‘Maintain that motivation to go from A to B and to keep your focus on that target without any weakening. That is called tenacity; stamina in your motivation.” –Arsene Wenger
The victor’s song is still resonating loudly from the tent of Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki for the obvious reasons.
Obaseki, an investment banker, is probably the happiest of all men at the moment, after coasting home to sweet victory in the September 19, Edo State governorship contest.
The Edo helms man, against all odds, took his closest challenger, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All progressives Congress (APC) to the cleaners at the just concluded election, with 307,955 votes representing 57.3 per cent of the total votes cast as against Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes or 41.6 per cent.
By that feat, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned Obaseki as duly re-elected. So, in the next four years, he will continue at Dennis Osadebey, Edo’s seat of power, as governor.
Looking back, Obaseki and his fans have cause to rejoice, after the frenzy and intrigues that trailed his recent political odyssey.
In the days and months leading to his reelection, his estranged godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had mounted a very stiff opposition against him. Oshiomhole wanted him out; he vowed a rough patch and did so, thus setting the stage for both of them to be entangled in a protracted squabble some others were cut in. Their fight many believe, borders on Oshiomhole’s bid to control Obaseki and his government. Followers of the feud conclude that Oshiomhole who years ago, prided himself as having killed godfatherism in Edo State was resurrecting the monster by intending to plant himself in the commanding heights of Edo political space. Obaseki and others like him could not take it. So, gradually, anger began to boil over; in no time, skirmishes erupted.
To have his way, Oshiomhole then the national chairman of the APC, allegedly vowed that Obaseki, would not return for a second term as governor. The die was cast.
Oshiomhole then followed through his vow. At the June 12, 2020 governorship primary of the APC, he allegedly instigated Obaseki’s disqualification to contest as a sitting governor by the party’s screening committee. The party leadership easily found an alibi. Obaseki’s academic certificate(s) were questionable. The party was determined to push the issue to a scandalous height. In the end, it handed the Edo State APC gubernatorial ticket to Pastor Ize-Iyamu on a platter.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu had contested the state governorship in 2016 on the platform of the PDP and lost. For him, a glimmer of hope had appeared. He was given the standard bearer’s nod following his defection from the PDP.
But Obaseki was not deterred by the bloody nose he received from his erstwhile godfather and party. He long saw the gathering cloud in the Midwest. He believed the act was all premeditated, scripted and awaiting to be choreographed. And when the time came, the scheme was acted out. The move was intended to crush Obaseki and land him in limbo. But instead,he chose to land soft. He refused to give up hope. Priming up himself, he rallied for an alternative platform to actualise his ambition, perhaps driven by a certain sense of entitlement. Then in no time, he found a willing spring board in the PDP. And on June 19, 2020, he made his first move at joining the party and was gladly welcomed with his teeming supporters. His arrival was a massive revival of great proportion for PDP whose fortunes were clearly floundering. That was how Obaseki gave the PDP the lifeline and the right ounce of energy it needed to go into the electoral challenge with victory in sight.
But even with the PDP bigwigs all around him, the APC and its might and myth presented him a tall mountain to climb. Then entered the Oshiomhole factor – and the Dr Abdulahi Ganduje, the governor of Kano State who was the arrow head of the APC campaign in Edo State. Then entered the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the strong man of Lagos politics. Tinubu had in a last ditch effort to spur Ize-Iyamu, to victory, put out a passionate plea to the Edo community to reject Obaseki at the poll.
In a sponsored video broadcast on TVC station, Tinubu said: “I want to appeal to you to reject Godwin Obaseki in this coming election. I have suffered with many others to bring about this democratic regime that today we are enjoying in the country.
“Then, Godwin Obaseki didn’t participate in any aspect of the struggle to enshrine democracy in the country. Therefore, he could not understand the value and the pains associated with this democratic struggle.
“He does not deserve any democratic ballot paper. Don’t vote for him, I appeal to all of you.”
Not relenting, Obaseki retaliated, hauling back brick backs at Tinubu in full measure. He said: “Our attention has been drawn to a television broadcast in which a former Lagos State governor and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his quest to extend his political dominance and empire to Edo State, decided to take over the role of Edo people to choose through the ballot who to govern them for the next four years.
“It has become obvious that the spirited fight which Edo people have put up against godfatherism has sent tremors beyond the shores of Edo to the likes of Tinubu, who has for years sustained a stranglehold on Lagos and other states in South western Nigeria, hence this desperate, last ditch effort to rescue the unproductive political instrument, now popularly referred to as godfatherism, with which he has feathered his nest and built his political empire at the expense of the people.”
With this salvo, many believe Obaseki delivered a clincher.
Next was the Oshiomhole factor. The ex-Edo governor had thrown his hat wholly too deep into the ring, leaving pundits pondering over what he actually wanted after eight years on the saddle as governor. Many of the electorate could not take it.
Then came the D-day. The electorate spoke loudly, gifting Obaseki victory in 13 out 18 of Edo local councils.
Now, by the outcome of the September 19, election, Obaseki has another four-year term in the kitty unless perhaps the untoward happens. Indeed, his tenacity paid off. And the people’s will prevailed.
Obaseki was born in Ogbelaka Quarters, in Benin City, Edo State in 1957. He attended St. Matthew’s Primary School, and later Eghosa Grammar School, both in Benin City. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics at University of Ibadan. He also attended Columbia University and Pace University both in USA where he obtained an MBA in Finance and International Business.
Obaseki’s career started as a stockbroker in 1983 with Capital Trust Brokers Limited, and later International Merchant Bank. He worked with AVC Funds Limited, Lagos, in 1988 and handled other responsible portfolios in various organisations in Nigeria and overseas before founding Afrinvest West Africa Limited (formerly Securities Transactions & Trust Company Limited (SecTrust) in 1995.
Obaseki stood down as chairman of the Board of Directors of the organisation in September 2016, to become governor of Edo State.