For long burdened by the baggage of defending its eight year in power, the resolve of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to exploit the alleged fractures in the Adams Oshiomhole led All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo State is apparently going awry. For long burdened by the baggage of defending its eight year in power, the resolve of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to exploit the alleged fractures in the Adams Oshiomhole led All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo State is apparently going awry.
A pointer to the seeming implosion of the PDP was given last Friday when party leaders gathered in Benin-City, the state capital for what was suggested as a stakeholders’ meeting. At the centre of the brewing crisis in the Edo State chapter of the PDP is the allegation of bias by the just dissolved executive of the party led by Chief Dan Orbih. Orbih who helped to revive the party after it fell into deep morass at the inception of the Oshiomhole administration in 2008. A number of the governorship aspirants allege that the Orbih led executive had tried to impose one of the formidable governorship aspirants, Pastor Osaze Ize-Iyamu as the governorship candidate of the PDP, with the belief that he is the only candidate that can face whoever the APC throws up as candidate. Ize-Iyamu worked closely with Oshiomhole before defecting to the PDP and was remarkably, the head of the Grace Group, the group of activists in the PDP that broke away from the party to help Oshiomhole come to power. His return to the PDP and his acceptance by the party leadership in the state was believed to be a sign of desperation; to wit, the determination of the PDP and its leaders to oust the Oshiomhole legacy by whatever means. Rumour of endorsement: Indeed, the rumour of the endorsement of Ize-Iyamu has brought serious division in the party. While Chief Tom Ikimi, Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion are backing Ize-Iyamu, leaders such as Senator Roland Owie have backed out and are insisting that the primaries must be transparent and that that will start with Orbih, not having a role to play in the primaries. Indeed, it was in the bid to edge Orbih out of influence that a member of the party, Mr Osula Ehi, from ward 12 Oredo, ran to the High Court in Benin to seek an injunction to restrain the now dissolved Orbih executive from parading itself in office. Interim injunction Even before the case could be adjudicated, the claimant raised alarm on Monday, February 22, 2016, alleging plot by Orbih to conduct congresses despite the case in court. He thus sought for an interim injunction to stop the scheduled February 24, ward congresses across the 192 wards in the state. The injunction was granted by Justice Ikpomnwen which eventually stalled the congresses. This thus necessitated the stakeholders’ meeting of last Friday called at the instance of the National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Cairo Ojugboh in Benin City. The governorship aspirants Ize-Iyamu, Chief Solomon Edebiri, Matthew Iduoriyekemwen were all present but Senator Ehigie Uzamere was conspicuously absent. Uzamere, Vanguard learned, has decided to be aloof in the happenings in the party after he perceived that those in control of the party had narrowed down their choice to Ize-Iyamu. The Baden Baden venue of the meeting was taken over by thugs before the meeting commenced and it angered Ojougboh who insisted that all the thugs in the hall must leave before any meeting can commence. Heightened tension: But tension heightened when some leaders of the party were denied entrance by the thugs, some of them were beaten up and thrown outside the venue by the thugs. A founding member of the PDP in the state, Chief Samson Esemuede, Chief Clement Edo-Osagie, a former member of the House of Representatives and current member Federal Character Commission, Mr Ifaluyi Isibor and former spokesman of the PDP, Osaze Jesurobo were thrown out and molested by the thugs. The thugs went after Senator Rowland Owie when he came and tried to stop him, but the youths backing Iduoriyekemwen, who is an aspirant resisted the thugs and insisted that Owie must not be touched. Iduoriyekemwen commands the respect of most youths in Edo South and capable of picking the ticket of the party. That was how Owie entered the venue of the meeting where he confronted Ize-Iyamu of organizing the thugs to embarrass the leaders. But Ize-Iyamu was said to have denied the allegation. However, Ojougboh who condemned the thuggery pointed out that the tenure of the Orbih’s led Exco has lapsed and warned against action capable to depriving the party victory in the coming governorship election. Thugs distrupt ward congresses: He urged them to embrace peace as they embark on the last Saturday ward congresses which according to him will be conducted by the National Leadership of the party. Though the ward congresses held last Saturday amidst controversies but the battle on who picks the guber ticket of the party is still on. Stakeholders meeting Narrating his ordeal in the hands of the thugs, Chief Esemuede said: “What happened was that they called us for a stakeholders meeting, I never sensed anything at all, I don’t go with thugs, I am the pioneer chairman of PDP, PDP started in my parlour in Edo state, I have produced a governor, National Assembly members and I have never been humiliated that way. Those who are engaging in this thuggery where never there when we laboured for this party. Imagine when an unknown person will molest Senator Owie a national leader of the party and all of us, I pity them. Thugs are being used to molest and insult respected leaders in Edo South. It is a very sad and ugly situation. But those who did this because of their ambition will never last. If you manipulate nomination can you manipulate the general elections? The answer is no. But we cannot be intimidated because those doing this today where never near the PDP when we laboured to grow this party. You can imagine elderly men being thrown away in a PDP meeting when PDP is supposed to work together, they are chasing people away because of ambition but I pity those who did it”. Reacting also, Jesurobo lamented that “I was one of those they molested, I have an injury on the head, stole my two phones and my power bank. As they carried me up I used my hand to hold my purse. It is a sad commentary on PDP, a party that is in opposition, they see me as a critic so they don’t want me in the state executive. The irony of it all is that for four years I have been a strong critic of the APC but they have never assaulted me any day then a party that I have been labouring for because they feel I am in the same camp with them they decided to assault me. “APC is asking people to join them but our people are driving people away and I sympathise with them. We will continue to fight for the right thing be done. This is the first time I have been humiliated in party politics. All those who did it will suffer, those who are not as old as I am will never get to my age, those who above my age will never grow older” he declared.