By Ehichioya Ezomon
Interesting stories for you
Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State are praying that a new committee, set up at the behest of President Muhammadu Buhari, will resolve the crisis in the local chapter.
Two previous committees, respectively empanelled by the National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (SEC), didn’t proceed due to opposition to their constitution.
Yet, as the crisis lingers, each day that beckons on the September 19, 2020 governorship election raises the question: Will Governor Godwin Obaseki get the APC ticket for a second term in office?
The query pops up due to two factors, firstly speculations that Obaseki is scheming to decamp to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before the APC primaries, or after the September poll.
The second factor, perhaps triggering the first, is the feud between the governor and the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who heads the NWC of the party.
The NWC, in line with the party rules and guidelines, has the power to fix and supervise primaries in the states. Will Oshiomhole, who views Obaseki as a “betrayer,” deny him the APC ticket?
It’s a possibility bandied by Oshiomhole’s camp, whose bitterness over Obaseki’s “stabbing of Oshiomhole in the back” recasts the famous quote by King Duncan in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
In Act 1 Scene 4 of that epic, the King asked his son, Malcolm, who had walked into his presence, if those, who’d gone to execute Cawdor for treason, had come back.
Malcolm replied in the negative, but said that he had talked to one person, who “saw him die,” and reported that Cawdor admitted to the treason charges, and begged of the King’s forgiveness.
To which the King retorted: “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” adding: “He (Cawdor) was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.”
King Duncan spoke about “betrayal” from a subject that he had “absolute trust” in – a scenario similar to what’s playing out in Edo State between Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki.
Because of his “trust” in Obaseki, Oshiomhole, against a sustained opposition from very dedicated, and loyal members of the APC, “picked, backed and supported” Obaseki at the primaries, and led his campaigns for election to become governor.
In the process, Oshiomhole stepped on “big” toes. He’s abused, insulted, and bruised. He created enemies, with many dumping the APC for the opposition PDP, “to teach Oshiomhole a lesson for betraying his long-term political allies.”
Yet, like King Duncan – but unlike the lizard, which can tell from the face the kid that will stone it – Oshiomhole couldn’t read “the mind’s construction” in Obaseki’s face, to determine his behaviour if he became governor in 2016.
Three years on, he’s experiencing what some past governors had gone through in the hands of their “hand-picked” successors, or “neophytes” they propped up in politics.
Such predecessor-successor feuds were between Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Senator Theodore Orji in Abia State; Dr Chimaroke Nnamani and Mr Sullivan Chime (Enugu State); Senator Godswill Akpabio and Chief Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); and Dr Musa Kwankwaso and Dr Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano).
But none of those “personality clashes” assumed the dimension of the Edo APC crisis, with Obaseki asking the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole.
Lately, the Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shaibu, told reporters that he’s in Abuja, “on behalf of the state government,” to submit a petition to the IGP and the DSS, to arrest and prosecute Oshiomhole “for breaching the peace of Edo State.”
Prior, Obaseki had literally declared Oshiomhole as an “enemy of the State” and “persona non grata,” of whom he said, “I will deal with him,” and, indeed, sought to remove him, through legal process, as the National Chairman of the APC.
The height of the governor’s “show of power” is his declaration of Oshiomhole as “unacceptable or unwelcome” in his own state, and asking him to seek his (Obaseki’s) permission whenever he wants to come into the state.
In diplomacy, according to Wikipedia, “a persona non grata is a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country’s government…”
But Oshiomhole isn’t a foreigner; he’s a bona fide citizen of Nigeria from Edo State, where the governor orders him not to return without his permission – in breach of Oshiomhole’s inalienable right, as enshrined in the amended 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
The Obaseki marker invokes memories of the deportation of Alhaji Abdulrahman Darman Shugaba, the Majority Leader of the Borno State House of Assembly in the Second Republic.
Belonging to the opposition Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) in the Assembly, Shugaba tormented the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), with Alhaji Shehu Shagari as president.
To deal with Shugaba, security operatives stormed his house in the morning of January 24, 1980, and deported him to Chad Republic, on the excuse that his father was born in that country. But the courts restored his citizenship after a two-year legal battle.
Will Obaseki carry out his threat? On a lighter note, he could, and Oshiomhole, like Shugaba, would have recourse to the courts for reprieve. But “serious” things could happen to him due to a (mis)reading of the Obaseki/Shaibu utterances.
Then, it would be a case of the mad man, who, seeing the fire he set getting out of control, says, “The only fire I know is the ‘small’ one I set to this place; the one that is spreading is not of my making.”
Because unguarded utterances and “body language” carry a lot of weight, leaders should consider carefully whatever comes out of their mouth, which reflects their mindset.
The Bible notes in Matthew 15:10-20 that: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander…”
Recent happenings in the Edo APC – and the entire state – may not have been directed by Obaseki and Shuibu, but they’re fallouts from their utterances, and therefore had their imprimatur.
Consider these declarations: “I will deal with Oshiomhole,” “We will chase Oshiomhole from Edo State,” “We will not allow Oshiomhole to come to Edo State again,” “If Oshiomhole wants to come to Edo State, he must seek Governor Obaseki’s permission.”
Without their direction, agitated supporters could advance these threatening statements, and visit mayhem on Oshiomhole or members of his camp. Wasn’t a “bomb” exploded last week in the compound of an APC stalwart that backs Oshiomhole?
So, the routine accusation that Oshiomhole was responsible for breach of the piece in Edo doesn’t hold water, as Obaseki, iterating to “deal with Oshiomhole,” has invariably portrayed himself as the “aggressor” and Oshiomhole the “aggrieved” in the APC crisis.
Oshiomhole isn’t a perfect person – and no human is – but going by Bob Marley’s immortal words, he may still be Obaseki and Shaibu’s best friend, while those fawning over them are their “worse enemies.”
So, it’s time they stepped back, and recall their coming into government as resting on the “political benevolence” of Comrade Oshiomhole. They shouldn’t forget, in a hurry, where “the rain beat them, and the sun dried them.”
* Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.