Since his unceremonious removal from the Chairmanship of the ruling party and acceptance of his fate in good faith, the former Governor of Edo State has returned to his home-town Iyamho amid the fanfare and jubilation of a teeming number of his supporters.
The impressive images of that reception can hardly be ignored. In his usual style and pattern, the former Governor wasted no time throwing down the gauntlet by launching an immediate verbal attack on the incumbent Governor of his state.
He has returned on a mission. A mission that can be fulfilled only with his presence in the state and not in Abuja.
Oshiomole’s side of the story
In a clear departure from the eerie silence that characterized his public reaction to the open secret of his rift with the incumbent Governor while still Chairman of the ruling party, the former Governor took to chatting up the Social Media in a series of exclusive interviews. By this means, he availed himself of the crucial opportunity of making his side of the story known to the public.
Baring his heart in these still and motion picture interviews, Oshiomole made clear to the beholder that he is, after all, a human being like everyone else, who had his genuine grievances. He painted the picture of a Governor, who he is known to have groomed for the job as a project that was dear to his heart, who ended up betraying all his expectations. In his own words “When you have someone, who has worked with you … someone, who understands what informed policy decisions … the challenge of continuity is easier.”
He described the current Governor as a person, who was very close to the policy decisions that he made when he occupied the seat. He only fell short of describing his successor in outright terms, as the brain behind those policies. He was, however, convinced that Godwin Obaseki was the right man to ensure continuity (no matter how it is defined) when he (Oshiomole) is no longer the Governor. He cited project after project that the Edos were not only grateful for but were also seen to have functioned to the benefit of the public. Most notable was the drainage project that was aimed at stopping the State from immersing in flood when the violent monsoon rainy season begins. Governor Oshiomole explained details of the architectural masterpiece that engineered the project in an elated state of personal satisfaction. For some reasons, however, this project ended up abandoned by his successor and the pictures that meet the eyes from Benin City today is one of the return of flooding at crucial and strategic junctions.
Now without visiting the countless projects he mentioned one after the other, one must not be a psychologist to understand the genuineness and depth of his anger. So deep was his trust in his successor that he considered the fulfillment of his dream for Edo State as a done deal. Witnessing a radical departure from projects that they both designed together and seeing them deteriorating and withering away in careless abandon, can constitute the thrust of a projectile in the heart. Oshiomole’s pains in this sense, are clearly comprehensible and justified too. He was at pains to emphasize that he demanded and expected nothing else but good governance from his successor and never aspired to be a godfather in any sense.
Obaseki’s side of the story
As a neutral observer, I had tried to reach out to the Governor by contacting one of his aides, with whom I sought to exchange ideas on how much sense the former Governor was making with his passionate submission on the roots of his frustrations. Unfortunately, though, my effort was rebuffed and ignored in palpable arrogance. Indeed, I had loved to explore the prospect of a hard-hitting interview with the Governor to get his own side of the story in black and white.
In the absence of a clear statement from the Governor, however, we will have to work with conjectures and speculations on the basis of the facts surrounding us.
While the singular example of the image of flooding on the streets truly angers the soul and clearly justifies the frustrations of the former Governor, it does not in any way indicate that the incumbent Governor had departed from the project of good governance.
In fact, it can be argued that the ongoing massive project of drainage that seems to have been started from one strategic area of the State capital and was publicly showcased sometime in the first half of 2020, may indicate that the Governor was approaching the project from a different perspective. Indeed, the images of the massive excavation and engineering structure that dominated the presentation spoke for work in progress. From all indications too, there seems to be evidence pointing to a change of direction in the Governor’s priorities.
As has been frequently touted from the Governor’s quarters, the timely payment of wages and pensions may have been prioritized as a marked departure from the days of his predecessor.
The rejuvenation and revamping of ruinous government structures and edifices that had constituted a public eyesore for several decades may have been taken to the front-burner. New structures seem to have been added with the example of an industrial center for artisans and the manufacturing industry that is completely new to the state The Governor’s propaganda machine has also showcased a good number of road constructions and even the ongoing construction of a modular refinery, which the former Governor clearly highlighted as a fraudulent project that never moved from paper works.
The truth has just one side
What Governor Oshiomole may have suffered in the hands of his successor in terms of continuity, is not new to the Nigerian political space. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo suffered a worse fate in the hands of his successor, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The latter reversed very useful infrastructural and structural policies of his predecessor and even hyped false narratives to make his predecessor look bad. In the case of Governor Oshiomole, his successor apparently shifted priorities only and injected new ideas into the project of transformation.
