The Edo Political Conundrum – by Frank Ofili55 views
An absurd if disquieting voodoo politics is currently playing out in our dear Edo State. It is fast assuming the status of the bizarre.
Governor Godwin Obaseki is at loggerheads with his political benefactor, Adam Oshiomhole, the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. At the root of the political fisticuff is control of governance and the APC machinery in the state. You would be forgiven if you think that the distinction between these two and who controls what ought to be clear enough for the discerning. But not in our clime. And certainly not in Edo, the land of the ancient regimen.
Feelers suggest that Oshiomhole wants to control both governance and the party machinery in the state. There are those who see this as his way of ensuring discipline and accountability in his home state. Such people are reminded that the constitution, imperfect as it may seem, already takes care of that.
Others say the scuffle was caused by Obaseki’s inability to manage people and power. They cite no specific example of this of course, but if that were so, should Oshiomhole not be blamed for not knowing the limits of the abilities and capacities, or lack of it, of his anointed godson? Perhaps his underlying motive from the onset was to do an Obasanjo-on-Jonathan so that he would either micro-manage a presumably inexperienced Obaseki from the sidelines or serve as his consultant in a somewhat vassal-client relationship.
Either way, it is clear Obaseki is not willing to play ball. The falcon has thus become the falconer. The supplanter of the grand godfather of Edo politics, the late Uromi high chief, Tony Aneni, has surprisingly found his back against the wall. Stubborn fellow, Obaseki!
The Higi-haga (apologies to Igodomigodo) between these two prominent Edo sons is no doubt taking a toll on governance in the state; tension is rife, and daggers are drawn, with each going for the jugular of the other. As with all political firefights in Nigeria, supporters on both sides are raising the ante. The other day, the convoy of Governor Obaseki, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu and Pro-Chancellor of Edo University, Prof. T.O.K.
Audu, was attacked at Iyamho on their way to the country home of Adams Oshiomhole, by some suspected thugs. Oshiomhole had invited them for lunch after the maiden convocation of the university. In the blogosphere, Obaseki’s social media militia, Crack Team, has been engaging Oshiomhole’s supporters in a war of attrition. Their common enemy, PDP, is having a laugh.
Oshiomhole himself has been suspended by Edo APC. Also suspended are the state party chairman, Anselm Ojezua, and the state Party secretary, Lawrence Okah. Ojezua’s suspension was however quickly rescinded following the intervention of the governor. The decision to suspend Oshiomhole and Okah is said to be as a result of a no confidence reportedly passed on them by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas of the state.
In the peculiar politics of our clime, this will be the first time a state party machinery would suspend its national chairman. Thus, Oshiomhole now has the unenviable record of being a general with neither an army nor a home base.
But it is not new. In 1999, Obasanjo did not have home support, but he went ahead to win the presidential election. But that is neither here nor there. As Edo State governorship election gradually draws close, it will be interesting to see how this brouhaha will be resolved.
But if the cause of the crisis In Edo State APC is known, what could be said to be responsible for the wahala in the state opposition PDP? Just before the news of Oshiomhole’s suspension broke out, news filtered in that Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a pastor and governorship flagbearer of the PDP in the 2016 governorship election, had defected to the ruling APC. Ize-Iyamu, a former member of the APC and Director General of Adams Oshiomhole’s 2nd term Campaign Organisation, was former chief of staff and secretary to the Government of Edo State.
Ize-Iyamu’s defection, or redefection, if you like, is said to be on the prodding of Oshiomhole who, it is rumoured, is kin on using him to remove Obaseki and gift him the APC governorship ticket in 2020. Not taking chances, the state PDP, too, has expelled Ize-Iyamu from the party and is rumoured to be wooing Obaseki to make the cross to its fold and be given automatic governorship ticket. Some strange politicking, these!
It is yet unclear if Obaseki would accept the PDP offer. If he does, with his supporters in tow, it will be interesting to see how my friend Jack Obinya-Buhari – one of Obaseki’s social media warriors – would reconcile with his opposite number and arch cyber enemy, Ogbeide Ifaluyi-Isibor of the PDP.
Yet, any kin follower of the game of football would readily tell you that a deft ball joggler and master dribbler would, at some point, dribble himself out of the ball or out of position. Ize-Iyamu’s move to the APC is bound to elicit recrimination and resentment from both sides of the political divide. Both APC and PDP will now be united in resentment for the ex-man of the pulpit. If his hidden plan is to be the Sanwo-olu of Edo APC, he is hereby reminded that Edo is not Lagos. Such gambit is bound to come unstuck.
On the other hand, should he decide, at some auspicious time in future, to retrace his footsteps to PDP, like an Atiku or a Saraki, he would have a Wike waiting to deal him a deadly blow.
Oshiomhole, too, may yet dribble himself into a political cul-de-sac. There will be a reckoning at some point. The man is clearly making enemies everywhere both for himself and for his party. I am not sure APC is now not wondering if it had not made a mistake in giving him its national chairmanship chair. The recent demand on him by APC governors to convene a national executive council meeting of the party or resign is instructive.
One thing is clear. APC has lost more states since Oshiomhole’s emergence as its national chairman than at any other time. His inability to discern the difference between trade unionism and party politics seems to be producing a backlash. Obaseki may have triggered that.
I still cannot forget that it was because of Oshiomhole that APC recorded a dismal outing in the last Delta State governorship election. Aside precipitating a crisis in the state APC, the man clearly took sides with one of the candidates in the party governorship primary election. As if this was not enough, he superintended over the manipulation of APC national campaign program in the state such that President Muhammadu Buhari did not feel the need to campaign at Asaba, the state capital. Twice in one week, APC national campaign train visited Delta State, twice it shunned Asaba and the entire Delta North. And this is a region that has the incumbent governor with PDP. It was bound to backfire.
And it did. At the polls. APC governorship flagbearer, Ogboru was trounced with wide margin by Okowa. All thanks to Oshiomhole’s political wisdom.
In the political configuration of Delta State, Delta North, otherwise known as Anioma, is one of the legs in the delicate tripod on which the state stands. The other two are Delta Central, dominated by the Urhobo, and Delta South, dominated by the Ijaw and the Itsekiri.
Though actually a PDP construct, there is some sort of unspoken general agreement that Government House Asaba would rotate among these three. It is not for nothing that the seat of government is called Unity House. It is this unwritten pact that Oshiomhole sought to scuttle, a move that would have denied Delta North what it felt was its entitled 8 years on the governorship seat.
No surprise, then, that when election came, APC recorded a woeful performance in Delta North. Truth is, even APC bigwigs in Delta North felt snubbed by the party national leadership. As a payback, they secretly mobilized to vote for their own – the incumbent – Ifeanyi Okowa of PDP. It was all about fulfilling the unwritten agreement of rotating the governorship chair.
Thus ended Oshiomhole’s dream of extending “Ogbemudia Wall” from Benin to Asaba. The rest, as they say, is history.