By Benjamin Atu,
What’s happening in Edo State today was similar to what took place in the 2004 America Presidential election which as you will recall was a polarizing time in America. Everything was reduced to red and blue. John Kerry was the devil incarnate to Republicans, while George Bush was the devil incarnate to Democrats, and there was no room in the debate to consider each man on his own merits, nor each issue on its face. It was as if the fate of the World was hung in the balance just as the fate of Edo State is hung in the balance between two political gladiators today. Leaders of each party whipped Americans into such a hyperventilated frenzy that otherwise, intelligent Republicans started to believe that if John Kerry won the White House America would cease to exist, while Democrats felt sure that if George Bush retained the White House we were all doomed. So it is today in the eyes of the storm of this blind partisanship Etsako born analyst.
The fate of Edo’s is locked in this forthcoming experiment of influence called the election. The only thing expected of them is to pray, hope and wait for the outcome of the gladiator’s battle particularly with the COVID 19 pandemic not everyone can participate in the election be it direct or indirect system of primary for fear of being infected. Indeed, many are the challenges militating against the prosperity of Edo ahead of the coming election. All the aspirants in the forthcoming Edo Governorship primaries are greenhorns in the political arena. They have tasted power and so know what it is. The election will pit the incumbent Godwin Obaseki against a familiar foe that was on the trenches with him in the 2016 general election. This is not unexpected though but one thing that is certain is that whatever becomes of the Edo APC primary election, the incumbent Godwin Obaseki is sure to be in the race the platform will be obvious at that time but if the others didn’t arrive at a consensus then the tide is sure to favour the incumbent on the same platform of the APC. Despite the crowded aspirants jostling for the APC ticket, it will soon be clear how many will remain in the party by the time the party fenced out other aspirants after one candidate has emerged. The political ideology of a party ought to be a binding force that keeps politicians together in their chosen political party whether they lose out in an election or not. But because personal interest reign majesty over the political ideology that doesn’t even exist in our party system in Nigeria, it becomes difficult to control desperate aspirants after every failed election.
After four years of Obaseki’s reign with tough political battle, all of the previous aspirants and new entrants are back to the trenches. Have things changed? Would Obaseki second coming be embraced by all Edo people? Or will Ize-Iyamu who was the opposition candidate in the 2016 election be given a nod? A better question will be the issue of zoning. Former Governor Lucky Igbenedion from Edo South governed for eight years. Comrade Governor from Edo North governed eight years. The tenure of former Governor Osunbor from Edo Central was terminated by the Court ruling that brought in comrade Adams Oshiomhole from Edo North who completed a two-term of eight years. Incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki from South is almost completing his first four years. But the forces that brought him into the political scene seem to be against his return for a second term as the tradition had been. The implication is that the political calculation would be sustained only if Obaseki is allowed to return for a second tenure. However, a change of government will short change other zones in the existing zoning formula. This is because a new governor from Edo South will be political suicide to Edo Central and Edo North. Those Senatorial districts have to wait for another eight years before their zoning can return to them. Obviously, no new governor would do single term irrespective of the vows and covenant that he would sign before swearing-in. Once in power, the language is never the same. Will the new governor be willing to do only one term? Did you remember our incumbent president was supposed to do one term? Will Edo North and Edo Central be willing to supervise Edo South for a straight 12 years as governor of Edo State? These questions have their answers tucked in the womb of time.
The more worrying fact about Edo election will emerge after the primary election of both the APC and the PDP. Politics is not totally predictable because human behaviour is involved, there can be no direct cause and effect among the Political variables. One touching concerned to me about the events that would be happening after the Edo State Primary Elections would be the high level of double allegiance that will characterise the political scene. I am not a prophet, but a political scientist. The science of Politics will play out in Edo State, where it will become obvious that humans are not scientific materials that can be predicted to produces the same results consistently over time. There are no circumcised hands in politics. No sacred hands that can’t fail in political predictions because human is a changeable molecule, unlike scientific elements. Political reality has distinctive properties which make it unamendable to the forms of explanations used in natural science. Nothing is new about the conflict in politics in-fact; disagreement is the atmosphere that creates political phenomena. Politics itself is conflictual. That’s why politics does not necessarily aim at total elimination of conflicts. What I expected at this point of our politicking in Edo State, is for leaders to come together to define the limits of such conflicts and thereby create ways for mitigating it.
