Osagie Otabor, Benin
As political parties rejigs campaign machinery for the forthcoming Edo guber elections, the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State has been hit with internal crisis as a faction of the party announced the suspension of chieftains of the party across the three senatorial districts.
Those suspended by the PDP Integrity Group were a former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadohme, former Minister of Works, Arch.Mike Onolememen, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Senator Yisa Braimoh, Senator Victor Oyofo and a former leader of the House of Representatives, Tunde Akogun.
Their suspension was contained in a communique signed by former Chairman, Nigeria Football Association, Emperor Jarret Tenebe and former two-time chairman, Owan West Government Area, Dan Asekhema after a stakeholders meeting held last weekend in Benin City.
In the communique, a vote of confidence was passed on State Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih and offered to give him six months extension to enable them conduct the governorship primaries.
“We the Edo PDP integrity Group also announced the adoption of former governor of the state, Chief Lucky Igbinedion as the leader of our party in Edo State.
Explaining why some of the leaders were suspended, the communique explained that “Chief Oghiadohme was seen when he flew a helicopter with governor Godwin Obaseki last weekend to attend convocation ceremony of the Edo university Iyamho last weekend.
“He even displayed the sign 4+4, endorsing Obaseki when We have our own PDP aspirants. Chief Ikimi and others have been holding clandestine meetings with Governor Obaseki where we learnt reliably that the governor was asked to bring N6bilion so he can join PDP and take the ticket.
“We are also aware that they have been meeting with the state chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua with view to perfecting this plan. We believe as a party we must instil discipline because it is because of the cash and carry politics some people played in the past they led to the problem of PDP in Edo State.
“As we move towards 2019 governorship election, we urge our aspirants to disregard the activities of greedy politicians and continue their campaigns. We will fight indiscipline in the PDP no matter whose ox is gored” it stated.
But Chief Orbih who rejected the six months extension offer said he was not aware of any group that goes by the name PDP integrity group.
He urged the public to disregard whatever statement that has been released or issued by the group.
A statement signed by State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Chris Nehikhare frowned at the audacity of the group to suspend ‘or even say they are suspending respected leaders of our party especially as they lack such powers.
“Their attempt to offer an extension to the tenure of Chief Dan Orbih is not only laughable but infantile. Chief Orbih has not requested for any extension. He has said he is going on the expiration of his tenure in March 2020. That is the position of the party!
“Their behaviour is mischievous and condemnable.
“They are not members of any organ of our party and as such cannot issue statements or releases on behalf of PDP.
“We will not hesitate to discipline any party member that submits himself to be used as a political tool in the hands of our political opponents.”