Indeed, if Governor Oshiomole was not the fighting type, who characteristically created bitter enmity out of political adversity, President Obasanjo would have been a go-to instance for helpful counseling on how not to fight perceived betrayal. This is even made worse by documented claims, very early in the game, by Governor Oshiomole himself that there was nothing in him for his successor to betray since the pledge of governance was made only to the constitution and the people and not the predecessor.
This then beggars the urgent question if Governor Oshiomole has not been truthful by half and not opened up completely in his tell-tale Social Media interactions. While I will return to this in the next few lines, let me make haste to add that there are also indications of truthfulness by half on the part of the incumbent Governor Obaseki.
If the payment of wages and pension has been prioritized by Governor Obaseki as one reason for downgrading the priority of his predecessor’s projects, how then can the protest of the academic and non-academic staffs of the College of Education Ekiadolor including pensioners, in July, over unpaid emoluments, be explained? Questions of this nature will linger in the horizon for as long as the Governor fails to confront the passionate accusations of his adversaries head-on and his aides embrace the arrogant attitude of rebuffing approaches.
Having said that, it is still a mystery why Governor Oshiomole’s justifiable anger simply seems to have transformed into bitterness and desperation since there may have been several leaders before him, who have had the same experiences if not worse, but adopted a more psychologically low-keyed approach in reaction.
How else can the orchestrated disqualification of the incumbent Governor on fully untenable charges of certificate forgery and irregularities be explained if not desperation and unwarranted bitterness? The Governor was screened for a first-term precisely on the basis of those same certificates that have stood the test of litigation. The fact that the hatchet job was done by an academician, whose disgraceful act tends to underscore the dearth of nobility and standard in the academic world, was even worse.
How can the feeling of betrayal in the aftermath of non-pursuance of jointly designed projects in the expected order of priority explain this deeply-rooted and destructive acrimony that may well end up in self-destruction? Is it a case of “My Way or the Highway?” Can a successor not be left to determine his own course of governance with the natural right of criticism by the predecessor if the course is found deficient? Must that lead to a political war of attrition and test of power?
The implied message of “I installed him and I will remove him” is, indeed, the stuff that godfathers are made of in every sense of political corruption. Powerbrokers. Nothing else. Could there be more to it than meets the eyes?
Most importantly, the choice of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the great white hope and redeemer to salvage this project continuity so passionately craved by Governor Oshiomole is a serious diabolical paradox. Watching the series of viral videos, in which the Governor swore “before God and Man” and pledged to waive his immunity from prosecution to launch a scathing desecration of the person of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is not a Sunday morning picnic cheer. The damning character assassinating tirades and vitriols would have gone for a casual adversarial campaign in electioneering were it not for the verifiability of the facts advanced. Many of these facts have been openly confirmed by various speakers and contributors in the wake of the unwarranted political war in such a way that the failure of Pastor Ize-Iyamu to file for libel and character assassination all these years, fully pales into insignificance. An interview granted by the pastor himself to resolve the issue even provided pointers to the veracity of the claims.
In other words, turning around today to present the same character-assassinated candidate as the ultimate redeemer that Oshiomole’s poor sense of judgment unjustifiably vilified speaks more to a fraudulent design and a daylight insult on public intelligence that never stands in any democracy and sane climes. The truth: Pastor Ize-Iyamu obviously has a formidable network of thuggery for ballot-snatching, voters’ intimidation, and destabilization of voting scenes as was exemplified by the recent assault on the palace of the Edo monarch. This seems to assure Governor Oshiomole of a sure path to a pyrrhic victory in his very desperate commitment to oust his successor. Again, this is an unquestionable quality of an aspiring godfather.
No gain mentioning the issue of 14 loyalist lawmakers, who chose to make Abuja their home for whatever reason. They may be justified claiming to have fled for safety in a hostile environment, in which they were supposed to have served the people. They may be wrong in the claim of the opposite side that they absconded upon failure to implement a remote-controlled Oshiomole agenda. In any case, the attempt on August 06, 2020, to relaunch them in a cloak and dagger operation while their case is pending in court, strongly dents all their claims to credibility in the face of political correctness.
The urgent question presses forward again: Has Governor Oshiomole told the whole truth of his motives and intentions? He may plot and strategize to achieve his goals, but if he fails and the chances of failure are high, may Lord have mercy on his political future.