The people of Edo State should not be carried away by the ongoing Cloud-lessness political battle. They should not be allowed themselves to be manipulated to believe that 2020 Governorship election would be the most important election of their lifetime, which it would well have been, but we can be certain that when the 2024 election rolls around it will also be the most important election of our lifetime. The news flash is that even in the year 2028 governorship election in Edo, it will be the same story all over again. There is no middle ground in politics. Nobody is fighting for nothing. Political powers are never given but are taken through a crisis. Conflict is the breeding ground for the exchange of political powers. To expect to see an Edo that would have lesser conflict in the future is to wait forever. Can you remember the game that played out in Akwa- Ibom between Former Governor Akpabio and his own former Aide who is now the incumbent Governor? The deepening divide between our leaders is not purely for our interest. Because as a political science graduate and a Broadcaster am aware that the currency of politics is power and influence. How they get it is not as relevant as getting it. The masses are merely the guinea pig for these power hustlers, so it couldn’t have been for our collective good. Our founding fathers got it right, and within the framework of our democracy there is room for leadership and courage and vision and all those good things that make the old Bendel and Mid- Western region great and strong. We depend on leaders with course and vision to keep us headed down the right road, but from time to time there’s a vacuum. From time to time, we find ourselves in a state of such profound drift and I keep wondering whether we will ever see our way back to the way it was in the Bendel era because these days we are drifting sideways.
The Political pendulum swings back and front in the heartbeat of Nigeria. Currently, we are at the troubling end of its arc. I have spent all my adult life working with various level of politicians I can’t say have seen it all but I know when power is abused and when limits are exceeded. The Lucky Igbenedion and the PDP era veered Edo off a principled course of development, then Comrade Adams Oshiomhole surface as the Messiah to return the State back to the path of development as envisaged by the founding fathers but today we are forced to ask if the same Messiah is out to return the State back to the hands of those he had previously claimed it from. The Opposition is definitely praying for this moment to come for the APC for them to leverage upon. We must not forget that it was this same kind of crisis that remove PDP from power. We are yet to see a house that divides against himself that still remained the same. It is a question and not otherwise because how we’ve let things slip to where politics is no longer about doing good but about winning elections and destroying opponent is still tales. The stakes in our politics are always too high. It’s all the same. Even in the Edo State Senatorial and House of Assembly election, we threw caution to the wind in defending our stands. I was a victim of that war of words. The tensions we created particularly in the media was needless. Of course, Political intrigue and smear tactics are nothing new, but we must all remember that we are first brothers before we became opponent. Whether politics failed or succeed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Comrade Philip Shaibu are from Etsako. Politics will not change its history. If we are conscious about this fact then we would discover that we are not fighting an enemy but ourselves. I have always work with Politicians outside Edo State. My attraction to Edo my own state was the Unity and comradeship that existed between Adams Oshiomhole and Philip Shaibu as far back as 2007. Today, the two people that got me interested in our politics are on the trenches. I weep as I write this and I passionately plead for both of them to reconcile again. I mean true brotherliness reconciliation, am not talking of political reconciliation but as it was from the beginning. Because Edo State and Afemai land will not come to an end with the current administration.
We ought to find some way to inject competition into a tired, rickety system and see if that doesn’t help. This is because competition drives everything in our society. But the missing link is that we have turn competition into conflict. Conflict exists when two people wish to carry out an act that is mutually inconsistent. Conflict is good and not bad because politics in its true sense of it is conflictual by nature. Once there is the cause for intergroup relations, conflict becomes inevitable and peace must be given a chance. Peace must be given a chance because the struggle at its apex occurs in the form of war, crisis and violence which lead to aggressive behaviour and conflict escalation. Conflict escalation has to do with compounding already complex aggression.
