Michael Obetoh, a Benin-based political analyst, alleges that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State may have been linked to acts unbecoming of his designation
The new twist which the political atmosphere in Edo State assumed on Saturday, July 25, 2020 can be viewed by keen observers of the Nigerian political scene as fanning a spark to ignite a politically tensed system.
We are talking of a sitting governor and his deputy who left the All Progressives Congress (APC) on frivolous and trumped up claims to the other party whose presidential candidate in the 2015 general election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan repeatedly said and demonstrated that his political ambition is not worth the blood of anyone.
He has continued to blame his hitherto godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of overbearing demands, it was ordinarily expected that Governor Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu, his deputy, would have drop their toga of violence and tow the part of non-violence or peaceful campaigns like Goodluck Jonathan who though a rare patriot, lost the 2015 presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari; understandably so.
Former President Jonathan and his wife Patience were severally maligned, out rightly billed and mocked even to the point of being called unprintable names, yet they did not order the arrest or intimidation of anybody.
Even as a sitting president, Buhari has also been demonized in many quarters. Some even called him Jibrill of Sudan while others labeled him ‘Baba go slow’. Some critics even went as far as saying, President Buhari was cloned.
Despite all that, heaven did not fall. In the midst of such demonization and strong insult on the leaders, they never uttered a word or embarked on a show of tyranny as we see in Edo state today.
Away from Nigeria, American President Donald Trump has been facing stiff opposition from various sides both local and international. He is now about the most criticized American President.
But in the expected character of a democrat like Buhari and Jonathan, Trump does not winch-hunt or harass any opposing view to his policies and administration. Tyranny, such as the one being experienced in Edo state under the supervision of Governor Obaseki has no place in any democratic establishment. Is Edo state blessed or cursed with incarcerated leadership? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Unfortunate Keeps Happening
The body language and conduct of the governor and his deputy during recent momentous political activities in Edo state leaves much to be desired of a team that claims confidence in winning the September 9 governorship election in the once peaceful state.
In one breathe, governor Obaseki claims wide spread acceptability and admiration of most electorates in the state to the extent that he brags of defeating Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress with landslide. On the other hand, he is alleged to be sponsoring violent attacks and hounding perceived opponents. That alone is an indication of a drowning contestant who is unsure of himself even in a state where he presides as the Chief Security Officer.
Recent events have shown that Governor Obaseki is not only running his government based on lies, he is also hounding opponents who refuse to support his government and reelection bid. Obaseki and his deputy have been making several attempts to intimidate supporters of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and other respected APC supporters, including Captain Hosa Okunbor.
The lastest of such unprovoked onslaught on his opponents took place at the weekend when supporters of Obaseki launched a violent attack on APC supporters near the Palace of the Oba of Benin leaving several persons injured.
It happened when PDP governors, led by the Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council, Governor Nyesom Wike visited the Oba of Benin. His visitors who were in the state to flag off his campaign watched as many APC members and those believed to be opposed to his reelection were manhandled.
The Obaseki thugs unleashed violence on APC supporters even without provocation.
He should take a queue from other political leaders across party lines. This is a civil contest and should be moderated to that extent, with lots of decorum.
It is alleged that the governor instructed thugs to attack the people as retribution for their public booing of his arrival with various chants labeling him a rejected candidate and for spurning his rally.
Instead of doing introspection on his public rejection at the Palace of the first class Oba, Obaseki and Shaibu loosed their attack dogs on innocent APC supporters who were on a peaceful campaign outreach in the metropolis.
Obaseki and his loyalists allegedly destroyed their own bill-boards at different locations in the state as a gimmick to deflect responsibility and get a reprieve for the alleged organized destruction of APC billboards after the party filed a petition with the police and other relevant agencies.
Like Edo State Media Campaign Council of the APC rightly noted, it is sad that Mr. Obaseki has displayed the same traits of intolerance and penchant for violence that made the people of Edo State unanimously reject him. That is unbecoming of a governor who was elected to protect and secure lives and property of all Edo people, irrespective of party affiliation.
For a sitting governor that prides himself as a gentleman, it would be better if he had responded to the issues. If this can happen now, what should we expect when Obaseki is allowed to occupy the leadership position of the state in September?
In a civil contest as the one that is underway in Edo state, everyone must see preventing targeted violence as part of a larger set of needed interventions to improve Nigerian democracy that includes freedom of choice without harassment from any quarter.
The new twist
It was Pastor Ize-Iyamu, that assured residents of Edo State of a violence-free election while calling on his main opposition, the PDP, to shun provocative acts and embrace campaign based on issues, not insults and name-calling. Ordinarily, many people expected Obaseki and his co-travellers to learn from that and restrict themselves to issue-based campaigns devoid of violence and name calling.
…Obetoh is a Political Analyst