Edo and the Drumbeats of War

Godwin Obaseki

By Eddy Odivwri

In Edo State, the die is cast. In 43 days from today, the political duel for the soul of the state would have been defined. The combatants are the sitting governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki who wants to be re-elected for another term of four years, and Pastor Osaze Ize-Iyamu, the standing political adversary of Obaseki. The latter wants to unseat the incumbent.
The story of Edo State is pretty curious. Four years ago, the two-horse race was also between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu. The difference now is that they simply switched their combat platforms. In 2016, Obaseki was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while Ize-Iyamu was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But in the instant contest, they have exchanged political parties. However, one re-occurring factor in both contests is an emerging godfather of Edo politics: Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the man who claimed that his major achievement as a governor was the annihilation of Tony Anenih, the then reigning godfather of Edo politics. Oshiomhole made a song and a dance over how he terminated the culture of godfatherism in Edo politics. That was how he ran a loud political mantra of one-man-one-vote! Few years down the line, he’s become the ultimate godfather, who like an oracle must not only be consulted on what is to be done, but also the one to dictate who should be where. It is the resistance of his godfather status that is really at the root of the troubles he has with the sitting governor. Today Oshiomohole is fighting his last political battle. And that is why he’s going to put in his last strength.

In “marketing” and projecting Obaseki in 2016, Oshiomhole had said so many nice and princely things about Obaseki while literally and practically damaging the very character and person of Ize–Iyamu.
Few months ago, the social-media was awash of how Oshiomhole had virtually poured raw acid on the candidature of Ize-Iyamu, calling him many unprintable names.
Just as the candidates switched platforms, Oshiomhole has also switched the victims of his vitriolic attacks. In 2016, Obaseki was presented as a decorated angel and Ize-Iyamu as a three-horn demon.
In 2020, it has simply become the other way round. No thanks to the chameleonic character of Nigerian politicians, which most times, count for little or nothing.
Since the governorship campaign commenced, Oshiomhole has been struggling to explain and reverse himself on the terrible things he said about the candidate of his party: Ize-Iyamu.
But it doesn’t seem that the odium that Oshiomhole sprayed on Ize-Iyamu is sticking. The photo images of the APC campaigns are awesomely huge. Massive crowd! It is doubtful if it is all a rented crowd.
It is even more instructive that the APC rank is swelling with the resignation and decampment of many Obaseki’s supposed supporters, like the lawmakers at the national and state levels including, and curiously so, the declaration of support for Ize-Iyamu by Obaseki’s larger family members. But by last Wednesday, not only was the defecting Deputy Speaker of the Edo House of Assembly, Hon Yekini Idiaye, impeached, some members of the Obaseki family declared support for Governor Obasaeki while promising to “sanction” the erring members of the family.
Those who believe in Obaseki argue very strongly that the ill wind blowing him from his erstwhile political household is because he refused to surrender the treasury of the state to political buccaneers, who had before now, feasted mercilessly on public funds at the expense of development in the state
Those who are literally shut out of the treasury door in Edo State are those shouting loudest on the need to sack Obaseki.
But Obaseki is accused of gross betrayal and of biting of the fingers that fed him.
Ize-Iyamu is pushing his SIMPLE agenda but it will not be so simple to find his way into the Osadebey House.
Today, both parties are fully kitted for a draggy duel. If the argument would be how persuasive either of the parties would be to convince the Edo voters to vote for them, based on their agenda, there would be little worry. But it is not.
It is getting clearer that it would not quite be a campaign of issues. It would include a campaign for fist and might.
The Edo skyline is already filled with the flakes of violence. Despite claims to the contrary by both parties, it is clear that while they are campaigning, they are also building a rampart of arms, preparatory for a bloody showdown, when the need arises.
The signs are already very manifest. We can smell trouble. Two weeks ago, a dress rehearsal of what is to come took place right at the palace of the Oba of Benin. Bullets were mutually fired. Not even the awe and royal reverence associated with the palace tempered the boiling urge to test their lethal capacity. Clearly, there is an aggregate state of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu’s supporters. Already, Obaseki and Oshiomhole have declared that no party has a monopoly of violence. That is quite indicative of the rain that would follow the gathering cloud.
The sad worry and question is whose blood would flow at the end of the day?
While we do not know for sure is those who would be felled by the coming bullets. But it is certain that neither Obaseki’s children nor Ize-Iyamu’s children or even Oshiomhole’s children would be anywhere near the “war front” they want to turn Edo State into.
Those who would be the victim would be mere political plebeians. But it is all avoidable. Let them adopt the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s famous quotes : “My election is not worth the blood of any Nigerian” Only the living play politics. Only the unwise die for it.