…Idahagbon, Osagie differ
By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta and Alemma-Ozioruwa Aliu (Benin City)
GOVERNOR Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, for sure, knows how to ruffle feathers and he struck devastatingly, last week, when he stated that he learned to combat political godfathers from his former governor of the state, his erstwhile boss and political mentor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, currently the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC.
He delivered the missile through his clever deputy, Philip Shaibu, when he played host to the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on the Edo Assembly crisis, headed by Hon Abdulrazak Namdas, when the probe panel visited the state.
Noting that Oshiomhole started the skirmish against Edo godfathers in 2006, he said he would also imitate the legacy of fighting godfathers as it favoured the people of the state because the money that used to go the godfathers now go to the people.
“What we have here is somebody trying to use the House to control the executive. We feel that we have fought godfather. Oshiomhole led us to a strong fight to rescue the state from the hands of godfathers in 2006.
“We have joined the crusade Oshiomhole started in 2007. We will not go back on the crusade because it is helping Edo people. We can now galvanize the people because they can see roads, they can see schools and infrastructure. This is because the money that used to go the godfathers now goes to the people.
“Oshiomhole has taught us to follow the path of the people. He told us to do the needful and make sure we fight the godfathers and take the money back to the people. That is what he taught us and we will not depart from it,” Shaibu said on behalf of the governor.
He alleged that the crisis rocking the state House of Assembly was the brain work of somebody who wanted to use the lawmakers to control Obaseki.
Gov validates declaration
If anybody thought Shaibu gaffed, the person is wrong, as the governor confirmed few days after at a public rally in Benin City, that his deputy spoke his mind, describing as Abuja politicians those who dared them over Edo Assembly.
Those, who know the battles Oshiomhole fought in the state before he became governor and when he was governor, would easily agree with Obaseki that he learnt the tricks, as he said, from Oshiomhole.
However, the poser is granted that Oshiomhole is now a political godfather in the context Obaseki postulated, should he, under normal circumstances, fight his “godfather” or political benefactor?
Idahagbon, Osagie differ
Ex-Commissioner for Justice/Attorney General of the state, Hon Henry Idahagbon, and former Member of the House of Representatives, Hon Sam Osagie, both co-conveners of Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, vehemently disagree with Governor Obaseki.
Idahagbon fumed: “Oshiomhole taught him good governance, holistic management of men and materials. He did not teach him treachery and ingratitude. He is a bad student or graduate of the Oshiomhole School of politics. Oshiomhole is an apostle of development. He built first- class infrastructure in Edo state unlike the poor and shoddy jobs being done today.”
On his part, Hon Osagie retorted, “What the governor is doing today is not what Oshiomhole taught him. First, he was the Chairman, Economic Team for eight years under the administration of Oshiomhole. He was part of the Benin Water Storm Project, the Five-star Benin Central Hospital project. However, today, he has abandoned the N30billion water storm project and flood is coming back to Benin City again.”
“He refused to open the Central Hospital built and equipped by Oshiomhole three years after until recently. Oshiomhole brought unity in APC, carried people along and defeated the PDP in every election. But Obaseki brought disunity to APC, and lost his ward, local government area and senatorial district in the last elections. That was not what Oshiomhole taught him. Oshiomhole is a winner and never a loser.
“Oshiomhole fought PDP godfathers for eight years and that was how it became possible for him to install Obaseki as governor. Nevertheless, today, Obaseki has resurrected the godfathers by now dining and winning with Chief Igbinedion, Chief Ikimi and other PDP leaders, whom Oshiomhole fought to make him governor.
Oshiomhole honoured all his promises to party leaders, he never betrayed them, but all the leaders that worked for Obaseki he betrayed all of them after they helped him into power. This is why you see people fighting for their rights today.
“Oshiomhole is a kind-hearted man, he easily forgives people but Obaseki does not forgive. As we speak, the former deputy governor of the state, Pius Odubu is yet to receive his entitlement. Obaseki decided to seize it just because the man ran against him in the APC governorship primaries in 2016. Oshiomhole pleaded with him to pay, he refused. This can never be what Oshiomhole taught him.
“So that his comment is clear mischief and he is just making a mockery of the whole thing,” Osagie added.
Idahosa backs Obaseki
A chieftain of APC and former Political Adviser to Oshiomhole during his tenure as governor of the state, Hon Charles Idahosa, aka Charlie Tempo, told Saturday Vanguard, “Obaseki is a creation of Oshiomhole, he only called some of us to help realize his mission of making him governor. So if Obaseki says he is exhibiting what Oshiomhole taught him…like let the people lead, no to god fatherism…, then he is right.”
