The Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors’ forum, Salihu Lukman, has, again, questioned the party’s former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole’s fore-front role in Edo State’s governorship campaign.
Mr Oshiomhole, who was recently removed as the APC’s national chairman coincidentally in the midst of state’s raging political crisis, has been seen spearheading Osagie Ize-Iyamu governorship campaign, a move many have argued has not only made the candidate susceptible to main opposition parties’ attacks but which also portrays the party’s candidate as a potential puppet governor if eventually elected.
However, Mr Ize- Iyamu, shortly after his endorsement by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, denied the latter as he boasted that his political pedigrees speak volume of influence in the state political landscape.
“Let me first inform you that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is not the face of the campaign. As you rightly know, I am the gubernatorial candidate and Mallam Gani Audu is the deputy.
“Of course, Adams Oshiomhole comes from Edo, he is an APC member and it is natural for him to campaign for our party but certainly he is not the face. Unlike what happened four years ago where maybe, the candidate could not speak and somebody had to speak for him. But anyone will tell you that everywhere I have gone, I have been the one speaking. So that statement is not correct,” he told Presidential Villa correspondents as he took a sweep at his main opponent, Mr Obaseki, who enjoyed Mr Oshiomhole’s massive support in the 2016 Edo governorship race.
Setting Mr Ize-Iyamu’s explanation aside, Mr Lukman, who speaks for governors under auspices of APC, urged the party’s former National Chairman to follow Bola Tinubu’s campaign model in marketing the party’s anointed candidate.
Mr Tinubu, who is the ruling party’s national leader, has been the brain behind the emergence of Lagos governorship candidates such as Babatunde Fashola, Akinwumi Ambode, and the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, without taking the fore-front seat in their campaign.
“As opposed to reconciliation, it is loud drums of war that has taken over the airwaves in Edo State. Comrade Oshiomhole has relocated to Edo State and taken over the APC campaign.
“The APC campaign is personalised around Comrade Oshiomhole and the candidate of the party, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is an onlooker.
“We need to appeal to Comrade Oshiomhole to ‘calm down’. This campaign is not about his person,” he said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
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On the claims that Mr Ize-Iyamu adopted a laid-back disposition weeks into his campaign, Mr Lukman called on the candidate to take over his campaign rather than allowing Mr Oshiomhole to run it for him.
“If the Edo State APC campaign is to go ahead this way, when APC wins the election who will run the affairs of the state as Governor? Is it Comrade Oshiomhole or Pastor Ize-Iyamu? If our party wants Edo people to vote for our candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu must be very visible and be seen as the face of the campaign,” he added.