Edo’s Changing Political Calculations

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Obaseki and Oshiomhole

The seemingly intractable feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, is daily altering the political calculations in the state, writes Olawale Olaleye

The ‘one week, multiple crises’ scenario in Edo State has come to lend credence to the position taken on this page last week that the duo of Governor Godwin Obaseki and the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole might have consciously activated the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) button.

This owed to the fact that with the evident failure of preventive diplomacy, MAD has become inevitable. With some of the developments that played out last week in the state, it was also clear that not only were the gladiators aware of their pending mutual destruction, they were also working on other possibilities that could enhance their current standing in the fight to the finish.

First, the Edo State chapter of the APC has been factionalised, each loyal to Obaseki and Oshiomhole. What started with the suspension of crucial members of the state executive soon graduated resulted in the alleged suspension of both Obaseki and Oshiomhole, respectively as both camps flexed muscles.

Interestingly, whilst the suspension of the two leaders subsisted on the basis of anti-party, Oshiomhole is also being harangued by governors of the party at the national front to convene a national executive meeting of the party, where some of the pressing issues could be addressed or in the alternative, resign as APC chairman.

Whilst the recriminations lasted, another interesting development took its chances in the midst of the thriving commotion: a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the state, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu defected to the APC, a development that is already shaking the current calculus.

This is bearing however bearing in mind that Captain Hosa Okunbo, billionaire oil magnate had also been waiting on the side in the APC to also reap from the fallout of the bittter rivalry between the two gladiators.

There is therefore the swirling belief that amid the staggering uncertainty that seems to be enveloping the Edo political firmament, the two main gladiators might have begun to ponder their options, a mindset believed to have informed Ize-Iyamu’s defection.

For example, there is the thinking that given the level the Obaseki/Oshiomhole feud had degenerated, the likelihood that the governor might be denied a reelection ticket is high and therefore, one of the options open to him if that eventually was the case, is defecting to another party.

Although the PDP might be his number one option since the party may not mind replacing him with Ize-Iyamu, more so as the incumbent, who has many things to his advantage, he would however not leave the APC without a fight, such that would decimate the party’s standing before the elections.

This thinking is also informed by the fact that the defection of Ize-Iyamu and Okunbo was not an accident, but a carefully orchestrated move to give the governor a good run and consequently ‘snatch’ the ticket from Obaseki as the APC candidate in the state.

However, should Izse-Iyamu or Okunbo run as the APC candidate and Obaseki as PDP’s, it promises to be a stiff competition, which guarantees neither of the parties any undue advantage and could by choice of their own undoing throw up a third force that could reap from what would turn out the APC/PDP bitter rivalry.

Some of the things that are sacrosanct in the light of the foregoing is that the feud between Obaseki and Oshiomhole is irreconcilable; that APC would try hard to deny Obaseki the return ticket, whether or not a decent primary was conducted; that Ize-Iyamu and Okunbo are in APC, not for the love of the party but to realize their governorship bid and no better time than when Obaseki and Oshiomhole had sworn to mutually destroy each other.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that Obaseki has earned his place in the body polity in in the state in terms of governance and appears very popular with a certain class of the population. But the question is whether or not the class in question belongs to the voting population or the ‘social media applauding’ category without PVCs?

Let’s say Ize-Iyamu or Okunbo gets the APC ticket, coupled with their political machine and war chest, which are quite solid, would Oshiomhole be an asset by the time he is done destroying himself with Obaseki? Would other stakeholders in the party stake their future in the hands of ‘total strangers’ for political expediency, coming from the Obaseki experience?

Poignantly, nothing is certain as far as the political situation in Edo is concerned. It is also important to note that the situation would continue to change even till the eve of the governorship election billed to hold sometime next year.

What is also instructive is that the situation isn’t looking good for all the parties involved in the ongoing power struggle. Thus, beyond the mutually assured destruction that is clearly inevitable, the collateral damage that would come along is going to be sweeping. A lose-lose situation appears more plausible.