…Factional lawmakers allege plot to attack members
…They are jesters — Okiye, factional speaker
…APC govs not sponsoring me against Oshiomhole — PGF DG
By Dapo Akinrefon, Omeiza Ajayi & Ozioruva Aliu
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, yesterday, accused Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of fuelling religious tension ahead of the governorship election in the state.
But the PDP, in its reaction, dismissed the allegations, saying it was committed to the peace and unity of the state.
This came on a day 17 factional members of Edo State House of Assembly, claiming to be the authentic assembly, met amidst tight security, alleging that there are plots to attack them.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum, PGF, Salihu Lukman, yesterday, dismissed speculations that he was acting the script of some unnamed power brokers in the All Progressives Congress, APC, in calling for a change of style in the party’s way of politickings ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
Obaseki, PDP, fuelling religious tension — APC
The APC frowned on the reaction of the PDP to the honorary Itsemakohna title (this is our own) conferred on the APC candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III.
The APC media Campaign Council chairman, John Mayaki, accused the PDP of being insensitive to the cultural and religious diversities in the state.
Mayaki, in a statement, said that Auchi, which is in the northern part of Edo State, popularly called the Afemai or Afenmai region, is a predominantly Muslim area under the traditional leadership of the Otaru of Auchi.
He said: “The conferment of the Itsemakohna title on Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as explained by the candidate himself, was a mark of honour indicative of his level of acceptance in all parts of Edo State.
“His personal religion and position as a pastor are not unknown to the Otaru who, indeed, refers and regards him as a Christian and ordained man of God.
“The symbolic turbanning is not a religious ceremony, but a cultural one to show clearly that the people of Auchi no longer want Governor Obaseki and have embraced the APC candidate.
“There are many reasons for the rejection of the embattled Governor, part of which includes his flagrant disrespect for tradition and well-known divisive tendencies, a fact which he and his party have now corroborated with the evil insinuations they introduced to the event, seeking to stoke religious tension in Edo State.
“The governor’s disrespect for tradition was apparent when he visited the palace of the Oba of Benin without the customary kola nut he should have carried and met a cold reception.
“His opponent, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, a more urbane and culturally conscious man, carried the kola nut on his visit and was met by a full regiment of powerful Benin chiefs who greeted him affectionately.
“Edo has been able to steer clear of the religious tension that the rejected PDP is trying to engender because other Governors and administrators before the sad emergence of Obaseki understood the plurality of the State like most Nigerian societies, and pursued peace and unity, not actively stoke tension with poor propaganda on the account of mindless politics.
“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu does not discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs. The faith he professes and teaches, as exemplified and instructed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, kicks against divisive actions and preaches peaceful harmony.
“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s honorary title by the Otaru, an Islamic traditional ruler, is a powerful attestation to his ability to preside over the affairs of the state and its diverse people with the maturity, sensitivity, and fairness required to achieve social harmony and development.
“On the contrary, by seeking to add mischievous interpretations to the event, the PDP and its new leader, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, continue to burnish their reputation as an irresponsible party unfit for leadership at any level, not much as Governor of a diverse state where everyone must be treated with respect, irrespective of leaning and religious beliefs.”
We’re not inciting religious violence in Edo, says PDP
But, in a swift reaction, the PDP denied the allegation that it was inciting religious violence in the state by its comments on the recent title conferred on Ize-Iyamu.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare said: “We stand by our statement and in that statement, there is nowhere we said anything that will affect the peace and unity of the state. We are committed to the peace and unity of Edo State but we stand by our position that Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole are ready to cede part of Edo land to Miyetti Allah for Fulani herdsmen to establish grazing ground. We have heard in the past that such agreement has been reached and Ize-Iyamu receiving that title inferred that our thoughts have been confirmed.”
Edoror’s faction meet, allege plan to attack members
Also, at their resumed sitting, yesterday, held after an executive session, the lawmakers condemned the continued siege on the assembly complex by people they described as hoodlums, a development they said has propelled them to meet in a rented hall.
The factional lawmakers received two petitions over alleged withdrawal of salaries and entitlements of elected councillors in the 18 local government areas for refusing to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with Governor Godwin Obaseki; and the removal, from office of the Vice-Chairman of Owan East Local Government area, which was referred to committees to investigate and report in two weeks.
