THE more Governor Godwin Obaseki struggles with the rejection of his candidacy by the State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the more he blames his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party. To Governor Obaseki, the facts hardly matter, as his concoction of the wrong-headed falsehood of “THEY WANT ME TO SHARE THE MONEY” tragically shows. If he and his motley of minders think a staled trump card such as this will win votes, they have ran into cul-de-sac.
Governor Obaseki’s Achilles heel from the very beginning stems from his measure of gloating and pride when he signposted himself as a wiz kid/technocrat and deliberately alienated the power blocks upon which he climbed to office. This early signs of political importance were ignited by political hirelings who deceived and keep deceiving him about his invincibility, in spite of Obaseki’s clumsy, feckless response to governance and party development. He did not only get his politics, priorities and policies choices wrong but also rides high horse of self-importance — an omnipotent sort of godhead demagogue with horror!
From available account, Chief Bisi Akande, one of the founding fathers and leaders of APC was the party’s third official attempt at reconciliation in the Edo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress to bring the Governor to earth to see reason why he has to govern with human face. The first two attempts were the committees constituted and headed by the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan. The peace deal proposal was scuttled by the Governor who publicly derided and announced his rejection of the committee. He accused the personalities involved, including fellow Governors and national figures of the APC of bias and less-than-ideal integrity platform to resolve the party crisis.
The Governor was ruthless in accusing the Senate President’s committee. He did not even wait for the committee to initiate the process of reconciling the conflicting parties in the state before hurling insults at the Senator Ahmed Lawan and the members of the committee. Only yesterday, at the twilight of his four years governorship mandate, albeit under frantic desperation, he met with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in company of seven Governor’s begging him to beg Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for endorsement.
To say, on a lighter mood, that the governor lacks emotional intelligence to have allowed political squabbles with his mentor and party supporters to get to a tipping point such that his known thugs now brutally crack party supporters skulls; throwing bombs and dynamites into people’s homes, demolishing party members hotels and property, even assassination attempts at those who opposed his second term ambition is an understatement. Not only that, the governor has visited mayhem on scheduled political rally venues were his thugs regularly set ablaze campaign podiums.
Beside the National Chairman of the party, Barrister Henry Idahagbon, Chief Lawrence Okah and other leaders of the APC in the state have come under assassination attacks for their opposition to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, several less mighty political figures have been heavy-handedly opposed by non-state actors who were recruited by the state government. While they managed to escape, other party members have not been so lucky with many still receiving treatment at various hospitals across the state for injuries suffered at the hands of thugs empowered by the state government and given a free rein to unleash terror on anyone not caving to the tyrannical desire of the Governor. Businesses sealed and life cut short as Mr. Godwin Obaseki has blurred the line between the personal and official, using state agencies and public resources in his personal quest to crown himself King of Edo politics. Pastor Ize-Iyamu was hunted for daring to return to the political party he midwifed along with other eminent politicians. The Governor simply recreated a political space where dangerous cavemen with sword dripping with blood feel empowered.
Mr. Obaseki’s disdain for inclusive governance and accountable democracy was noticed early enough. In his appointments into political positions, he shunned loyal party members and favored unknown individuals who were incapable of passing any competence test and placed his own personal relationships over and above important party considerations. This was a problematic factor that resulted in the governor handing sensitive positions to his Lagos boys and girls.
More troubling is the sliding of the state into a state of complete disrepair with critical projects abandoned and new ones commissioned and executed with sub-standard materials away from the days of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s administration whose legacy projects remain solid and visible till date. All of these made it difficult to justify the actions of Mr. Godwin Obaseki and his neglect of the party in the state, especially to members who sold the Obaseki candidacy to their friends and neighbors as a result of his propensity for violence and poor governance.
During the general election in 2019, Edo State lost to the PDP in the Presidential election. For the first time the Governor himself, in the history of the state, failed to deliver his own ward, Local Government Area and Senatorial District to the APC. It was later revealed that the party actually obtained confidential correspondence that showed that Mr. Gdowin Obaseki deliberately traded off the ambition of the candidate of Edo South Senatorial District in the person of Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon.
The Governor repeated similar disloyalty tactics during the primary election for the representatives of Edo State in the Edo House of Assembly. Obaseki’s growing rejection by party members also came to the fore when his attempt to rig the nomination process was resisted and credible candidates were produced. Initially, when the nomination process was concluded, Mr. Godwin Obaseki went to town decrying the process. He accused the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of swapping the list of nominated candidates in Abuja and replacing them with “unpopular choices”.
However, when the APC swept the election and produced all members for the available 24 seats in the Edo Assembly, the same man recanted his stance, attempting to claim credit for the outcome by posturing that the victory was a ‘vote of confidence’ on his administration despite his opposition to the candidates who delivered the victory and his needless attack of the National Chairman of APC.
The falsehood became manifest when he refused to inaugurate the same members whose victories he laid claims to, thereby resorting to force and intimidation, conditioned the inauguration of the Assembly and the swearing-in of the members-elect on the selfish requirement that they relinquish their age-long, constitutionally-guaranteed practice of freely electing the leadership of the House and determining the legislative agenda and priorities of the Assembly.
As follow up to this illegal action, the majority of the members-elect who refused to be a part of the sham process and insisted on the right thing, including a well-publicized and circulated proclamation of inauguration served to all members-elect indicating time and venue for the inauguration exercise contrary to the nocturnal affair conducted by the Governor, came under attack. The Governor’s thugs led by his personal security aide, Michael Nwankwo, at the Golden Tulip hotel in Benin City on the 19th of June 2019 came short of killing the elected house members. They suffered physical assault and some were hospitalized including, Hon. Crossby Eribo.
Strictly speaking, Governor Obaseki’s pretences at genuine reconciliation has been exposed by his outlandish and hide-and-seek tactics. While his more organic and liberated counterpart in Ondo State in the person of Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) accepted direct primary or any other method the APC leadership may wish to adopt, Mr. Obaseki is still throwing spite into the air and collecting it with his face. He says it’s indirect primary or all hell will be let loose!
So much incendiary from the “Wake and Sleep” hypersomnia plagued governor. Mr. Obaseki’s threat to destabilize and scuttle the party was made manifest this afternoon when he approached Justice Vestee Eborieme of the High Court sitting in Abudu in the outskirts of Edo State capital where he filed and sponsored ex-parte motion seeking to restrain the APC from conducting its internal and direct primary in the state and screening leading aspirant Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The case has been heavily criticized as unnecessary interference by the court in internal party affairs. Critics have cited Section 87(10) of the Electoral Act which forbids the interference of courts in the conduct of party primaries in the nature in which Obaseki’s allies are seeking to do.
Other legal experts have also pointed at the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of APGA vs Anyawu & ords where the highest court held that conflicts over the membership of a political party is a domestic affair of the party concerned and a court will not involve itself.
The chickens have come home to roost! After nearly four years of pursuing a shadow misguided governance model and avalanche of political terror, the Governor belatedly appreciates the role of party cohesion and supremacy in a constituted democracy, when Edo people are gingerly and eagerly looking up to his post-governorship. Should there be reconciliation between Oshiomhole and Obaseki when majority of the elected house members have been chased out of the state by the Governor’s political thugs.
The APC crisis in Edo State is beholden to the cult of inefficiency, barefaced status arrogance and banal treachery on the part of the Governor who is sly and serpentine. Effective leadership and governance are not products of conjecture or make-belive and gobbled up story of technocratic invincibility.
Ikhide, A Social crusader, journalist and security expert writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
Follow me on Twitter @ikhide_erasmus1