Adibe Emenyonu likens the move by Edo state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, to contest the 2024 Peoples Democratic Party Governorship primary to a celebrity who works hard to attain fame and years after, wears dark glasses to avoid being recognised.
Edo State deputy governor, Mr. Philip Shaibu’s ambition has put him at loggerheads with his principal, Governor Godwin Obaseki, who is believed not to be disposed to his deputy taking over from him.
Shaibu was actively involved in the State Governorship poll back then in 2020.
That was when he dazzled the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) led by his political godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, which earned him a lot of respect especially among political watchers both within and outside the state.
To this extent, Governor Obaseki gave Shaibu the sobriquet, ‘digital deputy governor’ at every occasion while introducing him. Then, they were like siamese twins.
But somewhere along the line, the holy passion of their friendship that looked so sweet, steady, and with enduring nature that will last through a whole lifetime was punctured because one of the duo asked the other to lend him money.
The money to be lent is not physical cash but political power. Shaibu wanted Obaseki to transfer power to him at the expiration of his tenure. And the incumbent said no.
Like Pope Alexander rightly puts it, “histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends, both parted ways as their political harmony disintegrated”.
At the height of the face-off, Shaibu approached an Abuja High Court to stop Obaseki, State House of Assembly, and state Chief Judge from impeaching him.
Although he later withdrew the court case after the intervention of well-meaning individuals, Obaseki never forgave him for that singular act.
Thereafter, Shaibu was stripped of all roles as deputy governor and all those who came in through him were either relieved of their duties, redeployed or compulsorily retired.
As if that was not enough, his office at Government House was relocated to an apartment outside with an ultimatum to resume there after his annual vacation.
But the adamant Shaibu trudged on saying his ambition is personal to him, and nobody can stop him apart from God in the quest to contest the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
The height of opposition against his ambition also manifested when at the last minute, he was turned down by the management Eterno Hotels, situated at the high brow Government Reservation Area (GRA), Benin City, the state capital from using the facility for his governorship declaration on Monday, November 27. The declaration was abruptly shifted late Sunday night when information filtered in that one of Governor Obaseki’s support groups, “Obaseki Finishing Well”, had also scheduled an event for the same venue same Monday by 7.30am.
Shaibu, it was gathered was informed by a staff of the hotel owned by a prominent PDP chieftain, who had paid for the same venue and subsequently refunded the money paid for the use of the venue.
A source in the know over the development stated: “We found this very preposterous that we were contacted by the hotel management that a group had paid for the same venue we paid for that they have a program slated for 7am same date. We know were this is coming from. Whatever their plans to frustrate our declaration will definitely fail. They are jittery over Shaibu’s declaration and popularity”.
The deputy governor’s planned declaration was contained in a letter issued by the Philip Shaibu Campaign Organisation which was dated November 23 and signed by the deputy governor himself; a copy of which was made available to newsmen.
The letter entitled ‘Special Invitation,’ read in part: “On behalf of Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu Campaign Organisation, I invite you to honour me with your esteemed presence as I offer myself to serve as the Chief Servant (Governor) of Edo State.”
As stated in the letter, the event was scheduled to be held on Monday, November 27, at the Eterno Hotels, by 8am
However, with the last minute refund by the hotel management, Shaibu was forced to look for an alternative venue and he chose the sacred ground of a Catholic Church in Benin City, the state capital where he knows no one will likely dare to distrupt proceedings.
At the Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre at the St. Paul’s Catholic Cathedral in Benin city, the Edo State Deputy Governor last Monday formally declared his intention to contest the 2024 governorship primary election on the platform of the PDP, saying “no body can stop my ambition”.
Shaibu at the declaration even alluded to his political travails in the last couple of months, declaring that he remained unbowed even as he forged ahead against the unfavourable disposition of his principal, Governor Obaseki.
Addressing his supporters who gathered at the new venue he secured, he said despite his present predicament, his antecedents in the struggle for democracy were part of the propelling factors for him to move on to actualize his ambition.
Describing himself as “100 percent Home Boy”, an allusion to the clamour that the next governor of the state must be someone who knows the state very well, and not someone imported, a veiled reference to the reported preference of an “outsider” by Governor Obaseki, Shaibu hinged his campaign on five pillars that include: infrastructural development, economic diversification, education, sports.
Others, he said, are skills development and job creation, healthcare, social welfare system, agriculture and rural development, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, and transparent governance.
He said while working closely with Governor Obaseki in the past seven years, a solid foundation for progress had been laid in the state.
According to him: “Under our administration, we have seen remarkable achievements and milestones, but there is still much work to be done. I am aware of the need by the greater Edo people for a more inclusive government, a government of the Edo people, by the Edo people, and for the Edo people.”
The state number two citizen who reiterated that his administration would be “a government of individuals who have been there and know the pains and wishes of an average Edolite”, maintained that under his supervision, the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), grew impressively, which he attributed to the introduction of digital and cutting-edge ideas.
He also went down memory lane as legislator at both state and federal levels saying “back in the day, you didn’t just call me “Mr Constituency Project” for nothing. In my time as a legislator, I delivered 49 constituency projects at the state level and 13 solid constituency projects within my short stint at the federal level.
“I have fought the good fight for you my people, Along the way, I suffered humiliations and enjoyed many moments of victory but I am thankful in all things. I have been pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, badly hurt but not destroyed. I resonate with the tireless and irrepressible spirit of the Edo People. By the grace of God, nothing and no one can stop us. After all, I be original Edo son; your 100 percent home boy.
“This is why today, I stand before you with great conviction and resolve, as I declare my intention to run for the office of the governor of Edo State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming 2024 election”, he declared.
It has been alleged that Shaibu was motivated to declarare his interest because of the funding he got from a certain Minister from the South-south in President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet who is hell bent on causing disaffection in Edo State PDP.
The embattled deputy governor, as further alleged, gleefully accepted to join the plot because he wanted to carry out his pay master’s bidding.
The plot, was reportedly hatched few weeks ago to create a division in the state PDP with the aim that the governor who has a preferred candidate must be stopped by all means.
According to political commentators in the state, it will amount to share greed for Shaibu knowing fully well that he would not get the PDP ticket to continue to push which means he has other motives apart from satisfying his ambition to contest.
Edo State Chairman of Coalition of Registered Political Parties (CRPP), Dr. Faluyi Isibor in an interview with THISDAY in Benin City, differ saying from all records available, the Edo PDP structure is in the hands of Obaseki, who should not be afraid of the deputy governor’s ambition as, according to him, there is no crime in having political ambition.
He stressed that with Obaseki fully in control of the party in the state, it is who he wants that will pick the party’s governorship ticket, so, the friction is unnecessary as it is giving the embattled deputy more publicity and sympathy.
Isibor further argued that it’s the fundamental rights of Shaibu to aspire, to vote and be voted for as enshrined in the constitution of the federation.
He said: “Obaseki should not cage his deputy. The best thing he can do is not to support him instead of all these unnecessary friction. As the governor is projecting someone, Shaibu also have the right to project himself. In 2016, Oshiomhole’s deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu aspired to succeed his boss but Oshiomhole preferred the present governor (Obaseki)
“Oshiomhole did not crucify Odubu. The only thing he did was to give his support to somebody else which is Governor Obaseki”.