On November 12, 2020, Godwin Obaseki would have spent four years as Governor of Edo state. By the special grace of God, that will be the terminal date of his exit from the power rostrum of Edo state. Of course, he has jumped ship to seek re-election in the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), but from all available statistics on ground, it is a project that is dead on arrival.
And too many things are happening in quick succession that exposes the level of desperation of a Governor that has turned Edo political turf to another Iraq, where gun-shots have become familiar sounds to the ears of the people. If only Godwin Obaseki was godly enough to strategically apply the doctrines of collective bargaining and constructive engagement, he would have been enjoying a peaceful sleep at every nightfall. When this needless political squabbles was gathering dust and well-intentioned people tried to mediate, Godwin Obaseki was showing the gusto of a macho, ready to wrestle everybody aground. With money and power, common sense does not visit you easily. Those who are profitting from him would rather wish the fight continues, since that is a guarantee for their continued exploitation.
They add pep to the drumbeats of sustained combat, remind him that he is the Governor who controls the oscillation of the political pendulum. They danced ostentatiously, with whimsical strokes, to suit the percussive sounds of the drummers. They hailed and wailed, with salutary catch phrases that would swell the sensibilities of the initiate. He was the new sheriff in town, that must be dreaded; else, he visits his anger on anyone. To make an easy sail, he told his hangers-on that he was fighting godfathers and succeeded in almost blackmailing his benefactors; those who cooked and pounded the yam, garnished with special culinary to create an aroma that suits the addictive properties of power. When a godson fights a godfather, the godson becomes the godfather. That exactly is the rubrics of power game.
You cannot be in politics without godfathers. I haven’t seen one of such political setting where godfatherism is not an item on the menu. It isn’t a Nigerian word. It all depends on how power is appropriated to serve the common good. As we speak, Godwin Obaseki has become the PDP’s godfather-in-Chief, while Phillip Shuaibu, has become deputy godfather-in-Chief. They both control the power apparatchik of the PDP presently.
Typical of any political power formation, especially in third world countries where those who wield power are almost like demi-gods, when the holder is seeing his exit door nearby, his cognitive, affective and psychomotive skills create a psychological unease, such that causes him restlessness. He suspects everyone around him, because he wouldn’t know what information has gone out there to his political foes through supposedly trusted aides. In the case of Godwin Obaseki, it is becoming obvious that he is not enjoying the best of psychological collection that would make him stand above the menacing force of unreason to take the best of decisions.
I can see him ageing fast, with grey hair spots on his guber crown. His looks are conveying the symptoms of boredom, as he paces up and down, to find the appropriate response to the legion of “troubles” rearing their heads everyday. At the dawn of everyday, it is one resignation too many, and the thought that more may come in the days and weeks ahead, also carries its own tempestuous burden. Who to truly trust becomes a riddle woven into several possibilities and permutations.
I am still wondering if this was the same Godwin Obaseki that we both sat next to each other in almost four years of being part of Edo State Executive Council. I served four years and he served eight years. I am also wondering if this is the same Godwin Obaseki that signed the dotted lines as witness to love; when Oshiomhole took his adorable wife on 15th May, 2015. As much as I tried to unravel the puzzle that has remained unsolved till date, the more I see the complexities in human physiology.
But those who apply the inelegant traits in human relations as a desirable outcome, are often those who brook no nonsense when dealing with situations. The realities of financial proclivity that would be unravelled by the time Obaseki exited would further justify the reason for this desperation. From the alleged sales of Edo state shares in BUA Cement, Okpella, to the unwholesome dealings of Ossiomo Independent Power Plant, from the failed Gelegele Port project where millions have allegedly been drained, to the Industrial Park that has been overtaken by weeds, Edo people would be served a hollywood exposé of monumental corruption and malfeasance like never before. From monies that were taken under dubious headings to prosecute the removal of Oshiomhole, to the sales of Edo state shares in Azura Power Plant, from illicit transactions in the Ogbe stadium project and how monies released were allegedly frittered away by relatives of principal officers of government in the name of consultancy, Edo people would watch the archetypal documentation of a ninth day wonder. It is all these that are bothering Godwin Obaseki, not Ize-Iyamu or Oshiomhole.
Edo state has been abandoned like one uninhabited village square littered with refuse and garbage as though there is no leadership in place. Benin City is presently a dumpsite, no thanks to the many refuses that have overtaken major streets in the City. Too much politics and no governance. When the clouds are gathering, preparing for rains of blessings, the people lament because of flooding and erosion that would immediately make life difficult for them. Drains are blocked. Flooding and erosion projects have been suspended, while the people agonise over safety of lives and properties.
Refuse dumps everywhere also create its own health hazard in a state that has only two surgeons, where new Doctors have not been recruited in four years, where nurses have not been recruited and the only nursing school also closed down. The Tayo Akpata University of Education, Ekiadolor, that should be producing teachers to service our Primary and Secondary schools, have been shut down for three years with 11 months salaries being owed. The state Colleges of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi and Agenebode have been closed for three years, yet, the government talks about its agricultural policy as second to none. The primary healthcare project has been a snail run, while the roads infrastructure have amounted to mere window dressing. When a Governor realises that people would know the rotten underbelly of his government, he would deploy the worst form of anger to drive his campaign. That has been the Obaseki style.
The latest lethargic content of a drowning government yielded itself so easily on Saturday, July 25th, when Governor Obaseki accompanied his guests to see the revered Oba of Benin. Like a man destined for his last days, he forgot tradition befitting of a Royal Visit. He reportedly forgot to carry the colanut that would have been used to pass royal blessing to him. The visit ended up as a celebration of Nyesom Wike, who accorded the great Oba of Benin, a befitting reception when the latter visited him in Port Harcourt. The highly respected Oba of Benin, a consummate diplomat, who created a niche for himself when he represented Nigeria in different countries as our ambassador with a touch of royalty, laced with uncommon panache, understood the gaps so well. When a child knows how to wash his hands well and clean, he will dine with Kings and Royals. Aside from the condemnable booing of his PDP guests and chieftains, the whole atmosphere outside the Palace Ground was that of rejection. Who knows whether the ancestors were angry with Godwin Obaseki that day? The repriesal attacks were undesirable in every material particular. That is what you get when your days are numbered in the corridor of power.
The quarelsomeness, combativeness, showmanship, and arrogance of power within Obaseki’s fold has created a bifocal image between promise and actual performance. It has now become a matter of whether to save Obaseki or to save the state.
Abdulazeez Bouteflika of Algeria faced similar scenario when the morning of his grip on power came slowing down to evening, before nightfall. The Algerian Army had a choice between saving the aged Bouteflika and his inner circle of family members and friends or saving the entire Algerian nation from implosion as a result of waning influence. Every day that an appointee resigns from Obaseki’s government, it sends a message of rejection. Every time appointment letters are torn in broad day light, it conveys an impression about the waning grip of Obaseki on the levers of power. Once mutual suspicion becomes the undercurrent theme, trust is broken, and everyone is seen as a foe. But because power has its own allure, its inducement, and therapeutic properties, it is often difficult for reason to prevail in the minds of those who want to sustain power at all cost. When their political urchins come with their praise singing, invoking incantations of praise on nothingness, they swell the head of their benefactor. When defeat comes staring them in the face, their eye balls get sunken, the drumbeats become hollow, noises are not heard and wailings, like winsome coquette, are silenced in the sacks of failure.
That seems the only route for Obaseki as his days in power, in an era of volumptuous security votes, are surely numbered on the pages of electoral votes.