Posted by Ehi Ekhator | 2 February 2019 | 4,018 times
In Nigeria, pursuing your political dream could lead to selling your soul to the fiend and kissing a few frogs. It is mandatory to have a political godfather who would have your back, fight your battle and place you where you desire to be. Similarly, it is imminent for godfathers to have political sons whom they use to do their dirty jobs, eavesdrop and conquer anyone who stands in their ways.
A former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, now the National chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), became a governor the same way. He had to play “lifeless” for the then political gladiators, the late Chief Tony Anenih and Chief Igbinedion’s families of Edo State, just to be the standard-bearer and subsequently fought the legal battle that brought him to power.
As he left, against all odds, he anointed his chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, Godwin Obaseki, against his previous arrangement with the Igbinedion's family to support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who played an immense role in his emergence.
Governor Obaseki, a hitherto political neophyte, started having problems with his principal the moment he took over the office. The first problem was that he met an empty treasury.
It could be recalled that less than four days to the governorship election in 2016 in Edo State, a former governor of the state and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Lucky Igbinedion, said the next government in the state will meet “an empty treasury and a big hole” Igbinedion said he pitied the government that will take over from Oshiomhole because of the debt profile of the state.
Obaseki has been covering for the former governor since he assumed office. A source said Oshiomhole is very overbearing and Obaseki always finds a reason not to engage him. Oshiomhole had expected Obaseki to take care of his boys, for example, the agberos, Tony Kabaka, Osakpaman, Imasuen, and the others, but these were the first people the governor got rid of the moment he was sworn in.
Obaseki was already overwhelmed by the decisions made by his political godfather during and after the 2016 general election. For example, the choice of a running mate, when the former governor imposed Philip Shuiabu on the party caucus without consulting anybody, even when it was expected that the deputy governor would come from Edo Central Senatorial District. A reliable party source revealed that the choice of Philip Shuiabu was meant to checkmate Obaseki in the event that he tried to renege on a godfather-godson agreement possibly entered into by the two dramatis personae. The source further said that the choice of Shauibu was for two reasons: due to his closeness to the governor and for his boldness.
Oshiomhole on several occasions used the Edo Government House under Obaseki’s watch to pay for his personal expenses. “Whenever Oshiomhole had a party in his house, he would send the bill to Obaseki and the governor will tell Oshiomhole to give him a sub-head to place the expenses,” a source disclosed to Naija Center News.
Obaseki didn’t have a single candidate for commissioners, everyone was recommended by Oshiomhole. The chairmanship race was also taken over by the former governor. Even Ogbemudia that he felt was his own, he had to beg Oshiomhole. But, then again, before the demise of Ogbemudia, he called Oshiomhole, party leaders to help him fix his daughter.
At a time, Obaseki decided to bring in the secretaries, but Oshiomhole hijacked the appointments too. His tactic was to call a meeting at his private residence and Obaseki becomes mute. Then the last party primary was the last straw. Obaseki had people, they conducted the primaries and his men won. The governor congratulated the victors, only for Oshiomhole to issue a press statement to cancel the election. He then sent people to conduct another election and Obaseki abandoned Oshiomhole’s boys at the Benin airport. So the fight was no longer a secret, the former governor instructed his people not to announce any winner in Benin, and the list was returned to him in Abuja.
Obaseki’s mistake was that he sent his SSAs to conduct the election in various local governments and Oshiomhole capitalised on that, saying: “You don’t send SSAs to conduct the primaries.” So, the list was sent to Abuja and Oshiomhole single-handedly changed whoever he wanted without a second primary. “Though they said they conducted another one but the truth was that when they got to Abuja, the list was changed,” the source disclosed.
Adjoto playing divide and rule
Knowing the thinness of the friendship between the governor and his predecessor, Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Kabiru Adjoto, employed deceit to use Obaseki to clean his dirty mess. It is no longer news that Obaseki is at a cold war with Oshiomhole, and Adjoto wasn’t going to let the fight go to waste.
