By George Ibiyinka
Amid the din and dingdong of electioneering, the promises and propaganda of a starry-eyed era and the generous exchange of money for prospective votes as September 19 draws closer, the people of Edo State need some reality check – a deliberate and sustained reminder of the head-spinning and harrowing catalogue of cruelties, crises and crimes foisted on them by a self-serving governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
The time cannot be more auspicious for this reminder so that the people are not swayed by money and superfluous promises. They must muster all their votes to reverse the ills of the Obaseki administration by voting him out.
Considering, therefore, that many public affairs analysts, commentators, columnists and bloggers alike have recurrently written and extensively documented Obaseki’s catalogue of sins against the people, this writer would attempt to periscope those malfeasances from the perspective of the Seven Deadly Sins propounded initially by the Roman ascetic and theologian, Evagrius Ponticus, but modified in the Sixth Century by Pope Gregory 1.
Though not biblical, the Seven Deadly Sins are theological and are believed to be the precursors for other sins and further immoral behaviours. They are Pride, Greed, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, Lust, and Sloth.
Evagrius describes pride as the father of all sins and it has been deemed the devil’s most prominent trait. From all indications, Obaseki’s pride drives him. Having tasted power, Obaseki’s pride skyrocketed and began to manifest in alleged wanton corruption and whimsical selfishness at the expense of the welfare of the people.
His concatenation of crises has been predicated largely on his self-interest, nothing more, which is why the second term bid for him is a do-or-die affair. He is ready to crush anything in his way. He has been fighting those who propelled him into power, because he thought he had seen it all and every other person was inconsequential.
It was pride that prompted Obaseki to say on television that he would not only deal with a two-term former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, but that he would ensure his arrest if he came anywhere near Edo State. Yet, this was the same man that sold Obaseki to the electorate and allowed him to run for office on the strength of his (Oshiomhole’s) achievements.
It was greed writ large, when Obaseki accused some phantom Edo APC leaders of fighting him for access to the state treasury to share Edo money and that he would never do so but defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where he was given an automatic ticket to contest after billions of naira allegedly exchanged hands, all in a desperate bid to remain in office.
Like greed, lust is an intense longing for sex but in Obaseki’s case, his lust is for power and money and ego-tripping. And he goes about these like a bull in a China shop. His face-off with the House of Assembly exemplifies this. In 2019, Obaseki refused to order a proclamation, in line with constitutional provisions and procedure, to clear the way for the inauguration and constitution of the seventh assembly.
His reluctance was predicated on his belief that he did not have enough foot soldiers in the House as against the number loyal to Oshiomhole. He vowed that the doors of the assembly would remain shut for as long as he desired and it has remained so thereby denying the people legislative representation.
Envy is characterised by an insatiable desire – sad or resentful covetousness towards the traits or possessions of someone else. So, fighting a non-partisan, apolitical man like Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo, a wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is a clear manifestation of envy.
One of Edo’s most prominent sons and pre-eminent Nigerian, Captain Hosa’s investments in the state are in the region of billions of dollars and he, arguably, employs as many Edo indigenes as does the government. His philanthropy is felt beyond even Edo State. He is what Obaseki and his collaborators aspire to be.
Whilst he never sought anything from the Obaseki administration apart from support it with his resources, a puerile and unfounded rumour that the widely loved Captain was eyeing the governorship seat has unleashed Obaseki’s base animalistic impulses. Obaseki may not have come to the realisation yet, but confronting and impugning on the integrity of a colossus like Captain Hosa is a recipe for political obliteration.
The evidence of Obaseki’s gluttony is an extension of his greed and lust for power: He not only wants power, but he also can’t get enough of it. Like all gluttons, he is leaving a mess in his wake. Instead of discarded bones, there are a ruined economy, unhappy indigenes, insecurity and underdevelopment.
Under Obaseki, the Edo government is drunk for more money, which the people never see its impact whether on infrastructure or the economy or the life of an average indigene. For him, it is just about how to make more revenues even at the detriment of taxpayers while maintaining the second position of the most indebted state in Nigeria.
Wrath is defined as uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage and even hatred often revealing itself in the wish to seek vengeance. Who better epitomises this than Obaseki? His wrath is one of the defining features of his administration. No one is immune to his anger and vengefulness. From Oshiomhole to Captain Hosa, legislators and even the revered Oba of Benin, they have all tasted of it.
How about Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who was mandated by President Muhammadu Buhari to mediate in the face-off between Obaseki and the House of Assembly, when he blatantly refused to inaugurate the House at the appropriate time.
Upon the constitution of a 10-man reconciliatory committee last December to resolve the crises and appease the aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, nationwide, Obaseki accused the senate president and the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, of playing a prominent role in the crisis rocking the party in the state.
He did not rest until Lawan was replaced with Chief Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun State. The height of his wrath, perhaps, was the demolition of the hotel of Tony Kabaka Adun, whose only offence was that he is an ally of Oshiomhole. Despite a court order restraining the state government from demolishing the hotel building and appeals from well-meaning indigenes and prominent Nigerians, Obaseki still went ahead to do so citing nebulous excuses.
Sloth, according to its proponent, has different meanings but, in this context, is defined as the absence of interest or habitual disinclination to exertion – a failure to do things that one should do, therefore, allowing evil to reign, because good people failed to act. The dictionary meanings also include laziness and wilful inactivity.
Thus, it is ironic, tragic even that Obaseki has been blaming his failings on the APC on which platform he rode to power in 2016 but which he defected from in June 2020. He has brazenly refused to do the work he was elected for, thereby, taking the state on a retrogressive expedition!
Every human – whether the artist or artisan; cleric or clerisy; the prosperous or proletariat; politician or professional – have their failing. But Obaseki departs from his predecessors and the character components that Edo State requires in a leader and one who can take them out of the doldrums, because he is unable to control his impulses and manage his sins.
So, the likelihood of him repenting or changing is not even remote and, therefore, does not deserve a vote from the people of Edo State!
*Ibiyinka, a political analyst, lives in Lagos