Conflict is indeed not in the best interest of Anyone. Many things that Governor Obaseki did in his first year in office that the entire state commended for taking everything in their stride and worked like a charm with all Edo adoring his administration, my disappointment today, is that all of a sudden no one seems to see anything good about the same Obaseki anymore. We only see his weaknesses and not his capacity anymore. The quality that made him the most preferred aspirant in 2016, it is amazing to note that those same quality that made him the most qualified are no more seen in him. “How has the gold become dim? the bible once ask. Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? The Holy scripture also asks. But who will provide the answers to those souls touching questions? Because conflict is in favour of the strong and never the wise. But has the worst happened? Can we not still salvage this situation in Edo State? Is there no third party that can come to settle this crisis in Edo State? Have we run out of alternative options? Has Diplomacy failed? It is only when Diplomacy fails that war usually breakout. Diplomacy has not failed at this point because no one is patient to listen to the view of the other.
Indeed Edo State is anxiety and tension Soak. The State has a fragmented political class. All aspirants are busy dissipating their energy on Obaseki and rarely addressed issues. First, it was Obasek’s certificate, later it was his style of leadership, his neglect of party structures and many other issues reared their heads. The ongoing consultation by Politicians is more about abuse and war of words with hire media mercenaries to do a media hatchet job against both the incumbent Governor and his deputy. They have been malicious, relentlessly uncouth and deliriously loquacious stigmatizing the Deputy Governor of Edo State as a COVID 19 patient an allegation they later regretted by tendering an apology to the Radio and Tv station they raised alarmed about. What a primitive way of seeking relevance in a civilised society like ours? How does a pot confront his potter? Have we run out of human resources as we seem to have run out of ideas? Where else can a son who has been disowned by his parents who seeks to skin him lay his head? This was why Bob Nesta Marly said ‘’ You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time ” We can’t all have been wrong at the same time.” The truth is that it is the media handlers of these aspirants that have created unnecessary tension as if the State was on fire when there was no spark anywhere. Caution must start from the media handlers. We must not talk because others are talking. The sea of Edo political waters could appear to be calm but deep. This you won’t understand until you attempt to trouble the waters. The polity has been heated almost to a boiling point. It is as if some people are determined to waste the state away if they cannot have their way. So much hate and venom have been spewed in the mass media and social media, not by the aspirants themselves but by their hire mercenaries. We have witness governorship primaries in Edo State before, none has been divisive and hate-filled as this ongoing campaign. The aspirants themselves are not the problem but their media Aide who are seeking relevance and undue favour from their paymasters. Only a few went beyond decent and acceptable limits. In their struggle to undermine one another, real developmental issues that affect the people of our state were relegated while wars of words are given prominence. The polity will in the next few days be turbo-Charged.
Nigeria Politics has become a blood sport; it’s all about winning, and only little about governing. A good candidate is discouraged from even seeking office because they have not lived campaign perfect lives while weak candidates are propped up by party leaders as best and the brightest when in truth they might just be the least objectionable. This is true because, in 2007 and 2011 Primary elections, PDP rigged out incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena to give their ticket to candidates that they couldn’t stand up to defend publicly all in their bid to show and display influence. We need true and effective and inspiring leadership. For Edo to have a governor that can unite the state, we must all come together to resolve the ongoing differences before the primary election of the APC in June. This is because the State will be deeply divided should we continue in this manner to the general election. The issues are not unresolvable. The Governor of Edo State should as much as possible make the public move for reconciliation with his ex Boss. It is not an insult but statesmanship to steal the show. What is life without compromise? Every issue can be compromised I don’t believe that compromise is inevitable at this stage. We lose some and gain some. In politics, the rule is to draw your friends close and our enemies closer.
