Political tension has continued to grip Edo State, South-south Nigeria, as the rift between the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, and the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, deepens.
In what appeared like a ban on Mr Oshiomhole, the deputy governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu, said on Thursday that the APC chairman cannot enter the state without the permission from the governor, Mr Obaseki. Fourteen House of Assembly members-elect have alleged that there is a plot to assassinate Mr Oshiomhole.
Mr Shaibu made the declaration while addressing a rally at Egor local government area to welcome the chairman of the Edgor local government council, Eghe Ogbemudia, who has just been recalled from suspension by Governor Obaseki.
“We have discovered that anywhere he (Oshiomhole) goes, there is violence. So now we have said until he takes permission from governor,” Mr Shaibu said amidst cheers from the crowd.
“He cannot come to Edo State because we are peaceful people. Edo state is peaceful, he should not come and create crisis for us.”
The video containing the deputy governor’s remarks is currently trending on Twitter.
Mr Shaibu, who addressed the crowd mainly in Pidgin English, said Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo, taught them how to fight “godfather”.
Mr Oshiomhole helped Mr Obaseki to succeed him as governor in 2016 against all the odds. Both men parted ways afterward and since then the Edo state government has repeatedly accused Mr Oshiomhole of wanting to impose himself as godfather to the governor.
The local Edo House of Assembly and the APC in the state have been factionalised because of the rift. The state chapter of APC has suspended Mr Oshiomhole from the party and has refused to recognise him as their national chairman.
“Him think say we be fool? Time don reach make we let am know say wetin him teach us we don perfect am and everything wey we go dey do na wetin he teach us,” Mr Shaibu said of Mr Oshiomhole at the Thursday rally.
“Him teach us make we dey fight who?” He asked the crowd. “Godfather!”
The crowd shouted. The deputy governor continued: “So are we not fighting godfather now? “Whether him na godfather, whether another person na godfather, wetin him tell us be say make we dey fight godfather.
“The Bible say, teach your children the way of the lord, so that when they grow up they will follow dat wey!
“Oshiomhole teach us, when we were young, the way to fight godfather, so that when we are big we will continue to abide it. No be so?
“Somebody wey be national chairman, though we don suspend am now. If you be national chairman of any party, the way wey Oshiomhole dey come say he wan receive people for Edo without permission from our governor, him fit go Kano like dat say to receive people to APC without the permission of Kano governor?”
The crowd shouted “no!” “Can Oshiomhole go to Imo state without the permission of the governor, say dem go do rally for there?
“Can Oshiomhole go to Kaduna state, say him dey go receive people for Kaduna state without el-Rufai approving?
“Na our governor him see finish? Him see our governor finish! Him see all of us finish?
“Time don reach to tell-am say when he was governor of Edo state, Oyegun no fit come here say to come receive people for party here?” Mr Shaibu said.
When contacted Mr Shaibu’s spokesperson, Ebomhiana Musa, and asked him if the deputy governor’s remarks was not an incitement to violence.
“That is not an incitement! He did not say they should attack Oshiomhole, he did not say they should beat up Oshiomhole, he did not say they should lock up Oshiomhole. He said he should take permission from the state government!”
Mr Musa responded. “But if Mr Oshiomhole refuses to take permission, what happens?” when he was asked.
“He is not a baby, he is the former governor of the state, he knows the right thing to do,” he responded.
Mr Musa said the Edo government has banned rallies and political meetings in the state to forestall a breakdown of order.
The 14 lawmakers-elect who are alleging an assassination plot against the APC national chairman were those excluded from the inauguration of the state assembly.
The lawmakers-elect, according to a report by The Nation newspaper, told reporters Thursday in Abuja that Governor Obaseki was behind the plot. They said the governor has set up a militia group to eliminate Mr Oshiomhole, The Nation reported.
The paper, however, said the lawmakers-elect did not provide details of the alleged plot nor back up the allegation with any evidence.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Leader Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the governors of the APC states to please call Governor Godwin Obaseki to order as he is known to have set several precedents that may be detrimental to our great party in the nearest future.
“The Inspector-General of Police should wake up to his responsibility of protecting lives, properties and maintaining public peace in Edo by standing against infringement on rights. We beg him to advise the Edo Commissioner of Police to be professional in his duty,” said Victor Edoror, a former speaker