With the continued conflict in the ruling APC in Edo State, political pundits, ideological activists and social commentators are bemused by the nuances that comes with it each new day. Beyond Edo State, the crisis has become a veritable case study for sociologists and psychologists.
No doubt, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was central to the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as governor of Edo State. How could Obaseki have undermined the goodwill that he enjoyed from Comrade Oshiomhole to that extent of subjecting his whole political career to threat and destruction?
What is that degree of offence that could make Obaseki approve of threat to the life of Adams Oshiomhole? Can ambition drive a man to the dimension of indulgences Obaseki is being alleged? What lesson does this portend to those who wants to politically assist the elevation of others in the future? Drawing from these questions, no doubt, the crisis has delivered spiral effect on the moral capital of our entire social order as a country.
Therefore, if the crisis is positioned as contention between Adams and His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, its impact transcends these two personalities. It has ricocheting effect on the entire social space. For instance, the manner of induction of the 8th Assembly of the Edo State legislative organ offended the moral psyche of many who are not politicians. These persons were, by deduction, drawn into the war zone as an army whose interest is to challenge a fundamental infraction. If these people are eventually on the side of the Adams loyalist, it is an exigent alliance against a common enemy.
Essentially, the crisis has since gone beyond these two persons. There are currently those who were drawn into the crises deriving from what they considered as an affront on the people of Edo State. Drawing from the nihilistic drive of the governor and his allies, there are those who feels that the use of violence as a tool of intimidation by government must be checked. All these other later time intrusions cannot be ignored and are in fact critical to the course of the crises. Therefore, the decision of a party’s reconciliation committee cannot be effective excepting it recognizes and incorporate these other dimensions.
Thus far, the feud which started with the anomaly in the induction of the Edo State House of Assembly has become hydra headed and, therefore, difficult to resolve.
Appraising the absurdities of the inauguration amounts to indulging in a template that has been over flogged. The point to note is that in a desperate bid to alienate a certain class of the political elite within the APC and foster a cult control, the governor indulged in a provocative contradiction while inducting the assembly.
Beyond the politicians, the elites and academics have accused the governor of using ten (10) members out of twenty-four (24) to run government, thereby side-lining the other fourteen members-elects. The inauguration which was done at about 9:00pm was, to many, done in desperation to make those known to be loyal to the national chairman politically irrelevant.
As though the inauguration wasn’t enough to dispute over, the extra-legal indulgences of the Deputy Governor, Philip Shuaibu, and his cohorts largely increased the provocation that has dotted the Edo State social space in recent times.
The brazen and reckless display of executive lawlessness in the shooting at Golden Tulip Hotel made mockery of the constitution and legal frameworks of Nigeria. This is particularly provocative because its masterminds are those constitutionally endowed for the enforcement of social order and the legal bonding in the state.
The deputy governor and some other members within the governor’s cabinet mobilized and supervised thugs who openly used guns in dispersing the members-elect who dared to meet and discuss their ordeal. These thugs in a gestapo style operation, accosted the members-elect in the hotel where they have taken refuge.
The boldness of the operators in this criminal assault was enough message to the members elect that they were not wanted in Edo State and would not be safe to function within the state. It is public knowledge that high calibre guns were used in the operations targeting the members elect. That these members fled to Abuja, was wise counsel as the police force was not available for their rescue or defence.
This panorama of violent intimidation of perceived opponents has continued with increasing proportion over time. At the decision of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu to move into the APC, mayhem was let loose in Edo State. The Inspector General of Police and his offices were not spared in the accompanying brouhaha.
Further to their disposition to chivalrous indulgences, the Deputy Governor, Honourable Philip Shuaibu, had gone to Abuja to meet the police authorities with fake security reports on the state. The alarmist dimension of his report had led to the police hierarchy reversing herself on an earlier decision bothering on the hosting of the rally.
The venue for Osagie Ize Iyamu’s reception into the APC was not only barricaded by thugs and the police, the event was declared illegal and rallies were with executive fiat. Drawing from recent statements by the governor, rallies remains illegal in Edo State as the governor has banned rallies, even those related to his own party the APC. The social space was heated up and fear and apprehension were visited on every resident in Edo State as well as the indigenes of the state in the diaspora.
Notice was issued from the office of the Secretary to Government closing all private schools in the state for that day. Further to the notices circulated, landlord of any premises used for the rally stood the risk of losing his Certificate of Occupancy. Event centres were strictly warned to avoid their premises being used for the event. The government vowed to pull down any premises where the reception rally held. Further to this act of executive rascality, thugs and urchins were mobilized to embarrass the National Chairman of the party at the point of his entering Benin City for the reception event.
