Home Op-Ed The options before Obaseki as Oshiomhole rubs his nose in the sand

The options before Obaseki as Oshiomhole rubs his nose in the sand

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state often comes across as politically naive. He’s proved that again this week.
For a man who rode on the back of godfatherism to emerge governor in 2016, it was interesting to watch Obaseki demonise godfatherism and engage in a bitter duel with his godfather, weeks before the Edo governorship primary elections.

And knowing that this godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, is still the national chairman of his political party, the APC, Obaseki should have foreseen what happened this week and looked for a way around it. But he incredibly walked into a trap with his eyes wide open.

There was a period in this bitter political duel when it looked as though Oshiomhole was going to be unseated as APC Chairman by a clique of powerful governors led by Obaseki.

That was in March, when Oshiomhole asked journalists outside his Aso Drive: “Are you looking at me with pity?” as he stepped out for a meeting with President Buhari.

In the photo: The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state, Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa state, Bayelsa governor-elect, David Lyon, President Muhammadu Buhari, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state. [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]In the photo: The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state, Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa state, Bayelsa governor-elect, David Lyon, President Muhammadu Buhari, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state. [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

After the meeting with the president, Oshiomhole disclosed that a minister and a band of governors were behind moves to remove him as chairman of the party. “I am a child of light who will always defeat darkness,” he vowed.

The point being made here is that after Oshiomhole survived this period in his political career and remained APC Chairman, Obaseki should have known that his re-election bid on the platform of the APC was dead in the water.

It is difficult to know exactly at what point Oshiomhole and Obaseki became bitter political rivals, but it is worth restating that Oshiomhole pulled out all the stops to ensure Obaseki succeeded him as Governor of Edo state in 2016.

Oshiomhole campaigned alongside Obaseki and ate boiled corn with Obaseki on campaign stops. The common enemy for Obaseki and Oshiomhole at the time was Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is now Oshiomhole’s preferred governorship candidate.

National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, once blamed the Nigerian media for the alleged rift between himself and Gov. Godwin Obaseki [Facebook/Governor Godwin Obaseki]National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, once blamed the Nigerian media for the alleged rift between himself and Gov. Godwin Obaseki [Facebook/Governor Godwin Obaseki]

All through 2019, Obaseki and Oshiomhole engaged in all kinds of bitter political wars. In November of 2019, Obaseki and his Deputy Philip Shaibu were pelted with stones outside Oshiomhole’s home at Iyamho in the Etsako West local government area of Edo state, as they attended the first convocation ceremony of the Edo University.

“It is really unfortunate that we can’t feel safe at the house of our national chairman. I am not sure that if I went to the house of the national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, they would attack me the way they did in the house of our chairman,” Obaseki said afterwards.

Days later, Obaseki made sure that Oshiomhole was suspended from the APC in Edo state.

Oshiomhole and Obaseki on the stomp in 2016 (Twitter @EOkala)Oshiomhole and Obaseki on the stomp in 2016 (Twitter @EOkala)

In January of 2020, Obaseki vowed to deal with Oshiomhole. “We are warning the suspended national chairman. If he continues his activities in Edo state, I will show him that I am the governor of Edo State. While he was governor, he did not tolerate a fraction of the misdemeanour and misbehaviour he is undertaking today.

“I have declared that if Oshiomhole comes here to Edo to say he wants to disrupt the activities of the state and the party, we will deal with him the way we know how best to,” Obaseki said.

Obaseki had also warned Oshiomhole not to visit Edo without his permission.

Governor Godwin Obaseki apologises to aggrieved APC aspirants in Edo [Twitter/@GovernorObaseki]Governor Godwin Obaseki apologises to aggrieved APC aspirants in Edo [Twitter/@GovernorObaseki]

In February of 2020, Oshiomhole was attacked as he touched down at the Benin airport to attend the burial of the mother of his political associate and former member of the House of Representatives, Ehiozuwa Agbonanyinma.

Typically, Oshiomhole blamed Obaseki for the attack.

“I actually got information that the governor was trying to prevent me from coming to Benin and that thugs were being mobilized to stop me. I called the Commissioner of Police about it and asked him to do something.

