In Nigeria politics, succession has always been a bitter pill to swallow for those planning to take over from their principal anytime election approaches. It is either the outgoing political office holders fall apart with their deputies and thwart their aspirations because of mistrust or they are hell bent on installing someone that can cover their tracks and possibly build on their legacies….CONTINUE READING
This is the current case at Dennis Osadebay Avenue, seat of power to Nigeria’s heartbeat. Although precedented, as president, governors had replicated same on their second in command, the recent outburst by Philip Shaibu, Edo State deputy governor, which came to the fore through a court process, has caught everyone unaware because of the harmonious relationship that existed between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his younger brother, as fondly called by the former.
Both have scaled through the rough patches, sailed the turbulent sea together, survived the deep water and obviously stood out amid other pair in about seven years down the road of delivering to the people and Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) in line with the 2020 manifesto coined by the Obaseki-led government to sustain development.
They jubilated at every victory over their mutual enemy, drove in a motorcade round the popular routes in Benin metropolis, and danced in an open vehicle to the chorus, “Pepper them, Bolanle pepper them oh; Pepper them, Bolanle pepper them oh; Who no like better thing.” An open display to onlookers that the duo were inseparable and bonded by one sole purpose.
But, like they say, “Nothing stays the same.” The smiles, between both and the unity that made them opt for the 2016 slogan, “Edo, let’s GO further together,” to build a state anchored on a productive economy that will transform and empower the citizens, may be at jeopardy by the recent legal action that surfaced on the internet last Friday.
From indications, the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1027/2023 filed by Philip Shaibu before the Federal High Court in Abuja, against the Inspector General of Police, State Security Service, Governor of Edo State, Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly and the chief judge of Edo State, seeking a restraining order from speculative impeachment plot may not be unconnected with the succession plan ahead the 2024 governorship election in the state.
Information from the grapevine suggests that the Deputy Governor, who is from Edo North senatorial district, has seen the writings on the wall that he might not be the preferred choice for the governorship race because his principal seems to be favouring someone else from Edo Central, where the Esan people are domiciled.
Giving credence to his rumored ambition, Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser to the governor, said: “Come to think of it, during the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion between 1999 and 2007, the Deputy Governor at the time was Chief Mike Oghiadomhe from Etsako; he did eight years. Then came Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from Etsako West as Governor; he did another eight years. This was followed by Philip Shaibu, from Etsako West as Deputy Governor; he is almost completing another eight years.
“Does Shaibu therefore, think that it is fair and equitable for him to become Edo’s next governor, particularly when he is from same Etsako West where the immediate past Governor, Oshiomhole is from? Are there no other competent hands from other ethnic groups? What happens to the people from Owan East and Owan West, Akoko-Edo and the Esans? Are they not part of Edo State?
“If these people are constantly disenfranchised by Edo South and Etsako people, would the consequences not be dire? Shaibu must be called to order to temper his ambition with reason,” Osagie said.
But, a source close to Shaibu, said the deputy governor’s traducers are out to halt his ambition in the belief that he is going to contest the 2024 governorship election.
“Everything is in the hand of God, if God says Shaibu would be governor, nobody can stop and if God says he wouldn’t be governor no one can make him governor.
“Obaseki should be a good student of history because Oshiomhole brought him as governor instead of his deputy, Pius Odubu, but he betrayed Oshiomhole in the end. So, the same thing would also befall him no matter who he brings to cover his tracks in 2024.”
Apparently, there has been internal bickering within Dennis Osadebay’s avenue over who succeeds the present administration but it was escalated when the governor, to his greatest surprise, saw a viral video of his one-time younger brother – now estranged – who was conspicuously absent at the swearing-in ceremony of 15 Edo commissioners; dining with the man they both fought at a reception party held in Abuja after the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly.
Perhaps, it may be a coincidence or fate. Who knows? This action, clearly angered the governor, who reportedly convened a meeting days after and did not extend the invite to his deputy. More so, to clip his wings and possibly, make him redundant in the government’s scheme of things, the governor declared that all revenue collection functions of government will now come under the direct supervision of his office, barely a month after his “loyal deputy” was seen hobnobbing with their then “common enemy”, Adams Oshiomhole.
Suspicious of what might have been the reason for the meeting and to be ahead of the game by forestalling anything that would narrow his chances to contest the governorship election, he proceeded to file a law suit against his boss. An observation the governor described as a pre-emptive move to get a court order, keep his ticket and move to another party to actualise his vision.
To quench the heated polity in the state and ensure the standoff between himself and Shaibu doesn’t impede governance, Governor Obaseki immediately denied any impeachment plot against his deputy, adding that the court order came as a “shock and disappointment.”
The governor, while briefing journalists in Benin City, pointed out that the deputy governor has been actively engaging with senior actors both at the national and state levels of the APC, negotiating his way into their party, noting that Shaibu is at the verge of finalising moves to defect to the APC.
In his words, “Let me put it on record that I am not aware of any plot or any scheme to impeach the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu. I have also checked and there was no such plan.
“So, the court action taken, for me, is a thing of shock and disappointment. I am trying to reflect on the move made by somebody that I have given a broad latitude to do his work as deputy governor. So, for him to take this kind of action is shocking.
