Edo’s Bread and Butter Fight, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
The fight for who governs Edo State is not a fight to create any great enterprise. The fight is about naked power; it is about who gets what and who controls the State’s resources and ultimately one of the proxy fights for 2023. It is about bread and butter and who has access to it.
In a way, what is happening in Edo State is a tragedy foretold. In Nigeria, the high priest does not surrender the sacrificial animal to the gods; he holds on tightly to the leash. The gladiators in Edo’s bread and butter fight deserve each other. Adams Oshiomhole cut his teeth in the self-adulatory world of labour politics. Driven by Marxist self-righteousness and years of camouflaged bluster, when Oshiomhole has the stone in his pocket, he won’t stop coming at you. For a man aware of his own smallness, his opponents are often at his mercy on the floor. He is an aggressive man who is unperturbed about staying aggressive, especially when in a powerless slump. To those of us who followed his career, Oshiomhole is an unreal talent in hard tackle and political bloodbath. On the other hand, Godwin Obaseki is an initiate who grew wings before his ordination into the sacred order of the gravy train. He is a loquacious man whose strength lies in a fundamental lack of focus, a diminished power of choice and an incredible ability to give agency to non-events, conflicting demands and interests.
The fight for who governs Edo State is not a fight to create any great enterprise. The fight is about naked power; it is about who gets what and who controls the State’s resources and ultimately one of the proxy fights for 2023. It is about bread and butter and who has access to it. Did Obaseki become a certificate forger this year? When did his godfather know about his questionable certificate? Right in front of us, Oshiomhole touted Obaseki as a loyal servant and one of the best brains behind his success as a two-term governor. While campaigning for Obaseki to become governor, Oshiomhole branded the gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as a thief, a rogue, and a cultist. What has changed in four years? Is Ize-Iyamu now a saint? Has he obtained absolution of his sins now that he is in the All Progressives Congress (APC)? What should we deduce from a man who imposed a “certificate forger” on his people four years ago and is set to impose a rogue, a thief and a cultist on them for another four years?
Who will clean out Nigeria’s morally infected national barn? Where are loyal and patriotic Nigerians who are willing to wrestle this compromised and damaged democratic process from this reckless, self-aggrandising and incompetent political leaders?
What happened to the several allegations of corruption and wanton stealing made against Oshiomhole after he left office? As with the rank impunity for which the APC is known, those allegations, complete with pictures, bank information and other documentary evidence, were ignored by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Obaseki was expected to “know his role” and respect the pecking order. He did not. That was his original sin. He started building his own teams early, independent of his political benefactor, to consolidate and guarantee his second term.
Who will clean out Nigeria’s morally infected national barn? Where are loyal and patriotic Nigerians who are willing to wrestle this compromised and damaged democratic process from this reckless, self-aggrandising and incompetent political leaders? Aristotle said: “What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens; namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions.” After serving two terms as governor and now a party chairman, Oshiomhole ought to be a statesman. Sadly, it pays to be a godfather than a statesman. Politics and naked power grab have usurped governance. To a large extent, politicians owe no allegiance to the people who elected them, but to ambition and their political party. That is why Oshiomhole and his backers are far more concerned about the 2023 election than they are about the problems of Edo State.
Edo has two stupid warriors. One is a bad general who fought too many battles on too many fronts, losing costly men and equipment, while the other general does not stop shooting, even if his children are on the frontline.
I have been wondering: How will Oshiomole campaign for Ize-Iyamu? Will Obaseki ever explain to us how he finished a four-year programme in three years, without a direct entry admission? Will any of these players feel any sense of shame? Upon deep reflection, I have answers to my own questions. I suspect the actors in this drama have no sense of shame. We have become shameless people. Before we lost our values, shame used to control our lives in many powerful ways. In the past, we were a people who followed our sense of shame as a moral compass. We have higher expectations of the political leaders’ moral standards. Unfortunately they are shameless because we are. After all, they were chosen among us. The lesson I have learnt in this face off and many before it, is that politicians do not care if you do not like what they are doing. What they care about is if you stop voting them into office. Edo has two stupid warriors. One is a bad general who fought too many battles on too many fronts, losing costly men and equipment, while the other general does not stop shooting, even if his children are on the frontline.