Obaseki And His Endorsement Game

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In recent times, the embattled governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, seems
to realise that he needs a second term to continue as governor of Edo
State. For a governor as powerful as Godwin Obaseki, a governor that can
unilaterally orchestrate the suspension of the National Chairman of the APC
and, therefore, remove him from office, his second term qualification does
not need approval. He has clearly stated that he is most qualified for a
second term. Governor Godwin Obaseki has addressed a press conference where
he affirmed his qualification. Maybe on a second thought or by advice, he
considered it ceremonial to tell members of his party that he is contesting
for a merited second term and desire their compelling patronage since he is
eminently qualified for their endorsement. In that meeting, the
all-powerful governor made it clear to those who attended that it is
conventional for him to have endorsement for a second term ticket without
primaries within the party. He referred to the second term of Adams
Oshiomhole to justify his assertion.

For a governor who is as powerful as Obaseki, his endorsement was given.
This is irrespective of the objection raised by some members of the party
who attended the session.

The issue, however, is: what options did the people who were gathered have
against a governor who is obviously the most ruthless tsar of the fourth
republic? A governor who has the capacity to suspend the National Chairman
of his party without recourse to the NEC of the party is definitely bigger
than the party. Prevalent in the news of late is the capacity of the
governor to subdue any voice of dissent being in control of an army of
thugs who get paid for odd jobs in the Edo State political space. In the
expression of his might, he has been able to compromise the credibility of
the police in the perception of the public. A governor who can use thugs to
stop a member of the House of Representative from opening his constituency
office which is a constitutional responsibility is better obeyed. Godwin
Obaseki definitely possesses the credentials to earn a second term as
governor of Edo State, having submerged the NEC of the party in his
heroism.

The only thing that could have hindered Obaseki’s second term is the
question of performance. While majority of the people perceive him as the
worst governor the state has ever had, he has a number of awards from
various global institutions for his overwhelming performance as governor of
Edo State. With a visit to Edo State, one wonders the performance index by
which Obaseki earns these awards.

Without being pedestal, a major issue with Obaseki is the quarrel he has
with Adams Oshiomhole, whose godfather disposition as defined by him, must
be resisted and crushed. Without being drawn into the justification for the
battle, it must be said that the governor has invested more time in
fighting Adams Oshiomhole than he has to fully indulge in creative response
to the developmental needs of Edo State. He has diverted reasonable sum of
the state’s lean purse to be applied for anti Oshiomhole mobilisation
including a proposed demonstration at Abuja. The demonstration, it is said,
will cost about N200m.

It is clear that Edo State benefitted from infrastructural development with
Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State. Today, Governor Obaseki has
shown incapacity to manage the facilities bequeathed to him or improve on
them. The roads in Benin City have not had any qualitative improvement
beyond what Adams Oshiomhole achieved. The Benin Storm Water project has
been virtually abandoned. The roads constructed by Adams are being
gradually submerged by erosion. The Gelegele seaport project has been
reduced to the level of rhetoric. The state of electric power supply in Edo
State is perhaps the worst in the entire country. The schools are run
without the appropriate students-teachers ratio. The school buildings that
were upgraded by Adams Oshiomhole are witnessing deterioration. The debt
profile of the state is at its highest due to the additional loans
collected by Godwin Obaseki in the last three years.

As we speak, Edo State has the highest level of external debt ($276 million
as at December 2018) second only to Lagos state and highest among all the
South-South states, yet we cannot juxtapose this against real dividends on
ground. This is with the fact that as at the inauguration of his
government, the external debt of the state stood at $168 million. The
domestic debts burden has increased from about N45billion pre-inauguration
to N84 billion as at June, 2019.

Sadly, Afriinvest, a company where Godwin Obaseki has substantial interest,
is responsible for syndicating the loans being acquired from the World Bank
and other agencies. Even if the relationship between Obaseki and Afriinvest
is remote, the question is who collects the commissions on these loans? It
is reported that Afriinvest collected about N600 million Naira for
syndicating the loan for the Benin Storm Water Project. Being a company
which had Godwin Obaseki as its major player before this time, much is left
to be desired in terms of conflict of interest among others.

The recent revelation or scandal that a commissioner of Godwin Obaseki’s
cabinet is being detained in Italy for undisclosed crimes, rubbishes
Obaseki’s self-celebration on propriety and his accusations against
Oshiomhole becomes absurd. There is something definitely wrong with Obaseki
and his assertions. There is something also wrong with his methods of
engagement. Obaseki justifies his unconstitutional approach to the
induction of the Edo State House of Assembly on the assertion that Adams
wants to impeach him. He inducted the Edo State House of Assembly with nine
members. Four of those nine informed the public that they were deceived
into the induction ceremony which held at about 10:00pm. The puzzle in the
whole House of Assembly saga is how Adams was going to impeach him when the
House of Assembly was yet to be constituted. His accusation in this regards
collapses as he obviously acted on preconception. Obaseki is clearly a
master of subterfuge.

