From Osagie Otabor, Bénin
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole risks expulsion if he continues with his “disruptive activities”, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said on Wednesday.
He said he would deal decisively with anyone who continues to foment trouble in the state.
But, Oshiomhole’s ally and former lawmaker, Pally Iriase, said Obaseki was practising “jackboot democracy” in Edo.
Obaseki said Oshiomhole would not have tolerated a fraction of his alleged misdeeds when the APC chairman was governor.
The governor spoke at a meeting with the 18 APC local government chairmen in the state.
He said the APC had no structure with Oshiomhole as governor, with the party using a “dump” as a secretariat.
The governor said: “This is not a party man. Look at the dump he kept the party as a secretariat. With all the resources we had, he could not support the party until the landlord evicted us.
“You are governor or chairman based on the platform that elevated you. That is why I looked for one of the most beautiful buildings along Airport Road and said this is the secretariat of the party.
“All this nonsense they are doing, if anybody in the name of our party tries to do anything contrary to what we have agreed as a party, we will deal with that person ruthlessly, no matter who he is.”
Obaseki said party supremacy means that all members must respect the leadership structure.
His words: “It is the members that make the party supreme because they subscribed to a constitution, which governs the conduct of the party. One man cannot be the party.
“I am the governor of Edo State and I so authorise it. If anyone comes to your ward or local government to do things outside what the party has agreed, I hereby authorise you to deal with that person seriously.
“We are warning the suspended National Chairman. If he continues his activities in Edo State, I will show him that I am the governor of Edo State.
“While he was governor, he would not tolerate a fraction of the misdemeanour and misbehaviour he is undertaking today.
“I have declared that, if Oshiomhole comes to Edo to say he wants to disrupt the activities of the state and the party, we will deal with him the way we know how best to do it.
“Comrade Oshiomhole stands suspended from the party. In due course, we will expel him, if he does not behave. The party does not belong to him; it belongs to all of us. We are following the wish of our people.”
The governor added: “Our next step is to make sure we convince more people to join our party so that all of us can move this state to the next level. I will give you all the support to strengthen the party at the local government.
“Monthly meetings must hold. Monthly ward meetings must hold. Attendance must be taken. Wherever there are issues, you sit down and discuss it.”
But, Iriase, a former House of Representatives member, said Obaseki’s comments were unfortunate.
According to him, the APC ought to be built and run on democratic principles, adding that there was no room in the party’s constitution for garrison tactics.
The former lawmaker said receiving defectors did not amount to anti-party activities.
Iriase said: “Ever since we left the military, we have not seen this kind of repressive administration that gag political opinion.
“By now, Obaseki should be pointing out projects in my local government and several others and not this jackboot tactics.
“Obaseki has not performed. That is what he should know. In the first nine months, Obaseki earned N57billion. What he would have achieved with that amount should be obvious to the eyes and loud to the ears.
“How does growing the party and swelling its ranks become anti-party activity? We should be getting kudos.
“Obaseki is trying to scare people away. This jackboot democracy in Edo will not work.”
Also on Wednesday, Obaseki explained why he ordered a probe of the new Bénin Specialist hospital built during the Oshiomhole administration and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016.
The governor had on Monday constituted a Commission of Inquiry on the process leading to the conceptualisation, design, construction and equipment of the hospital.
The commission would also determine if there was a breach of the Edo State Procurement Law and other extant laws and procedures.
On why he ordered the probe, the governor said: “It is only fair for Edo taxpayers to understand what happened and why they decided to build the hospital; how much was spent, the state of the hospital today.
“I cannot be held liable for something I didn’t do. I want to make sure that, at the end of my tenure, I can explain everything that has happened.”
Obaseki said President Buhari should be left out of the crisis rocking Edo APC.
“It is a party matter. We have a party chairman who has been suspended in his ward. He has no legitimate business to act in the capacity. We will not accept any decisions from him.
“I have the 18 local government chairmen of the party behind me. The entire party structure in Edo is one. They are solidly behind the President and behind me as a governor,” he added.