By Philip Otoide
Last year when Senator Daisy Danjuma threw her weight behind Governor Godwin Obaseki at an event in Lagos, the PDP hurled all manner of invectives at the wife of General TY Danjuma. The party criticized her for supporting a failed governor, saying. “The commissioned 5 star specialist hospital is still home to reptiles, Tayo Akpata University of Education an unfulfilled political Greek gift, College of Agriculture Ogierieki, a victim of policy lip-service, the Gelegele sea port project is still a mirage and the industrial park is still at the MOU level. The governor you are endorsing have left 14 constituencies unrepresented in the state house of assembly, to mention a few.”
Swiftly and overnight, the same Obaseki’s administration has become the toast of the party. Some would ask at what point did they realize that they made a mistake when they called the governor a failure? Could it be the characteristic influence of money on politicians? Like Nigerians would say, where there is sharing there is conspiracy.
Party leaders under any condition are the repertoire of the collective will and interests of the people. The interests of a few could sometimes mischievously bandy the will of many. For example, as Obaseki decamped to PDP, he threw a bait at the leaders of Edo Central that he was going to hand over to an Esan governor after his next four years. The leaders in turn lured the masses into a hype of Esan governor.
Some couldn’t hide their excitement and called the governor’s coming to PDP as fortune on ‘a platter of gold.’
Armed with the Obaseki promise, some of these Esan leaders have started campaign structure ahead of their 2024 governorship ambition, when Obaseki was still in the cold.
The late Iyasele of Esanland, Chief Tony Anenih, during a meeting with party faithful in Ubiaja, preceding the 2007 election that produced Governor Oserhiemen Osunbor, had told his supporters that it would be extremely difficult for Esan people to produce a governor unless there was peace in the land.
Obviously, Obaseki does not understand this political equation and neither do these Esan leaders comprehend. If the governor was fair to his promise to hand over to an Esan governor, what structure and body language are there to convince the people? How many Esan sons and daughters are in his kitchen cabinet? His Chief of Staff, SSG, and other politically strong officials are not from Edo Central. Did he make up his mind to hand over to an Esan man after he fell apart with his party leaders? Even when he had the chance to switch Philip Shuaibu for an Esan deputy, he staunchly declined. Reasonable leaders would have insisted on getting the deputy from Esanland in PDP at the negotiation but the power of money may have been too strong and they fell timidly. Number one rule of sincere negotiation is never to back down when you hold the aces.
What the Esans are failing to understand is that, Obaseki will not be the determining voice of who takes over from him even if feasibly that moment comes to him, which frankly speaking will never.
Unknown to many, Philip Shuaibu is actually Governor Obaseki’s leader. If perchance, the scenario plays out for him in his 2024 imagination, he will turn his back on Esan people and probably console them with deputy to Shuaibu. And the waiting game could go on and on. Why will anybody think Philip Shuaibu was fighting the fight of his life over Obaseki? Within his political clique, it will surprise you that he is already being called “His Excellency come 2024,” which he replies with a wide beam. Shuaibu is ambitious to the letter and there is nothing anybody can do about that. It is only wise that the Esans are not hoodwinked by the ambition of a desperate governor mixed with the greed of a few so-called leaders holding on to your destinies unfairly.
I have also been piqued by the assemblage of the PDP masquerades in Edo that have found a new home in Dennis Osadebey Government House in Benin City. If Obaseki could not manage his APC members, even when many of them got distracted to politics at the federal, how much can he do with these career leaders? Many of them primarily celebrated his entry because he was another kind of “food is ready.” Nothing else.
Now that the glamour of the decamping has settled, what successes does Obaseki have to flaunt his second term bid debate? Between Obaseki, Oshiomhole and Lucky Igbinedion, it is shameful that his administration occupies the lowest rung of performance in 4 years as governor. It will also be too pathetic for the Esan man to revert to the negotiating table after Obaseki flops at the September governorship election. Time to redeem the people is now as it is not good to put all your eggs in one basket. That is how politics should be played.
*Otoide is resident in Benin-City.