Obaseki backtracks on exclusion of lawmakers-elect

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Edo State State Governor Godwin Obaseki began on Thursday the process of truce with 14 elected lawmakers who have been excluded from the affairs of the House of Assembly since January.

He named Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Senator Ehigie Uzamere to lead the peace mission. Only 10 of the 24-member Assembly were inaugurated on June 17. The remaining members are not participating in lawmaking.

The three-man panel has a mandate to reconcile the Executive with members-elect.

The exclusion of the 14 members-elect is one of the issues behind the virtually intractable crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement, the governor said the constitution of the reconciliation committee is part of moves to restore harmony and peace in the state chapter of the APC.

Obaseki restated his commitment to peace, saying that a united front would make the party stronger, more cohesive and help to foster more development in the state.

He added that the committee, which commenced work with immediate effect, would reach out to all parties in the dispute and address all grey areas for peaceful resolution of the matter.

Also on Thursday, Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu insisted on indirect primary to pick the APC standard bearer for the Septermber 19 governorship election.

In a statement by Special Assistant on Media, Benjamin Atu, the deputy governor boasted that Obaseki will win any form of primary election – direct or indirect.

He alleged that the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was bent on direct primary because he had already written the result.

He argued that indirect mode of primary election was the most appropriate method in view of the guidelines put in place by many APC stakeholders to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Shaibu said: “Despite this confidence and assurance that the victory of Governor Obaseki is not in doubt, we are not ready to go the way of the direct primary.

“Our preference for indirect primary is because we don’t want to secure victory at the expense of the health of those we are seeking to lead.”

He stressed that Obaseki owed the responsibility to safeguard the state and its people against COVID-19 and other situations that may endanger their lives.

Shaibu added: “As the Chief Security officer of the state and first among equals, the governor has decided to conduct the affairs of the state in the way that will ensure safety of its citizens.

“As of today, Obaseki is the governor of Edo State and has the capacity to determine the direction of the state. That doesn’t amount to fear of failure in facing any election but rather putting the interest of the public above desperation to win an election.”

He said Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman Uche Secondus “doesn’t usurp the sovereignty of PDP states.”

He said: “The sovereignty of the state can’t be submerged at this critical juncture of our lives. The indirect primary will make it more convenient for INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to supervise and will be more transparent.

“The APC national chairman is insisting on direct primary because the result of the yet to be conducted direct primary election is already written by him, just waiting to be announced.”

Also on Thursday, some Obaseki allies got a June 17 date for arguments in their suit seeking to stop a frontline governorship aspirant Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from participating in the APC primary.

The governor’s sympathisers, had through an ex-parte motion, requested the Edo High Court in Benin to bar Ize-Iyamu but presiding Justice H. Ahaomoje declined and gave them 10 days to file their response.

The judge also gave counsel to the plaintiffs/claimants two days to reply.

The plaintiffs are: Pastor Kenneth Asekomhe, on behalf of pro-Obaseki Edo APC; Benjamin Oghumu, on behalf of himself and executive committee of the APC in Orhiomwon Local Government Area and Matthew Ogbebor, on behalf of himself and the executive committee of Ugbogbo Wards 5.

Joined as defendants are: APC, Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu.

Paul Ohonbamu on Thursday resigned from Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration as Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation.

In his resignation letter, which was addressed yesterday to the governor, Ohonbamu said: “I hereby tender my letter of resignation as a commissioner in Edo State to His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, this 4th day of June, 2020.

“Without setting a precedent, I have decided to step aside as cabinet member and operate outside? it for the general good of Edo State and pursuit of happiness for the citizens.”

The former information commissioner, a lawyer, said: “Whether we shall meet again I know not. Therefore, our everlasting farewell take. If we do meet, while we shall smile, if not, it is true this parting was well made”.

It was gathered that Ohonbamu resigned for being sidelined in the state executive council.

Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) Osarodion Ogie immediately announced Ohonbamu’s replacement.

The SSG said: “The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has approved the appointment of Mr. Stewart Efe as Commissioner for Communication and Orientation. His appointment takes immediate effect.”

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