Oshiomhole, the New god of Edo Politics

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Oshiomhole, the New god of Edo Politics
Nwolu Obiajulu

There have been interesting intrigues emanating from Edo state, Nigeria as the state prepares for its forthcoming governorship election slated for 19 September, 2020.

On Friday 12 June, news broke of the disqualification of incumbent governor of the state- Godwin Obaseki from contesting the primary election of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). Though it was strange, but it was not totally unexpected given the cold war that has lingered between the governor and his predecessor- Adams Oshiomhole.

Oshiomhole who is the National chairman of APC was a beneficiary of court ruling in 2008. He was declared rightful winner of the 2007 Edo election. The election returned Oserheimen Osunbor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)as the winner but the court ruled in favour of Oshiomhole who had challenged the outcome of the election.

Though Oshiomhole was a voice against ‘godfatharism’ in Nigeria Politics, the events playing out in Edo state paint a picture of one who, though unwilling to give into political godfathers, is determined to be one himself.

In 2018, Akinwumni Abode of Lagos state lost the ticket of APC to Babajide Sanwo-Olu the purported anointed of the Jagaban of Lagos politics- Bola Tinubu. Similar scenes are playing out in Edo state. Only that this time, the incumbent has been denied the opportunity of vying for primary election.

Obaseki had through his twitter handle disclosed his dissatisfaction with the outcome of APC’s screening but maintained lack of will to appeal the decision. He had said “We call on all party members and our teeming supporters to remain calm and await further directives, in the light of the announcement of my unjust disqualification to participate in @OfficialAPCNg primary election in Edo State by the screening committee.”

The ‘further directives’ remains to be seen at this point but pundits are tipping Obaseki to follow the path of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state. Ortom had decamped to the PDP in the build up to the 2019 general elections after he had issues with the APC hierarchy. He eventually secured the ticket of the PDP and got reelected.

It remains to be seen the direction Obaseki would sail his ship as the intrigues unfold. The question on the lips of many is the cause of the fallout between Oshiomhole and his successor.

Obaseki had in 2016 shrugged off competition from former Deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu, Osarodion Ogie, former minister of works, Engr. Chris Ogienwonyi, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, and Kenneth Imasuagbon, among others to secure the ticket of APC.

He piloted the economic team of Oshiomhole during his time at the Edo government house, Benin. This endeared him to his boss. Oshiomhole had against all odds projected Obaseki’s candidacy and ensured his victory at the polls against a popular opposition- Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP.

Interestingly, Ize-Iyamu seems to be the preferred candidate of Oshiomhole for the September election. Ize-iyamu had decamped to APC for greener political pastures. It remains to be seen if Oshiomhole can establish himself as a major godfather in Edo state and Nigeria at large by backing Ize-Iyamu to victory at the polls. If he pulls this off, it would be a case of one transforming to what he strongly campaigned against.

The feud between the duo is speculated to be due to issues relating to resource control. Sources allege sidelining of Oshiomhole’s foot soldiers in the affairs of Edo state. Stakeholders loyal to the National Chairman of the APC are believed to have been either removed or sidelined in the scheme of affairs. This irked Oshiomhole who had hoped for better control and participation in piloting the affairs of the state.

Obaseki had during his thanksgiving at the Omega Fire Ministry after the 2019 election, said many people were unhappy with him because he was working for the ordinary people of Edo. “The people will remain my priority despite the fact that some people wanted me to do otherwise. I will use the money to serve the people, because governance is about the people.” he said.

The media landscape have been awash with pictures of Obaseki’s strides within the past days. As the battle of the soul of Edo state plays out, it ‘d be interesting to see who emerges victories- the godfather or the godson.

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