have defied known attempted mediation and reconciliation efforts.