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EDO 2020: Oshiomhole’s last battle

The Edo State upcoming gubernatorial poll on the 19th of September this year promises to be a political duel between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the (ruling?) opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). APC was the ruling party in the state until Governor Godwin Obaseki was unceremoniously disqualified from participating in the APC primaries last month. Following this disqualification on the ground of academic certificate ‘discrepancies’ the incumbent Governor, desperate for a second term in office, decamped from the hitherto ruling party to the opposition party.

The political prostitution in Nigeria is legendary. In the last guber poll in Edo state that produced Obaseki as Governor (succeeding Oshiomhole) Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu contested under the banner of the PDP. And now he is flying the flag of the APC! Then under the umbrella and now with a broom the Pastor is favoured by both Oshiomhole and the apparatchiks of the APC in Abuja and elsewhere. Governor Obaseki was a ‘broom-man’ when he was propelled to the government house in Benin four years ago by his estranged godfather and now he had run to the umbrella having been rattled by the APC disqualification blues.

Cross-carpetting in politics Nigeriana has demonstrated time and time again that our politicians are only good at seeking their personal interests rather than pursuing any political ideology or the greater good of the people. When Governor Obaseki was thrown out of the erstwhile ruling party he was running helter-skelter seeking help and solution to his re-election bid. He went to friends and ‘foes’ of yesterday.

His political naivety came to the fore when he ran to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for assistance. That was about the height of political miscalculation on his part. Going to the notorious Bourdillon in Lagos for help? The same Tinubu who is a master in godfatherism? And the same man that propelled Oshiomhole to the APC Chairmanship? Comrade Oshiomhole remains a good student of Asiwaju politics and he wanted to replicate the Jagaban dominion in Edo State but he met his match in Obaseki.

Oshiomhole cannot command the followership and strategic brinksmanship associated with the Lagos-based godfather. Tinubu is a political master-strategist who knows how best to hire and fire Governors in Lagos. Akinwumi Ambode was the latest victim of his Machiavellian politics. Today the former Governor of Lagos state is living reportedly in ‘exile’ in neighbouring Ghana as a fugitive!

Any wonder then that the same Tinubu had asked Oshiomhole to relocate to Benin city to lead the campaign for the victory of the APC now that ‘Oshio-baba’ has fallen from the APC national chairmanship position.

Edo 2020 represents Comrade Oshiomhole’s last political battle in Edo state. If the APC wins then he could wave a bragging right celebrating the vanquishing of an irritant. But in the event of the PDP triumph through Obaseki then he may consider going back to Iyamho, his ancestral homeland, for his retirement in state and national politics.

In the Edo guber poll the power of incumbency holds little or no significance nor constitutes a serious factor towards the outome of the election. It was taken out of equation with the dumping of the APC for the PDP by the incumbent Governor. Of course he was pushed to the wall! And what he did was not an aberration in our body polity.

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Now Abuja would want to use the federal might to secure victory for the APC. And the PDP would count on the state resources and institutions controlled by Obaseki to try to capture power. Rigging machineries would likely be deployed by both parties to outwit one another in the rigging game!

Comrade Oshiomhole and his gang, prior to their demystification, had sworn to deal with Obaseki and they dealt with him by using the so-called discrepancies in his academic record to shut him out of the race for the governorship. It is perhaps the first time an incumbent Governor would be decamping from the party that brought him to power and joining forces with the opposition to battle his former party in crisis at the national level.

Running to the ‘umbrella’ for cover as he could no longer handle the ‘broom’ with which he ‘swept’ his way to power in Benin city Obaseki played a familiar card which could either boomerang on him or become a source of real independence. Whatever happens he has fought as a man even though the overall interest of the Edo electorates did not feature prominently in the ‘war’ of attrition between him and the diminutive vindictive man that handed him power in the first place.

The Edo state governorship election would be very interesting because of certain factors at play. The Oshiomhole factor is one. The second is the Wike/Ganduje factors. And the third remains the manipulation and intimidation factor. The Comrade factors into the guber poll because of the political animus existing between him and the dour governor, a problem that has so far resisted interventions from many quarters inside and outside Edo state.

The Governors Ganduje and Wike factors come in because the Kano governor has fired the first shot. Having been appointed as the leader of the APC campaign ‘Gandollar’ boasted recently that they would be ‘isolating’ the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, (himself appointed the PDP campaign coordinator) until the election is won! Gov. Wike fired back that a man caught on video stuffing millions of Dollars in his ‘babanriga’ as a kickback should be the one to be isolated and not him!

The Rivers Governor remains a good choice given his nuisance value and garrulity. He is ‘blessed’ with the power of the jab and Ganduje should have known this before throwing the challenge his way. Indeed, as things stand today the campaign leading to the poll would be a tug of war and verbal arsenal would be released.

If Governor Obaseki succeeds in winning his way back to the Dennis Osadebay government house in Benin city Comrade Oshiomhole would be ‘killed’ politically in his home state. And his godfatherism claim (something that had metamorphosed into a sense of entitlement) would be bealt a fatal blow.

For all intents and purposes Comrade Oshiomhole does not have what it takes to play Asiwaju in Edo state politics. He does not have the funds and the mobilization influence. Besides, he has no area boys and girls on his payroll for whom the benefactor represents a god worth worshipping and killing for! Charisma, hubris or verbal diarrhea cannot do the ‘magic’.

When, four years ago, the then Governor Oshiomhole presented Obaseki to the Edo people, playing Anenih and demonizing Ize-Iyamu he is now eulogizing, as a capable successor were the certificates Obaseki presented then not the same ones he brought out this time? Why raising hell now over ‘discrepancies’ in the Governor’s CV as if no one screened him then or gave him the green light to fly the APC flag? Comrade Oshiomhole and co goofed on this one!

With the September guber poll looming dangerously the battle line has been drawn. Something must give! And someone must come to the conclusion, blissfully or bitterly, that another has prevailed. May the better candidate win without rigging or intimidation come September!

Author: SOC Okenwa…

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