…as Bisi Akande leads reconstituted peace committee

Kingsley Abavo, Monday Oise, Benin


Chief Bisi Akande

The Edo ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) crisis has lately assumed frightening dimension.

It all began on the 13 December, 2019, the day Pastor Osagie Ize – Iyamu returned to the Party.

A reception to receive him at the Dr. Garrick Memorial Group of Schools, Ekehuan road axis of the City, had been planned.

But a day preceding the event, the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration announced the ban of political gathering in public places including schools in the State.

Sooner than the announcement was made, thugs and street urchins were let loose and unrestrictedly seized the popular Airport Road and its adjourning streets causing mayhem.

They made born – fire on the roads, brandishing all manners of dangerous weapon and looking menacingly fierce and thus, forced motorists and pedestrians to make a detour.

This continued on the day for the event proper even under the watch of armed security operatives.

Notably, the rampaging thugs and urchins were led by a certain former speaker of the State House of Assembly. The scenario was like hell been let loose on earth.

After the accusation and counter accusation that trailed that inglorious happening, Edo people thought they would be allowed to have a reprieve.

But events within the last two weeks have proven otherwise as the State has again been ignited with a new trend of attacks and violence.

First, the office of Barr. Henry Idaihagbon was attacked in alleged assassination attempt on his life. The suspected assassins came in a two long bus it was said.

Idaihagbon is a former commissioner for justice and attorney – general of the State in the Adams Oshiomhole administration.

He is also one of the leaders of the Edo People Movement (EPM), the APC faction fighting the second term bid of Governor Obaseki.

The next was bomb attack on the Hotel of Osakpamwan Eriyo, a former State youth’s leader of APC.

Then, within two days, the bomb attack on the residence of chief Inegbeneki followed, and now the bomb explosion in the residence of Lawrence Okah which damaged a part of the building.

Okah is the former State secretary of the Party and now secretary of the Oshiomhole led faction of the Party in the State.

Both Eriyo and Okah are members of EPM. It should be noted that the bomb attack on Okah’s residence is the third in the series within two weeks after the alleged assassination attempt on Idaihagbon.

The victims and their supporters in reaction have accused the Obaseki government to be sponsor of the various bombings and attacks.

But the State government denied through the Governor’s aide on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie adding that those crying wolf now, are the mastermind.

The crisis began about a year ago subtly with denial by the major players; Oshiomhole and Obaseki.

The bubble however burst with the State House of Assembly segregated mid night inauguration of 9 members June, last year.

Ever since, the APC has abandoned impactful governance with its unending crisis taking the shape of a thriller movie.

All appeals to both factions to sheathe their sword even from very revered quarters have been rebuffed.

Towards brokering peace two different reconciliation committees were previously set up by the National leadership of the Party, but were rejected by the Obaseki administration for fear that they could not be trusted to be fair and just in delivering justice.

It said the panel consisted of  people with  vested  interests in  the  crisis.

Hence a new one to be led by Chief Bisi Akande, former interim National Chairman of the Party has been inaugurated. Bisi replaces Ahmed Lawan, Senate President.

Lawan was the chairman of the initial 10-member APC National Reconciliation Committee set up last year but no reason was given for his removal from the new one.

Members of the  Bisi Akande  committee are governors Abubakar Bello (Niger) and  Gboyega Oyetola (Osun).

Others are  Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase; ex-Nasarawa State governor,  Umaru Al-Makura; Senator Kashim Shettima;  and  the  Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor.

The rest are  Alhaji Nasiru Koki, Senator Khairat Gwadabe-Abdulrazak, Senator Binta Garba and Senator John Enoh (Secretary). Ahmed Wase is to serve as the vice chairman.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement said that the committee has the mandate to address grievances of party members across the country.

Also to resolve existing conflicts, all with a view to fostering oneness, strengthen the party for better governance and ensure unity of purpose within the party.

According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have reviewed the membership of the party’s National Reconciliation Committee.”

The committee was inaugurated on Tuesday, February11, 2020 at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja.

In reaction, the Edo State Government applauded reconstitution of the Committee, as it expresses confidence that it will deliver on its mandate to restore peace and unity in the party.

Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie in a statement said that the State government is “grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for putting together a committee of persons with proven integrity and the forthrightness needed to deliver on this very sensitive national assignment.

“With the person of the renowned statesman and leader of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, heading this committee, and other very worthy leaders of our party as members, we have no doubt that justice will not only be done but seen to be done in the execution of the mandate of this committee.

“We hereby restate our full commitment to peace in the APC both in our State and across the country.

“Despite the many challenges, APC has remained strong in Edo State and in Nigeria, but we are certain that at the end of this exercise, the party will become even stronger and continue to lead our great country with its progressive ideals for many years to come.”