As the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State fast approaches, the political rift between the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, keeps getting intense.
Key leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are now operating separately, which has since ushered the party into factions, whereby what is currently in existence in the state is -The Obaseki faction and the Oshiomhole faction.
Given recent events in the state as far as politics is concerned, it is safe to conclude that APC party members, including major stakeholders, have fallen apart.
In the political history of Edo State, Obaseki succeeded Oshiomhole as governor. As at the time, Oshiomhole campaigned vigorously for Obaseki and threw his weight behind him in order to triumph in the gubernatorial election that was last held in the state.
Prior to his emergence as Edo governor, Obaseki wasn’t a political enthusiast. To be precise, he was a finance professional at a time. And in his bid to have a successor in place as most politicians do in Nigeria, Oshiomhole convinced Obaseki to venture into politics.
Having given the nod to Oshiomhole’s quest, Obaseki became Edo Chairman of Economic and Strategy Team in 2009. By the time the former governor was ready to impose a successor, it wasn’t difficult for him. In his estimation, Obaseki towered above other options available for the number one seat in the country.
He perceived Obaseki as one who has what was needed to make his good deeds a continuum, as he endorsed and supported him for his candidacy.
Just months before Obaseki submitted his name on the ballot for re-election, his relationship with Oshiomhole soured. Consequently, the duo have since been sparring in the media space, a situation that has led party stakeholders splintered into factions.
While some have pledged loyalty to Obaseki, others have pledged their allegiance to Oshiomhole – a development that has led to a political drama series in the state.
The tale of karma
It is pertinent to note that godfatherism is a contemptuous phenomenon that exists in Nigeria’s political endeavors. Since its inception, this phenomenon has been evolving around tricks and astute practice for sustainability and survival.
In Nigeria, to thrive in politics, one must be a loyalist of a political godfather. These godfathers are known for deploying their wealth and influence to secure political parties’ interests for candidates of their choice. The godfathers’ responsibilities don’t always end here; they are also fond of manipulating electoral processes in order to achieve their personal aggrandizements.
Edo incumbent governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, have both admitted that irrespective of the ongoing political differences with Oshiomole, he remains their godfather, who tutored them that no man is God, and no man can determine the destiny of his fellow man.
In 2008, when the news of Oshiomhole’s victory as the state governor was affirmed by a federal Appeal Court in Benin, it ushered in significant relief in the state, as Edo people acknowledged that his victory was a revolution.
At the time, the former Edo governor met a state that had technically been gang-raped by marauding godfathers and a succession of military predators.
Surprisingly for many, Oshiomhole ruthlessly retired the political godfathers, as he often expressed in the past that godfatherism is an enemy of good governance. He literally turned his back against those who championed his candidacy and kicked them out of their godfatherism zones.
Fast forward to a few years after he served as Edo governor, Obaseki, who was until now his political godson, is living in the reality of Oshiomhole’s ruthlessness.
Just like Oshiomhole, Obaseki has a thing against godfathers. And the fact that he rode into power on the wings of the APC national chairman will not even stop him. Obaseki is determined to make Oshiomhole’s commitment to end godfatherism in the state a continuum.
Speaking on the ongoing godfatherism tussle, Igho Akeregha, a political commentator, noted during an interview with Afro World News that the development shouldn’t be a surprise to Oshiomole.
According to Akeregha, Oshiomole was the first to play the dirty game.
Akeregha’s words, “Oshiomhole’s actions have resorted to the consequence we all are seeing now. He was a betrayal to some, and pathetically, his actions are hunting him now.”
Similarly, an APC member who doesn’t want his name mentioned in Edo, told Afro World News that history is what is repeating itself in the state.
He said, “History is coming into play again. And for all I can say, Oshiomhole deserves all his troubles with Obaseki.”
The cold war
It is no longer news that Obaseki and Oshiomhole have become political enemies. Despite their history together, the incumbent Edo governor has overtime threatened to massively deal with Oshiomhole in the state. Not only that, Obaseki had expressed his determination to retire Oshiomhole, on whose influence he became the Edo governor, from politics.
Obaseki must have been irritated by Oshiomhole’s political runnings in the state, even though he no longer occupies any public office when he proclaimed that the APC chairman had been suspended in the state. While addressing chairmen of the state 18 local government areas, Obaseki expressed the belief that there’s no better time to put Oshiomhole out of the state political affairs than now.
The Edo governor maintained that Oshiomhole is not a party man, and should he overstep his boundaries, he will not just be suspended but will be dealt with mercilessly.
Obaseki had said, “He is not a party man. Look at the dump he kept the party as a secretariat. I am the governor of Edo State and I so authorize it. If anyone comes to your ward or local government to do things outside what the party has agreed, I hereby authorize you to deal with that person seriously.”
“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,” he blared.
On his part, Oshiomhole pointedly accused governor Obaseki of sponsoring thugs to attack him at Benin Airport amid the ongoing political drama.
“Yes, I was attacked by thugs sponsored by the State Governor,” Oshiomhole was quoted as saying while speaking after gunshots rented the air on his arrival at the airport when he visited the state to honour an invitation by a member of their party, Hon. Agbonanyinma for the burial of his mother.
For Akeregha, the political situation in Edo State is one that will become dirtier in the days ahead.
The political commentator maintained that both Obaseki and Oshiomhole need each other for the interest of the party, which is to retain the state.
Akeregha explained that while Obaseki controls the state finance, Oshiomhole has his loyalists in the state APC, who can work against the incumbent governor, should the ongoing tussle linger.
He further said, in reality, Oshiomhole should have been removed as APC national chairman, adding that political gladiators within the party are largely not happy with his style of leadership.
“Aside from the alleged expulsion of Oshiomhole, you will agree with me that a large number of the APC members in the country are calling for his removal as the national chairman of the party. But then, we have to understand that you cannot put nothing for something and expect it to stand. For you to become a national chairman of any party, you must first have your roots back home. So for him being expelled from his party in Edo state, on what basis do you think he should remain the party chairman of the APC?” Akeregha queried.
He continued, “Oshiomhole played some dirty politics and at some point, he derailed. Looking at what happened in Sokoto, Zamfara, Bayelsa, amongst others, one will conclude that Oshiomhole hasn’t been able to wedge the party together, but rather ran it like a personal business and deploying devices strategy. So I think people in APC are not satisfied with his style of leadership and that is why they are calling for his removal.
“Of course, many of the APC governors across the country are not so very comfortable. When you want to look at those supporting him, we can say maybe the president to some extent. Because when you look at the last campaign, Oshiomhole did a lot of work in Favour of the President. So Oshiomhole might still be benefiting From his labor during the past election. So how long this will last is what I don’t know.”
Akeregha, however, maintained that unless Oshiomhole and Obaseki put their differences aside, APC will have a lot to deal with in the forthcoming guber polls.
More so, an APC member in Edo State who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that as it is, nobody can rightly predict the future of APC.
According to him, Obaseki and his camp are not willing to allow Oshiomhole’s manipulation.
“It’s going to a tough game ahead as the party is divided already. Both Obaseki and Oshiomhole do not look like they will bend for each other. While Oshiomhole still wants to have a say in the state political affairs, Obaseki is committed to making a point that he’s the governor,” he added.
SOURCE: Afro World News