These are not the best of times for an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as the camp he is relying upon to achieve his political aim, is said to have switched support away from him. However, the situation seems a blessing in disguise for another aspirant, Hon. Osaro Obazee, whom sources within the APC said is now enjoying the support of the group loyal to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. Finding by Saturday Telegraph revealed that Oshiomhole and many of the party faithful were not comfortable with the idea of dumping the man popularly called POI, but the plethora of court cases against the former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, had become an albatross.
Top placed sources within the Oshiomhole faction of the APC in Edo State explained that it was tough taking the decision but the leaders of the party had no choice, so as not to run into crisis, as such they advised Oshiomhole not to plunge the state into another Bayelsa State debacle.
“We saw what happened in Bayelsa, we don’t want that to happen here. If the chairman continues to support POI, he may regret it because the court cases against him are too many. So, it is better we take the decision now. “It would soon become an open thing, but I am telling you now that it is the decision we have taken.
We are going with Obazee, we cannot afford to run into court cases that will take the state back into the hands of the PDP”, he said. Fresh facts however revealed that there was an earlier agreement by the party leaders to pick POI and that led to the mock primary held in Abuja where Ize-Iyamu was chosen as a consensus candidate.
But no sooner had the mock primary held than things started falling apart. A competent source within the party informed our correspondent that the dream of POI becoming the party’s candidate first got a blow after the visit of some governors to the National Leader of the party Bola Tinubu.
In that meeting, according to our sources, one of the governors presented Ize- Iyamu’s case files to Tinubu while noting that the party cannot risk given its ticket to POI. Tinubu and other leaders present at the meeting were said to have asked for some time to study the files and consult some lawyers. However, the revelation that came back showed that it was not a risk worth taking. This made the party leaders turn their back against POI. But further consultation within the top echelon narrowed the race to Obazee, as such; they decided to back the new horse.
“If a prophet had told Obaseki that Obazee, whom he denied ticket to House of Representatives would be the man that would replace him as governor of the state, who knows what he would have done to that prophet. “Or if an oracle had told Obazee that he would be the one to be favoured to wear APC big crown, he won’t have also believed, but today in Edo State there is a dramatic U-turn on the issue. When we contacted the powers that be in APC, the lot fell on Obazee. Another top member of the group confided in our correspondent that the ticket of the party had been decided by the political heavyweights in the APC, including Tinubu, Oshiomhole, some financiers of the election, and top leaders of the party in the state.
Saturday Telegraph gathered that three names were suggested to the financiers of the election; Barrister Henry Idahagbon, Dr. Pius Odubu, and Hon. Osaro Obazee. But they were more comfortable with Obaze. “They have all put their weights behind Obazee to pick the APC ticket.
The financier said he can spend his money on him being a young man he has worked with and that he can be trusted. That ended the dream of Ize-Iyamu. “Though he is still fighting hard for the ticket, APC cannot risk giving him the governorship ticket as a result of the series of court cases against him because they do not want what happened in Zamfara and Bayelsa states to happen in Edo”, the source said. However, Ize-Iyamu’s media director, John Mayaki denied that his principal is out of the race. Issuing a press release that his principal is still very much in the race, he said the support for the one popuilarly called POI remains very high.
“The baseless court case being bandied around by Governor Godwin Obaseki and his agents are targeted at him because they are also aware of the fact that across the 18 LGAs of Edo state, party members in large numbers have adopted Ize-Iyamu.
“Rather than deter his supporters or dissuade others from signing up to the SIMPLE agenda, the court case only serves as a reveal of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu’s prime position and the growing despair of the incumbent governor and his diminished group. “APC members and Edo people are wondering why Obaseki who claims to be popular and better loved is asking the courts not to allow Iyamu join the contest. They have asked repeatedly to no coherent answer from the incumbent that: if you are so sure of victory, why are you trying to tilt the contest one way by barring others from participating?
“The tactic is already obvious and as such, defeated. They know that a proper court hearing involving all sides will expose the emptiness of their suit so they want to manipulate the judicial process to gain an unfair advantage”, he said. We believe in the integrity of the judiciary. The court case is a non-issue. Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu is a bonafide member of the APC and is within his rights to contest for office on its platform. There is no doubt about this fact and the members are fully aware.