The Progressives Governors’ Forum is like a cult. It is a formidable caucus in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for interest articulation and collective strategy for survival.
The forum will definitely miss Godwin Obaseki, an economic expert and governor of Edo State, who is believed to be on his way to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He is a vocal and popular member of the influential forum, where his seat will now be declared vacant, following his exit.
Obaseki left in frustration when the Screening Committee set up by the National Working Committee (NWC) could not clear him for the party primary, owing to what the panel described as discrepancies in his academic credentials.
To the governor’s camp, it is a moment of emotional wrenching. The supporters believe that the report of the committee was humiliating because Obaseki, who is seeking re-election, was given the nod to contest four years ago, based on the same academic profile.
During his ordeals, his colleagues at the progressive forum never abandoned him. A friend in need is a friend indeed. When Obaseki resisted the direct primary option announced by the NWC for the crisis-ridden chapter, some of them accompanied him to Lagos to lobby the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The mission did not achieve the expected result. Having previously backed the option, which worked effectively in Lagos and Osun states, the leader emphasised the merit of the option, its implications for internal democracy and importance of consistency.
Little did the governor know that the screening hurdles will be his albatross.
Whether the embattled governor carried along his APC counterparts during his emergency consultations with PDP Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers State), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) was unknown.
If he informed them about his next step, what would have been their response? Would their loyalty to APC not have been tested?
After the verdict of the screening committee, why did Obaseki not take his case to President Muhammadu Buhari, instead of embarking on hurried visits to opposition governors for consultation?
After his consultations with PDP leaders, the Edo governor remembered that a visit to Aso Villa was necessary, not to seek any presidential advice, but to bid his former leader, President Buhari, farewell. It was typical of politicians who believe in acting before thinking.
After saying bye to the Commander-In-Chief, would he now be his pleasure to hail the Edo governor for the inevitable decimation of Edo APC chapter? It is unthinkable that the President will be expected to give sympathy to a deserter who is looking for a new platform to challenge his party at a critical poll.
Inevitably, APC governors are under the weight of a moral burden. They have a commitment towards Obaseki. But, the joint assistance is only plausible if he still a party member.
Having left the party to seek refuge in a clearly antagonistic platform where he will continue to fire salvos at APC, do the governors still have a justification to continue to support him?
Will the Progressive Governors abandon the cause of Edo APC, distance themselves from the governorship candidate produced by the chapter and embrace a former colleague-turned partisan adversary?
Will that not amount to anti-party activity?