Home Politics The unending Obaseki, Shaibu feud

The unending Obaseki, Shaibu feud

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Until June 19, 2020, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, were prominent figures in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo. However, ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election, they defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Despite the disagreement with his former APC ally, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, the then National Chairman of APC, Obaseki insisted on retaining Shaibu as his running mate on the PDP platform, securing re-election.

While Obaseki sought re-election under the PDP banner, he desired control over the party’s structures, ranging from the ward to the state levels, a request met with resistance from Chief Dan Orbih, the PDP National Vice Chairman, Southsouth, and the immediate past Edo Chairman of PDP. As Obaseki’s second term, set to conclude on November 12, 2024, approached, Shaibu, from Edo North senatorial district, expressed interest in succeeding his boss. However, Obaseki, supporting Lagos-based lawyer Asue Ighodalo, from Edo Central senatorial district, cited the need for equity, justice, and fairness, especially since the immediate past governor, Oshiomhole, hails from Edo North senatorial district.

Shaibu’s gubernatorial aspirations triggered attempts by the 24-member Edo House of Assembly to remove/impeach him. In response, Shaibu filed a suit against the plot at the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja. Following the intervention of prominent Nigerians and, subsequently, Shaibu’s withdrawal of the suit, Obaseki was left perturbed by his deputy’s actions, leading to a strained relationship between them.

Following their discord, Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki relocated his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, from his office in Government House to a less prestigious building within the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Benin, the state capital. The tension between Obaseki and Shaibu escalated recently over the renovation of the Edo Interdenominational Government House Chapel in Benin. Obaseki, through his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Religious Matters, Rev. Osagie Ehrunmwunse, who also serves as the Pastor-in-Charge of the chapel, accused his deputy of attempting to exploit sacred entities, such as religion, to stir political sentiments among Nigerians and the people of Edo. He said: “In the last couple of days, we have seen posts on social media and various media outfits, suggesting that the State Government has shut down the chapel, and prevented people from using it as a place of worship.

In response to the recent discord, Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki accused his deputy, Philip Shaibu, of orchestrating a false narrative and attempting to stir religious animosity to embarrass the government. Obaseki asserted that Shaibu was behind the dissemination of a video with false commentary, and he highlighted the deputy governor’s involvement in an outdoor mass with Catholic faithful, suggesting a connection to the circulated video.

Obaseki emphasised that Shaibu was present at the 57th Executive Council (EXCO) Meeting held on November 1, 2023, where approval was granted for the renovation and remodeling of the Government House Interdenominational Chapel. The governor pointed out that Shaibu served as Vice Chairman of the Council during that meeting. The renovation project is managed by the Edo State Public Building and Maintenance Agency, and the approved contract sum was N300,161,278.17.

The governor accused Shaibu of being aware of the government’s action to renovate the chapel but choosing to create religious animosity in the state. Obaseki urged Shaibu to redirect his efforts toward his political aspirations rather than using sacred matters as fodder for his campaign. However, an ally of Shaibu countered Obaseki’s statements, accusing the governor of being economical with the truth regarding the avoidable face-off over the chapel’s renovation.

The response from the deputy governor’s associate characterizes Obaseki’s statement as an afterthought, claiming that the government is taking drastic steps by dismounting a chapel that has been in existence for over two decades for political reasons. The ally questioned the authenticity of the unsigned extract purportedly from the Executive Council, pointing out conflicting statements from Obaseki’s aides regarding the chapel’s status. They argued that the approved renovation cost of N300,161,278.17 seemed excessive for a chapel renovation with less than ten months left in the government’s tenure.

Accusations were made about a verbal notice given to the chapel’s Catechist to vacate immediately, suggesting a declaration of war on the church, particularly the Catholic faith to which Shaibu belongs. The deputy governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Ebomhiana Musa, declined to respond. In a separate incident, a Sienna vehicle belonging to Philip Shaibu Governorship Campaign Organisation was reportedly attacked in Ekpoma, Edo Central senatorial district. The coordinator of the organization in Esan West Local Government Area, Otoide Abas, faced the attack after concluding a meeting with PDP’s Ward 10 (Illeh) members. Hoodlums allegedly emerged from a white Hummer bus labeled ‘Ameosa Motors,’ vandalising the vehicle and firing multiple shots. This same bus was said to have been involved in a previous incident where thugs accompanied a PDP governorship aspirant to Uchi Day celebration in Auchi, Edo North senatorial district.

