By fabulous reporter
The Edo State offseason governorship election is scheduled to hold next year. The opposition party, All Progressives Congress is beset with internal crises that might hamper its chances of victory against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party,
The spate of suspensions of prominent members of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State may pose a big threat to the party’s ambition of reclaiming power in the state in next year’s governorship election.
With the good showing of the party in the national and state House of Assembly elections, this should be a time to consolidate rather than disintegrate.
While it is understandable that some party members are aggrieved over the poor showing of the party in the Esan Central and Uhunmwode, which gave the Peoples Democratic Party an edge in the state House of Assembly election, the suspension handed to those prominent members looks more like killing an ant with a sledgehammer or weakening your troop before a major battle.
Also, upholding discipline in the party is vital to ensuring that members toe the line; however, there should be a balance between the need to discipline erring members and promoting unity in the party, as cross-carpeting of members to other parties, especially the PDP, at this time may spell doom for the opposition party in the state.
The first of the suspensions surprisingly occurred two days after the March 18 election. Eleven leaders of the party were suspended at an extraordinary meeting held at Irrua, the local government’s headquarters.
The suspended leaders include the APC state Vice Chairman, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, Willy Momodu, and Abudu Ugbesia.
Others are Raphael Ehimen, Godfrey Odalo, Francis Ubene, Kelvin Usifoh, Umane Isesele, Aire Ijeh, and Solomon Emiohe.
The leaders were alleged to have held a meeting at a hotel in Irrua on the eve of the House of Assembly election and resolved to work against their party’s candidate for the House of Assembly election, Victor Edoror.
It was also alleged that they were influenced by the ruling party to disallow Edoror from getting into the House and becoming the Speaker, which might scuttle their agenda for the Esan governor candidate from Esan Central LGA.
The Irrua extraordinary meeting, which was attended in large numbers by angry members and party executives across the LGA, appointed former LGA councillor and House of Assembly election aspirant, Bello Oyaziwolo, as the acting leader to oversee the affairs of the party pending the determination of the investigation into the degree of involvement of each of the suspended leaders.
Interestingly, the party’s Deputy Leader in Esan Central and former Vice Chairman of the LGA, Francis Ubene, was exempted from suspension because a preliminary investigation revealed that he was in the meeting allegedly called by Inegbeniki, but he refused to agree with their alleged plan to sabotage the election of Edoror, whom he said he had forgiven and cannot work against him.
However, the suspension brought in a fresh crisis as the newly appointed leader, Bello Oyaziwolo, reportedly said that he was not interested in leading the party for selfish reasons but would commit himself to help the party rid itself of betrayals and inept leaders in the LGA and allow a free process to produce the next LGA leader.
While still recovering from the March 20 suspension, another one was handed down to 11 members in Uhunmwode on April 2, with a former two-term member of the House of Representatives, Simon Osagie, the biggest casualty.
Ten other members suspended over alleged anti-party activities by the executive committees of the local government chapter of the APC led by Osawe Osayemwenre were Rolland Alari, Felix Alari, Mr Simon Uduogie, Mrs Esohe Idemudia, Mr Monday Guobadia, Mr Nelson Gomez Ise, Mr Festus Iyekeoretin, Jolly lyekeoretin, Mr Evans Ozabor, and Mr William Amadi.
Their suspension was contained in a letter to the state chairman of the party, Col. David Imuse (retd.), and titled “Notice of Suspension of Hon. Samson R. Osagie, Roland Alari, and Others.”
The letter, signed by Osayemwenre and 17 other members, said, “Following compelling petitions of anti-party activities, factionalisation, absenteeism from party meetings, and sabotage in the just concluded general elections from some party stakeholders at our disposal, we wish to convey the suspension of the under-listed persons from the All Progressives Congress, Uhunmwode LGA chapter.
“We urge you to apply your good offices in ratifying this suspension to avoid their interference with the process of investigation. We have named a three-man disciplinary committee to be chaired by Prof. David Osifo, with Dr Washington Osifo and Dan Ogbegie as secretary and member, respectively.”
Osagie described his suspension as laughable and a gross violation of Article 21 of the APC constitution. Related News
He said, “First, the said suspension purportedly carried out by a group of people, some of whom have denied knowledge as their signatures were taken from an attendance list of a previous meeting, is not only laughable but a gross violation of Article 21 of the Party Constitution and my fundamental rights guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).
“Not only are their allegations unfounded, but they are also spurious and totally untrue. I am a party man who rose to become the Minority Whip of the party in the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015. I was a member of the National Executive Committee of the APC up until President Buhari became president. I am not given any acts or actions that undermine my party.
“Again, my fundamental rights to a fair hearing have been breached by these individuals, who did not bother to hear from me or confront me with the allegations at their disposal.”
Also, Inegbeniki, in a statement, said there was never a meeting of the APC in the Edo Central Senatorial District where such a decision to suspend him and other leaders was taken.
The statement further noted that a meeting was called by the Esan Central leadership of the APC, where Edoror was invited to defend himself on some allegations but failed to attend and was subsequently suspended from the party until he came to absolve himself of the accusation leveled against him.
It added, “The attention of the state Vice Chairman has been drawn to a trending post on social media to the effect that nine members of APC in Esan Central LGA have been suspended.
“I wish to state that the so-called suspension is fake and has no effect. Party activities are not done on social media. The state vice chairman called on the general public to disregard the social media story.
“The only matter before the party is a petition received by the leadership of the party on some allegations levelled against Edoror. He was invited to defend himself against the allegations, but he refused to attend the meeting. At the meeting, a motion to suspend the said Victor Edoror was moved and seconded, and he was consequently suspended, and he remains suspended until he comes before the committee that was set up to try him.”
Despite the defence put up by Inegbeniki, the State Working Committee of the APC ratified the suspension slammed on its members in the Esan Central LGA.