RATHER than subside, the crisis of confidence rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State seems to be growing.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa Onilu, on Sunday dismissed allegations of bias levelled by the state government against the leadership of the party.
Issa-Onilu said what transpired in the House of Assembly was glaring and, therefore, needed no investigation.
He spoke even as APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole challenged those accusing him of playing god-father’s politics to produce their evidence.
Also on Sunday, Oshiohmole’s predecessor Chief John Odigie-Oyegun described the ruling party as the greatest problem for the Edo State governor.
The party’s spokeman, who was reacting to a statement credited to the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Obaseki that the party should have heard from both sides before taking a stand, said there was no dispute between parties, adding that if the issue was a dispute between two parties, then the party would have called for an investigation.
The party had condemned the inauguration of nine members of the State House of Assembly at about 9.30pm, leaving out majority of members, describing such action as a departure from the constitutional provision
Issa-Onilu said: “There is no dispute about the fact that nine people were involved in it. There is no dispute about the fact that what took place, took place at 9.30pm. So what is there to listen to?
“Furthermore, there is no dispute about the fact that the proclamation was not published. The constitution says you should publish and inform all members. So this is not something you need to do an investigation.
“The facts are staring you in the face. This is not a quarrel between two people. It’s when two people are quarreling about issues that you say let’s investigate. The point is, was the law followed or was it not followed?
“And there cannot be a fiat accompli in this matter. The processes are regulated by law. We are not talking of an amorphous society or secret cult. Now let me ask you, if a similar thing was done in the National Assembly, would there be the question that since it has been done what needs to happen next?
“If a foundation is faulty, you can’t roof the building. We must emphasize that processes need to be followed. We are cleaning up our processes. That is what change means to us in APC. Once processes are clean, outcomes don’t matter. Outcomes should reflect the will of the people. I don’t know how inauguration that violated every aspect of the law, tradition, norms, values could stand. If you fail an exam you re-sit.
“There is no dispute about the fact that nine people were involved, some against their will to purport to have inaugurated the Assembly. How is it that an APC governor cannot allow people to vote? You carry people by 9.30pm and purport to have elected a speaker. The danger of that is that if you can do it for Speakership purpose, you can also do it to make law that is unpopular.”
All 24 lawmakers in the Edo state House of Assembly are of the APC. There is in dispute over who should be the Speaker, a position zoned to Edo Central.
Also at the weekend, Oshiomhole urged those accusing him of plotting to be a godfather in Edo State to provide the proof.
He was responding to a question from State House reporters in Abuja that he was masterminding the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly because he wanted to become a godfather and to dictate what happens in the state.
Insisting that he “is a democrat”, he recalled that he fought against god-fathers in Edo politics to emerge become governor in the Southsouth state.
He also said that he would not need short-cut to sustain his position in the system.
Oshiomhole said: “What is the evidence? It’s all about accusation. The media has a duty. They have to give you the particulars of that god-father. What’s the evidence? I am a democrat.
“That I accept the credit, not only that I fought god-fathers, I launched the one-man one-vote campaign to fight against election rigging anywhere in Nigeria and by the special grace of God, under PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) with Chief Tony Anenih alive, and at his best, I won all the 18 local government areas and I won 95 per cent of the total votes cast in my second term election.
“So, Edo people know me and I know them. I don’t need short-cut to sustain my position in the system. But you know that there is nobody in Nigeria who is not open to accusations. The important thing is that he who accuses should give you proof.”
Speaking on the ongoing crisis over the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly, he said: “It’s about rule of law. As journalists there are questions you don’t need to ask me because you know the answer.
“You know the law provides for how the House should be proclaimed transparently. The day it’s announced, members-elect are informed of date and time for inauguration.
“These are clearly spelt out in the Nigerian constitution. And just last week (about two weeks ago), you were all witnesses to how President Muhammadu Buhari issued proclamation letter to the Clerk many days before, stating date and time of the inauguration of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“Even while we are still negotiating to ensure that our party was not divided on the floor of the House, without prejudice to the outcome of those negotiations, the President issued proclamation because he is obliged by the constitution to do so whether he likes it or not and he did.
“He did it transparently. He has led us by example. For me, it’s very embarrassing if any state governor, particularly of APC extraction, will do anything that is less than what the constitution says and the example that our President has set.”
According to him, the proclamation was not publicised in the case of the Edo State House of Assembly inauguration.
Stressing that the members were not informed, he said that the inauguration took place at 9:30pm.
According to him, the time was what a Supreme Court judgement described as “nocturnal hours.”
He said: “Business of parliament are done transparently; they are not secret cult. Now you have 24-member House, 19 members protested. You have six and you carry people in their short knickers. Even in the House they have rules, the dress code. So, it happened in Edo, it has happened in Bauchi.
“Like Edo, Bauchi used the minority of 10 to go and proclaim the House and lock out 20 APC members and got those 10 people to elect, exactly the way Edo did with six and then co-opted other three people to become nine and even at that, it is nonsense.
“For us, these are completely illegal. And that is why we said so. If it is wrong, it is wrong; whether it is done by APC or by PDP; whether it is the chairman’s state or not. The law is blind to those sentiments. I believe by the end of the day, the solution is return to the rule of law.
“Let’s properly follow the law; let the parliament do what they have to do but people have the right to lobby for people they want and whom they prefer. This is also legitimate. Like you saw in the National Assembly, after all the lobbies, people have the right to vote and you saw them in the National Assembly conducting secret ballot.
“We have an APC senator, who, in spite of all the efforts invested by all our leaders, including Mr. President, insisted that he will contest. The law allowed him so, we couldn’t stop him. The President could have said okay, SSS (State Security Services) please find excuse to invite him for questioning the day before; put him away until the elections are over.
“But we won’t do that. That is not the change we promised. The change we promised is to try to improve in the ways public institutions are managed and how rules are implemented. I believe that it will be resolved.”