Nigeria’s political landscape was dotted with some memorable developments last week.
First, was the return of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to power in Edo State. In knocking out Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All progressives Congress (APC) in the governorship poll, Governor Godwin Obaseki confirmed himself the new kid on the block.
Another major development was Europe’s reminder to Buhari that he was presiding over senseless killings in Nigeria.
These were among the stories that made our pick for review of major political events last week. The import of these stories can’t be missed.
1. Rise and rise of Obaseki
On Sunday, September 20, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Governor Godwin Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the governorship election in Edo State.
Obaseki defeated his major rival in the election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, with over 84,000. The outcome of the election has been described as a knockout punch, not only to Ize-Iyamu but also to Obaseki’s former godfather and predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole.
Why it matters
Obaseki’s victory signals a paradigm shift that may shape future elections. Among others, it serves as an indicator of the fragile hold of the ruling party to the national power equation.
And, while the seeming defeat of godfatherism in Edo may set the tone for other ‘revolutions’ across different political divides, Obaseki’s rise attests to people power and the rejection of ‘foreign’ influence.
The Edo outcomes may alter the political permutations ahead of 2023 general elections. Given the clandestine or tacit support Obaseki received from some APC stalwarts to clip the wings of former National Chairman of the party, it is safe to speculate that APC may be going into the 2023 general elections more divided than ever.
With Oshiomole thoroughly checkmated, and a new party structure emerging, the rumoured 2023 presidential dreams of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu may yet turn a mirage.
Perhaps, a quick move would be to make peace with known adversaries of Oshiomole who believe the former party chair had been Tinubu’s right hand man. These include the likes of Rotimi Amaechi, Nasir el-Rufai and Rochas Okorocha.
2. Buhari’s albatross
The Nigerian Presidency on Thursday, September 24, called on the British Parliamentary Members (PMs) to work with President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in addressing rampant killings in Nigeria and not to fall for propaganda supposedly churned out by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and others.
The statement released by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, was in response to a petition the British lawmakers wrote to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland and dated September 14, asking the Commonwealth to conduct an impartial probe into the killings in Nigeria and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Why it matters
The Commonwealth’s reminder to the Buhari presidency is a clear indication that the world is appalled at the continued senseless killings in the country.
Nigeria’s tepid defence would certainly not cause a withdrawal of the petition. Rather, the development should trigger a concern that there could be a hardening of positions that might lead to mild or major sanctions against the nation.
Pretending that all is well is playing the ostrich. The issue of avoidable killings in Nigeria is an undeniable fact, and the Buhari presidency is just as guilty of the propaganda it has levied against groups calling for justice and end to oppression.
3. Political brawl in Ekiti
On Thursday, September 24 and Friday 25, the crisis rocking the Ekiti All Progressives Congress (APC) got to a head with suspension and counter suspension of members from the leadership of the different factions of the party in the state.
First, it was the suspension of Babafemi Ojudu, an aide to President Buhari and 10 other APC members, who were suspended on Thursday by the Paul Omotosho-led faction and said to be loyal to the state Governor Kayode Fayemi, for allegedly “contravening” the party’s directive.
In its retaliation, a faction loyal to Ojudu on Friday, suspended Governor Fayemi and Omotosho-led State Executives Council (SEC) from the APC over alleged anti-party activities.
Why it matters
Internal squabbles are a common feature of political parties and reflects the contestation for power. The pushing and shoving now evident in Ekiti is a jostle for who controls the power structure and puts itself in a pole position to ration access to political offices.
More importantly, however, is the very strong perception that the war this time is a direct face off between the Tinubu and Fayemi blocs. The insinuations are not helped by the fact that incumbent Governor Fayemi is seen as not favourably disposed to operating under the shadows of Tinubu.
With Ojudu, a known Tinubu’s loyalist, and his group accusing Governor Fayemi of supporting Obaseki, who Tinubu was fiercely against, it is a no brainer what seems to be playing out in Ekiti State.
Though there has been an intervention by the national leadership, there is no denying the bad blood that has been bred. It is only natural to anticipate another political brawl ahead of 2023. What we have at the moment is a peace of the grave yard!
4. Buhari’s respect for Nigeria
On Friday, September 25, President Buhari said that he would want Nigerians to appreciate his respect for them and that he remained bound by the oath he took to protect them.
Buhari, speaking when Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State led his deputy, Philip Shuaibu and other party supporters to the State House on a thank-you-visit said, “I want Nigerians to appreciate that I respect them as Nigerians and that I am bound by the oath I have taken, that their security is in the hands of God and in the hands of the government, which I am leading.”
Why it matters
President Buhari earns no special accolades for restating the obvious. He was voted into power by Nigerians and he owes them maximum respect.
The full measure of his commitment to the country cannot be truly assessed by an off-season election but through an undiluted pursuit of the rule of law and respect for the constitution of Nigeria.
The Ondo gubernatorial election presents yet another litmus test, and Nigerians eagerly await to see how Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other agencies of government support the enthronement of a free, fair and credible poll.
5. NLC’s shadow boxing
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Friday, September 25, insisted on its proposed nationwide protest/strike against the recent hike in fuel price and electricity tariff.
Fixed to commence from Monday, September 28, the strike action comes despite a ruling by Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court, Abuja, which restrained the labour unions from embarking on the strike as scheduled.
Why it matter
It is well within the rights of workers to agitate and demand the best possible conditions of living for their members.
The backlash trailing the hike in petrol and electricity tariff might have been averted if the government had consulted widely before the twin gifts it handed to Nigerians between September 1 and 2.
Beyond the concerns over recent hike in the price of fuel and electricity, one major issue playing out is the fact that citizens do not trust the leadership well enough to implement reforms transparently, sincerely and with accountability.
That said, given NLC’s recent hobnobbing with government, many are convinced that the threats by the workers’ union amount to shadow boxing, and that nothing earthshaking will come off it.
Have a great week ahead as QuickRead makes a return next week Sunday.
By Ebere Ndukwu…
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