By Gideon Obhakhan
Major signs of distress, defeat and desperation are beginning to manifest in recent actions taken by the incumbent governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki. The actions have exposed the innermost feelings of a man desperate to return for a second tenure as governor – thanks to Edo People’s Movement, EPM, that has succeeded, through series of engagements, to push Obaseki to a point that he could no longer hide the venom in him. The man we now know is a man desperate to install himself as a second term governor against all odds. He wants to be his own man by any means, and he has the support of some over-the-counter advisers currently hovering around him for some bounty harvest from the avoidable APC crisis in Edo State.
Obaseki’s quest for second term may be within his rights as a citizen of Nigeria, but this has become a very tall order considering his massive rejection by the leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo. EPM, a pressure group within the APC, has repeatedly stressed the need to strengthen the party in order to return it to its winning ways, as well as shop for a credible replacement for Obaseki, who obviously will not be able to win elections in 2020 considering his poor performance in the last general elections in Edo. In the last National Assembly and presidential elections, Obaseki lost his ward, local government, senatorial district and state to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Also, with the level of abandonment of the people that helped him to power in 2016, there is justifiable apprehension that APC will lose Edo to the major opposition party if Obaseki is chosen as its flagbearer in the 2020 governorship election.
The desperation manifesting in the recent actions taken by Obaseki and his close allies, suggests a sudden realisation of the difficult task of getting a second term ticket in a free and fair electioneering process. He has therefore decided to change his tactic from that of the usual easy-going technocrat, to the Obaseki who doesn’t mind if the Constitution is turned on its head in his quest to crush any element of opposition. Over the last couple of months, several desperate moves by Obaseki and his team have left many asking questions as regards what happened to the rule of law and respect for the Constitution of Nigeria. He started by sending what has now become known as a kangaroo proclamation letter to the clerk of the Edo State House of Assembly and ended up inaugurating nine of the twenty-four members-elect by 9:30pm on the 17th of June 2019. This action which clearly negates the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, has been condemned from various quarters including the National Working Committee of the APC and the National Assembly. The governor has, however, remained adamant and has refused to do the right thing four months after the illegal inauguration.
Having apparently succeeded in running an illegal House for four months, Obaseki appears to have shifted focus to indiscriminate suspension of local government council chairmen who are allegedly not committed to the actualization of his second term ambition. As at last count, four out of the eighteen local council chairmen have been suspended with rumours of some more penciled down for same treatment in the coming days. For those who have not been suspended, strict instructions have been given to them to ensure that members of EPM are not allowed to organize meetings within their respective local government areas. Threats of suspension have been issued to the chairmen who cannot prevent EPM members from holding meetings within their local governments. This again is a direct attack on the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees freedom of association for all citizens.
A recent communique released after a meeting of Edo State Executive Committee of the APC confirmed Obaseki’s desperation as he has apparently co-opted the State Executive Committee to do his bidding.
The most recent action that shows the desperation of a man who is losing the battle, was the attack by hoodlums on the Benin-City residence of the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. This uncivilized action has been condemned by many including the National Publicity Secretary of the APC. If these illegalities are allowed to fester, Edo may degenerate into a completely lawless state. This is therefore an urgent call to all relevant authorities to call the governor to order and admonish him to do the right thing now. The consequences of today’s inaction may be too grave to handle tomorrow. A stitch in time saves nine.