Correspondent, MYKE UZENDU analyses the alleged resurgence of godfatherism in the Edo state political battles and asks if Governor Godwin Obaseki can actually kill the syndrome in the state
Political godfatherism in the country is not new. During the twilight of democracy, the retired generals constituted themselves as political godfathers and no one ascended any position without their blessing.
Their associates and those with heavy financial war chest also transformed into godfathers in states where the generals were too busy to pay attention. They sponsored elections and in return, a large chunk of state resources were set out to satisfy their gluttonous appetite.
In 1999, Late Chief Tony Anenih was the sheriff in Edo politics, called the shots and allocated political positions. It is believed that he enthroned Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the Edo state governor but the latter in a popular campaign to end political godfatherism in the state, sent Anenih to an untimely political sheol.
The recent political trajectory in Edo has resonated the need to take a deeper look at the philosophies of political parties, the absolutism to power managers and a review of the entire gamut of election process.
The irreconcilable battle between Governor Obaseki and his immediate boss, Adams Oshiomhole, after eight uninterrupted years of political hobnobbing is a clear indication that political ideologies, politicians and political parties merely sermonize with the peoples destiny and invent all forms of brigandage to consummate political divorce.
Just four years ago, Oshiomhole had presented Godwin Obaseki as the person behind his numerous achievements. It may not be wrong to conclude that Oshiomhole literally forced his erstwhile Chairman on Economy and Strategy on the Edo electorate.
Although Nigerians are yet to be served the full details of the love now gone soar between the duo, Obaseki disclosed that his ordeal may not be far from his inability to satisfy the insatiable appetite of king makers.
He said, “I get a beat confused in the APC that at some point, I was being accused of not sharing the money.
“When we were campaigning against PDP, we said that the problem there was that they were sharing the money”.
There are numerous huddles that Obaseki must dismantle as he embarks on the ‘suicide’ mission. The greatest is to ensure that Oshiomhole is forced into political oblivion, ‘a condition sine-qua-non’ for the actualization of his re-election project.
Oshiomhole from day one as Chief Executive of the APC, did not hide his intention to become a ‘demi god’ in national politics, in the likes of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His political autocracy manifested in some unpopular decisions that truncated his party’s future in Zamfara, Rivers, Adamawa, Bauchi, Sokoto, Benue and most recently Bayelsa states.
Political pundits are in agreement that any party that will win the Edo election must have a ‘suma cum laude’ in political strategy. The election will be shaped by tricky and intricate nuances, punctuated by some unpredictable manoeuvrings which will create an uncertain voter decision that can only be countered by a master strategist with the ability to woo voters to break the divide.
Obaseki, seems to realizes the enormity of the task. When he picked up his membership card at the PDP state secretariat on Friday, he told his supporters that his will provide the needed leadership that will lead PDP back to the Dennis Osadebey Street government house.
“I want to assure all of you that I am prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory and I am prepared to provide leadership that will not only put PDP in office in Edo State but as the ruling party in Edo State.
“We will make sure that the level of progress, the level of hope and the level of participation in the political system by our party is unrivalled in this country.
“I am committing to you that I will not only lead this party to victory in Edo State, but we will now make sure that this party establishes an example of how states will be run in Africa”.
Another task before Obaseki is to reach out to other governorship aspirants and ensure that his entrance does not trigger fresh crises in the party.
Already, three governorship aspirants namely Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Engr. Gideon Ikhine and Kenneth Imasuagbon have gone through the rigours of procurement of nomination forms and screening. The governor must strategically navigate his way among the PDP power blocks in the state; take concrete steps to reassure them that their interest will be protected to enable him have a seamless sail during the primary.
But Imasuagbon believes that PDP will be heading for a crash if they hand over the governorship flag to Obaseki. Imasuagbon who lost at the APC primary to Obaseki in 2016 and also defected from the APC less than a year ago, expressed his opposition to the entry of Obaseki.
He said, “It (Obaseki’s government) is a failed administration because he has not delivered on his promises. He promised 200,000 jobs but he has not been able to deliver them. Schools and hospitals are dilapidated.
“There are security concerns everywhere. The roads are still bad and some members of the House of Assembly have not been inaugurated”.
When asked if he will step down for Obaseki, he responded, “The contemplation of me stepping down is preposterous.
“Even in the dream, I can’t have such a thought. Nobody should reach out to me. That is of no value to me”.
However in his reaction that his voyage may trigger fresh crises in PDP Obaseki said, “I am not a dividing candidate. I am speaking with all the aspirants. My hope and purpose for the PDP is to have a united and very strong party.
“Party primary should not be divisive because we as a party are focused on the same objective and because we are separate individuals, our approaches may be different. So party primary in my view should not be acrimonious and destructive”.
There are other groups in the party pushing that the governor must not retain Hon. Philip Shuaibu as his running mate even if he is to fly the party’s flag.
Althogh Obaseki is no longer in the APC, he claims to be enjoying the support of APC governors and that of all Nigerians. The Progressives Governors Forum also in a statement condemned the decision that forced Obaseki out of the party.
The quest to end godfatherism got a boost recently from the traditional stool, when Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, in a statement said that “godfatherism” and “consensus candidate” must be eradicated from the politics of the state.
The statement reads, “The Omo N’Oba strongly advises that in order to eschew recurrent socio political conflict that seems to constantly ravish the state, making Edo people a laughing stock to the rest of the country in how politicians manage the affairs of Edo people, our Edo political actors must eradicate the twin evil political vices of godfatherism and consensus candidate.
“These two practices seem antithetical to the very fundamental basis of democracy. In other words this business of coercing aspirants to step down for another candidate for whatsoever reason is undemocratic. It will not augur well for the development of democratic process in Nigeria.”
As the Edo state governorship election slated for the September19 draws closer, the victory of Godwin Obaseki will either consolidate or mark the end of ‘godfatherism’ in Edo state politics which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole presently represents.