Fresh feelers emerging from the camp of the embattled governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki indicates that he might finally be preparing to quit his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The decision, an insider said, was hinged on two fundamental issues of grave concern to the governor. First is the health implication of conducting a statewide primary election to select the party’s candidate in the face of ravaging coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Edo state is the epicenter of COVID-19 in the Niger Delta region of the country. The governor has also gazetted an order against indiscriminate mass gatherings, a move his political opponents are threatening to flout.
On the other hand, the governor is said to have lost confidence in the process leading to choosing the party’s flagbearer for the September, 2020 gubernatorial election. He detested the way he was treated at the screening of the party’s aspirants as he was made to wait long hours without being attended to.
Political experts say, traditionally sitting governors or top government executives were often accorded courteous preference in similar circumstances and Oshiomhole’s treatment may just be a signal of worse things to come. His colleagues are also said to be protesting his treatment at the screening saying it has never happened in the history of party politics that elected governors would be made to face such oppression.
Responding to newsmen after the screening, Obaseki aired his displeasure, he said, “One of the questions that were asked was why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo. That, did I not see it as an anti-party activity?
“My answer was that, “I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, then we may be missing the point,” the governor said while emphasising his priority for his people rather than politics.
Meanwhile, an aide of the governor informed Governors Mandate that “Oga may quit APC anytime from now” because the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole is hellbent of making sure the electioneering process is not transparent and ultimately working actively to humiliate Obaseki.
Instructively, Governor Obaseki told newsmen that he has no confidence in the screening committee because Mr. Oshiomhole is an interested party in the matter hence he (Obaseki) does not hope for justice.
There is also a hot contention for the mode of primaries to be used in the selection of the APC candidate. While the Obaseki camp is insisting on the indirect mode of primary, the National body has adopted a direct ̣primary mode and has caused the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ratify same.
Obaseki gave a hint of his next move when he said: “Since he [Oshiomhole] is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening.”
Governors Mandate gathered that some of the governor’s strategists are mounting pressure on him to dump the APC before it is too late. They maintained that there was no way Adams Oshiomhole was going to allow him a level playing field in the contest.
Some of them further argued that since the National Chairman has failed to heed the counsel of President Buhari, APC Governors and some other top party Stakeholders over the matter, Obaseki should deem it fair to use another party platform to realise his ambition and not put his supporters in a quandary.
Obaseki is said to have assimilated the suggestions of his confidants and is only waiting to receive “final signal” from some of the fellow APC governors before jumping ship. Political watchers are however monitoring the development closely as time is running out on available options.