Godwin Obaseki

Ize- Iyamu will correct the mistakes of the past in Edo, writes Ewujowo B. Ewujowo

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki did’nt just declare that ‘Edo is not Lagos’ without certain assurances howbeit false. Early enough, he drew the battle line with his political benefactor and predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. He attempted to destabilize the estranged boss’ political machinery and strategically placed his acolytes in strategic positions for the day of war.

Obaseki deployed strong-arm tactics to coerce those with divergent political views and opponents. Unfortunately, he lacks the political dexterity and temperament of infusing diplomacy and tradeoffs to achieve his goal.

He got his fingers burnt with the Edo State House of Assembly where he inaugurated his lackeys who are in the minority and shut out pro-Oshiomhole lawmakers who are the majority. They were 17. The governor had sneaked into the legislative complex at night and inaugurated his boys.

The court provided a temporary succor for the impunity. Obaseki got court ruling affirming the legality of the charade. He brandished the court papers to the media and anyone who challenged him on the dastardly act. He game the system for his selfish goal, but for only a period of time.

The political equation and realignment of forces within Edo State separated the men from the boys. The 17 lawmakers who were victims of Obaseki’s injustice roared back to life and vowed to take back their suppressed right to represent their constituents. Jittery that the seven lawmakers he unjustly treated had openly declared for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the governor went berserk as imminent doom looms.

Ize-Iyamu is not a pushover any day. He knows Edo State like the back of his hand and has been in the trenches for years when Obaseki was hustling as stock broker in Lagos capital market. The pastor on the ballot was the darling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2016. They knew his electoral worth and vast acceptances across all spectra in Edo.

The intimidating political profile and rating of Ize-Iyamu gives the governor and his handlers migraine. It was then a double jeopardy for Obaseki when 17 lawmakers who are in bed with Oshiomhole demanded to take their rightful place in the Assembly. Aside availing Ize-Iyamu their robust political assets in their respective constituencies, the emperor feared impeachment as nine can longer be greater than 17.

To avert a political shame, the governor who was boasting and issuing orders to party leaders scampered to the Assembly complex to repair a non-leaking roof. He was thrown off balance as the siege became fierce. He needed tutelage on how to have a firm grip on critical political infrastructure in the state. Oshiomhole beat him to it.

The sustained attacks to smear the image of the APC standard-bearer from the propaganda mill of the PDP also suffered setback when Ize-Iyamu met with President Muhammadu Buhari in the seat of power and got his blessings. It demobilized their lies that Buhari is not in support of Ize-Iyamu’s aspiration. Now the world knows that and that Abuja is involved in the Obaseki project.

Tactical commander of the PDP troop, Nyesome Wike played to the gallery over Ize-Iyamu’s visit to Abuja. The APC continues to break into new frontiers, building alliances across political tendencies in the state.

Rather than resorting to violence, the 17 lawmakers appealed to higher authority to guarantee enforcement of their constitutional rights. In the letter titled, ‘Urgent and nationalistic appeal to intervene in the restoration of constitutional democracy in Edo State of Nigeria’, dated August 3, 2020 and signed by Dr Ehiogie West-Idahosa, the senior partner at of West Idahosa & Co narrated the ordeal of the 17 lawmakers: “The Assembly has been run by nine members for no justifiable reason whatsoever. By failing to inaugurate about 14 members-elect of the House, there is a huge social and political disequilibrium in the state.

“The rule of law has been seriously eroded and replaced by strong-arm tactics in Edo State. This in itself is anti-democratic and ought not to be allowed in a democratic government such as the one operated in Nigeria.

“Over 60 per cent of the population of Edo State are unrepresented in the House of Assembly and are therefore missing out on constituency projects, employment and other forms of government patronage. This has escalated poverty levels in such constituencies and there is a corresponding increase in crime and general insecurity in such areas.”

“It is undemocratic and unacceptable to any sovereign nation that the House of Assembly of one of the states making up the federation of Nigeria is operated by only seven members out of the 24 elected.

“There is no feature of the law which precludes the said honourable members from taking their oath with the cooperation of sworn in members and the clerk of the House.

“We therefore respectfully appeal to you as the Chief Law Officer of the federation to invoke your power pursuant to Section 150 of the 1999 constitution (as altered) to arrest the breakdown of constitutional democracy in Edo State by intervening to restore a functional House of Assembly in line with the provisions of Sections 90, 91, 101 and 104 of the 1999 constitution (as altered). Our clients shall be very obliged to have your intervention in order to save constitutional democracy in Edo State.”

The combined forces of the APC obviously will overwhelm the governor and his supporters. The massive turnout at Ize-Iyamu’s rallies is a testament to who is loved by the people. From Edo North senatorial district to the capital in Benin, Ize-Iyamu has become a movement which cannot be stopped.

On what strength would Obaseki earn a second term? Is it on the basis of his performance? That is below the benchmark of excellence bequeathed by the comrade governor. He eroded the gains he should have consolidated.

The judgment day is here when the Edo People will correct the mistake of choice and enthrone Ize-Iyamu as the governor.