As the race for the next occupant of the Denis Osadebey Government House in Edo State heightens, OGIEVA OYEMWENOSA examines the reasons behind the choice of Godwin Obaseki as the successor to incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole, whose tenure expires in Novemeber.
As the politics of who becomes the next governor of Edo State after the incumbent Adams Oshiomhole rotates out after serving the mandatory two terms as provided for in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, shifts gear into yet another phase, interested citizens of the state have wondered why Oshiomhole, has chosen Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who has served over seven years as the chairman of economic team of the government to be his successor.
The politics of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has heightened since the out-spoken governor muted the idea of who succeeds him after the end of his tenure.
Oshiomhole’s decision has raised dust among strong aspirants on the platform of the party like Kenneth Imansuagbon, Dr Pius Odubu, Engineer Chris Ogiewonyi, Osarodion Ogie, Gen. Charles Aihiavbere rtd, Blessing Agbomere, Comrade Peter Isele, Pedro Obaseki, and Austin Emuan, who have wondered how the end of the game would be.
Investigation by The AUTHORITY reveals that while some political stakeholders consider Obaseki as unknown in party politics of the state, others believes that Oshiomhole, who has ruled the state for almost eight years is a better judge to know who is capable to be his successor.
Though some of the governor’s admirers have accused him of playing the godfather by presenting an aspirant, the governor mindful of the stiff resistance that may confront him in convincing the people of the state and Nigerians of Obaseki’s worth, has con-sulted some notable politicians and leaders in the state especially in Edo South senatorial district to key into the project of fairness, accountability and equity, as he has seen in Obaseki.
With the economic woes currently witnessed in the country as a result of the rise in dollar, fall in naira and fall in oil price and the inability of some governors to pay workers of their hard earn wages, the governor who insisted that no going back on Obaseki, believes Obaseki as an economist who have ran series of companies is worthy to occupy Denis Osadebe Avenue as Governor.
Many have opined that Obaseki, is inexperienced in politics and lacks the carriage to complement the development Oshiomhole has wrought in Edo State, but a look at his profile reveals otherwise, as he has held various positions and founded companies which are still in existence today.
Obaseki, who is a royalty in the Benin Kingdom, is a stockbroker, a progressive and an African champion, who believes in the African dream, but then the suppose hurt of the Obasekis in the history of Benin has served quite a sumptuous stumbling block on his aspiration to be the next governor of Edo State, aside the enormous support he has gotten from Edo people so far.
It was learnt that Obaseki has helped his extended family, friends (and even his enemies), who have in turn impacted greatly on the lives of vast Edo people who today are his undying supporters. This act is not farfetched as the character trait of service of Obaseki is seen in the history of his forefathers, Agho Obaseki, who transferred this entire trait to all of his children.
It was gathered that the governor owes a lot to Obaseki for his administration’s ability to pay salaries and execute projects in the face of dwindling income to the state. It is also believed in many circles in the state that Obaseki’s candidacy enjoys the backing of billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, whose multi-billion naira projects are still in the state.
‘Oshiomhole consulted statewide on Obaseki’
Meanwhile, the member representing Etsako Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Philip Shuaibu, has said Oshiomhole as a governor has every right to support any candidate of his choice, seeing the caliber and carriage-ability of the person in question.
He said Obaseki as successor to Oshiomhole emerged from a statewide consultancy of the people, as it is imperative that members of the party must speak with one voice. He noted that this is the first time a governor in Edo State is consulting the people on who will lead them, contrary to the old tradition where candidates are imposed on the people.
Hon. Shuaibu insisted that contrary to reports in some quarters that Oshiomhole want to make himself a godfather in the state, “Godfathers do not consult, and a godfather will impose a candidate. So those characters likening the actions of the Comrade-Governor to godfatherism are talking rubbish.
He added: “What he is doing is to help stop this unnecessary expenditure that is incurred by aspirants, where people will sell their houses in the name of elections and by the end of the day; it becomes a do-or-die affair. So this consultation will help to curb the do-or-die politics. For the first time in this country, a governor is coming out to organise a talk where the agenda of his admin-istration is discussed and the future of the next administration was the focus.
