COVID-19: Obaseki, Oshiomhole bicker over lockdown violation

Posted by News Express | 5 May 2020 | 732 times

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•Photo of Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole

While many states in Nigeria are struggling to battle the Corona virus, also known as COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of party politics seems to have been shoved aside, as what appears to top the agenda of many of them is how to bring an end to the deadly pandemic.

The same may not be said to be the case in Edo State, as the last few days have witnessed accusations and counter-accusations between the supporters of the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole, the All Progressive Congress (APC) National Chairman.

The Edo Progressives Movement (EPM), a faction of the APC loyal to the Oshiomhole, at the weekend came under criticism for organising a mock governorship primary election last Wednesday at the residence of a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Lucky Imasuen, despite the restriction on social gathering ordered by the federal government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Friday, the camp of Obaseki through the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) , Osarodion Ogie, accused Oshiomhole of holding a political gathering in Benin, the state capital, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an act, which the government said it was against the mass gathering directive.

Ogie, in a statement, alleged that Oshiomhole was insensitive and his actions undermine the efforts of the government in fighting COVID-19.

According to the statement, “The coronavirus pandemic has not only shut the global economy and disrupted the world as we know it, it has led to the loss of over 200,000 lives globally, with Nigeria having its fair share of casualties.

“It is then most despicable of Comrade Oshiomhole to show such insensitivity by spitting on the graves of these people; endangering the lives of millions of Edo people and undermining the efforts of government at the state and national levels to halt the deadly campaign of this invisible enemy.”

While making clarifications on Oshiomhole’s sin, Ogie said in the statement that, “Comrade Oshiomhole on Thursday, April 30, 2020, organised what some media outlets have come to term as ‘APC faction’s mock primaries’ in Benin City. The meeting was organised by a group of dissidents who make up the EPM with the active backing of Comrade Oshiomhole, who, it was reported, drew up a delegates list for the exercise.

“It must be noted that the gathering was held in a house of a member of the EPM, with the attendants numbering over subsisting directives on public gatherings as prescribed by the national and state governments.”

For the state government, organising such a gathering at a time when the nation in particular and the world in general seem to be battling a common and an unseen enemy, was a total disregard for the people of Edo State.

“For Comrade Oshiomhole to organise this sort of gathering at this dark moment of our history as a nation, he has not only shown disregard for the health and safety of Edo people and Nigerians in general, but also proved that he has no regard for the hard-won reputation of our great party,” part of the statement read.

The government alleged that the organisers of the event were directly associated with Oshiomhole and had effectively brought the name and integrity of the party to disrepute.

With the alleged action, Edo government said it was also clear that the national Chairman of the ruling party had no regard for President Muhammadu Buhari and the collective efforts of the various agencies of government to protect and safeguard Nigerians in these dire times.

“It is most instructive of the kind of person that Oshiomhole is that at this time that federal and state governments are seeking for security operatives to enforce directives on safety and other public health precautions, he is deploying policemen and soldiers to a location to hold a political gathering.

“These security operatives should have rather been at borders and other strategic points serving the people and doing right by the thousands of health workers who are in the frontlines serving as shields against this unraveling enemy,” the statement further read.

While calling for an urgent and disciplinary action against this, the government urged the police and army to investigate the use of their men for “this illegal assignment when there is a national emergency of the kind we are faced with.”

The Edo State government also called on President Buahri to call Oshiomhole to do away with acts that show disregard for and divide the APC.

In a swift reaction, the Director of Communication of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, John Mayaki, called on the Edo State government to leave the National Chairman of the APC alone, just as he denied that there was no mini congress in the state as being alleged by the state government.

According to Mayaki, “Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has adhered strictly to all measures announced by the government and the Presidential Task Force charged with the management of the viral disease.

“He has also joined efforts with Progressives across the country to offer relief to the Nigerian people and generate pragmatic ideas that can help the country return to normalcy in the shortest time possible without endangering lives.

“It is neither a constitutional duty for the National Chairman of a party to conduct mock primaries, nor something Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has ever done in his long history in politics.

“Those at the said meeting the Edo state government dubbed a ‘mock primary’, have since offered a rebuttal, showing evidence that the meeting, held in observance of social distancing guidelines according to them, was done to articulate ways to support the Edo state government in the fight against COVID-19 following widespread complaints from residents of the state.”

Also speaking on the mock primary, the Governors’ Mandate called on Obaseki and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to prosecute Imasuen, Pastor Ize Iyamu, Odubu, and other loyalists who gathered at Imasuen’s house to conduct the mock primary in violation of the social distancing rules. It urged Obaseki to ensure that about 200 persons, who were at the venue of the mock primary, were quarantined.

The group, in a statement by its Chairman, Mr. Osaro Onaiwu, said information available to it suggested that some of the people at the venue of the mock primary were already on the run.

“While some, it was gathered, are already in Abuja, some others have gone into hiding to avoid been quarantined as demanded by the mandate,” it stated.

It called on the IG and the COVID-19 task force not only to prosecute any of the members, who were at the venue, but to also declare them wanted to face the law and also be quarantined.

The Governors’ Mandate added that what Imasuen and others did was not different from what a Nollywood actress, Mrs. Funke Akindele, did that warranted her and the husband to be convicted.

However, the Ize-Iyamu campaign organisation, said it had uncovered plots to cause disaffection among APC governorship aspirants Edo State.

In a statement issued by the Campaign Organisation on Saturday alleged that, “Some persons have been paid to sponsored articles and other media contents against aspirants’ seeking the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, including the respected former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, and General Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu among others.

“These articles are products of a campaign hatched by those seeking to cause disaffection and disunity amongst the aspirants who are jointly committed to the ultimate objective of returning Edo state back on the path of growth and development after four years of misadventure.

The statement further added that, “Some people terrified of the camaraderie between the aspirants seeking to obtain the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, Edo State Chapter, have commissioned writers and other bloggers unknown to the Campaign Organization of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to generate contents aimed at disparaging Edo APC aspirants.

“Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu holds in the highest esteem, Dr. Pius Odubu, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, General Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd) and the other aspirants and remains committed to the agreed accord amongst them.”

Political watchers and stakeholders in the state are keenly watching to see if the political gladiators will allow their personal ambitions supersede the need to forge a common front against the COVID-19 pandemic  (Daily Independent)

 

 

 


Source: News Express

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