By Our Correspondent
Recent developments as it concerns the preparation for the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo States leaves no one in doubt of the generally accepted saying that in politics ‘there are no permanent friends nor permanent foes, only permanent interest.’
This is more apt when one considers the predicament which the incumbent governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who was disqualified by his own hitherto political party, the ruling All Progressive Party (APC).
It is no longer news that, Mr. Obaseki is now out of the party, as he strives to achieve his dreams of a second term bid. But what is however very interesting is that the man who many had perceived as gentle, at least having earning a living throughout his business carry as a stockbroker.
For those not familiar with the tradition of the capital market where Obaseki practice and retired before he was invited to the his hitherto, political career,’ and the current national chairman of APC, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, stockbrokers are called ‘Gentlemen of the City.’ A title they earned and as so proud of, just as the lawyer will proudly call himself a learned person while the rest of us are only educated because of the assumption that the stockholder’s word is his bond.
By implication, when a stockholder whether practicing or former, it is believed to be men of integrity whose yes is yes and no means no. This is the class where eminent personalities like the late, Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode, indeed belongs.
However, in politics worst still in the Nigerian situation, gentility or integrity appears to have become a very scarce commodity, hence those who hitherto paraded themselves as gentlemen of the city changes their colour when they get involved.
While one is not out to question or place a verdict on the decision of the APC to disqualify one of its own seen by many as doing well, one cannot but submit that what is currently at play is no longer the interest of the Edo people but personal interest of those at the central stage of the game.
The real issue concern here includes questioning the rationale behind the do or die politics in Nigeria. When will our political leaders become gentlemanly enough to honour their words? When will they for the sake of integrity quit the scene and be counted as gentlemen, when it seems that the system which brought you up is no longer in agreement with your convictions. When will our politicians become persons who are convinced of an ideology and will stay and defend their ideological convictions even at a time when it doesn’t suit their interest?
Of a truth, one can’t stop wondering why, a trained and respected gentleman of the city will be considering dinning and wining with his hitherto perceived foes. The thought of Obaseki, leaving the APC, a party that brought him from obscurity to the limelight to join the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) just to secure a second term ticket makes a right thinking mind wonder if he is still a ‘gentleman of the city,’ that he use to be when he was a stockbroker trading stocks on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. How time and politics changes people in Nigeria. This perhaps is why many Nigerians argues bitterly on the conduct of Nigerias political terrain.
Playing the Mussolini in Nigeria politics?
The turn of events in the Edo politics reminds one of the Italian politician, Benito Mussolini who became the fascist dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945. History has it that Mussolini who originally was a revolutionary socialist, forged the paramilitary fascist movement in 1919 and became prime minister in 1922. Called “Il Duce” (the Leader) by his countrymen or simply “Mussolini,” he allied himself with Adolf Hitler during World War II, relying on the German dictator to prop up his leadership.
Setting the records straight
There is no doubt those sympathizing with the course of the incumbent governor Edo, they definitely have forgotten how Obaseki humiliated his party chieftains after he emerged as governor. This is even as it is obvious that Comrade Oshiomhole and those who believed on his integrity paved the way for him to emerge the candidate of the party in the first place.
Interestingly, as his relationship the national chairman of the party, Comrade Oshiomhole has gone soured with the man under whom he served as a special adviser for eight years and made him the governor of the state against all odds has suddenly become a dictator.
The unfolding scenario in Edo has made some stakeholders in the state politics to begin to compared Obaseki as the Benito Mussolini of Edo, arguing that the governor and his deputy Philip Shuaibu had hidden agenda from inception. Those in this school of thought believed that the governor and his deputy were out to disorganise the ruling party in the state as they intend to build an empire devoid of confrontation and correction.
Going back to 1845, Benito, didn’t just emerged an autocratic ruler, he stylishly won the facist heart by loyalty. Working according to hidden plan, the governor and his deputy from the beginning betrayed trust of not just party members but that of the man who paved the way to stardom, Comrade Oshiomhole.
Perhaps, who was blinded by brilliancy of Obaseki as an economic adviser, unashamedly vouch for him considering his intelligence more than his loyalty. But come to think of it, if Obaseki did not have an ulterior motives of playing the Benito style why did he choose to inaugurate the state house of assembly in the night with only out of 24 lawmakers that constitute the house even when all the members were members of the APC.