Shaibu has faced multiple challenges in his campaign, including the vandalism of billboards in Edo. Despite these obstacles, he remains committed to his mission of reclaiming the state from individuals prioritising personal gains over the welfare of the people. The ally of Edo Deputy Governor expressed concern over recent events, calling on security agencies to compel the Obaseki administration to rein in its agents and ensure the safety of all participants in the election. They emphasized the need for a peaceful democratic process and called for those responsible for the attacks to face the full force of the law. The ally urged supporters to remain calm, shun violence, and continue embracing peace.

Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, disclosed his deep hurt over Governor Obaseki’s support for Asue Ighodalo, an outsider, instead of him. Shaibu accused Obaseki of betrayal, withholding allocations to his office for over six months, and playing the role of a political godfather despite their joint commitment to fight against god-fatherism in Edo politics. He clarified that he is not fighting Obaseki but asserted that Obaseki declared a full-scale war against him for seeking the PDP governorship ticket.

Shaibu expressed optimism about emerging as the PDP standard bearer despite the challenges, citing divine guidance and widespread support. He emphasized that his ambition is rooted in a divine conviction to serve Edo State and take governance back to the people. Shaibu acknowledged financial support from various sources, attributing it to God’s intervention, and affirmed his commitment to becoming the next governor of Edo State. Edo Deputy Governor, Shaibu, expressed optimism about his chances of securing the PDP’s governorship ticket in the primary election on February 22, 2023, and winning the subsequent election. He emphasized his street credibility, capacity, and commitment to being the next governor of Edo State, believing that it is his turn to lead.

Shaibu reaffirmed his loyalty to Governor Obaseki despite ongoing challenges, including the withholding of allocations to his office for the last six months. He acknowledged his sacrifices and role in delivering flagship projects in the state. Shaibu urged PDP leaders to avoid divisive politics and intimidation, advocating for unity within the party. Speaking at a yuletide party hosted by Chief Dan Orbih, the leader of PDP’s Legacy Coalition in Edo, Shaibu commended Orbih’s leadership qualities and urged fellow governorship aspirants to prioritize peace and unity for the party’s success in the upcoming elections. Orbih emphasized the need for issue-based campaigns and called for sacrifice to ensure the party’s continued presence in Osadebey Avenue beyond November 12, 2024. The event was attended by other PDP governorship aspirants, including Anselm Ojezua and Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama.

On December 1, 2023, Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu celebrated his 54th birthday, and Governor Godwin Obaseki extended warm wishes, thanking him for his support in developing Edo State over the past seven years. Obaseki acknowledged Shaibu’s contributions to the administration’s transformative efforts and commended him for being an exemplary husband, father, and family man. Shaibu expressed gratitude for Obaseki’s thoughtful wishes, emphasizing his unwavering commitment to their shared mandate of prioritizing Edo State’s interests.

In response to some internal political tensions, Shaibu declared his intention to run for the governorship of Edo State in the 2024 elections on the platform of the PDP. The declaration event had to be moved to another venue due to scheduling conflicts with allies of Governor Obaseki. Despite challenges and divisions, Shaibu expressed confidence in his candidacy and outlined five core pillars that would be the foundation of his campaign for the development and prosperity of Edo State. The PDP’s candidate for the elections would eventually be determined through a competitive process involving Obaseki-backed Asue Ighodalo, Shaibu, and other aspirants within the party. The political landscape within PDP was described as a “house of commotion.”

Shaibu, said at his declaration: “Back in the day, you did not just call me ‘Mr. Constituency Project,’ for nothing. In my time as a legislator, I delivered 49 constituency projects at the state level, and 13 solid constituency projects within my short stint at the federal level. I have fought the good fight for you, my people. Along the way, I suffered humiliations, and enjoyed many moments of victory, but I am thankful in all things.

“I have been pressed, but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, badly hurt but not destroyed. I resonate with the tireless and irrepressible spirit of the Edo People. By the grace of God, nothing and no one can stop us. After all, I be original Edo son, 100 per cent home boy. This is why today, I stand before you with great conviction and resolve, as I declare my intention to run for the office of the Governor of Edo State, on the platform of the PDP, in the upcoming 2024 election, and I am confident that with your support, we can take Edo State to even greater heights.”

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