The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki was wrong to have inaugurated the House of Assembly in the night.
The former Edo State governor was reacting to rumours of his strained relationship with the governor through a statement by his Special Adviser (SA) on Media, Simon Ebegbulem.
He insisted that his greatest desire was for the governor to succeed in his job.
Oshiomhole said Obaseki would have made his desired candidate the Speaker by lobbying members of the Assembly.
The APC national chairman dismissed claim by the “controversial” Speaker of the House of Assembly that he wanted to impeach the governor with members-elect who were loyal to him.
“What offence did the governor commit that he was to be impeached?”, he queried.
Oshiomhole said he did not recognise Frank Okiye as Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The national chairman said he would not be a party to what he called illegal decisions and actions that could derail the nation’s democracy.
Oshiomhole stressed that since the Assembly comprised APC members, Obaseki should not have inaugurated the House at 9:30 p.m with nine members.
The APC national chairman described the governor’s action as a rape on democracy.
Describing as arrant nonsense Okiye’s allegation about the alleged plan to impeach the governor, Oshiomhole said: “First of all, Okiye is not the Speaker; he is a 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 a 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 whom 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 for. The operative word is negotiation or 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 Ali 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 so to do. All the President could do, which he did, was to deploy his influence through the party and other channels to persuade people 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 by first explaining 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.”
He added: “Secondly, Okiye, being the beneficiary of the purported inauguration, says 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 staked our reputation and invested our energy and persuasive skills to market the governor to the people? If there is one man who wants Governor Obaseki to succeed so that everything I said on his behalf comes to pass, I think it should be me.
“I have absolutely nothing to gain if someone I told the people would do well ends up not doing well, or if I make a 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 (Obaseki) 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. 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 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. I am never going to be governor again.”