Governor Obaseki’s Boarding Pass
By Prince Kassim Afegbua
There is this popular saying that those who have their palm kernel nuts broken for them by the gods should simply learn to be humble. The humility should derive from the point of view of expressing gratitude to the uncommon act of the gods, simplifying the nuts breaking exercise without making the beneficiary go through importunate hassles. I have tried to resist the temptation to be dragged further into the incontinent political diatribe and macabre dance that currently runs through the blood vessels of the powers-that-be in Osadebe Avenue, but the orgy of violence and provocations that walk the streets of Edo easily downsizes my resistance.
I returned from Benin City on Sunday, after attending the burial of Honourable Johnson Agbonayinma’s late mother at the Esteem Event Centre, Adesuwa Road, Benin City. In attendance were a potpourri of APC chieftains including the inimitable National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It was a convivial atmosphere where all manner of persons and political actors freely interacted and exchanged pleasantries. The event on its own punctured the unusual quiet that presently overwhelms Benin City and its environs following fear of political attack against those who abhor the Governor and his style of militancy across the state.
I left the ceremony to attend to other issues. By the time I started surfing the net to get the latest news in town, I saw a litany of anecdotal reports of the APC National Chairman’s earlier encounter with street urchins and political hallelujah boys at the Benin Airport premises, on his way to attend the burial event.
The video clip of the encounter showed a few youths chorusing a funny song that tends to denigrate Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his God-given physique and make-up. They chorused “wo wo wo, wowo! wo wo wo, wowo! to typify that Oshiomhole is simply ugly, but the lead singer was himself uglier if we ever possess the divinity to accord God’s creation that kind of debasing conclusion.
There is a reason for every creation. We cannot question God, otherwise, those boys would have looked in the face of Governor Obaseki to properly situate the song. With the help of security agents, Oshiomhole drove out of the premises of the Benin airport unhurt. After the ceremony, Oshiomhole retired to his home at Okorotun street, GRA and by the time I was heading towards Protea Hotel, I saw a barricade from both end of the street ostensibly to prevent anyone from accessing Oshiomhole’s residence.
I was made to understand later that the exercise was instructed by the Governor, Godwin Obaseki according to statements credited to Comrade Oshiomhole when he complained to the Commissioner of Police and the State Director of the DSS. Later that day, I saw another video clip where the Governor said that the APC National Chairman must notify him, the Governor, any time he, the Chairman intends to visit Benin City or Edo state as it were.
He spoke shortly after he received former President Goodluck Jonathan who visited the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, for the investiture of his Honourary Doctorate Degree by the Igbinedion University, Okada. I saw the rubrics of an emperor in Governor Obaseki’s imputation that a former Governor of the state should obtain permission from him, each time Oshiomhole is billed to visit Edo state.
Power corrupts, but absolute power, they say corrupts absolutely. I never thought Governor Obaseki has gotten to this level of sunkenness and sullenness until I watched that video clip. So, was it about Oshiomhole-specific, or about all former Governors; Chief Oyegun, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, and Prof. Osunbor? His statement was a direct reference to Oshiomhole, his boss by every material particular, as National Chairman of his party. But for the kind of gubernatorial indiscipline that now adorns the walls of politics, a National Chairman ought to command the respect of all, from the president down to the lowest elected officer of any political party, no matter how “ugly” or the size of the individual.
In the second republic, history has it that President Shehu Shagari often visits the National Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) Chief Adisa Meredith Akinloye, each time he intended to interrogate or discuss an issue. The Chairman also hands down directives to elected officers of the party on policy agenda in line with the manifesto of the party. But in this era of money politics, Governors have become the party and government houses have become the headquarters of the party in the respective states.
Governors now run the political parties like a personal fiefdom. They appoint those they wish to get into party positions in the name of building their structures, and whenever any Chairman tends to insist on party supremacy, they spread their illicit funds around themselves to undo such chairman. They suspend elected Local Government Chairmen with whimsical stroke, dissolve state executives without much ado, dissolve local government elected executives with the speed of light, create a structure in the morning, dissolve it in the evening in quick succession in a show of inordinate powers and vaulting ambition.
In Edo, Governor Obaseki has suddenly become an emperor, a gatekeeper, who desires to see that everyone who intends to visit Edo state, must obtain visa or boarding pass in order to guarantee his entry. If anyone visits without such endorsement or approval, chances are that access roads would be blocked and violence may be unleashed, like what Oshiomhole passed through last weekend.
The curious thing about all this is that our security agents, hardly take any decision by way of arrest or prosecution, even when crimes are committed before their very eyes. It tells a sad commentary about our humanity and the choices we make to grow our democracy, our nation and our humanity. After the blockade at Okorotun, no arrest has been made. After the Benin airport show of shame, no arrest has been made, yet, there were eyewitnesses policemen who watched the whole drama from the beginning to the end.
This Governor Obaseki’s scenario playing out in Edo state offers huge lessons in political dramaturgy especially when outgoing Governors search for who to succeed them. The liturgy of the Edo experience is one that offends trust and hurts friendship, but for persons who are pretentious, anything is fair insofar it delivers power unto their spurious hands. I have read the lips of many, I have interacted with a cross-section of people and political players, and come to the unassailable conclusion, that a Governor should just let the best man succeed him, no matter the temptation.
Working from the answer to question in promoting a godson who will “continue your legacy” is an exercise in futility, at least, Godwin Obaseki’s petulance has confirmed that. In 2016, Godwin Obaseki was the least qualified in terms of quality, acceptability, popularity, content and understanding of the dominant issues of statecraft amongst those who stood for the primaries. Largely unknown, and hardly seen, marketing him was as herculean a task as forcing people to take a bitter pill.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole felt he had a friend in whom he was well pleased and decided to break the till to make the meal. He worked night and day, keeping sleepless nights. Often fatigued from the rigours of campaigns, you would easily conclude it was Oshiomhole’s third term campaign. Godwin Obaseki hardly spoke during campaigns. He was dry in content and empty on political persuasive delivery. Easily tongue-tied when the burgeoning crowd salaams around him, Obaseki was simply a political neophyte who dreaded the rigours of campaigns. The meal was cooked and delivered to him on a platter of gold by Comrade Oshiomhole, the man he now holds in awe and scorn, having thoroughly blackmailed him with the stigma of a godfather. Having been sworn into office, he thanked everyone and built Berling walls around himself. Those who laboured in the vineyard of campaigns must lick their wounds. In Obaseki’s dictionary, there is no reward for hard work.
I am just imagining what would have been playing out today were Oshiomhole not the National Chairman of the APC. I am sure, Obaseki would have instructed all the airlines plying the Benin route to stop patronising Oshiomhole as a passenger. He probably would have declared him persona-non-grata. He probably would have told the Federal Government to dig a tunnel along Abuja-Auchi road to prevent Oshiomhole’s access to his country home or worse still, excavate the entrance to his country home to prevent his access.
Rather than use trucks to block his access, Obaseki would have by now cut the access roads into two to prevent access. As far as he is the Lord of the manor, everyone must bow at his altar, pay obeisance, pour libation to please the gullible gods of his shrine, present kolanut, and pour oil as a sacrifice to his infantile invocations. Before any Edo man travels or visits, they would file out at Osadebe Avenue to collect boarding pass and when they are entering into town by air or road, they will queue up at the airport or motor-parks to obtain Obaseki’s pass or visa to guarantee their stay. Hmm, power dey shack-like new bride sha!.