Irrespective of the recklessness and disregard characteristic of the governor and his cronies, his supposed enemies have remained restrained and cultured. Maybe they have decided to give honour to the offices of “the governor” and maintain decorum. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, for instance, moved the rally for his reception to his compound. This, he avers, was exigent in the interest of peace.
Even the National Chairman compromised the esteem of his office by staying away from the reception of Osagie Ize-Iyamu into the APC. He has since built on that credential of distinction by staying away at other times when the governor threatened thunder and brimstone if he dared come to Edo State.
The governor and members of his cabinet has continued their vicious attack on members of the party who are believed not to be supporting his second term bid. Local government chairmen have been sacked with others suspended. Properties worth hundreds of million belonging to Comrade Tony Kabaka were demolished by the state government even when the said building was said to be a subject of litigation.
The governor, through the Edo State Internal Revenue Service, has alleged tax evasion charges against No moless another APC chieftain whose guilt is being a friend of Adams Oshiomhole. His hotel has been sealed up presently and marked for demolition. Grenades, dynamites and hand bombs were used to attack the house of Francis Inegbeneki for offering to host a rally for receiving newcomers into the APC. The State Secretary of the Party, Lawrence Okah, has also had his residential premises bombed by thugs suspected to be encouraged by the governor.
One other point that is most worrisome is the fact that the Governor Obaseki led faction has refused to work with the various reconciliatory committees set up by the party to intervene in the crises with a view to proffering lasting solutions.
They have rather gone harder on those who won’t support them. Recent victims of the governor’s show of ghetto capacity include Chris Okaeben, one of the members elect and Barrister Henry Idahagbon. Both luckily escaped being assassinated as their premises witnessed hail of bullets in broad daylight.
In the view of Adams Oshiomhole, politics is about numbers. It is absurd in all sense of logic for a party leader to resist having a grassroot material as Osagie Ize-Iyamu as member of his party. Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a party builder who was critical to the building of the APC in Edo State.
Drawing from his arsenal of progressive ideology he, among others, provided the template for Adams Oshiomhole at his entry into bourgeois politics. He was then a principal stakeholder in the ACN, the platform on which Adams Oshiomhole forayed into electoral politics.
He has been Chief of Staff as well as Secretary to the State Government at various times. As a foundation member of the APC, he was National Vice-Chairman South-South for the party. With these credentials, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu stands out as a political resource person who should be courted and patronized by any political party.
If ambition is what has pushed Obaseki this far, then one would wonder what exactly he wants to do with power. The narrative in the public space in Edo State does not indicate that he has been able to impress the electoral constituency of the state. Perhaps, this informs his recourse to violence and intimidation to forcefully secure the gubernatorial ticket of the APC. The arrest of a commissioner in his cabinet for money laundering by the interpol is a poser for the governor on impropriety in the management of the resources of the state.
Governor Obaseki already have campaign posters all over the state in defiance of the electoral laws. Despite the masking of these indulgences, it is obvious that Obaseki has commenced his governorship campaigns. His drapes, wall and rollup banners are in the streets. Interestingly, his materials presently do not carry the logo of his party, the APC.
Governor Godwin Obaseki has not spared anybody who pose as threat to his second tenure ambition. As it has always been with men in power, Obaseki is very convinced that he holds the four aces in the coming election, and he can dispense with the APC and win the election. He has already dispensed with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who facilitated his candidacy even as a dark horse in 2016.
Perhaps, we are about to see the other side of Obaseki’s diplomacy as he has accepted a reconciliation committee that is inaugurated by Adams Oshiomhole, the man he has suspended as party chairman. He has told the world that he will never relate with any action of Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman. He has a case against Adams Oshiomhole in court asking for the sack of Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of APC.
Interestingly, the bent and broken Obaseki has accepted the committee set up presently even when the personnel constituting the committee does not differ as much from the composition of the ones he rejected. Obaseki seems a victim of inordinate ambition and has in that context lost any sense of rationality, moral and self-worth.
The trust is that Obaseki has reached the limits of his whit end and is ready to take instruction as long as those instructions will not impede his second term agenda. The Tsar has started to break for obvious reasons.
First, his electoral capital has dropped immensely, deriving from the negative reports that accompany his malignant indulgences and its appalling impact on his social perception. The second is his understanding that he has lost the battle to humiliate Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the party.
The third is his sudden realisation that the APC can do without him and still win the election of the governorship.
The worry is: is it not too late already for the tsar? How much of his insipient actions can he reversed? Where is his sense of integrity and personal worth in public perception presently? What are the assurances that he still retains the loyalty of his co-travellers in this game of death by the present realities?
This is Obaseki in the eyes of the storm.