“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” –Groucho Marx
This appears to be another prolonged season of tragic-political comedy, so to say. To be sure, politics of 2019 is effectively over, but some dramatis personae are still involved in a seemingly innocuous drama. Aisha Buhari saga on one hand and Oshiomhole/Obaseki face-off on the other hand. Both are as entertaining as they are startling. But while the Aisha comedy has been temporarily laid to rest, the rift between the National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, and his estranged political ally, Governor Godwin Obaseki, promises to be a prolonged war, as the duo are back again in the trenches, raising fresh concerns over security situation in Edo State.
The looming apprehension followed the recent attack on Oshiomhole’s residence in Okorotun area of GRA, Benin City, by some suspected thugs. The incident has expectedly set teeth on edge. While the Chief Press Secretary to Oshiomhole, Simon Ebegbulem, in a swift reaction, accused Governor Obaseki of sponsoring the attack as part of his desperation to get a second term, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, dismissed the claim as unfounded. The state Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, also debunked the claim, saying the incident did not occur in the area where Oshiomhole lives. The answer to the riddle is in the wind.
Intriguingly, the renewed hostility is coming barely some weeks after a troubleshooting was purportedly initiated to end the lingering power tussle, which stalled the inauguration of the state assembly. In what appeared to be a new beginning of a cordial relationship, the two state actors publicly denied existence of any rift, blaming third party for the simmering crisis of confidence.
But in a twist of event, Oshiomhole accused the governor of being jealous of his popularity and consequently making efforts to coerce him into giving details of his movement in the state. A statement by Ebegbulem reads: “Right from Oshiomhole’s days in the labour movement, he has always been on the side of the people, and, therefore, cannot abandon that to please a governor who believes he has monopoly of knowledge. Talking about security, it is actually the governor who is making every effort to plunge the state into crisis and bloodshed. The last Saturday’s siege at the residence of the national chairman by his thugs was a good example.
“Before that incident, state government-sponsored thugs have been harassing and intimidating APC members across the 18 LGAs because the APC leaders refused to adopt his second term aspiration. People are being sacked in their jobs everyday in the state.
“We are even more scared now that the governor is making every effort to coerce the national chairman into giving him details of his movement in Edo State.”
Governor Obaseki, in a quick rebuttal, counter-accused his godfather of escalating security situation in the state, saying: “Oshiomhole has intention of escalating security situation in Edo State as he has said in the past that he was going to make the state ungovernable. When he wants to come to the state, he does not inform the governor, the police or the DSS, but thugs. As a former governor, he ought to be informing the governor and security agencies each time he is coming into the state.”
Exact reason for the renewed hostility is still a matter of conjecture, but it may not be unconnected to the politics of second term. Among other contenders, Oshiomhole had single-handedly anointed Obaseki as his successor and literally put everything to the success of his election as governor.
To whom much is given, they say, much is expected. However, the APC National Chairman appears to be getting far less than what he had bargained for and so he is nursing a giant-sized grudge against his anointed political son for all the disappointments. Part of these is the alleged sack of the only Commissioner conceded to him, as well as abandonment of some projects started by his last administration.
Oshiomhole could not hide emotion in a recent interview on Channels Television. He said: “We have no argument over money or appointments. In the meeting we held with four governors, including Governor Bagudu, I asked the governor, how many commissioners I nominated into his cabinet. He agreed that I only nominated one person out of more than 20 commissioners. After that first meeting, the governor decided to remove that one commissioner along with seven others. But that is not my business. The governor can never tell you that I have interfered in his choice of projects and so on. The only thing I feel a bit worried about is that some of the projects we started together have been abandoned. There is no way to solve disagreements without talking to the aggrieved parties.”
This basically is the battle line. And now is the time to take his pound of flesh. But if actually Obaseki has learnt the art of politicking and how to disarm the so-called political godfather in the way they did to the late Tony Anenih, then Oshiomhole might be in for a big fight he could hardly win. What goes around comes around. Since the woeful defeat of Mr ‘Fix it’ and the emergence of Oshiomhole on the Edo political landscape, the battle cry has remained: ‘Never again would there be a godfather.’ Obaseki was part of the crusade and he could not be so docile as not to know how to bring his mastery of the power game to play at this crucial time. This is even more so now that the embattled National Chairman is facing threat of removal from aggrieved APC Governors’ Forum.
Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole’s political experience dates back to1975, when he became a trade unionist and eventual emergence as the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Early in the administration of the former president, he negotiated a 25 per cent wage increase for public sector workers.
In April 2007, Oshiomhole ran for governorship of Edo State on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was declared the winner on March 20, 2008, following the nullification of the election of Oserheimen Osunbor by the Appeal Court in Benin City. In 2012, he was elected to a second term and ended the tenure on November 12, 2016. On June 23, 2018, Oshiomhole emerged as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Today, it is not only raining in his backyard, it is also pouring.