By Emmanuel Aziken
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Friday became the fourth governor under the watch of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC to leave the party.
The loss of four governors with the attendant structures and patronage, however, underline the internal conflicts within the ruling party as party chieftains take positions ahead of the 2023 General Election.
It was gathered at the weekend that in leaving for another party that Obaseki was encouraged by many sympathetic party members. Even when they were not necessarily friends or allies of Obaseki, the sympathizers have defined their interests against what they believe is being pursued by the Oshiomhole leadership now in suspension.
Obaseki’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP followed earlier defections by Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue, (July, 2018); Abdulfatah Ahmed, of Kwara July 2018; and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Sokoto, August, 2018.
The defections coming on the heel of the loss of Zamfara, Bauchi and Adamawa States in the 2019 General Election have inevitably brought to fore the prospects of the party in the immediate future.
However, none of the losses come nearer home for the party and the Oshiomhole leadership as that of Obaseki. Obaseki is governor of Edo State, the home state of the national chairman now serving a court imposed suspension.
Surprisingly, a number of APC stalwarts were supportive of Obaseki’s move to the extent of using him to hit at Oshiomhole and then at the national party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has backed the Oshiomhole leadership.
With Tinubu in near full control of the National Working Committee, NWC, those against his continuing ascendancy in the party believe that they can use Edo State to smear the political stature of the national leader, multiple sources familiar with the development said.
“It is unfortunate it had to reach this point (of Obaseki leaving the APC) but we will work for him,” a high level APC chieftain said Friday.
In fact some of the APC stalwarts it was learnt do not mind losing the state in the main election to the extent that they could use that as a factor to hit at Oshiomhole and Tinubu.
“There is no way that Oshiomhole and by extent Tinubu justify themselves if we lose Edo State,” one source revealed.
Some of the party chieftains also questioned the way and manner Tinubu dismissed Obaseki when he came with fellow governors to seek his intervention two weeks ago.
“He showed his open bias towards Oshiomhole. A father shouldn’t have done that,” one party member said.
Osita Okechukwu, the director-general of the Voice of Nigeria, VON was, however, quick to divorce Tinubu from the failures of the party in Edo which he laid firmly on Oshiomhole.
“To be honest I am in doubt or rather amazed when pundits do spew that our national leader, the revered Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is the main backer of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole during this his self-inflicted travails,” Okechukwu said on Friday.
“Amazed on two counts; one, if we take a scenario of APC as APC Plc, listed in the Nigeria Stock Exchange and Comrade Adams as Managing Director. The core question is, has the stock of APC Plc depreciated or appreciated in the last two years of his tenureship?
“No, for we lost states due to his culture of impunity, even Sokoto, Bauchi and Zamfara the zone where Buhari’s 12 million vote bank are mostly located.
“Second, one cannot easily forget how Comrade Adams nearly shunted Asiwaju during the Lagos gubernatorial primary.
“Adams leaned more towards the then Governor than Asiwaju,” he said Friday in dismissal of the Oshiomhole narrative cascading down to Tinubu.