“Adjoto told the governor that Oshiomhole brought money to the house with the intent of impeaching him (the governor). He said the plan was to bring the impeached deputy speaker, Victor Edoror, in so that the governor can easily be impeached.
“The governor bought into his plan to remove Edoror and others he thought were threats to him,” a source privy to the incident told Naija Center News.
Oshiomhole had denied Adjoto’s ticket; and he went to court. Because he knew there was an ongoing cold war between the governor and Oshiomhole, he took some house members loyal to him and sold a dummy to Obaseki.
Why Adjoto suddenly became Obaseki’s loyalist
There goes a saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Obaseki and Adjoto have a common enemy, which is the “overbearing” Oshiomhhole; and joining forces together become the right choice.
Adjoto dragged the All Progressives Congress and Oshiomhole to court over the alleged decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to replace his name with Hon Akpatasin of Akoko Edo Local Government.
When the election was conducted in Akoko Edo, Akpatasin defeated Adjoto. The election was conducted in three to four wards and Akpatasin defeated Adjoto even in his own ward. There was violence recorded, however. But because Obaseki sent his SSA's to conduct the election, Akpatasin’s name was removed and Adjoto suddenly made the list. Oshiomhole changed the name back and put the original winner, an action that did not go down well with the governor and the speaker.
Similarly, Hon Oloruntumba won in the field, Obaseki’s SSAs changed the name for Emilo Agbaje, but Oshiomhole sent Oloruntumba and Akpatasin’s name to INEC, the argument came later that both candidates were from the same ward, so one has to go. Before that, Agbaje had already gone to court with Adjoto to challenge Oshiomhole’s decision and when his name was finally re-entered, he returned to court to strike out the case since he had succeeded.
But the day he was to strike the case out, he met Oloruntumba’s lawyers who said: “You filed that Oloruntumba’s name was submitted, you need to have a court order to strike out his name since the decision is already out of the party’s jurisdiction, so how did your name get back to the list?”
For Adjoto, it could be recalled one of the lawmakers, Hon Adenomo, was denied his allowances on the instruction of Oshiomhole. Adjoto categorically said he couldn’t overrule the party instruction. And till today, he refused to pay the lawmaker on the ground that he dragged the party to court.
It was gathered that Adjoto has sent the official car meant for the lawmaker to the village for his personal use. The Speaker refused to pay Adenomo his allowances for the fear that he may have to release the car too.
Currently, Adjoto has dragged the APC to court while still in office and continues to earn his allowances. The APC had written to the Speaker to reverse the impeachment on his deputy and suspension order on other members. The party also requested for the signatures of the lawmakers who signed to impeach Edoror, but the Speaker till date could not provide a list. Instead, he went to court to challenge the power of his party while still keeping Adenomo’s allowances on the instruction of the party.
“Currently, knowing that he has the backing of the governor and few members of the house, Adjoto has no respect for the rule of law, whenever there is money in the house, he embarks on repairs without recourse to the tenders’ board. He threatens members with suspension if approached.
“The fight between Obaseki and Oshiomhole has been escalated by Adjoto, for his own selfish interest. The governor does not know that the speaker is using him for his own selfish interest,” the source noted.
Obaseki is still struggling to plant his loyalists across the board ahead of his second term bid, after seeing what happened to his counterpart, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State who lost his bid to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the new political son of the national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The governor still lacks the tactics and is more confused than a cow on Astroturf. He is as much a neophyte as the very first day he was sworn-in, helpless and exposes his ardent followers to the flesh-eating bug, necrotising fasciitis currently beneath his skin.
Oshiomhole, with a heart as cold as a stone and a pride twice-taller than his height, may not forgive Obaseki for daring to poke the bear. The governor’s 2020 governorship bid is already threatened, unless he is able to replace Oshiomhole’s many eyes in his cabinet, build a friendship with the Edo Central Senatorial District whose position in the Edo State House of Assembly has been robbed by Adjoto’s emergence, and develop the state beyond imagination, in order to win the masses on his side.
•Ehi Ekhator, of Naija Center News, writes from the UK.
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