Obaseki and Oshiomhole

The end game of the long drawn battle will be interesting, writes Oluwole Osagie – Jacobs

With the current political atmosphere in Edo State, there is no doubt that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is in dire straits. He is into a tough battle to rein in his political son; Gov. Obaseki, who is doing everything to undermine him. It is easy to conjecture what is going on in his mind now. It is like a sailor encountering a shipwreck on a lonely island. He will be at the mercy of the elements. It is an odyssey in melancholy or a hideous dream. I can imagine the deep pains in his heart inflicted by ingratitude and contumacy. He is now faced with a moment of critical decision making. Like in Hamlet’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, his options are “Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrow of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing, end them.”

Disloyalty and ingratitude had been with man from the beginning of time. It is recoded in both ancient and modern history. They are there in gripping narratives in the Bible. The Jewish monarchy had panoply of rebellion from the reign of King Saul down to the prophetic revolution of Jehu. Copious examples of rebellion and ingratitude exist in English Literature as depicted in characters in the works of great writers from Christopher Marlow to T.S. Elliot. They are there in bold relief in Shakespeare’s matured tragedies. Such negative instincts are not limited to someone and his protégé; they can be filial, like a son rebelling against his father. Negative tendencies have remained part of our ethos. Their antithesis is nemesis which never spares the culprits.

When Senator Emeka Ihedioha was removed as governor of Imo State by a knock-kneed Supreme Court judgment, my emotion was not stirred. I understood his predicament as nemesis at work. He became the Deputy Speaker through betrayal. At the time, his party, the PDP, had nominated Mrs Mulikat Akande as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It would have afforded a Yoruba to be one of the first four citizens of Nigeria. He and some PDP members broke ranks with their party and connived with the opposition party led by Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to scuttle the decision of the party. It didn’t matter to Hon, Gbajabiamila, then, that Mrs Akande was Yoruba. Sen. Ihedioha’s co – conspirator in the PDP, Alh. Aminu Tambuwal, clinched the position of the Speaker while he was compensated as the Deputy Speaker. During the inauguration of the National Assembly in the year 2015 nemesis now went to work. The APC party had earmarked Hon. Gbajabiamila as the Speaker of the House. In the morning of the inauguration Satan inspired over 50 house members belonging to the APC to embark on a fruitless journey to Aso Rock to parley with the president. Before they returned to the House, Senator Bukola Saraki of the APC had concluded his coup against his party. With the support of PDP members and his loyalists in the APC he became the Senate President. Hon. Gbajabiamila lost his bid to become the Speaker. He didn’t know what came over him. He looked confused as his eyes were blinking like the star. Nemesis had taken its toll.

Before Comrade Oshiomhole invited Mr, Godwin Obaseki to join his government he was a political nobody in Edo State. He described him as a technocrat with profound knowledge in financial management. With his dedication to duty and quiet disposition he considered him the most suitable for the position of governor. That was how he was preferred to some of the governor’s older associates in the party. The archetype Yoruba politician would have done a background check on Mr. Obaseki right from his primary school days. In addition, he would consult the oracle to know if his choice of candidate would betray him. The archetype Igbo politician would have taken Mr. Obaseki to Okija shrine to swear to an oath of loyalty. Had Comrade consulted me I would have taken him to my Celestial Church of Christ where a manual on Mr. Obaseki would be downloaded.

Many Binis warned the Comrade against making an Obaseki governor. They drew his attention to the role of his great grandfather, Agho Obaseki, who was the traditional administrator of Benin kingdom when Oba Ovonramwen N’ogbaisi was in exile in Calabar, from 1897 – 1914. The Binis accused him of betraying them to please the colonial masters. I won’t blame the Comrade for rejecting this advice because the Obaseki family has turned out outstanding personalities like late Justice Andrew Obaseki of the Supreme Court, late Chief Oyuiki Obaseki, a seasoned sports administrator, Mr. Gaius – Obaseki, former MD of NNPC and Prof. Obaseki, a medical consultant. I doubt if Comrade has come across the word “Atavism”. It is the reappearance of genetic feature which could be after a long period. If he had, he would have been circumspect. It appears Agho Obaseki is reborn.

Gov. Obaseki has told the State Security Service to arrest Oshiomhole for interfering with the peace and good governance of Edo State. One would ask what the Comrade did to deserve these indignities. The truth is that he has eaten sour fruits and his teeth are now on edge. He sowed the wind and he is now reaping the whirlwind. He is so disorientated now that he is pushing the candidacy of Mr. Ize – Iyamu, the PDP governorship candidate in the last election in Edo State. Mr. Iyamu switched camp to the APC just less than three months ago. It was this same man he told Edo people to reject at the pools because he was corrupt and evil. I don’t think a Nigerian politician would recognize honor if it passes before him in a red suit.

While Oshiomhole was governor, he surpassed all the undemocratic tendencies of Gov. Obaseki. He was so brazen, unrestrained and crude. He once ordered the removal of the roof of the state Assembly to prevent members from sitting. He overruled the electoral victory of Mr. John Yakubu of the PDP as the Chairman of Esan North East Local Government of Edo State. Mr Yakubu won in all the eleven wards of the Local government. Comrade Oshiomhole handed the victory over to his party’s candidate who was roundly defeated in the election. During the last election, Oshiomhole humiliated the Enogie of Uromi and suspended him on the flimsy reason that he was in support of the PDP. He ignored all entreaties to reverse his action. He demonized his benefactors like Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and Chief Tony Anenih. He called them thieves. He rebuked political godfathers and vowed to retire them from Edo politics. I think it is the same thing Gov. Obaseki is about doing to him.

One unique thing is that Comrade Oshiomhole has never accused Gov. Obaseki of bad governance. In terms of good governance Obaseki has done well. His sin is his refusal to govern in the image of his godfather. His mission to scuttle Gov. Obaseki’s re – election will therefore be difficult. Secondly, Gov. Obaseki is a Bini, the majority tribe with about 60% of the population of the state. There are not happy with the undue interference of Oshiomhole. Furthermore, they are irked that Oshiomhole’s first activity after his tenure as governor was the supplanting of Chief Odigie Oyegun, a Bini man, as the National Chairman of the ruling APC party. They believe he has overreached himself.

The end game of this long drawn battle will be very interesting. What is certain is that you will reap what you sow.