Edo PDP Lingering Crisis: Forget Ortom Reconciliation, “We Are Still Where We Are!”

*Imasogie says Obaseki’s desires unconstitutional, undemocratic

By Ken Edokpayi

 

With all the open camera smiles and chameleonic banters that followed the recent Governor Ortom’s mediation committee meeting with the arrow heads of the factions at loggerheads in the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, one would have thought that genuine reconciliation would quickly be achieved and no longer be far-fetched again.

However, recent developments, as political events stand in the things of the party in the state, have revealed that since the end of that reconciliation meeting in Abuja, a couple of weeks ago, the distrusting, cunning, hanky-panky status quo has sadly and most-embarrassingly remained.
In this exclusive interview with The Navigator, last week, a prominent elder and staunch leader of the party in the state, Etose Dickson Imasogie, declared emphatically that “we are still where we are,” an unambiguous indication that “status quo ante” remains in the affairs of the party in the state.
Etose Imasogie emphasized that as one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, who actually led the state’s delegation in 1998 to Abuja for the party’s official registration, “PDP remains a structurally foremost party which prides itself as a party built and run by a working constitution, which remains and guides us as our Bible. PDP is not like any other party in terms of its adherence to the wordings and dictates of its constitution. We are still were we are today, in terms of the crisis in the party in the state, because the governor’s desires are not only undemocratic, but unconstitutional.”
While conceding that the Gov. Ortom-led reconciliation committee had done its best to broker peace in the working of the Edo PDP, Etose Imasogie maintained that “like a broken leg, that would take quality time to heal,” resolving the crisis would not just be a finger-snapping elixir.
Read Etose Imasogie’s analogy of the crisis situation in Edo PDP: “I gave this same story out as words of elders about two weeks ago that you have a brother who you met eating; he ate all the food, all the meat, including the bones, without even asking you to join him or offering you a piece. Then, you went in search of your own food and meat, and got a fat, juicy meat. Then that your brother who could not even offer you a bone, would come to you insisting that you would share with him, and even be giving you the condition that oh, the leg and the tail must be for him. What would you do in such situation?
“Since 1998, when I led the state delegation to register the PDP in Abuja, I have not moved an inch from the party. Some of those who came with the governor, from the APC, in 2020, were with us before they defected; they came back and left again with Ize-Iyamu; they are now coming back again with Obaseki. These are the people now giving us terms and conditions!
“When the governor picked his commissioners, there was no reference or deference to us; we were not consulted; yes, there are three old PDP members among the commissioners, but they are even those who betrayed us. Governor Obaseki picked them. We recommended people, who among them did he take? Special Adviser, none to us; SSA, he did not even consult leaders; even SA in my ward, I don’t know. Are you saying he has treated the legacy members well? No.
That is not even the annoyance, because it is in a parable that it is only something that one cannot cut that one cannot share
“The governor and his followers that are in a disadvantaged position, are still wanting to dictate the terms and conditions for reconciliation! I will take the whole chairmanship and councillorship positions, I will take this, I will take that; even sending his commissioners to be screening councillorship aspirants! Have you heard of that before? Screening councillorship aspirants for whom? For government? or for PDP? So, you can see that it is the governor and his people that are looking for trouble.”
Etose Imasogie maintained that it was absolutely wrong for the governor to single-handedly sit alone and write down a list of party candidates for elections. Said he: “Are there no party leaders in the areas where the candidates are going for elections? What inputs are those leaders making? Why are they not consulted or even brought into the picture? We are not even against the aspirants or candidates listed by the governor because we know some of them; some are our political friends. But, this is beyond friendship; we are talking about principle; we are talking about justice; Because, in this party, the PDP, we believe in justice.
“The PDP constitution provides for how party candidates should emerge; this idea or proposal of sharing and writing list of candidates is not in the PDP constitution. There are several party members who might want to contest certain elective positions; it therefore becomes unfairly wrong for you as a governor to impose one person from nowhere on everybody. When they are ready to do the right things, then we shall be ready to reconcile and agree with them.”
On the way forward for the crisis to abate and for true reconciliation to be achieved, Etose Imasogie challenged the governor and his group to always come forward with “genuine, fair, reasonably judicious suggestions in an attempt to carry everybody along. You cannot come to tell the landlord you have cheated, that you have starved and disrespected, that where he has power now, you are taking even the lion share, if not the whole. If they come with reasonably judicious and fair suggestions, maybe we can look at it.
“The national cannot force something on us that is not constitutional; they know that; do you share to select candidates? You go to primaries or congress, is that not so? Ortom committee did not provide solutions. All it said was that there were certain agreements reached when they were brokering peace to absorb the governor into the party and prevailing on some persons to shelve their aspirations at the time. They begged preferred aspirants, that time, to readjust their aspirations; and that at the appropriate time support should be given to those who dropped their aspirations. That is the much I can say on that for now.”
On the local government council election that is now facing a legal logjam, Etose Imasogie has this to say: “We are not the ones who went to court. You are aware that even the PDP was sued as a respondent. But if we are all really reasonable, how can you inaugurate a board today, and within twenty days they are to conduct election? Let us even take Ovia North East where you have thirteen wards; after the nomination, are you telling me that a chairmanship aspirant will not take more than one day to go round a ward?
“We know the governor’s intention was to rig those councilors in; but, it is the party that has the constitutional right to bring candidates forward for elections, not the government house. Is the government house also going to select candidates for the APC, APGA or SDP or other parties?”
On the party’s presidential election convention coming up on the 28th and 29th of April, 2022 in Abuja, Etose Imasogie has this to say: “The presidential aspirants are all going round; the day before yesterday, (April 13th) Peter Obi was here; yesterday, (April 14th ) Wike was here. The presidential aspirants are seeing the party delegates; I do not know why the governor is bothering himself about delegates to the presidential convention; I am not aware that he is contesting; only those aspiring to contest should be interested in delegates.
“You saw what happened during the party’s recent convention; some of his people misled him to believe that any list he would write would be accepted straight as delegates to the convention! You saw how some had to take the tags of other persons to try to get even inside the convention ground? It would be the same thing this time around too. Some of the delegates are known already; like principal officers in the state and national; like the state working committee, those are already there. The ones remaining are the one, one national delegates from the local government. So, we are where we are. (General laughter.)
“Again, I ask you: Was the governor having any structure when congress voted him here in 2020? That was because the PDP is a leadership party. The governor is not used to our working, the working of the PDP as a party. This is why, to some extent, I blame some politicians, who were originally PDP that are close to him today. They should tell him that this is not APC. This is a disciplined party, with the leaders dictating the pace in line with the party’s constitution.”

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