Ahead of the 2020 governorship election in Edo State, the cold war between Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor, is getting intense as key leaders of the party in the state are divided over the duo.
According to Daily Independent’s findings, though Oshiomhole and Obaseki have always denied the existence of any rift, many leaders of the party in the state at the weekend confirmed that there was now a no-love-lost relationship between Oshiomhole, the two time Edo governor and Obaseki, whom he installed as his successor in 2016.
Sources said though Obaseki waged war against key leaders of the party who served as Oshiomhole’s foot soldiers in 2016 to secure victory for APC, he has recently made a U-turn by wooing them back to his side, a development which has infuriated Oshiomhole, the ex-labour leader.
The cold war between Oshiomhole and Obaseki began shortly after the 2016 governorship election in the state as the governor, upon assumption of office, barred many of Oshiomhole’s foot soldiers from receiving the same privileges they used to enjoy under Oshiomhole’s administration.
It later manifested during the 2019 general elections as loyalists of both men fought to get the party’s tickets.
Obaseki, who will likely seek a second term, wanted to have his loyalists and members of his political group, especially at the state House of Assembly, who would help him actualise his ambition and consolidate his grip but Oshiomhole was not disposed to that as he also wanted his loyalists in the state Assembly.
This led to the party holding two primary elections in the state after the one conducted by the state executive was cancelled by the national body of the party.
One of our sources, who served as commissioner under Oshiomhole in his second term, said many of the loyalists on Obaseki’s side have been granting interviews recently lambasting Oshiomhole for his “alleged highhandedness and asking him to stop distracting Obaseki from performing his role as the democratically elected governor of the state”.
Speaking with Daily Independent, a loyalist of Oshiomhole, who confirmed the rift, said in recent times, Obaseki has sponsored some of Oshiomhole’s loyalists abroad and also offered contracts to many of them.
“There is no denying the fact that all is not well between the two. While Obaseki is trying to assert his authority and take charge of the affairs of the party, Oshiomhole is using his influence as the party’s national chairman to counter all his moves.
“In recent times, Obaseki has succeeded in wooing some of Oshiomhole’s loyalists to his side. One of them is Chief Charles Idahosa, a former political adviser to Oshiomhole. When Obaseki came in, he waged war against many of these leaders.
“One of them was Idahosa. If you recall, at a time, Idahosa made a public announcement that he is suspending his political activities. It took the intervention of Oshiomhole to make him rescind that decision.
“Now Obaseki has succeeded in wooing Idahosa to his side. He even sponsored him abroad recently, aside other largesse. He (Idahosa) in turn has been speaking ill of Oshiomhole,” he said.
When contacted, Anselm Ojezua, Edo State chairman of APC, said though he was not aware of any crisis between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, some party members in the state were wishing for that in order to benefit from it.
“I am not aware that there is a rift between the governor and the national chairman, but I know that some of our party members may actually wish that to happen so that they can benefit from it,” he said.