The Edo State Government has published a story of an “impending mass defection” from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The Edo governor, Godwin Obaseki was on Friday disqualified by the APC from contesting the party’s governorship primary after a protracted political battle with his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, who is the National Chairman of APC.
There are speculations that Mr Obaseki is planning to defect from APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The story, ‘Edo Guber: Mass Exodus Looms In APC As Obaseki Gets Nod To Dump Party’ was published on Sunday on the official website of the Edo State Government.
It was originally published by the Leadership newspaper.
“There is anxiety in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over impending mass defection as the faction of the party loyal to Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday endorsed his defection from the ruling party,” the state government website reported.”
“Members of the Obasaki camp in the party implored the governor to move to any other platform to seek his second term ambition in the September governorship poll.”
The story said Mr Obaseki had a “marathon meeting” over the weekend with some APC leaders in the state “to chart a new political direction” after his disqualification.
The story quoted an unnamed source as saying that Mr Obaseki has informed his supporters that he would seek for a governorship ticket in the PDP.
There was “ovation and applause” from Mr Obaseki’s supporters, the report said.
PREMIUM TIMES contacted Governor Obaseki’s spokesperson, Crusoe Osagie whose office manages the Edo State government website, he said “if it’s a story from Leadership (newspaper), Leadership has credit for it, I am sure they got their information from somewhere.”
David Imuse, who leads the APC faction in Edo State that is loyal to the APC national chairman, Mr Oshiomhole, told PREMIUM TIMES that the ‘impending mass defection’ story is false.
“You should have come to Edo yesterday to see the jubilation about Obaseki’s disqualification,” Mr Imuse, a retired army colonel, said on Sunday.
“Let him (Obaseki) decamp, let him go to any party he wants to go to and test his popularity.”
“In this state, Obaseki’s exit is like good riddance to bad rubbish. Maybe, it is his public appointees that want to decamp with him. Oh, all well and good. It is not APC.”
“He can go and pay rented crowd and say these are my people because government coffer is there to take money from any time. But as far as this state is concerned, he is on his own,” Mr Imuse said.
Mr Obaseki on Sunday met with his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, at the Rivers Government House, Port Harcourt, fueling speculations about his defection to the PDP.
Mr Wike is a PDP governor and one of the most influential leaders in the PDP.
If Mr Obaseki secures Mr Wike’s support it would certainly be a good start for his next political moves for the September governorship election in Edo.
Meanwhile, the PDP in Edo State has reportedly applauded Governor Obaseki’s “developmental strides in the various sectors of the state”.
The Chairman of PDP in the state, Tony Aziegbemi, is said to have made the remark on Sunday while inspecting facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, which the party plans to use for its governorship primary on June 19, according to a report forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES from the Edo Government House.
“We are going ahead with our preparations and on the 19th of June we are coming here to do what we know how to do best, and we will do it peacefully.”
“We have 2,100 delegates. The stadium has a capacity for 15,000; so as you can see, we are going to maintain social distancing. We will abide by the rules and regulations as contained in the Gazette by the state government,” Mr Aziegbemi said.