The factional Speaker, Mr. Victor Edoror, set up 17 committees which he said would help in the smooth running of the House.
In his remarks, the lawmaker representing Uhunmwonde Constituency, Mr. Washington Osifo, alleged that there were plans to attack members and inflict body injuries on them.
Osifo said: “Mr. Speaker, similar information got to us on June 18 last year and we ignored it because we thought these were our party members and they cannot harm us but a few hours after, we were attacked by thugs.
“The information available to us Mr. Speaker is that these same people are planning to again attack us and we must not take this for granted again.”
Responding, the factional Speaker condemned the plot saying: “Democracy is a game of numbers and we have an absolute majority. We call on our colleagues to retrace their steps and join us.”
Edoror, however, announced the suspension of the House Clerk, saying he would be investigated for aiding other lawmakers.
The Assembly adjourned sitting to August 25, 2020.
They are jesters — Okiye
Reacting to the meeting, the factional Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye described the seventeen lawmakers as jesters.
Okiye said: “I still insist that they are jesters, they are actors in a comic Nollywood movie. Section 99 of the Nigerian constitution makes provision for criminal prosecution if they cross the red line. We know where the red line is, if they cross the red line, the law will react.”
APC govs not sponsoring me against Oshiomhole — PGF DG
Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Director-General of the PGF, Mr. Lukman said he has a special relationship with the former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, saying statements credited to the former party boss that he (Lukman) was doing the biddings of some governors were far from the truth.
Lukman said he is first an APC member before assuming any other responsibility.
He said: “You are all aware of the statement attributed to the former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I want to make two brief statements as a rider to what I will call an appeal.
“The first statement is to say very unequivocally that I hold Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in very high esteem. I respect him, not just as a leader of APC, but as a person I have had a good relationship with him and my relationship with him is special.
“My relationship with him is not in the way people imagine. The question of agreeing or disagreeing has been part of our relationship. I respect him and I respect every leader of the party.
“My prayer and hope are that our leaders will be able to have the needed large heart to tolerate one another and tolerate all of us because as human beings, God has created us differently. And it is the basis of the test of leadership – to be able to show an open, accommodating disposition to each one of us.”
Declaring that he stood by his convictions, Lukman said the APC was about the only party in the country which had allowed some level of internal contestation.
He said: “The second statement I want to make is that I grew up in a very complex extended family set up and one of the things it has done in terms of my personal makeup is that it imposes on me to be accountable at every point in time.
“When I commit an offence, based on my upbringing in that environment, I never transfer any of my offences to my parents or to any of my senior ones. I was always made to account and where there is the need as part of that accountability for me to be punished, I get punished. ‘’Having said that, I am open and ready to account for whatever I had said to the party and the leadership; if in the end, the process of accountability requires that I get sanctioned, I will accept and I will remain in this party and continue to contribute in whatever way I can to help the development of the party.
“I account for my offence. Nobody should transfer my offence to any other leader of the party. That is the reason why I said I don’t think it is a matter that we should belabour. I take responsibility and all that I have said, you all have it. It is written in ink. It is not verbal communication that I can dispute. They are written documents.
“I want to appeal to our leaders to respect one another as a basis for resolving all the challenges facing the party. I have said it over and over again and I will repeat it- I am a proud member of the APC and my membership of APC supersedes any other responsibility that I may be called to discharge.
“I believe today in Nigeria, APC is about the only political party where internal contestation is permissible and to some extent, people like me are enjoying that privilege on account of availability of such a space.
“I have said it before that people can call President Muhammadu Buhari by any name, but I think the liberal environment we have in APC should be attributed to him because if he had conducted his affairs as the President of this country and being the leader of the party in the way, for instance, the former President Obasanjo had conducted himself under PDP, we would not have had this freedom.”
Asked if he was under threat of sack, the PGF DG said he was not, adding that he could not disown the statements he made in good conscience.
“No, I am not under threat. I have said it before and even in the last statement in the submission to Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee.
“So, it is not a matter of running away from certain issues that I had raised. I talked about the dangers of a single story as espoused by Chimamanda and I did not want the story that is all over the air now around what Comrade Oshiom-hole said to be the only or single story.
“I want people to hear from me. I mean, I respect him (Oshiomhole) and that is it.”
Oshiomhole, who was at the Presidential Villa on Monday, had accused Lukman of working for certain vested interests whom he described as cowards.
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