Does Obaseki Want to be Like His Grandfather?

Godwin Obaseki

The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.
Many people know the story of the British punitive action of 1897 that razed the powerful and prosperous Benin Kingdom to the ground, looted its palace, killed an untold number, and sent Oba Ovonramwen on exile to Calabar, where he finally died.

What many don’t know is the role Agho Ogbeide (later Obaseki) played by helping the British administer Benin in the Oba’s absence.

Agho was a friend and business associate to Oba Ovonramwen from when he was crown prince. When he ascended the throne, Ovonramwen created an influential chieftaincy title for his friend; the Obaseki of Benin. Ovonramwen also married his daughter to Obaseki and gifted him 100 slaves.

But when the British struck and exiled Ovonramwen, Obaseki turned his back on his friend, teamed up with the invaders, and acted as Oba of Benin between 1897 and 1914 as the paramount chief in Benin.

Ovonramwen’s first son took over after his death in 1914 as Eweka II. But the British broke with tradition by appointing Obaseki the Iyase of Benin (Chief Adviser to the Oba). Consequently, a power struggle ensued, with the Iyase overshadowing the Oba.

Fast forward 100+ years and history is repeating itself. When Adams Oshiomhole anointed Agho Obaseki’s grandson, Godwin Obaseki , his successor as Governor of Edo State, he never imagined he would be betrayed by Obaseki in barely three years.

But he was warned! The elders in Benin steeped in history opposed Oshiomhole, fearing he was about to resurrect the ghost of the past, but he insisted on his friend, assuring the palace that what is in the past is the past.

Alas! Oshiomhole has been shocked by the viciousness of Obaseki’s attacks. Anyone he suspects of close to Oshiomole is hounded out of government and made irrelevant.

Indeed, Obaseki is following the path of his grandfather in the despicable act of betrayal. Now, how will Oshiomhole explain to the elders that he unleashed this man on them? Oshiomhole is fighting to maintain some influence in a state he once governed. But is using the full power of his office to it its limit to show Oshiomhole how far he is willing to go. What ever becomes the outcome, those who warned Oshiomhole about Obaseki will be silently saying “we told you so.”