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IKE ABONYI
Ike's Column Opinion

The Edo Message

I have made a promise to myself that the day I leave office; I will never interfere or distract whoever governs afterwards
Adams Oshiohmole

We have long been warned to be chary of what comes out of a politician’s mouth as they are usually not meant to be kept. Believe a politician at your own peril. Former Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiohmole represents all that in a very unique way. If a man cannot keep to a promise he made to himself, how do you expect him to keep to what he made to others.

As you read the opening quotes of this discourse above, please accompany me as you read further of his sayings below that clearly mirrors a man who does the exact opposite of what he says.

“My greatest achievements are not the roads or the red roofs. My greatest achievement is my victory over the godfatherism in the state, I want to be remembered for ending it and killing it. A situation where one man decides has been abolished. All I want is power to move to the people. The people should decide who becomes their leader and that leader will not be answerable to any godfather, but to them.”

That was Comrade Oshiohmole when he left office as Governor of Edo state in 2016. But when you remember that Governor Godwin Obaseki after his landmark victory on the September 19, 2020 governorship election declared it a defeat of godfatherism as symbolized by the same Oshiohmole, you cannot but declare Edo as a state that has issues with godfatherism.

From whichever spot you were watching the Edo drama as it played out, what is clear is that the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election and its outcome are all significant in many ways for our democracy. The last time Nigeria was in this type of elated mood after election was in 2015 after the Presidential election of President Muhammadu Buhari regardless of what the regime became afterwards.

Since then, outcome of elections has always ended in infuriating the people and dimming their enthusiasm about democracy in this country.

The common question on many lips since last Saturday has been, what or who is responsible for this fresh air in our democratic evolution? A critical appraisal will not limit last Saturday’s huge electoral break through to one factor as it’s a product of multiplicity of factors.

At first instance it means that you can’t eat your cake and still wants to have it. Exactly what Adams Oshiohmole wanted to do but got his fingers severely burnt. Godfather factor has been a major hinge in Edo politics with late Samuel Ogbemudia, Gabriel Igbenedion and off course late Anthony Anenih popularizing and taking it to the next level.

But Comrade Oshiohmole arrived Edo politics and ensured that he fought the godfather menace to extinction. He literarily made mincemeat of Anenih and Ignebedion who were the overwhelming godfathers when he arrived the scene.

But strangely, the same Oshiohmole turned himself into a more vicious and wild godfather and as a result found himself getting a dose of the same poison he administered on the previous godfathers in the state. So what happened in Edo on Saturday was the final wiping out of godfather factor in Edo in the hope that the new bride Godwin Obaseki will not be the monster of tomorrow.

Antecedents from Edo makes not a few skeptical and provides enough grounds of doubt on Obaseki even when he said that godfather factor is finally rested in the state politics.

The other factor that cannot be ruled out easily in the outcome of Edo election is the 2023 permutations. When the Lagos strongman Asiwaju Ahmad Tinubu engineered the removal of John Odigie Oyegun as the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, his eyes were glued on 2023. The bringing in of Oshiohmole as Oyegun’s replacement was strategic and in furtherance of 2023 agenda. Oyegun was not cooperating, his allegiance was to someone else and needed to be sent off quickly.

When Oshiohmole arrived the scene with his terms of reference which entails pushing aside anybody found to be on the way to the Jagaban’s Journey to Aso Rock, he deployed brutal and spiteful methods to achieve his goals.

Oshiohmole’s arrogance, rancorous and undiplomatic method of executing his agenda provided a leeway to others to act who are also eyeing Aso Rock and who found the Jagaban’s ambition loathsome. When therefore Oshiohmole tried to bully his Governor, Godwin Obaseki back home as a way of asserting himself these anti-Jagaban group found it an opening to battle him. They then provided support to the ‘local boy’ Obaseki who suddenly found teeth to bite his aggressive and recalcitrant mentor.

It’s now history how the anti-Jagaban group in APC combining effectively saw to the disgraceful exit of Oshiohmole from the exalted party seat. It’s that coup that saw to the September 19 final crushing of what was left of Oshiohmole politically.

Another thing that came out copiously from the Edo election is the diminution of humans who attempted to play god. Tinubu’s provocative video proclaiming himself leader of democrats in Nigeria and therefore defining who is a democrat or not had an effective backlash on the September 19 poll.

Tinubu who in that video arrogated to himself the “democracy-in-Chief” has since realized that ‘Edo no bi Lagos’ Moreover this is a Tinubu who has an outstanding issue having not cleared the claim that he romanced with the Abacha juntas and only became an activist when they refused to recruit him. This aspect of him he would want totally deleted from the records and minds of Nigerians.

 But that notwithstanding even if he is allowed to be what he said he is, what role did Buhari whom he facilitated and worshipped play in the democratic struggle? Ditto, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, his preferred candidate for Edo who was nowhere near the field during the activist struggle? That shoddy video clearly underscored the desperation of the Jagaban to acquire more empires and the outcome should send some loud messages to him.

Three major things emerged from Edo election to show how bad it can be if you fail to take a critical evaluation of issues before acting. Pastor Ize-Iyamu has no business going close to Oshiohmole let alone being his flag bearer after he had done such ruthless destruction of his person four years earlier. Oshoihmole himself after all his outbursts positively for Obaseki and negatively against Ize-Iyamu should have avoided the disastrous road he followed. Only desperation more than anything else would make Tinubu after hearing all Oshiohmole vomited earlier about Ize-Iyamu some of which were verifiable facts still went ahead to identify with him to the level of being a flagbearer of his party. The trio could have been more circumspect if they were concerned about character in their politics.

Any analysis on Edo election certainly cannot be completed without bringing in the overwhelming impact of the international community. The release of visa ban announced on the eve of the election by the United States, USA, and the United Kingdom, UK, for election fraudsters in Bayelsa and Kogi states last November and the threat to do same on Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections helped greatly in curtailing the activities of the political desperadoes.

Most of these election fraudsters especially the sponsors have these two countries as their second home especially for their health. They are not ready to sacrifice it for anybody’s election.

Governor Obaseki has many people to be grateful to in this struggle that he emerged victor even as an underdog at inception, but far more his indebtedness should go to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, whose umbrella platform was very much handy and accommodating. All other efforts in the struggle would have been inconsequential if this platform was not provided. The party was in a good stead electorally already being well grounded with two out of three senators.

There are other critical fallouts from the Edo election that cannot be easily overlooked. What happened in Edo last Saturday means that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the watch of Prof Mahmood Yakubu is capable of conducting free, fair and credible elections after all. It also shows that security agencies DSS, Police and the military can really operate within their constitutional confined responsibilities.
Perhaps above all, Edo poll means that President Buhari is after all not averse to democratic demands of transparent election. It also means that after plunging our democracy into the bins in the last five years, President Buhari appears charged to redeem his image and pick his pieces preparatory for a New Democratic image as a converted democrat which he professes.

But all these accolades can only endure if the Edo electoral goodies are extended to the people of Ondo state on October 10, 2020 as they elect their Governor for the next four years. This is the Edo message.

God bless Nigeria.

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