A godfather has been served humble pie in Edo and there are lessons here for the political class.
The defeat of APC candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, by his PDP opponent, Godwin Obaseki in the September 19, 2020 Edo governorship election, is actually the evisceration, annihilation, disgrace and humiliation of former national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
Throughout this political duel between Obaseki on one hand and Oshiomhole on the other, Obaseki never missed an opportunity to remind the world how overbearing Oshiomhole had become and how the former labour leader sought to dictate how he ran the state as Edo governor.
“I cannot be governor and not be governor,” Obaseki lamented at one point exasperatedly. Godfathers do not necessarily show their hands. Oshiomhole’s brand of godfatherism was carelessly blatant.
During the September 13 governorship debate with Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki said: “having become governor, he (Oshiomhole) had his own personal agenda and he thought I would be so subservient. He didn’t realise I would be as independent as I have become. That may have angered him to now feel that he is a godfather who can stop me.”
In the build-up to the election and throughout the electioneering campaigns, Obaseki never hid the fact that he wanted to emerge from under Oshiomhole’s shadow, become his own man and end Oshiomhole’s reign as a godfather in Edo State.
In January, Obaseki issued a bare-Knuckle warning to Oshiomhole. “We are warning the suspended national chairman. If he continues his activities in Edo State, I will show him that I am the Governor of Edo State,” he blared.
“While he was governor, he did not tolerate a fraction of the misdemeanour and misbehaviour he is undertaking today. I have declared that if Oshiomhole comes here to Edo to say he wants to disrupt the activities of the state and the party, we will deal with him the way we know how best to.”
Saturday’s election was therefore a battle between Obaseki and Oshiomhole and not between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu. The Winner of the duel was always going to earn some bragging rights. The people of Edo went with the supposed victim of this bitter feud last Saturday.
Obaseki’s victory is therefore Oshiomhole’s annihilation and it must really hurt him. He has become the disgraced godfather who now faces imminent retirement, just like he retired Tony Anenih and the Igbinedions.
Obaseki now has the opportunity to deliver the devastating blow and make Oshiomhole completely irrelevant in the politics of Edo State.
To be honest, Oshiomhole played his cards rather badly. It really shouldn’t have come to this.
Granted that Obaseki took it all too far by asking Oshiomhole not to visit Edo and orchestrated the disqualification of his former benefactor from the APC in Edo (a move that led to Oshiomhole losing the national chairman of the APC position), there was an opportunity for Oshiomhole to play the bigger man role, call for a truce, end the squabble and preserve his status as a godfather.
Instead, Oshiomhole became even more belligerent and orchestrated the disqualification of Obaseki from the APC governorship primary election as he bayed for vengeance. Some in the top echelon of the APC still feel like that was a mistake on Oshiomhole’s part.
Behind the scenes, APC stalwarts blame Oshiomhole for Obaseki’s last minute defection to the PDP and the ceding of Edo State to the opposition.
As national chairman of the APC, Oshiomhole was also often criticized for not being a team player; for not carrying party faithful along.
He fell out with governors and ministers from his party for fun and when President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee (NWC) on June 25, 2020 to end his crises-riddled reign, some chieftains of the APC popped champagne and clinked glasses in posh apartments, in honour of his denouement.
On Oshiomhole’s watch, the APC media and propaganda arm fell apart, younger members of the party were excluded from decision making processes and the APC lost elections in states it could have won, due to one avoidable technicality or the other. The man always looked at sea.
The APC in Edo and at the center now has an opportunity to learn its lessons and pick up the pieces of this crushing defeat. All of which could have been avoided if Oshiomhole shed some of his idiosyncrasies and put his hubris in check for the good of the whole.
Now Obaseki can drink from Oshiomhole’s bucket of tears. He’s absolutely earned the right to do so.
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