The All Progressives Congress has rejected a call by the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, for the dissolution of its National Reconciliation Committee headed by the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan.
Chieftains of the party, who confided in The PUNCH on Monday, said it had become obvious that the governor was not concerned about peace in the Edo State APC.
Obaseki, in an interview with The PUNCH correspondent in Benin on Monday, called for the dissolution of the committee, which among others, was saddled with the responsibility of resolving the dispute between the governor and the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
The APC had on November 18 set up a 10-member committee headed by Lawan to resolve crises among its members.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, had in a statement, said the party set up the committee in line with the November resolution of its National Executive Committee.
Besides Lawan, other members of the committee are a former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande (Vice Chairman); Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, Senator Tanko Al-Makura, Senator Kashim Shettima, Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Alhaji Nasiru Koki, Senator Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak, Senator Binta Garba and Senator John Enoh (Secretary).
The APC in Edo State had become factionalised some months ago with one faction loyal to Oshiomhole and the other backed by the governor.
The crisis worsened on November 12 when factions of the party suspended Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
While the national chairman was suspended during a meeting at the state party secretariat in Benin, the action against Obaseki was carried out at the residence of a chieftain of the APC, General Charles Airhiavbere (retd.), by the Edo Peoples Movement, a pressure group within the party.
The APC had, late November, set up a committee headed by the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to resolve the crisis, but Obaseki rejected the panel on the grounds that it was set up by the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee.
Again, Obaseki on Monday called for the dissolution of the Lawan-led national reconciliation committee of the APC, adding that a fresh one should be reconstituted by the party.
The governor had last week rejected the committee because of the decision of the National Assembly leadership to take over the Edo House of Assembly was part of the issue the panel would resolve.
NWC resolves round only Oshiomhole – Gov
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, who spoke to The PUNCH on the phone, said such a call had become very necessary to ensure justice.
Osagie stated, “As a matter of fact, we appeal to the highest decision making body of the party to dissolve the committee and set up another one. To the best of our knowledge now, the National Working Committee of the party revolves around only one person and that is Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and he just makes decisions unilaterally and then attaches the names of the NWC members to them. So we are calling on the National Executive Committee to look at the pertinent issues that we have raised concerning the rejection of the national reconciliation committee and reconstitute it.
“We can’t have a committee where we have parties in the dispute as members. It just doesn’t follow the cause of natural justice. The National Assembly is in court as we speak with the House of Assembly in Edo State over the plan to come and take over the operations of the state House of Assembly and then the leaders of the same National Assembly that had wanted to take over the House of Assembly are now the head of the reconciliation committee. Senator Ahmed Lawan, the Senate President, with all due respect, and other leaders of the National Assembly are hell-bent on taking over the Edo House of Assembly,” he said.
Recall that the Obaseki/Shaibu Movement, a support group for the re-election of the governor, and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, had on Thursday last week rejected the Lawan-led APC national reconciliation committee set up by the party’s NWC to resolve the crisis in the Edo APC.
A statement by the convener of the group, Mr Damian Lawani, faulted the constitution of the committee, saying some of those selected as members were interested parties in the crisis.
But top members of the party’s NWC and NEC, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, said the request by the governor was an affront to leaders of the party, including the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
A member of the NWC said, “The committee was not raised specifically for Edo State. It is a national committee. Why will the governor oppose the committee agreed to at NEC?”
Another member said the party had begun to see the governor’s request as an indication that he was not looking for true reconciliation.
“Obviously, the governor is not looking for reconciliation. Maybe he had made up his mind to bring down the party,” he said.
Explaining how the committee was raised, a chieftain of the party told one of our correspondents that members of the committee were those approved by the party leaders.
“We are not bothered about the governor’s antics. If he doesn’t want them to come to Edo, that is his business. The committee will perform its duties as stated by NEC,” the chieftain added.
Efforts to get the reactions of the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, did not succeed on Monday as he did not answer calls to his mobile. He had also yet to reply a text message sent to him on the request by Obaseki for the dissolution of the committee.
Obaseki doesn’t mean well for Edo APC – 14 aggrieved lawmakers
But the leader of the 14 aggrieved lawmakers in the Edo State House of Assembly, Washington Osifo, condemned the governor for serially rebuffing peace efforts.
The state House of Assembly had last month declared the constituency seats of the lawmakers vacant. The lawmakers had opposed the Obaseki’s proclamation order on the current Edo Assembly on the grounds that it was issued in the night.
The leader of the lawmaker, Osifosaid, “There is no group without a disagreement but when there is a disagreement there must be room for peace. Whoever abhors peace is an enemy of peace, progress and development of society. Peace is a recipe for development.
“For Obaseki to have rejected first the Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje-led peace committee and now the Senate President Ahmed Lawan-led National Reconciliation Committee shows he is not for peace. Obaseki doesn’t mean well for APC, for Edo State and for Mr President.”
National reconciliation committee yielding results – Oshiomhole
On his part, Oshiomhole said the national reconciliation committee had started yielding results.
He stated this while welcoming the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement in Ogun State, Adekunle Akinlade, and his supporters back to the party.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, said the development was good for the APC.
The statement added, “Only last week, we received some leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, who equally left the APC in Edo State and, came back into our fold.
“As a party, we are glad that the national reconciliation committee set up recently by the party is yielding fruits.
“We welcome these party men and women and we urge them to join in this progressive governance which the APC promised Nigerians.
“The APC is one big family that believes in the ideals of true democracy, the rule of law and party supremacy. We also want to use this opportunity to urge other members of our party who left and wish to return, to do so, as our party is big enough to accommodate all, even those with divergent opinions.”