The representative of the entire Etsako people said Oshiomhole has librated Edo people “from the political slavery of Edo godfathers” and as such “will not want to go back to Egypt.”
In some quarters where it is believed that Obaseki is unsold to the public, Hon. Shuaibu said this is because Governor Oshiomhole has liberalised the political setting in the state such that even a farmer’s son can contest for an election. This is evident in the number of APC aspirants eying the governorship of the state.
On rumours that Obaseki is a bait to shield Oshiomhole’s investment in South Africa, Hon. Shuaibu said that “Oshiomhole passionately loves the state and would not want all he has done to be destroyed and go back to the era of locust. This man with all the hardship that the entire country is facing, road construction is on, he is building hospitals, salaries are paid as at when due.
“You see Edo State today almost from zero revenue to billions. Edo is viable today. Salaries are being paid, projects are being executed despite the economic crisis and that is why we need a governor that will sustain the progress. And we are happy that the governor is following that slogan of let the people lead and he is consulting with everybody. Those of us who are following Oshiomhole will always tell him the truth and at the end of the day, whoever he is convinced about, the entire party will follow him.
“The Comrade-Governor is a very tactful politician, he is very intelligent and he is liked by all of us. He believes in the people and always aligns with the wishes of the majority. And I can tell you that the Comrade-Governor will lead us to a candidate all of us will support and the person will eventually win the general election. He has the leadership skill that will hold the party together so we have no fear of any crisis. Whoever emerges after the primary will be the flag bearer and all members are expected to queue behind him and work. If you now feel like doing something contrary, then you will be enemy of the party.”
What Edo people told Oshiomhole
While Oshimhole was on inspection tour to constructed roads in Benin City, some res-idents told him to search for a worthy successor, who would take over from him from November 12, and continue with the people-oriented projects in the state.
The residents at Upper Lawani Street and 2nd East Circular Road in Benin City said a wrong candidate would return the state to the dark days and encouraged Oshiomhole not to be afraid about what people may say.
Mr. Felix Irorere at Upper Lawani said: “I am praying for you because when you came, you did not meet anything on ground. You have laboured so much, let nobody destroy your work. Make sure that whether people talk or not, you chose somebody who will be able to take after you and not undo what you have done.
“Don’t be ashamed or afraid, don’t look at their faces, make sure the right person comes in.”.
At 2nd East Circular Road, a resident of the area, Mrs. Eunice Obazee said: “We are very happy to see that Oshiomhole is working on the road. We will support and vote for whosoever he brings out to succeed him.”
On his part, a chieftain of the APC, and former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr. Lucky Imasuen, who could not hide his feelings after a tour of the ultra-modern 200-bed Central Hospital, Benin, urged the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to engage in constructive criticism, which would move the state forward, saying: “When you are on the other side of the isle, you tend to criticize without really looking at what the Comrade-Governor is doing.”
He therefore appealed “to all Edo people, irrespective of political affiliations, to come on board, come and see what he is doing, thank him for what he is doing so we can continue our movement.”
Though investigations have revealed that there is an internal crisis brewing in the APC, Oshiomhole recently has been called upon to put the party together, if the APC must retain the state and save Edo from past woes.
Former Provost Marshal of the Nigeria Army, Brig-General Idada Ikponmwen, said: “We have seen all the missiles flying from one side to the other. They say Oshiomhole is trying to force a candidate on his party and Edo people and yet we have heard the governor saying he is going to follow party rules and regulation and produce a good candidate for the party. I find it difficult to think that a governor who is champion of de-mocracy by every pronouncement of his, a governor who is more vocal about dumping godfatherism to the dust bin where it belong, a governor who wants the best for his people, will want to suppress the party which he heads and to force a candidate of his own choice on people. Whether that candidate has a merit or not, I agreed that every-body has interest in who rules and that the man who is going to sustain what the pre-sent government has done, but it is important that not only must party leaders and members work together, they must also convene and convince the wider society that whoever they are projecting is the right person to deal with the problem of the people. Otherwise the people will be going one way and government and the party will be go-ing in the opposite direction and as you know the people will always win because that is the power of vote.”