The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has opened up for the first time on the controversy surrounding the rift between him and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.
Mr Oshiomhole, who disclaimed Hon. Frank Okiye as speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, stressed that he would not close his eyes to illegal decisions and actions capable of derailing the nation’s democracy.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, the APC chairman described as arrant nonsense, the allegation by Okiye that he plans to impeach the governor.
Mr Oshiomhole said “I had no personal quarrel with Obaseki.
“What the governor was supposed to do was to lobby the entire 24 members of the House, who are all APC members, so as to produce a speaker of his choice.”
He noted that inaugurating the House at 9:30pm with nine members was a rape on the nation’s democracy.
He dismissed claim by the speaker that he wanted to impeach the governor with members- elect who are loyal to him.
“What offence did the governor commit that he was to be impeached?” he queried.
While describing the allegation by Okiye as arrant nonsense, the former Edo governor said: “First of all, Okiye is not the speaker, he is member-elect.
“I watched the governor say those things but the truth of the matter is that he knows better than that.
“The question I will put to you is, is it within the discretion of state governor to decide who becomes the speaker?
“The only option for him is to lobby and if he lobbies and in the end he is unable to get everybody to toe his line, he has to concede that these are not his commissioners or special assistants for which he has absolute monopoly to appoint.
“But even at that, if they are commissioners, they must be screened by the House of Assembly; that is the law.
“So, if he chooses to put it in the manner that he has unfortunately put it, giving the impression that as the governor he can do everything, is there anything in the constitution that you know, that empowers a governor to decide who becomes a speaker?
“But like every other person in a democracy, you get what you are able to negotiate; the operative word is negotiation, persuasion, that is what we did in Abuja.
“But in spite of all the efforts we invested at the federal level, incidentally as the chairman I was active on that, we conceded in the end when Senator Ndume said he would not go the way the party wanted.
“We could not deny him that right to contest and he went and contested and he got 24 votes.
“So, that is the way to go. It was not within the power of the President and Commander-in-Chief to use his state instrument to prevent Ndume from contesting because it is his right to do.
“All the president could do, which he did, was to deploy his influence both through the party and other channels to persuade people.
“This is to ensure that this time around, APC has a national leadership that we believe can work in harmony with the president.
“When I was governor, I went through the same process.
“We persuaded the members. We called all of them, first explained to them the need to ensure geo-political balance.
“Sometimes we suggest who we think is better equipped to handle legislative matters. That is how far we can go.
“Sometimes we succeeded, some other times we did not. But the bottom line is that it is the responsibility and absolute prerogative of members of the House to do it.
“Secondly, Okiye being the beneficiary of the purported inauguration, said the agenda is to impeach Obaseki.
“Did he tell you what offence Obaseki has committed? Is he known to have committed any impeachable offence?
“Is it true that somebody who has just been elected, he has not even been inaugurated, his first agenda is to disturb the system by seeking to impeach a governor who is not known to have committed any offence. Is impeachment a tea party? It does not make sense.
“By the way, who is Okiye? Does he know what was invested in the making of the governor?
“Can he possibly lay claim to loving the governor more than those of us who went round the state and stake our reputation and invest our energy and persuasive skill to market the governor to the people?
“If there is one man that wants Governor Obaseki to succeed so that everything I said on his behalf comes to pass, I think it will be me.
“I have absolutely nothing to gain if someone I told the people will do well end up not doing well or I make statement that contradicts my earlier position.
“All that I have that I brought to this job called politics is integrity. And integrity is about being consistent and sometimes being predictable.
“So, Godwin knows that I have no quarrel whatsoever with him. But I do not think that it is right to inaugurate the House of Assembly at night.
“Exactly the same way the governor of Bauchi said Oshiomhole is his problem. Let me say that one day, we may have a president who may decide to order the military to make sure that they secure the National Assembly and allow may be one-quarter of members to go in at midnight to elect a Senate president and speaker and then thereafter whoever wishes to be inaugurated can go one by one. That will be a sad day for democracy.
“And you know as they say, when a child starts stealing a piece of meat from the mother’s pot, he might grow to become an armed robber.
“So, if we refuse to defend the letter and the spirit of the constitution, as regards to how the legislative arm of government will come into play and we reduce it to individual contestation, it will be unfortunate for democracy not me at all. I am never going to be governor again.”