By Yinka Odumakin
IF the leadership of the APC cared about the image of their party or have sufficient reflective capacity, they should have delayed the disqualification of Mr. Godwin Obaseki to June 13.
My very good friend Azu Oshimili of Inspiration FM put a call to me on June 12 for a recorded interview. He is a jolly good fellow I have spoken with on radio for well over 15 years now and I respect his professionalism.
But he had a tough time this afternoon. He wanted me to admit that the recognition of June 12 as “Democracy Day” has brought closure to that epochal event. I told him that while no one takes away credit from this administration for recognising that day after 26 years, democracy is still a scarce commodity in Nigeria for one to admit that the form we pretend to be celebrating for one day is a permanent substance on the ground daily.
He asked the same question in different ways for about six times. But I gave reasons to buttress my position that we do not have more than partial closure with the holiday declared, the GCFR conferred on Abiola and a dilapidated stadium named after him.
I added that when one looks at the avalanche of Abacha men on our political scene today, it is clear many of them would be hissing that the day was being given any recognition.
It was not up to 10 minutes after I dropped the phone with Azu that the Politics Editor of a newspaper called me and said he wanted my comments on the decision of APC Screening Committee to disqualify Governor Godwin Obaseki and two others. I tried to laugh but could not as it occurred to me that some of those who offered support for the annulment in our days of struggle have staged another “June 12” on June 12 to ruin whatever political mileage the ruling party was going to corner for the day.
As party chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, received the report of his screening committee, did he take President Muhammed Buhari’s speech to mark the celebration of June 12 off as lead news in a way Boko Haram would do in carrying out a major attack same day.
This column would give it loudly to any political party that would make genuine effort to reduce the number of certificate forgers who have taken over our political process. But it would also smell a rat when it sees one.
And it was already smelling one when Comrade Oshiomhole, the scholar, was openly instructing his hatchet men to check the governor’s certificates openly before the exercise. Obaseki of course threw back a jab of someone who did not know the school he attended questioning his academic records.
I was eager to study the report of the panel initially when they said they were stopping Obaseki on the basis of his certificates to see whether he went to submit an “oluwole“. That is against the open affirmation of his former godfather four years ago that he went to primary and secondary schools and also a university and “all correct”.
It was his opponent then who is now his darling that he said went to primary school but “I have not seen his testimonial”; and went to “read law in a university but was rusticated in the second year”.
I concluded the report of the committee was a trash not worth my time when I saw the claim it made that the Higher School Certificate, HSC, Obaseki claims he obtained is not known to the country’s education system. How would a professor say that except he was just handed a script by someone who learnt English on radio and is not acquainted with formal education. The HSC or Advanced Level is of course an integral part of the educational qualifications in the country which allows holders to skip the preliminary year in the university. This writer, of course, has an HSC in his file!
They went on to say that Obaseki’s university certificate was ascertained from the premier university but his NYSC certificate bears ‘Obasek’. Not on very sure ground, their summary could not be that he brought forged certificates but tha0t some of his documents are “defective”.
It was, therefore, not difficult that the spirit of annulment struck again on June 12 to deliver an unjust diktat like the military did in 1993 to void the choice of the people.
Only this time around, Obaseki was prevented from presenting himself to the APC voters so those who had made up their minds to stop him would not have to go through the process of writing figures at a direct primary like it was done against a sitting governor like him in 2019. A godfather had successfully beheaded a former godson using the lack of internal democracy that has been the major drawback of party politics around here.
After eight years as Edo governor, Comrade Oshiomhole had picked Obaseki to succeed him so he can become godfather in the state and be a success in a project that has failed in so many states in the country. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who remains the strongest of such in the country had testy times with Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Mr. Akinwumi Ambode.
Oloye Olusola Saraki did not end well with Bukola Saraki his son. Orji Kalu installed Theodore Orji his chief of staff as governor but it was not up to a year before the latter chased him out of town. But the obsessive desire by men to control and have access to state resources make them to attempt this thing that will never work.
And most of those who try it are people of strong characters who will not allow anybody to control them. All of a sudden they now hand over what makes people to bow to them to another person and they want him to do “meeeen sir” like a goat. It’s not going to be a model that works without skirmishes.
It is what has just played out between Oshiomhole and Obaseki and the former has now used the opportunity he has as the Chair of APC to yank his godson off the party process in a very crude manner.
But from the look of things, Oshiomhole’s forces may still battle it out with Obaseki’s troops for the soul of Edo. The implication is that the contest may be a serious war and INEC would have a tougher job on its hands.
The forces that would contest in Edo would be more than the electorate as the stake would be very high and a partly proxy war would be fought with all gloves off. Bare knuckles it would be.
It is clear at this stage that most of the anti-Oshiomhole forces in the APC will deploy their arsenals behind Obaseki to even up with the man they have accused of running their party with iron fist.
The greatest strength of Oshiomhole at this stage is the National Leader of the APC who may naively think that the sweet-talking gentleman is working for him. If Oshiomhole survives, the Lagos strongman will learn in a bitter way that Comrade works for no one but himself.
When he sought a second time in office, he went around those who mattered in the ruling party then to give him soft-landing and he made all promises on earth. Immediately he had his victory, he became the worst scourge against those he was seeking favour from months earlier.
Can’t wait to see how this will all end!