The political Eclipse Of Brother Obaseki, By Augustine Osayande

Governor Obaseki won his first election in 2016 as a candidate of the APC. Adams Oshiomole, his predecessor in office and former chairman of the APC, was his primary sponsor. Mr Ize-Iyamu was then the candidate of the PDP. But in the course of his first term as the governor, Obaseki became estranged from Oshiomole, leading to an epic political battle. But Edo people stood with the governor, and he secured victory for his second tenure in office. 

Obaseki`s problem started on June 17, 2019, when he issued a proclamation and only eight lawmakers (the number later grew to ten) were inaugurated, leaving out the 14 who were not invited. Watching what was like a gripping psychodrama, the seventeen lawmakers, who were loyal to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, swore not to submit themselves for the swearing-in. On August 6, 2020, the residents of Edo State woke up to the sight of a detachment of fortified bobbies blocking the gate of the assembly complex, named after the nationalist Chief Anthony Enahoro. Even the intervention of the Senate, asking the Governor to issue a fresh proclamation for the Edo State House of Assembly to be properly inaugurated was turned down by the governor.

The inability of the Senate to step in was the last sign that the crisis rocking brother Obaseki and the lawmakers had defied solution despite spirited attempts by stakeholders to find a way out of the logjam. After this development, Obaseki raced to the PDP for salvation. The party not only obliged him the ticket, but also agreed to accommodate his deputy, Philip Shaibu as running mate.

Shortly after the victory, it began to dawn on the party leadership that they had made a grievous mistake. The early signs that they shot themselves in the foot showed when Obaseki reappointed Osarodion Ogie as Secretary to State Government (SSG) who decamped to the PDP alongside with him from APC. The second slight was the appointment of Osaigbovo Iyoha as Chief of State (CoS), another of his acolyte from APC without considering the PDP bloc that gave him its governorship ticket and subsequently worked for his victory.

From that period till date, brother Obaseki has failed to manage the problem he brought to PDP. Again, the crises were glaring at the last primary election as the party held parallel senatorial primary elections at different locations across the three senatorial districts. The faction loyal to Governor Obaseki held its delegate election for Edo South senatorial district at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin while the Dan Orbih faction held its own at an undisclosed venue on Airport Road. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, a former member of the State House of Assembly and ex-NDDC Commissioner, was elected by delegates in the Obaseki led faction primary while the incumbent member representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Omoregie Ogbeide Ihama, was elected as candidate for the Dan Orbih faction. Iduoriyekemwen scored 113 votes to defeat his closest rival and two-time senator representing Edo South senatorial district in the national assembly, Matthew Urhoghide, who polled 102 votes.

Edo voters’ verdict of Saturday 25th in the Presidential and National Assembly was the last straw that broke the camel’s back for brother Obaseki. Apart from the fact that Obaseki’s party woefully lost the presidential election in the state, to the resurgent Labour Party, the party’s candidate, Mr Neda Imasuen, also won the Governor Senator (Edo South) District election. Imasuen was announced the winner of the contest, beating both the APC and PDP. Announcing the results, INEC’s Returning Officer, Professor Julius Obasuyi, said Imasuen polled 167,250 votes, while his closest rival, Mr Matthew Iduoriyekemwen of the PDP, garnered 61,749, while Valentine Asuen of the APC, scored 57,933. In Edo Central Senatorial District, for the first time in 1999, a party other than the PDP won the senatorial seat. Prof. Ray Ozuolua announced that Monday Okpebholo of the APC scored 41,334 votes, while the LP scored 32,574 and the PDP got 25,225. The story from Edo North Senatorial District was not different as a former governor, Adams Oshiomhole, polled 107,110 votes to defeat the incumbent, Francis Alimikhena of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was the preferred candidate of Governor Obaseki.

Faced with looming defeat in the general election on Saturday, March 11, brother Obaseki says Oshiomhole and his party are working hard to win a majority of seats in the upcoming general election, forgetting how he denied representation to 14 constituencies for four years. Also, the Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, recently said that Edo people would again rise in defence of brother Obaseki at the polls on Saturday March 11 and vote massively for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, electing a House controlled by the PDP. But the truth is that Edo people have already decided on Saturday, February 25th 2023. The non-confidence vote will only be consolidated on March 11th. 

Regardless of the outcome of the Saturday March 11, 2023 State House of Assembly election, it is certain that the governor’s “petty, immature, and promotion of divisiveness in the State and the emergence of a new political force such as Neda Imasuen of the Labour Party (LP) have prematurely ended brother Obaseki’s political career.

▪ Osayande, PhD, contributed this piece from Abuja via austinelande@yahoo.com

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