Also, Obaseki argues that Adams Oshiomhole tried to act the godfather by
advising that he should accommodate the welfare of party loyalists. It is
not unexpected that Obaseki could not see reasons for Adams advice. He only
moved into a party that was already built. Therefore, he does not know that
in every social system, sacrifices are made to retain loyalty and
compensate commitment. Obaseki is definitely a stranger in the All Peoples
Congress of Edo State. He could not have understood what Adams was saying.
The depth of his limitations is expressive in his classification of Adams’
advice as playing the godfather role. Let it be known that Adams built the
APC in Edo State in collaboration with Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu among
others. He emerged as the National Chairman of the party. Therefore Adams
could not have been spared the complaint of the founding members of the
party when they felt alienated by the governor. In that regards, Adams
advising the governor is in the line of duty and moral responsibility. That
the governor saw it otherwise reflects the parochialism that underpins the
compass of the governor’s perception.

The reality is that Obaseki has not been able to tell Nigerians that Adams
asked him for any personal financial gratification. All these encapsulate
the absurdity of Obaseki’s vituperations against Adams Oshiomhole. It is
unfortunate that Obaseki has chosen the path of brazen profligacy in his
undertaking to undo the man that made him. It is being reported in the
press that he is funding the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the National
Chairman of the APC. In that enterprise, he is alleged to be mobilising
governors and party leaders at the National level to ensure the removal of
Oshiomhole. When his efforts at the National level had failed, he reverted
to the ward. As at today, His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki has in
his own view successfully removed Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman
of the APC. He does not see the absurdity of that proclamation.

The implication of this narrative is that Godwin Obaseki has successfully
usurped the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as
the leader of the party at the National level. It bemuses me why the
governor would forget that if he is the head of the party at the state
level as he claims, the president of the country is the head of the party
at the National level. Therefore, for Obaseki to have claimed that he has
suspended the national chairman of the party is akin to assuming the role
that only the president can perform. I wonder if this level of chicanery by
Obaseki is far from treason. It is, perhaps, the desperation of a man whose
only thread of survival is perfidy.

Obaseki, by his action, is indicting the President for acknowledging and
relating with Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the party. By the new
standards of engagement set by Obaseki, the President could be said to be
guilty of anti party activities. Obaseki has moved from his malignant
assault on the psyche of the people of Edo State to insulting the esteem
and offices of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The truth is that Godwin Obaseki has taken the position of Governor of Edo
State as a magna carta for unconstitutional indulgences. In this
opprobrium, he is uninterested in how history will report him. Obaseki
ought to know that the major plank of governance is delivery on the
developmental needs of the people. He ought to know that this requires
putting all hand on deck. He ought to be guided by the higher wisdom of
exploiting the genius of his predecessor who is held high in governance
delivery by the people of Edo state. But he chooses to fight all who could
help him achieve the optimum. His solid social media performance is in
contrast with reality as the people of Edo State have nothing to point to.

Taking the report sheet of Obaseki in perspective, Obaseki have not escaped
the limiting definition of development programmes as captured and traded by
the Benton Wood institutions. Obaseki is not academic enough to understand
that concrete development is defined in human resources development. He is
unable to understand that the only solution to poverty eradication is full
employment. He is unable to understand the concept of development within
the context of the Group Mind matrix. He sloganeers without any ideological
definition.

When the larger population of a social system are unable to access
education because they cannot pay fees, when Obaseki is unable to fund the
schools opened by the past governments, when he abandoned the State
University, Ambrose Alli University to a self-funded development policy,
one wonders whether Obaseki understands what should be classified as
development programmes. Development is anchored on human resources and its
underpinning capacity. This requires broadening access to education for the
citizenry by opening more schools that must be necessarily qualitative. It
is about ensuring that economic incapacity does not hinder access to
education for the citizenry. It is about an enabling environment for
economic activity for all. In all these, access to healthcare is critical
among other factors which deliver psychological balance to the citizenry.

Having commercialised the Specialist hospital built by Adams Oshiomhole, he
has deprived the poor in Edo State of a health facility that was built from
their taxes. To have built 150 roads covering 200 kilometres indicates road
length of 1.3 kilometres each. Clearly, these lengths of roads are not
related to concrete development in Edo State. When the governor’s
achievement on roads infrastructure does not benefit the supply chain of
the industrial and agricultural delivery of the state, its developmental
implication becomes peripheral. The truth is that Obaseki has not been able
to construct any major road in Edo State after almost four years of
governance. His achievements are street roads that are at best in the
purview of local government council delivery.

It will help Obaseki to refrain from subterfuge and appreciate that Nigeria
has reasonably improved on the percentage of the population that are
educated. Therefore, the old game of deceiving the people has been
reasonably curtailed. His indulgence in the intimidation of the citizenry
through thuggery will not deliver votes for him in the coming election. If
he has suspended or removed the National Chairman who the party has not
removed, it is clear that governor Obaseki either has his own APC that the
members of the present APC do not know about or he has the intention of
destroying the APC in Edo State and moving to another party. In all,
Obaseki’s peregrination and his chosen path is self destructive and hold no
hope of success. Sadly, it seems he is a man that cannot be advised.

Mike Igaga Jr, 9A Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

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