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Obaseki, Shaibu Tear Edo PDP Apart | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

Mar 16, 2024




By Usman A. Bello


The political landscape in Edo State has been tumultuous in recent times, with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre of a stormy crisis. Daily Trust Saturday reports that the fallout of the 2024 governorship primary election has not only exposed deep-seated divisions within the party but has also ignited a fierce political battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu.

Observers of Edo politics noted that the once close relationship between Obaseki and Shaibu has soured significantly, particularly since the deputy governor declared his intention to contest the governorship election and succeed his principal.

The parallel primary election conducted, where Shaibu emerged as winner to rival the emergence of Asue Ighodalo as the party’s gubernatorial candidate, was seen as a direct challenge to Obaseki’s authority and leadership within the party, especially after Shaibu stormed the party’s national secretariat and threatened to drag the party to court if he was not recognised as its authentic flag-bearer for the September 16 governorship election.

The rift between the two political allies, however, reached a boiling point when, on March 6, the State House of Assembly, under the leadership of Blessing Agbebaku, a known ally of Shaibu, served him with an impeachment notice.

The notice, based on allegations of perjury and revealing government secrets, was supported by a petition signed by 21 out of 24 members of the House, exceeding the constitutional requirement for impeachment.

The move has sparked a fierce debate among political analysts and stakeholders. While some view Shaibu’s planned impeachment as a politically motivated move to silent dissent voices within the party, others argue that it is a necessary step to uphold the rule of law and maintain the integrity of the office of the deputy governor.

Aslem Ojezua, a lawyer and staunch supporter of Shaibu condemned the impeachment move, describing it as an unfortunate and unjust act. He questioned the validity of the allegations against Shaibu and urged him to stand firm in the face of adversity. Ojezua called for divine intervention, believing that Shaibu would ultimately prevail and emerge victorious.

“It seems to me that members of the House of Assembly don’t know what an impeachable offence is. What is worrisome is that the majority leader is even a lawyer who ought to have known, even if somebody is trying to use him.”

“What they (state lawmakers) have shown now is that Shaibu is incorruptible. I thought they were going to bring out something he had done those times he was made to act; maybe he abused his office, but they couldn’t find anything against him. I think it is a plus for Shaibu”. Ojezua said.

On the other hand, a dissenting chieftain of the party who chose to remain anonymous, expressed little sympathy for Shaibu, blaming him for the crisis and questioning his motives. He suggested that Shaibu’s impeachment could be a necessary step to restore order and discipline within the party, especially in the run-up to the governorship election.

In the midst of the political turmoil, The Rev Fr Obinyan, a respected clergyman in the state, appealed for reconciliation and dialogue.

He urged Governor Obaseki to reconsider the impeachment plan and allow Shaibu to address his grievances through a peaceful means.

Obinyan warned against using impeachment as a means of settling political scores, emphasizing the need for unity and solidarity within the PDP.

“Reconciliation is always a prosperous option. Listen to your kind heart. I am not insinuating that he must be governor, but we cannot justify an impeachment without putting a wedge on the path of positive advancement in other spheres of life,” he said.

Dada Ayoka, a political analyst, emphasized the importance of negotiation and compromise in resolving political conflicts. He suggested that Shaibu could salvage the situation through humility and dialogue, urging both parties to find a common ground and work towards a peaceful resolution.

Daily Trust Saturday recalls that Shaibu had earlier adopted the technique of apologising when the relationship between him and the governor earlier broke down and his office was relocated from the Government House.

But a member of the PDP in the state, Binti Igie, expressed skepticism about Shaibu’s chances of survival, citing the power dynamics in politics and the influence of external forces on the impeachment process.

Igie believes that Shaibu’s fate was sealed and he would likely be impeached before the end of his tenure as deputy governor.

He, however, noted that Shaibu might be acting the only role left for him in the saga, explaining that most politicians believe that to remain relevant, subservience may be counterproductive, especially when the handwriting is clear on the wall.

“It is better for him to go out with a fight. With that, some people will see him as a victim and rally behind him when next he gets an opportunity to shoot for the top job,” he said.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the impeachment saga has not only exposed the deep-rooted division within the PDP but has also sparked protests and demonstrations in Edo North.

The Edo North PDP Rescue Movement (ENREM) has called for an end to the impeachment process, accusing those behind it of ingratitude and betrayal. The protesters criticised Governor Obaseki for his alleged role in the crisis, accusing him of stifling Shaibu’s political ambition and promoting godfatherism in the state.

In response to the impeachment notice, the national leadership of Catholic Lay Groups in Nigeria, on Tuesday visited the Edo State House of Assembly to advocate a fair and cautious approach.

The spokesperson for the groups, Steve Apologun, who is also the Benin provincial president of the Catholic Men Organisations, emphasised the need for the impeachment process to be conducted with caution. He expressed concern that the legislators’ responsibilities might be perceived as a political witch-hunt against Shaibu due to his political differences with the governor.

Apologun said the visit was part of a reconciliation process initiated by The Most Reverend Augustine Akubueze, the Catholic Archbishop of Benin City. As part of this reconciliation, there was a mutual agreement for Shaibu to withdraw a legal action that sought to halt the initial impeachment process.

As the impeachment process unfolds, the fate of Philip Shaibu hangs in the balance. The silence of key figures within the government, including the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Obaseki, Crusoe Osagie, and the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, adds to the intrigue surrounding the situation.

Efforts to get reactions from both men were unsuccessful as neither calls nor text and WhatsApp messages sent to them were responded to at the time of filing this report.

While the permutations rage, true to his earlier threats, Shaibu has dragged Ighodalo, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before a Federal High Court in Abuja over the February 22 governorship primary election of the party.

Shaibu is seeking an order of the court nullifying PDP’s Edo State governorship primary election, which took place at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin-City on February 22, 2024, where Ighodalo emerged as its governorship candidate.

Shaibu, through his counsel, Doyin Awoyale, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is also seeking an order of the court directing the PDP to withdraw forthwith, the certificate of return issued to Ighodalo, submitting that the primary that supposedly produced him was invalid, unlawful and contrary to the provisions of the PDP’s constitution and the electoral act.

He also seeks an order of injunction restraining Ighodalo from parading himself as the duly nominated governorship candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming Edo State governorship election scheduled for September 21, 2024.

Pundits observed that it remains to be seen, how events would unfold, and whether Shaibu would weather the political storm.

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