Hon Idahosa faulted the arguments of Idahagbon and Osagie that Obaseki was ungrateful to Oshiomhole, saying it was Oshiomhole that was, indeed, unappreciative of the role Obaseki played in making him (Oshiomhole) governor.
He fired: “Oseni Elama was the man that facilitated Adams Oshiomhole’s meeting with Godwin Obaseki before he (Oshiomhole) became Governor of Edo State.”
“After that meeting, Oshiomhole had no money on him, but Obaseki brought in people to launch the seed money which amounted to billions of naira which Oshiomhole used to run his governorship campaign.
“Chief Lucky Igbinedion and his father, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion alongside Osagie Ize-Iyamu also moved in with new set of people to raise money to assist Oshiomhole’s campaign.
“He won the election, but today, you cannot point to anyone who Oshiomhole shows gratitude to.
“Oshiomhole who does not understand the blueprint of governance pleaded with Obaseki to become chairman of his Economic Team, which he accepted and worked with him for eight years without pay,” he said
He urged the APC National Chairman to allow Governor Obaseki concentrate on developing the state, as Edo people would resist any attempt to deny Obaseki the APC 2020 governorship ticket
“Oshiomhole should please leave the governor alone to run the state to the best of his ability because nobody interfered with his own administration when he was governor of the state.
“We do not know why Oshiomhole has insisted on producing the Speaker for the State House of Assembly. During his tenure, nobody made the choice for him,” Idahosa hollered.
He maintained that Oshiomhole in one of his public statements, confirmed that God used Obaseki to make him governor of the state and wondered why people have very short memory.
In a video cut off made available to Saturday Vanguard, Oshiomhole spoke of how Obaseki at a time called him to run for governor of the state. His words: “I went through my phone and I called Godwin and he asked me, are you ready now, I said yes. He said I should not go to PDP because PDP will not accept people like me. Now, a man who called you and said we are doing well in Lagos because each of us can part with N10 million without asking for conditions.”
“We are not going to ask you for contracts, just go and help us rebuild our state, help us to rescue our people because we cannot move in from Lagos, I do not think that we need any other evidence about his passion, his love and commitment,” he said.
Oshiomhole thanked Obaseki for his friendship, support and passion for the state and prayed God to help him achieve his dreams for the state.
Other groups weigh in
On Thursday, various groups, including civil society groups, non-governmental organizations market women, artisans and several others, which protested in Benin City after the House of Representatives ordered issuance of a fresh letter of proclamation for “proper” inauguration of the House of Assembly, took sides in the matter.
One of the leaders of the rally, Olu Martins said the issues were in court “so everybody should stay and play to the rule of the game because we believe in rule of law. We have banished godfather from Edo State more than eight years ago, we cannot allow it come back now. Comrade Oshiomhole (Adams) spent eight years, Obaseki must spend his eight years, and we will not allow anybody to stop him.”
Edo State APC youth leader, Valentine Asuen, said, “APC youths in Edo State are with you (Obaseki) because you have a sincere and legitimate mission. So remain focused and don’t be distracted knowing that the sky is not your limit but your starting point”.
Another leader of the protesters, Roy Orhibabho, said, “It is four over four, no way for godfather because just the same way donkey meat have become a thing of the past in Edo State, so will they also become a thing of the past.”
Convener of the Joint Action for the Advancement of Democracy, JAADE, Edo state and President, Benin National Congress, BNC, Ayanmekhue Edokpolo, however, flayed Obaseki, condemning the controversial inauguration of the House of Assembly as major fallout of crisis, saying they executed it in a cult- like manner.
“This is clearly a case of conjuring minority rule in an Assembly that is organically positioned as the melting pot of democratic ethos, and the indefatigable symbol of democracy all over the world.
“We believe that Edo is a congregate of some of the most enlightened Nigerians and thus view the motor park- styled inauguration of the Assembly as a generational disgrace that some nine members in a show of unnecessary bravado outplayed their colleagues in an unholy hour to install minority rule in the Assembly.
“This in our view is most uncivilized, barbaric, and a threat to democracy and peace. This is happening at a time when Nigerians are in a sober reflection of the watershed of June 12, 1993 elections, when some nationalists shed their blood to regain democracy from military rule,” he stated.
“As a way forward, the group called for a proper inauguration of the House. We demand immediate and unconditional restoration to the ideal democratic order, where a proper inauguration for the 24 members-elect will be done freely and fairly,” he said.