Ambode and Obaseki: In the throes of godfather-politics, By Ehi Ekhator

Posted by News Express | 30 December 2018 | 2,781 times

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•Ekhator is a UK-based journalist and Publisher of Naija Center News.

The Executive Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, won the heart of his former boss, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who fought his battle as gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2016 and, subsequently, the governor.

The condition was basic: Obaseki was to surrender his authority to Oshiomhole who remained leader of the state APC. The former president of Nigeria Labour Congress planted individuals faithful to him in Obaseki's cabinet while the “Wake and see”, as he is affectionately called, stayed quiet in an endeavour not to cross the Amadioha.

Since Obaseki became the governor, there are grievances across the state that his style of administration is different from his predecessor: Leaders of the party  blame him for disregard; while the youths, particularly, the thugs Oshiomhole fed during his administration, blame him for bringing in labourers from Lagos State to execute projects in Edo State.

Given the face-off that unfurled in Lagos State before the primaries when the national leader of the APC and (godfather) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, found new confidence in a former Lagos State commissioner for commerce and industry, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, rather than the incumbent Governor Akinwumi Ambode. It dawned on Obaseki that he also may endure a similar fate, if he doesn’t begin now to strip Oshiomhole of his strong grasp of the state machinery.

As a result, the governor quietly buckled up for the Edo State national and State Assembly’s primary election, which was held on October 4, 2018, to initiate his move. While Obaseki was appreciating the victors of the election, which were generally his followers, the APC leaders headed by Adams Oshiomhole censured the “unapproved primaries” and ensured it was null and void.

The exercise conducted by unauthorised persons in collaboration with the party’s Edo State Working Committee is hereby null and void,” said the APC spokesperson, Yekini Nabena.

 Meanwhile, in his standard tricky reaction, Obaseki asked members of the party to overlook media report (APC headquarter’s invalidation) attempting to cast slanders on the primary elections that were pronounced serene, free and fair across the state.

Another primary was conducted and abruptly, the individuals who won the past primaries were substituted in the list compiled by the national body, those directly affected, according to speculations, were those faithful to Obaseki’s camp. It was a moment for Oshiomhole to show who is boss: he may be little in size, yet he never fails to show how dangerous he could be. The APC national chairman is a pernicious political Chess player and a control freak, who despises confrontations directly or indirectly: former state spokesman of the APC, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, can vouch for that.

Obviously, members of the State House of Assembly were hauled into the tussle, followers took diverse ways and the members who were substituted went, determined to bust some skulls in the wake of being undermined by their leaders.

In that primary election conducted by the APC, I won; the returning officer announced that I won the election. Unfortunately, the APC substituted my name with the name of the incumbent, Mr Peter Akpatason.

“I have explored the internal mechanism of the party; I wrote to the NWC of the APC, through the chairman, that there was the need for them to have a rethink but I did not get any reply.

 “I wrote to the Osunbor panel; I even appeared before the panel. Unfortunately, before the panel even came up with its final position on the matter, Form 001 and 002 had already been given to the person who did not win the primary election.

“Having done that, the Osunbor Panel became crippled. So, I am here (in court) to say that we cannot do wrong things all the times,” the Speaker, Mr Kabiru Adjoto, told court in a suit No FHC/B/CS/118/18.”

While trying to get the sheep in line, a move was made by the cabals loyal to Oshiomhole to impeach Adjoto, who rumour says is faithful to Obaseki. The national chairman of the party, however, battling with his situation as all the APC governors need his head, is wrestling to maintain the demi-god’s praises he had enjoyed since he ousted those who brought him fame.

 In a typical commando style, a coup was hatched and attempt to impeach Kabiru Adjoto was conceived. Just like the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Edo State Speaker outflanked the plotters and impeached his deputy, Victor Edobor, who is guessed to be in the camp of the deputy-governor, Philip Shaibu, who is unequivocally progressing in the direction of ensuring Oshiomhole does not lose his spot in the rank of control in Edo State.

“We needed to have a new deputy Speaker because of the excesses of the impeached deputy Speaker,” The Punch quoted the Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, as saying.

“I and 20 other members of the House remain committed to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and cannot leave the party. We are even more committed to Governor Godwin Obaseki and the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019,” Mr Adjoto said.

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dan Orbih, blamed the APC for the crisis rocking the National Assembly.

“I think the problem in the Edo State House of Assembly is actually a reflection of the general problem the APC has caused to the larger Nigerian society. They have shown clearly that they don’t have what it takes to run the affairs of most of the states where they are in power,” Orbih said.

Meanwhile, Obaseki keeps fighting back in the series of accusations levelled against him by the state leaders, who believe he is stingy and uncaring.

Obaseki says he is not stingy, as many perceived him to be. He said he couldn't give out citizens’ money out anyhow, when he needs the money to train teachers in the state.

“People say I am stingy, but I am not. How can I spend Edo people’s money anyhow when I need money to train teachers,” he said while addressing primary school teachers at the graduation ceremony of teachers under the Edo Best Initiative.

One of the protestations Bola Tinubu made against Akinwumi Ambode was his style of governance, which he credited to the governor's refusal to “take everyone” along. Indeed, Obaseki isn't a long way from a similar issue, as many had asserted: He doesn't “confide in the political leaders” who brought him to power.

For Oshiomhole, the battle has just started. Will Obaseki get around his second term ticket or will he blur into the breeze like his partner in Lagos, Ambode?

“It is Oshiomhole that is after Adjoto now, but to play the card of deceptiveness, Adjoto was tagged as ‘loyalists’ to Obaseki. There is already a crack in Oshiomhole’s camp and Obaseki’s camp. The news in town is that Oshiomhole is after Obaseki. Definitely, Obaseki might not get the second term ticket; that what happened to Ambode is going to be like a joke compared to what will happen to Obaseki,” a source who does not want his name disclosed, said on Tuesday.

One of the leaders in the state described Edo politics as complex, as people prefer to sweep issues under the carpet.

“The politics of Edo State is a complex one. It is difficult to understand what the true position is: during the last primary, you hear this candidate is Oshiomhole’s, and Obaseki will say ‘I don’t want to hurt Oshiomhole’; and in another moment, you hear Obaseki saying ‘this is my candidate’; against Oshiomhole’s candidate. So, it is hard to understand what is going on,” adding:

“If there is any politically confused entity in this country, one of it is Edo State.” One thing is certain: if the APC governors finally unseat Oshiomhole, he’s likely to turn to the only environment he has never lost a battle. His return might trigger and worsen the already cold blood between him and Obaseki.

Source: News Express

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