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Oshiomhole versus Obaseki: The table keeps turning

Globalupfront Newspapers Political Analysis

By the early hours of Thursday, and as predicted by many analysts, the Edo State Governorship election took shape, pitching two major favourites: the incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the now opposition All Progressive Congress (APC). The National Executive Council of APC had earlier met and ratified the candidacy of Ize-Iyamu as its flag bearer.

In the last one year, Edo State has witnessed the turning of its political table in so many ways and around so many people. Old friends suddenly became bitter enemies, creating such deep enemity that had no space for forgiveness. And to make matters worse, they dragged the entire nation to their battle. What ordinarily should have been local state affairs became huge national contest and national crisis for the political combatants. Edo then became a wrestling turf for (particularly, the APC) to show those who control the party at the national level, those who pretend to be national leaders, those who have been crushed and those who are still thriving.

For the APC, the table is not just turning; it is tumbling and very fast too. What started as a fight between a “son’ and his godfather after an electoral victory became unsolvable, dragging the the running of the state government down. The state House of Assembly could not be harmoniously inaugurated because those loyal to the godfather and National Chairman of the Party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole were (are) large enough in number to put spanners in the wheel of the running of the Asembly.

The ‘son’ and Executive Governor, Godwin Obaseki had to rely on incumbency powers to deal with Oshiomhole loyalists and seeing that incumbency powers were not enough to dislodge Oshiomhole influence in the House, went ahead to adopt unorthodox discriminatory or marginalization tactics to get the State Assemby to function.

So, he gathered as few members of the House as he could, that is, those loyal to him, and without genuinely wanting to incorporate the opposing members, held a kangaroo-kind of inauguration and the Edo State House of Assembly began sitting.

Protestations began, became loud and the National Assembly –the House of Representatives (HOR) wanted to take over the functions of the State House of Assembly. Obaseki’s group went to court and got a favourable judgement which banned the HOR from meddling in the affairs of the state Assembly. But there no is disputing the fact that in the last one year, the Edo House of Asembly hasn’t operated ‘rosely’ or at optimum.

The failed intervention of the HOR was the first open attempt to nationalize the local problem in Edo. Despite the poor situation of the Edo State Assembly, the HOR was not a fit and proper organization to meddle or settle the crisis. The leadership of the House was rightly seen as an arm of Oshiomhole whom is a well-know stooge of self-styled APC national Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinu too is godfather to the leadership of the House of Representatives in particular, the Speaker, Femi Gbajiabiamila.

So, many political observers, though not happy with the imbrioglo in the Edo State legislature were relieved that the court did not allow Adams Oshiomhole to take over the House because Governor Obaseki would have become a cockroack in the court fowls, certain to be swallowed as a meal by Oshiomhole.

To Oshiomhole’s credit, he has rattled Obaseki since their quarrel began. Very few people have fought their state governors with the sustained vigour and success as Adam had done against Obaseki. Adams had leanrt a lot about godfather-godson fights. He became governor courtesy of the goodwill of a dreaded godfather (Tony Anenih of blessed memory) who generously aided him and used him to dislodge a paperweight godson and governor (Prof Osaretin Osunbor) who wanted to rubbish Anenih.

Oshiomhole then set out to eliminate godfatherism in Edo, or so he told he told the world. But it seems now that what he actually set out to do was to ‘kill’ the boss and assume the position of the godfather himself. His actions and the lethral attacks against Obaseki did not show anything less of the masterstroke attacks of a deadly godfather, in fact more deadly than the one he eliminated. As far as the APC is concerned, he successfully eliminated Obaseki.

By the time the Edo state governorship primary was taking shape, he had reduced the Governor to nothing, wrapping it up with Obaseki’s disqualification from contesting the APC primary.

In defeat and humiliation, Obaseki looked just ordinary. Even President Muhammadu Buhari to whom he ran for help couldn’t rescue him from Oshiomhole’s attack.  And the turning of table continued.

Obaseki went to the ‘enemy’ fold, the PDP and in matter of days, he became a PDP man, the once opposition PDP in Edo became the ruling Party and once ruling APC became the opposition Party in the state.

Before Oaseki left APC with his bruises, he left Oshiomhole with one inury that has for now become malignant. He got the local ward of the APC where Oshiomhole comes from to suspend him for anti-party activities. That suspension has consumed the National Chairman of the APC. It started like a joke, one of those political jokes but when a court of competent jurisdiction upheld the suspension, political observers began to take the suspension serious. It was when the court of Appeal upheld the judgement of the high court that the danger signal acquired national status.

Today Oshiomhole is in the sidelines. Even if the Supreme Court reverses the two lower courts, Oshiomhole will never be the same. Another person is calling the shots at APC now with Adams powerless. And the table continues to turn.

It was the suspension of Oshiomhole that fully made the local political struggle a fullblown APC national crisis and then, old unhealed wounds being nursed by national leaders of the Party against themselves were re-opened to fester.

Thursday, 25th of June, Adams lost again. The National Working Committee of the APC was dissolved by the Party’s National Executive Council. That marks the end of Adams as an APC overlord. That is another turning of the table.

The Thursday meeting of the APC NEC held without Tinubu attending.  The Presidency unlike before came out boldly to tell Tinubu that he is not a member of the APC NEC and should not attend.

The Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmaad gave reasons the National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, should not attend the National Executive Committee meeting.

According to him,“There are some people who need to know that the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is not a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party, hence, he doesn’t attend the NEC Meetings. This is very clear!” Ahmaad tweeted late on Wednesday night.

Not only that, the NEC meeting was called by a factional leader of the APC not recognized by Tinubu but Buhari happily  attended, infact allowed the meeting to hold inside the Presidential Villa where those not wanted at the meeting would not dare to come near. To make matters worse, security agents locked the National secretariat of the Party in the morning of Thursday, a move which infuriated Tinubu supporters.

In fact, one of them, a Pro-democracy activist, Deji Adeyanju, said APC members loyal to Tinubu should be courageous enough to suspend Buhari if he attended the NEC meeting summoned by Victor Giadom. In a tweet, he wrote: “I want the Tinubu faction of the APC led by Abiola Ajimobi (one of the factional acting National Chairman of the APC) to suspend President Buhari from the party if he goes ahead to attend Gaidom’s NEC. I want them to be courageous”, he wrote, courageous enough to embark on such political suicide of throwing Buhari out of the APC.  

 Oshiomhole and Obaseki still have a number of opportunities to fight and the most strategic of them is the forthcoming Edo governorship election where Obaseki will be facing Oshiomhole’s chosen candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC. If Osagie wins, Obaseki would be vanquished by the godfather and if Obaseki wins, it will still be another turning of the table.

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