By Emmanuel Aziken
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s knack for talking on issues that do not directly concern him such as he did on the election of a new leadership of the National Assembly is well known. So is his eagerness in sometimes positioning himself in places where he is not needed as when he lined up with service chiefs during the May 29, inauguration parade.
It was in that light that the silence of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC on the raging crisis in the state chapter of the party in Edo State up till Thursday was intriguing.
Comrade has also not been conspicuously spotted in Edo State as he was on June 11 at the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.
It is not as if the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly is a storm in a teacup that does not demand the attention of one of Nigeria’s most successful political actors. No, to the contrary, comrade is faced with unarguably the most lethal challenge to his political ascendancy. And that coming from the one man he broke the bank to position!
When the midnight inauguration of nine of 24 members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly occurred last Monday many were particularly peeved over what was described as the desperation of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
One notable commentator in the state on Tuesday confided in your correspondent that the development had reduced Obaseki’s little chance of a second term to nothingness.
The developments in the Edo State House of Assembly as almost everyone now knows are centred on a supremacy battle between Governor Obaseki and his immediate predecessor, Oshiomhole.
So given the high stakes involved, the fact that comrade has adopted tact and concealment to respond to Obaseki’s ‘betrayal’ is understandable.
But is it too late?
When last Tuesday, Mr. Charles Idahosa who served as Oshiomhole’s political adviser as governor addressed a press conference asking Oshiomhole to resign it was particularly revealing of the difficult straits facing Oshiomhole.
Using words which only a few had been bold to voice, Idahosa accused Oshiomhole of failing as national chairman through the net loss of five states in the recent general election.
Idahosa became the latest among the growing number of political enforcers in Edo State to dump Oshiomhole in favour of Obaseki.
Two of the former governor’s major enforcers, the deputy governor, Philip Shuaibu and the Secretary to State Government Osarodion Ogie have long firmly dipped their feet in Obaseki’s camp. Rumour in Benin has it that the pair who almost move together were walked out of a birthday bash for Mrs. Iara Oshiomhole recently.
The chairman of the state chapter of the party, Anslem Ojezua has also come out strongly in support of the governor going the length of mocking that Oshiomhole was in the know of the script by the 16 members-elect.
However, does the fact that Obaseki is gaining more supporters at the expense of Oshiomhole make the governor’s actions in the House of Assembly legitimate? Certainly no.
As the chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Dan Orbih stated, what is happening in the Edo State chapter of the APC is what happens when thieves come to share their loot.
Orbih had observed that the House of Assembly election was stolen by the APC.
Despite having all 24 seats in the House of Assembly, Obaseki had demurred issuing the notice of proclamation, because 19 of the 24 members-elect were inclined towards Mr. Victor Edoror as Speaker. The governor could only count on five members-elect including Frank Okiye, his choice of Speaker.
The governor’s dithering procrastination to issue the proclamation for the inauguration of the assembly caused the PDP to fume last Monday that the governor had turned into a dictator without the legislature.
In a second communique the same Monday, the PDP threatened to seek an order of mandamus to compel Governor Obaseki to carry out what the party said was his constitutional duty.
Some in the PDP allege that it was that threat that forced the governor to issue the proclamation for the inauguration on Monday night, albeit with only his favourites including the shorts-wearing honourable member.
One of the governor’s bitterest critics and former rival for the APC governorship ticket in 2016, Dr. Pedro Obaseki has also rallied towards the governor who ironically is his cousin.
It is not as if Oshiomhole’s support has evaporated. The state secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah, Francis Inegbheneki and a host of other political actors are still with him.
However, indications are that enthusiasm is waning. Last Wednesday, one of the governor’s critics shied away from describing the inauguration of the nine as illegal.
It is, of course, a pain for Oshiomhole seeing the darts from the men that not too long ago, deferred to him as leader. That is the pain of a leader. It is the kind of pain that one man called Tony Anenih suffered for most of the time that Oshiomhole was governor when he regularly regaled how he crushed the godfathers in Edo. These days that mouth has been unusually quiet!