By Eseoghene Emuke

The former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has given reasons why the Edo State House Assembly is embroiled in a ‘needless’ crisis despite all members-elect are of the ruling party in the state.

Odigie-Oyegun described the crisis, which led to the inauguration of nine members-elect and subsequent swearing-in of a new speaker by the inaugurated members, as ‘godfatherism’ tussle.

The former APC chairman contended that the brewing was over who controls the leadership of the Edo Assembly between the sitting governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole ahead of the 2020 governorship election in the state.

He, however, warned that if the tussle between the two is not immediate checked, it could cost the APC to lose the 2020 governorship election in the state.

Oshiomhole, a former governor of the state, had singlehandedly picked a ‘seemingly unknown’ Governor Obaseki as his successor during the APC primaries ahead of the 2016 governorship election in the state.

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The relationship between the duo has, however, gone cold immediately after Oshiomhole, supposed Obaseki’s godfather, became the national chairman of the ruling APC over some decisions taken by Governor Obaseki without consulting his predecessor.

But, Odigie-Oyegun, reacting to a question in an interview with Saturday PUNCH noted that brewing crisis was a result of breakdown of ‘godfatherism’ (referring to Oshiomhole and Obaseki) in the state.

He particularly stated that the kind of ‘godfatherism’ that works in Lagos State cannot work in Edo State because of the peculiarity with the state politics right from the Mid-Western Region, adding that the people of the state vote in a ‘discriminative manner.’

Reacting to the impasse, Odigie-Oyegun said, “Well, I don’t know the details yet, but from what I know, it is a very, very unfortunate situation and it only originates from the breakdown of ‘godfatherism’. Edo State is a typical example of that.

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“The only thing I want to say at this stage is that both sides should know that at all times, even from the time of the Action Group, Edo State, then Mid-Western Region, has always been a marginal state, meaning that there is no real landslide in Edo State.

“Edo State people have shown that they can vote in a discriminative manner. So, just to remind the combined combatants that if they continue on the path they are taking, there is the danger of making the APC the opposition party in the state, because the division in the party is very deep. And if they don’t reconcile quickly, then I can bet now that they will lose the state. That’s my only message to them.”

He further noted that wrangling between Oshiomhole and his successor was so deep for it to be immediately resolved by anyone including him.

“You know what happened when the plan was on to remove me as the national chairman of the APC. It makes me want to take a very deep look at things. We all saw this happening, we knew it could happen, but I’m surprised it could happen with this degree of intensity.

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“But, like I told you much earlier, ‘godfatherism’ does not work with a thinking people who are so diverse. People talk about Lagos, but Edo State is not Lagos.

“Our senatorial districts are boundaries of relatively distinct people. What you can do in Lagos, you cannot do here. Basically, Lagos has only two ethnic groups, the Yoruba and the others. Here, it is not quite the same, so let them not destroy the party and the state because nobody will benefit from it if that happens, everybody will lose”, the former APC chairman added.


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