As if the brouhaha generated by what some has termed the illegal inauguration of the state house of assembly in June was not bad enough, Obaseki using the instrumentally of his stooges in the assembly in mid December sacked 12 out of the 15 lawmakers who not inaugurated in the first instance thus further making sure that the political crisis in the state degenerate further.
In what some analyst has called a deliberate attempt to frustrate every effort aimed at correcting the abnormalities emanating from the power tussle between the governor and every political partners, fell into deaf ears, as Obaseki was set to act the Mussolini script he has perfected behind the scene.
To justify his course even when loyal party members of the state called the national chairman of the party to address Obaseki turned around to cajole, the Edo people against the suspended lawmakers and the party chieftain accusing them of been corrupt, stressing that they don’t want development but their share of national cake.
From all indications if the incumbent governor had allowed the state assembly made of the people’s representative came into existence as obtain in other states of the federation, he definite would have been impeached by now.
Obaseki’s scheming became very obvious to the party’s national body when all the committees set up at the national level to mediates in the state crisis at least to rescue the party failed. At a point the National Assembly in Abuja was considering taking over the legislation of the state affairs with a view to salvaging the right of the people to be represented. As we speak more than half of the state is not represented in the law making of the state even though the members where constitutionally elected. Thanks to Obaseki’s bid to take charge of Edo at all cost, even when it means biting the fingers that feed him.
At the peak of the battle, the national chairman of the party, nearly lost his sit when the governor in connivance with some aggrieved governors under the platform alongside members of the party’s national working committee used every instrument at their disposal to remove him from office.
To discerning minds when Oshiomhole won that battle and the governor didn’t show any sign of remorse and smartly seek reconciliation it was glaring that his days were numbered.
Fighting perceive political opponents
One of the most unfortunate incident in Obaseki’s quest towards achieving his second term bid is the attempt to destroy all perceived political enemies and opposition. A case that readily comes to mind is the unwarranted attack on Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo.
The Edo State born oil magnate, and trained commercial pilot, Captain Okunbo came under serious attack in the media recently by persons believe to be agents of Obaseki’s due to speculations that he intended to run for the governorship of the state against him under the platform of the APC.
Okunbo became a target of those sympathetic to governor’s cause simply because of speculation that considering his impeccable personality and goodwill among Edo people, Oshiohmole was prepping him as a strong opponent to oust Obaseki. But from recent development that notion can be perfectly said to be incorrect, as he did not even pick up the APC’s form for expression of interest not to talk of contesting. Of course, he had earlier cleared the air when he publicly disclosed that he has never nursed the ambition of becoming Edo governor. However, mudslinging initiative of Obaseki may have smeared their relationship to some extent.
Dining with the enemies
As it is usual with Nigeria politicians, when the curtain drew close on nomination by parties for candidates contesting for the Edo state governorship election, Obaseki is hurriedly courting the PDP for its ticket. Last weekend he was busy visiting governor’s of the PDP in the south south zone in what can be seen as lobby for the party’s ticket. Obaseki even came out in national television after a visit to Presidential Villa on Tuesday saying he has resigned from the APC.
Of course, the party in responding to his decision accepted his resignation and wished him well in his near new found home, but the question in the mind of many observer are, can Obaseki truly get the PDP ticket? If yes, can they make him win the state governorship election in September? What legacy and ethics will the PDP put forth by aligning with an uncertified candidate? The rhetorics are quite obvious.
While some persons have sighted the case of the Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom who left the APC for PDP in 2019 and won the second term bid, such analysts fail to say that Ortom only returned to his former party and with the full support of his people.
That apart, Ortom’s election took place during a general election. The Edo election can best be compared to that of Osun and Kogi. As the word await Obaseki’s next move, it is obvious that he has listen to wrong counsel. If the reception he got when he visited Aso Rock on Tuesday is anything to go by, the odds are against this gentlemen of the city who ventured into politics and betrayed his loyalty when it was needed most.
There is no gainsaying that the same strategy which he and his supporters used in winning Pastor Eze-Iyamu as the candidate of the PDP in 2016 will be used against him this time around. If this happens, it then can be said that Obaseki only reaped what he planted. This is Nigerian politics, it can be very messy.