“It’s clear what has happened in the last few weeks. It is a preemptive move for him to conclude what he has started. Those of you from Akoko-Edo can recall that when we were discussing the issue of your local government chairman and that of Owan, there was a lot of resistance from you on the candidates he wanted to impose on you. I listened to your entreaties and thought that what you were recommending was fair. How can he be recommending the son of an APC leader in that local government? You resisted and I saw reason and acceded to your request.
“The next day, I saw on social media that he was in Abuja robbing minds with the opposition party. I have heard for months now that he has been in closed consultation with friends from another party because he was not sure that you, the leaders of PDP, will give him the ticket as governor in 2024.
“I must state here that Philip Shaibu has never had the courtesy to discuss his ambition with me. The last time we spoke of my successor after the House of Assembly election, I did say that we should be patient and that our task is to try and finish well and conclude all our projects we started. It’s only when we do this right that we will have the support of the people for my successor.
“I believe that this action by him is a preemptive move to get a court order, keep his ticket and move to another party. I think it’s unfair for our party. We don’t need this sort of crisis. I have been getting calls all over the world and it’s rather sad that somebody who is part of an administration will do this to the administration because of his personal ambition,” Obaseki said.
“I am not angry but naturally I should be disappointed. I understand what is going on. I thank you for your solidarity. We should not be distracted but consolidate and unite our party and bring all on board. As we start our local government campaigns tomorrow, I urge you to join me so that we can build a PDP that will continue to dominate the politics of Edo State as we must finish well so our people will continue to give us the mandate. Edo will continue to be great as our collective efforts will drive our future as no one man can be bigger than all of us,” he said.
Corroborating, the Edo State Executive Council condemned the move, saying that the impeachment claim was not a thing before Shaibu went to court.
“Exco condemned the action of the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, who last week dragged Governor Godwin Obaseki and four others to an Abuja Federal High Court over an alleged plan to impeach him as the deputy governor of the state,” Chris Nehikhare, commissioner for communications and orientation, said in his presser.
Concerned by the distractions the perceived disagreement is creating in the state, a group, Edo Citizens forum, did a publication titled, “Godwin Obaseki, tame the monster you created,” in one of the dailies to draw the attention of the affected person.
The article, endorsed by various representatives across the 18 local government areas, asked the governor to focus on governance, do the work he was elected to do, especially in coming out with policies to address the looming hunger ravaging the people.
“Whatever you are doing, you must call him to order. There is too much suffering in the land for this type of nonsense. We need solutions to our problems, not this type of distraction at this time. Again, call your deputy to order. We are in no mood for all this nonsense at a time when people are really suffering. Don’t forget that it is we, the people, that elected you. And we can also unelect you. A word is enough for the wise.
“We are tired and frustrated by the theatrics and innuendos emanating from our state all the time. Let us be clear, this time, in this season, we will not tolerate these behaviours. We had warned you about Philip Shaibu, his character and his behaviours in the recent past, but you chose to ignore us. You sided with him every single time against our advice and better judgement because you felt you needed him.
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“You ignored reason and sidelined many of us, relying on Philips’ jaundiced opinion and position on all political matters. It was not enough for you to see that this man had no political might, having lost elections countless times in the recent past, including his own election into the office of deputy governor. In spite of this, you chose to ignore us.
“We advised you against adopting his burn the-ground approach to life because he is the embodiment of chaos and knows no better, but you chose his side. You allowed him to use you to fight everybody, including your predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and almost all politicians in the state just for his own selfish interest, and you refused to listen to us.
“Now, you are silent as this man attempts to heat up the polity. This obvious soap opera he is currently playing, where he pretends to fight you so that you can allow Philip to succeed you, will be strongly resisted with all our might. Philip does not have the temperament, ability or capacity. We do not want him. When the time is clear, we will let him know in no uncertain terms. Justice, fairness and equity for all Edo citizens must prevail in the politics of our state.”
The battle line has been drawn between the governor and his deputy. The latter’s supporters are already keen to join their boss whichever direction his compass points to, which is likely going to be All Progressives Congress (APC). Despite Adams Oshiomhole’s recent remarks that APC is not a rehabilitation center for those who has lost out, there are indications that he may join the ruling party soon.
But a statement by Musa Ebomhiana, Chief Press Secretary to the deputy governor, denied Shaibu’s move to APC, saying that the architects of the story were hack writers and mischief-makers who were bent on destabilising the state.
He said: “They will stop at nothing to widen the gulf between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu. They have generated more lies from the pit of hell, saying that Philip Shaibu has perfected plans to rejoin the All-Progressives Congress, APC, next week. There is no iota of truth in this.
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“To further put a lie to this, the spin doctors claimed that the APC National Working Committee, NWC, is set to receive him in Abuja. The question here for the discerning minds is that, is it the NWC of a party that receives a decampee into the party?” he queried.
“Shaibu has never minced words, vowing to sink and swim with his principal, Governor Godwin Obaseki. This, he has said severally at public fora. In view of this, I plead with these characters bent on driving a wedge between Comrade Philip Shaibu and his boss, Governor Godwin Obaseki to put the Edo project and the people far above their own selfish interest….CONTINUE READING
These are interesting times for the politics and governance in Edo State. The coming days will tell who will be on the side of victory between both friends.