To compromise doesn’t mean to sell out. It doesn’t mean that you sacrifice your principles. It doesn’t mean that you bend to every special interest other than your constituents. It means listening to the opinion of others and respecting those opinions and recognizing the value in searching for solutions built on consensus and yet it is within this great divide that we find many of the root ills of our Political system. We’ re all driven by our own impulses, and there are as many different justifications to seeking office as there are candidates doing the seeking, i observe that majority of the people doing the seeking for a career in politics do so with reasons that are noble and admirable. Its what happened next that got me so concerned. The business of government should be a valued business just like any other. Politics is not winning. It’s doing. It’s doing the right thing. That to me is a success. If you get re-elected, that’s great and if you don’t get reelected you can move on. There are worse things in life than losing an election. Life goes on. It is hard for God not to work when useable vessels are available. Politicians have to ask themselves how they want to be remembered and to accept that they may likely be remembered at all. What do you want that snapshot to be? This is so because most politicians have their footprint washed away by the next wave of politicians.
The Following are the Patriotic Edo Aspirants eyeing Obaseki’s job. These men are ready to lay eggs for Edo to move forward.
ENGR. CHRIS OGIEMWOYI
He was a former Governorship aspirant with the incumbent Governor in the 2016 primary election. Though couldn’t secure the party’s ticket but remained in the party after the primary election. Ogiemwoyi is known for his integrity and moral uprightness. He’s mature and responsible to bear leadership burden based on his experience both in the oil industry and public service. He is not new in facing political pressure as a former minister of works. One thing going for him is his steadfastness. He is an ideal faithful party, Stewart. He dedicated himself to his party the APC despite other available options. He is indeed a mature politician. If politics is a game where faithfulness counts then Ogiemwoyi is the man to look out for.
- PIUS EGBERANMWEN ODUBU
A refined gentleman happily married. Immediate past Deputy Governor of Edo State. He is a man who exhibited complete loyalty to Adams Oshiomhole while in office. He was a former Governorship aspirant in the 2016 race with the incumbent while he was still the deputy to former Governor Oshiomhole. Pius Odubu is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court. He also has B. A in Political Science. A thoughtful politician is never envious of others and ready to suffer persecution than to compromise his beliefs. Though he had a tough running battle with his former Boss over his ambition but Pius Odubu was never found wanting. He is never a desperate Politician and self satisfactory. His ambition set him against his former boss but there was indeed no law that stops him from aspiring. A careful monitor of his utterances withing the period shows that Dr Pius Odubu was a thoroughly breed politician. He was never seen in the media exchanging words with his Boss despite the cold war that characterised the last part of their tenure. He displayed Statesmanship when he abandoned several personal and official responsibility to join the incumbent Governor in campaigning during the main election. In a clime where humility and Service have acknowledged no doubt, Pius Odubu would’ve been the man to beat.
GENERAL CHARLES EHIGIE AIRHIAVBERE (Rtd)
Former Army general with skill and uncommon appetite for knowledge and self-development. He spent a better part of his life to serving the nation despite multiple options. He is service prone and results-oriented. It’s a way of life for general Charles in displaying outstanding leadership quality inherent in him. These qualities granted him speed in his service where he grows to become Director of studies, Nigeria Army School of Finance and administration. Deputy Director Commander CFO among many others. General Charles is a member of Several prestigious Professional bodies like Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM) Institute of Certified Public Accountant of Nigeria (ICPN) etc. General Charles Airhiavbere (Rtd ) is an exposed and well-travelled international resource person who has delivered lectures at various conferences on National issues and security matters. It is painful we are living in a society where intellectuals are assumed not to have a campaign perfect life. If our society is concern about the future of this generation to whet the appetite of the Youth with creativity and education, then general Charles is the best hand among others to handle such a sacred task.
Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu is the most controversial Politician Edo State has ever produced. He is either quoted out of context or mention in every dispute. Any Political analysis since 1999 that didn’t carry the name Osagie Ize- Iyamu is yet a complete analysis. That’s the extent of his influence in Edo politics. Ize- Iyamu was former Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Edo State Government during the lucky Igbenedion era between 1999 and 2007 Under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) He was the Director-General of Oshiomhole 2nd term Campaign Organization and Coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan / Sambo Campaign Organization. A brief review of his profile shows a high level of inconsistency. He has deserved an award for decamping from one political party to the other. He was once a National Chairman South-South of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Defection is a major Characteristics of a core Nigeria Politician. Ize-Iyamu is definitely not a learner in politics. He is indeed one of the oldest and most consistent in Edo Political affairs. He has massive supporters and loyalist. He is tough but harmless. If the Political calculation is to handover the state to a core Politician that has taken politics as a career then Osagie Ize- Iyamu is the game master to consider.
Immediately after taking the oath of office, Governor Godwin Obaseki declared his intentions to hit the ground running in delivering on his campaign promise he made. I remembered he did promise to increase the revenue-based of the State. Reduced the State dependence of crude oil. He did promise to make the State an economic hub through an increase in the small and medium scale business, Agricultural activities as well as the technological environment for industry to thrive. This he said was possible through his police on ease of doing business. He did promise to expand the infrastructural based of the State to be able to carry skyscraper with a vow to build a robust human intellectual capacity. The creation of 200,000 employment and supporting the growth of over 20,000 micro small and medium enterprises with further creation of 50,000 associated jobs were prominent in his resolve among many others. How far was he able to achieve all the promises would play out in the forthcoming primary election. If the lives of the people have been impacted the people would speak in his favour. The Man Goodwin Obaseki is a descendant of the famously illustrious Obaseki families in Edo. He is well educated and attended school in New York where he obtained First degree and Masters. He has an impressive career spanning over 30 Years. He is a serious-minded technocrat and an economic Manager per excellent. He has been accused of not playing politics but no one has ever accused him of corruption or mismanagement of the State economy. That is a key factor that may work for the return of Governor Godwin Obaseki. Those were also the qualities that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole saw in him that made him prefer Obaseki above all the above aspirants in the 2016 election. But what has changed is left for the historian to dig out. But if Edo State is interested in a corrupt-free Governor who will not play politics with the public interest, then-Governor Godwin Obaseki is the best man for the job. Several qualities made him stand tall because I serve in his media team in 2016 but the much I know about him couldn’t be expressed for fear of biased.
There was a time in Nigeria when Nigerians actually enjoyed politics. The rules were clear. The players were matured men as Bisi would say, ‘who knew the worth of material wealth as against the value of humanity. They made their choices and each left their mark. These gentlemen have different kinds of a fellowship from whom they drew strength. But today, rather than aspirants drawing courage and strength from their supporters, their supporters are engaged unguided utterances. This was why former President Jonathan emphasis that his ambition or the ambition of any politician is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. The Nigerian Politicians do not demand blood, it is the Nigerian youth themselves that usually make their blood available for politicians in search of stomach infrastructure. Our youth must not forget that those, whom they are willing to die for; are not ready to die for themselves. And soon as they get into power, everything about them will change. Promises will change, acquaintance will change, the language will change and all the weaknesses they are seeing on the incumbent will suddenly become inherent in them. That’s why there is a series of falling out between close associates and friends as we have witnessed in Edo State and other parts of the country. If this is the trend, the Nigeria youth should bear in mind that they got no place in the scheme of things. The Edo people are familiar with all the aspirants in the state and they have enough information to consider in making their choices. They know those who are out for them and those who are coming to test their influence. For those who believe that money will determine the winner in the forthcoming Edo Primary election, remember that some of the money that was shared in the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in the last 2016 primary election, some of the dollars and naira did not fall on fertile ground. Some may have fallen on stones and thorns and did not bear any fruit or else Obaseki would not have won in 2016 if their money fell on the fertile soul; because those that were against Obaski in 2016 are more than those that are against him today. The game is just starting whether the four other aspirants will arrive at a consensus to battle the incumbent is still an unfolding game because the variable of Political Science is not as predictable as the natural sciences.
A Broadcaster and
Special Assistant on media to Edo North Senator. Senator Francis Alimikhena.