In law we are told you are not under obligation to speak save you so will. This is to ensure nobody stampedes you into needless speech. The assumption is that all that you say may be used in evidence against you.
It may thus be safe to assume that when lawyers speak they are seized of this provision of statutes. And when the lawyer in issue is a former Attorney-General, one can say his words are intended for use in judgment for or against him or those he speaks for.
And it so happened that Mr. Henry Idahagbon, who served as Attorney-General during the Governor Adams Oshiomhole regime, spoke. We shall quote in some detail.
“I had the privilege of being one of the first politicians Oshiomhole confided in. At about 1.00am … he asked me to analyse all those interested in the gubernatorial election. We reviewed the pros and cons of all of them and at the end we agreed that the best person among the lot to succeed him was Godwin Obaseki. This was at about 2.30am and after that I sought the permission of Oshiomhole to call Obaseki, which he granted.
“I called him, he was already asleep, but he eventually picked my call … I told him I just had a meeting with the Comrade Governor and he told me that he would be the next governor of the state.” https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/06/edo-has-neither-house-of-assembly-nor-speaker-idahagbon-ex-attorney-general/
And we quote again in emphasis, “He/Oshiomhole told me that he/Obaseki would be the next governor of the state.
Thus spoke Oshiomhole, the Lord of Edo politics, and it came exactly so to pass. What this implies is as follows. That the power to make [and possibly unmake] a governor in a [Edo] state was netted into the hands of one man, the said Oshiomhole.
The point is that there are no such Oshiomhole-style mis/governance in any democracy in the world. The closest could be that of Japan. But it is actually not. In Japan, factional party barons gather in conclaves and jostle among themselves whom to put forward. And the several factional choices are pitted against one another till a final choice is made. Japan is a de facto one-party state.
But in Edo State, as recounted by the former Attorney-General, what happened was that two conspiratorial power players went into elopement. And for a necessary threesome, they invited Obaseki.
One unstated point is that there is only one man at work and play. The details are these. First, Obaseki was just a lucky bride thrown into an arranged political marriage. For the Attorney-General, despite his high office, he is really a drone. In political terms, only the governor exists. This is a design fault of the Constitution. More on it later.
That is to say, despite his high-sounding office, an Attorney-General is not hired to think. His services are on hire to help affirm that the governor’s myriad moves are legal, even if unethical or roguish. In other words, Idahagbon is a mere factotum. He is hired as an echo chamber rather than as a counterpoint. The act of Obaseki becoming a governor is essentially the sole scheme of Oshiomhole.
Those are the conclusions one can take from the facts as canvassed by Idahagbon in the open.
That is, according to the Attorney-General, his master appropriated or hijacked more powers than a democracy will allow. In other words, Oshiomhole ran Edo as a dictator while wearing the mascaras of a democrat.
Now, it is not clear to what extent Obaseki was a part of the conspiracy that foisted him on Edo people. Whatever the situation, his part in it is the small stuff. The larger point is not to worry about the parties in the mix. The larger point is to see them as mere representative quantities. The bigger worry should be on why and how these things are possible at all.
Thus what is gone rogue is not really Oshiomhole. In fact, Oshiomhole is a victim, perhaps a self-chosen victim. The rot is in our constitution. It is the Nigerian Constitution as is, that gives, or better, that choreographs the governors into turning rogue, into being monsters.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has characterised this rot perhaps without suspecting. He says:
“President Buhari-led government is driving Nigeria towards ‘disaster and instability.’ I think there is a presumption in our constitution that our system will bring out competent leaders devoid of extremism, religious or tribal bigotry – leaders who understand what it takes to hold the country together and put it in high gear for development, unity and an inclusive and shared society.
“These are assumptions. And if these assumptions come true, what is meant to be achieved in our country will be achieved. But the kind of situation you have now cannot allow those assumptions to become reality. So, the prescription that our constitution makes of the kind of leadership that should emerge, we have failed to achieve that with the present leadership we have in place. The constitution expects the executive to care for the welfare and security of every Nigerian. But, in the present situation, they don’t seem to care.” https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/06/12/obasanjo-condemns-imbalance-in-nigerias-governance-structure/
Yes, Obasanjo was speaking of the sectionalism of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, but he admits to a decisive error of Nigerian constitutionalism. And it is meet to record that Obasanjo was a key player in the authorship or forgery of the [basis] constitution.
Anyway, the fact as Obasanjo presents it is true. We have written a constitution in which we presume that leaders are saints or, if they were rogue, would be masonically transfigured on being elected. Contrast Obasanjo’s style Nigerian constitution with the American variety.
“The [American] Constitution, then, reflects the reality of human nature…” Continuing, the Colliers write, “It takes for granted that people in government will frequently put their own interests above those of the people they are governing. The American constitution is made to work not only when good people are in power but also when it is in the hands of fools, knaves and ignoramuses, as it often has been.” (Decision in Philadelphia)
This contrast explains why America works and Nigeria is shit. The American organising principle is human. The Nigerian counterpart, a product of collective and fantastical ignorance, is thus unworkable.
If the Nigerian President is awarded fantastical power, the governors have it doubled for them. At the level of the state, the governors are able to pocket or cage the legislature and insist on total control of all revenue sources. Governorship in Nigeria is a constitutional dictatorship far worse than that of being the President.
It is at this point that we must visit Oshiomhole with pity. No doubt, Oshiomhole is guilty, but not as charged. Oshiomhole is guilty as a member of a class not as a person. The point is that, immediately you are recruited into being a governor by votes or by coup, you are afflicted, you are infested, with a roguish gene.
At that point, you have three options: you either go rogue or iberiberic. Or in the worst case scenario, as happened in Owerri, you combine the two and become an iberiberic political rogue.
The reverse side of this is that Obaseki is not immune to going as rogue as the rest of the governors. No doubt, he is a good guy. He has done great things. He is the founder of one of the smartest high-street financial boutiques, Afrinvest. Despite all this, it is expected he will go aberrant as the others. And it is not a fault of his. To understand this, it perhaps will serve well if we paraphrased Nietzsche, a German thinker.
Going aberrant and rogue is rare in individuals, in an Obaseki, an Oshiomole, etc., but that is the rule in being made a governor or President in Nigeria.
So what is to be done? There is only one way out. It is to first save Nigeria. If Nigeria is saved, then Edo State will ride in the redemption. And the fastest way to save Nigeria is to rewrite the Nigerian constitution. And that must be in such a manner that the Nigerian President is made just as powerful as his American counterpart, or perhaps even less. And, certainly, the little tyrants at the various states will have their powers cut to size. A governor should never be given the leverage to do virtually as he wants on the ignorant pretext that it is only dictatorship that develops nations. Anyway, the Nigerian example is proof the thesis is a silly lie.
So the saving grace is not just in re-federating as six geopolitical zones, it is more in de-centering the powers at the various state and federal centres. In other words, make our governors and Presidents less and less of monsters. If we fail to so do, then the collapse of Nigeria as a state is nearer yesterday than tomorrow. Ahiazuwa.