By Deborah Coker (NAN)
A crisis of confidence is tearing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State apart as countdown to the governorship election in the state, slated for next year commences.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that bigwigs in the party are no longer seeing eye-to-eye, raising fears over the chances of the APC in the high-stakes governorship election, billed for August next year.
Speaking on the development in an interview with a NAN correspondent in Benin on Tuesday, a chieftain of the APC, retired Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, raised the alarm over what he described as “heightened crisis and tension in the party’’.
He said that the APC in Edo had witnessed series of threats, brigandry and actions capable of destroying the fortunes of the party in the upcoming governorship election.
Airhiavbere cited situations, where according to him, APC leaders’ homes have been threatened by some interests in the state.
“We condemn these acts. They are unacceptable to genuine leaders of the APC in Edo State.
“We use this opportunity to also condemn the attack at the residence of our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole by thugs.’’
Airhiavbere, who contested the governorship primaries in 2016 with the incumbent Edo governor, described as sad, the current political turmoil in the state’s chapter of the APC.
“The crisis originated from the fact that the trio of Gov. Obaseki, his deputy, Mr Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to Government, Mr Osarodion Ogie were sponsored into office by Oshiomhole.
“But today, the three men have vowed to dethrone Oshiomhole as the leader of the APC in Edo State.
“But let me state categorically that we will not allow them to embarrass Oshiomhole.
“He remains the leader of our party in Edo State just as Mr Lawrence Okah remains the authentic state secretary of the APC.
“Let me warn Obaseki that he met us in this game of politics and he should know that he has no monopoly of violence.
“We are only playing it cool because he has perfected plans to defect to the Action Alliance. So his intention is to destroy the APC in Edo State.
“But I don’t think we will fold our arms and allow him destroy this party.
“We will meet him fire for fire, energy for energy and word for word,” Airhiavbere said, alleging that the governor’s plan was “to cow everybody in his bid to get a second term ticket.’’
But reacting to Airhiavbere’s outburst on a looming crisis in the state, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Paul Ohonbamu, described Obaseki as a humane, civilized and refined personality, who hates thuggery, lawlessness and impunity.
“Because of this, there has been a shift from the old order, where people constituted themselves into informal entrepreneurs of violence, intimidating people and extorting monies from them.
“So the governor stopped them, starting with the community development associations and all others.
“So, because of the innovative measures, people who are now losers both in the political market and economic space are now annoyed.
“As for Obaseki, you know he does not believe in thuggery or that violence should be employed as a primary weapon of interaction.
“There is nobody who is a thug around him. He does not want it. They are not comfortable with him because he has turned the thing around.
“That old system of diminutive accumulation of forcing people or of dominating people by force, he said no; that can no longer be and many of them have been dealt with on that ground.’’
Ohonbamu said that the governor’s policies were geared at liberating the Edo people from the stronghold of illiterate thugs and violence-inclined people.