“I said but you know the thugs, he said ‘yes’. I said; you know that they were sent by the governor, he said ‘yes’. He even said the governor’s CSO is there and one retired DSP. I said you know the thugs and the man who sent them, you also know their leaders.

“If you cannot do anything to stop the governor because he has immunity, fine, but the thugs don’t have immunity. Why don’t you arrest them? Why will you ask me instead, not to come to attend a private function because the governor does not want me to come to Benin. I told him I’m coming and that it is for him to provide necessary security.

OshiomholeOshiomhole

“So, I landed in Benin. With the aid of the security personnel at the airport, I was able to get out of the plane to the lounge and proceeded to the car and the thugs were stoning my convoy. Well, I got home safe. You have seen the photographs of the vehicles,” Oshiomhole said.

Given all that has transpired in the last couple of months and the apparent bad blood between both men, it would have been a surprise if Obaseki wasn’t disqualified from partaking in the APC primary election of June 22. He had it coming.

To end his re-election bid, Obaseki was accused of discrepancies in his school certificates. He was also accused of not graduating from the University of Ibadan.

This week, the Jonathan Ayuba led seven-member screening committee of the APC disqualified Obaseki from partaking in the APC governorship primary election because his NYSC certificate bears the name ‘Obasek’.

“While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed that the aspirant has not taken any step whatsoever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority,” the committee chairperson declared.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo. [NAN]Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo. [NAN]

To his credit, Obaseki knew he was going to be disqualified by the screening committee after Oshiomhole refused to recuse himself from the process. “Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening,” Obaseki said dejectedly on June 10.

After the committee disqualified him, Obaseki said he wasn’t going to appeal their verdict and asked “all party members and our teeming supporters to remain calm and await further directives, in the light of the announcement of my unjust disqualification to participate in the APC primary election in Edo State by the screening committee.”

The smart money is on Obaseki defecting to the opposition PDP to seek re-election. There are already rumours that this is in the works and that Obaseki will soon be holding aloft the flag of the PDP. That is politics for you.

 Osagie Ize-Iyamu is Oshiomhole's preferred candidate [thebridgenewsng]Osagie Ize-Iyamu is Oshiomhole’s preferred candidate [thebridgenewsng]

However, this move is coming a couple of months late for Obaseki. He should have switched camps when it became apparent that Oshiomhole was going to remain APC chairman.

Obaseki’s visits to APC national leader Bola Tinubu and President Buhari just days before the primary election, in a last ditch attempt to save his re-election bid, proved too little too late and of no consequence whatsoever, because Oshiomhole is Tinubu’s man and Buhari hardly interferes in his party’s intrigues.

Obaseki pays President Buhari (Right) visit on June 1 after picking his nomination form (Presidency)Obaseki pays President Buhari (Right) visit on June 1 after picking his nomination form (Presidency)

How did Obaseki not know this? He had examples of Ambode of Lagos and Amosun of Ogun state before him and he still went ahead with those embarrassing photo-ops?

I hear that Obaseki still has plenty of grassroots support in Edo and that he has largely done well as governor of his state. If so, he should dump the APC and really take his chances with the PDP or any other platform.

His other option is to remain within the APC, gobble his humble pie, take all that has happened as a bitter political lesson, make peace with Oshiomhole and the party members he has rubbed the wrong way, and return to try again in 2024 or afterwards.

I have to admit that the above option doesn’t sound appealing, even to me. But it’s still an option no less.

The third option is for Obaseki to make peace with Oshiomhole, appeal to party leaders to plead with the party chairman to return his name to the pool of APC governorship aspirants ahead of the June 22 primary. It can still be done and there is still some time left on the clock.

President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Godwin Obaseki and APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Godwin Obaseki and APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.

Obaseki’s war with Oshiomhole is one more example of godfathers falling out with godsons in our ever evolving political landscape. Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom can no longer stand Godswill Akpabio who made him governor, Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is still fighting Rabiu Kwankwaso who handpicked him for the throne and Akinwunmi Ambode learnt the hard way when he rebelled against godfather Tinubu in Lagos.

There are a couple of other Nigerian states where godsons can no longer stand the overbearing influence of their godfathers–on whose back and money they rode to power.

Is this a good trend? I guess we just may never know.

Source: PulseNG

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