Lagos – Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State on Tuesday dispelled rumours of his plan to dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying nobody could force him out of a party that he was firmly in control of.
There were reports that the governor, who has been having a running battle with his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, was contemplating dumping the APC, on whose platform he contested the 2016 governorship election for the PDP or the Action Alliance (AA).
The speculations became rife on Monday after reports emerged that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the 2016 governorship election in the state had already concluded plans to join the APC in the coming days.
Credible sources said Oshiomhole, who is the national chairman of APC, had promised Ize-Iyamu automatic ticket to become the party’s flag bearer in next year’s governorship election, a move Obaseki is said not to be comfortable with.
However, speaking with , Obaseki who spoke through Crusoe Osagie, his special adviser on media and communications, said there was no iota of truth in the report that he was planning to dump the APC as he was firmly in charge of the party structures in the state.
He said: “I have said it repeatedly that Governor Godwin Obaseki is firmly in charge of the structures of the APC in the state.
“Whatever rumours out there that the governor is leaving the party is completely false. You don’t leave a house that you built and you are in control of.
“As far as we are concerned, nobody can force Governor Obaseki out of the APC. He is firmly in control of the party.
“Of course, we are aware people are saying different things but as we speak today, the structure of the APC in Edo State is firmly under the control of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
“Don’t forget that few days ago, all the leaders of the APC in Edo State from across the 18 local government areas all came together and passed a vote of confidence on the governor.
“They even adopted him as their candidate to fly the flag of the party in next year’s governorship election in the state.
“What further endorsement can any governor be looking for at the party level ahead of a governorship election that will take place less than a year from now?
“I repeat, nobody can force Governor Obaseki out of the APC. The party is firmly under his control. So, the talk that he will leave the party does not arise at all.
“All leaders and supporters of APC in Edo State are proud of his achievements and they are solidly behind him.”
The governor also warned some APC members in the state who were creating a parallel group under the aegis of Edo People Movement (EPM), saying the constitution of APC did not support parallel bodies.
“There are a few bad eggs in the party who now have another name for themselves. However, in the constitution of the APC, there is no provision for a pressure group within the party.
“So, these people who have alienated themselves from the party are very minute in number and they don’t in anyway represent the voice of the larger majority of the party members who are solidly behind the governor,” he added.
Edo PDP Suspends Ize-Iyamu
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has suspended Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from the party with immediate effect.
In a statement by Chris Osa Nehikhare, the state publicity secretary of the party, Ize-Iyamu would remain suspended until he clarified the rumour of his planned defection to the APC.
The statement read in part: “In the last few days, the Edo PDP has been inundated with calls and enquiries regarding the stories trending both in print and social media as it concerns one of our leaders, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“The party leadership has patiently waiting to hear or read his reaction to confirm or deny the stories, but to no avail.
“We boast of being a party of men and women of integrity and high moral standing. It is a brand we have earned and wish to maintain.
“As a result of the ‘uneasy quiet’ from our dear pastor and the impression our silence will send to our teeming supporters and followers, Edo PDP is left with no option but to announce the exclusion of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from all PDP related activities with immediate effect, until he acknowledges, accepts and addresses the issue of his decamping to APC.
“This decision has been taken without prejudice!”