Home » All Peoples' Congress (APC), Articles, Columnists, Edo, Governors, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P, Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Raw Politics, State News » Edo Elections and the Baptism of Oshiomhole – By Prof. Phil Alalibo

Edo Elections and the Baptism of Oshiomhole – By Prof. Phil Alalibo

By Prof. Phil Alalibo / NNP / September 26, 2020 /  The unspeakable chaos that attended Edo State leading to the just concluded gubernatorial elections and the outcome are rich with timeless lessons for all who care to learn. First, the people of Edo must be commended for their ardent disregard for the establishment and the politics of godfatherism that have bedeviled democracy not only in Edo, but across the country, hanging over the heads of voters like a noose. A look at the recent past would remind us of the dangers of godfather politics. This was the same brand of politics that hamstrung Oyo State with the rise of the late Lamidi Adedibu, the self-proclaimed godfather of Oyo politics, the Molete politician of amala variety. The misdeeds and tyranny unleashed on the government of Rashidi Ladoja and people of Oyo are still fresh in the minds of keen observers.

In what appeared to be a masterstroke in the game of political brinksmanship, the late Adedibu who operated with utter impunity, made his personal assistant, Chris Alao-Alaka, deputy governor. He then orchestrated the extra judicial (with only 18 out of 32 legislators, whereas 24 was needed to impeach) impeachment of the governor, Ladoja, paving the way for his personal assistant to assume the governorship. This move had Gov. Alao-Alaka eating directly from the palms of Adedibu, whom it was alleged, received a handsome stipend from the state on a monthly basis. Adedibu was also said to have been more influential than the president at the time, Obasanjo, who bowed before the godfather in deference in one of his visits to the state. Obasanjo’s inability and/or disinterestedness in arresting the lawlessness perpetuated by the Molete politician, gave credence to this view. In the days he held sway, it was said that no one could be governor of the state without his anointing, a point utterly incongruent with the ethos of democracy that reckon popular choice.

Fast forward to the present, in Lagos State, Bola Tinubu’s stranglehold on the governorship is as tight as the constriction of a boa constrictor. Tinubu, after eight years in office,  appointed his successor, Babatunde Fashola, and Fashola’s successor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who fell out of favor with him and suffered the fate of a one-term governor. Ambode, unable to reverse his fate, sought divine intervention which appeared not to have come. It was said comically that Tinubu’s godfatherism extended to heaven where he godfathered angels and appointed them and other celestial beings to high positions and as such, Ambode’s appeal for divine intervention was beyond God.

When Fashola was in office, various concessions were said to have been made that kept him in the good graces of the godfather. It is unclear why Ambode did not get the nod from Tinubu for a second term. But speculation is rife that he refused to be the lap dog of Tinubu who wielded the big stick. Tinubu also anointed the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his influence is believed to have resulted in his wife, Remi Tinubu, of no known political pedigree, being elected senator representing a state with no shortage of proven political gladiators.

In Edo, the focus of this opinion piece, Adams Oshiomhole’s palpable failure in ensuring his candidate’s victory presents a classic case of the diminishing influence of godfather politics, if not across Nigeria, certainly in Edo State. Oshiomhole’s calculus was faulty from the beginning, and this was his undoing. He did not consider the fact that Edo voters, unlike voters in other parts of the country, were not beholden to the improprieties of godfatherism. He was blindsided and dwarfed in this election in spite of his enlistment of royal fathers from whom he asked for forgiveness for “selling them a bad product” when he frosted Obaseki on the Edo people. This uncharacteristic  admission, hardly witnessed in Nigerian politics, meant that he circumvented the will of the people who have now repudiated his action with the outcome of the election.

Only days to the election, in the midst of the reprehensible fray and free-for-all mudslinging, Oshiomhole, a recent national chairman of the ruling party, APC, a former labour union leader and two-term governor, bragged on a television program that Obaseki was a “political lizard,” while he proudly branded himself a “political lion.” In his prideful glee, he went on to declare ever so confidently, that a political lizard cannot outwit a political lion, saying that the supremacy of the political lion will be displayed on Election Day. Oshiomhole must not have read the passage in the Holy Scriptures, Proverbs 16:18, that states “Pride cometh before a fall…”Inevitably, he has to eat his words and reckon the heroics of the political minnow whom he consigned to the lowly position of a political lizard.

In this metaphor of the animal kingdom, Oshiomhole must have forgotten that the lizard has more dexterity due to its diminutive size and thus, can canvas for votes in the nooks and corners of the kingdom, while the lion is severely limited by its sheer mass. Surely, with this revolt in the animal kingdom, Oshiomhole has been baptised in the river of political humility. The former governor, upon his involuntary return to planet earth, offered these reflective words, “In life, you work hard and leave di rest to God. You do your best and trust God to bless your hustle. I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong, thank God. For life, you win some and you lose some but life goes on.”

The events of September 19th revealed the frailty of an ideology (godfatherism) Oshiomhole embraced when he handpicked Obaseki as his successor. It also revealed Oshiomhole’s superficial knowledge of the people he governed for eight years. He under-estimated the intelligence and political IQ of the Edo people, thinking his anointment of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC candidate, was sufficient to open the doors of Government House in Benin City. But the Edo voters proved to be critical and independent thinkers, assessing the candidates based on their merit not on the preference of the establishment.

The salient lessons in this election is the abatement of godfather politics that has been the bane of Nigeria’s political development. The “election” of godsons whose only qualification for high office is the acquiescence to grant favors to their godfathers is destructive and inimical to good governance. The core ethos of democracy as fashioned by the Greek political and philosophical thinkers, underscore the significance of popular choice, not individual choice to satisfy the interests of a few. When popular choice is undermined, it reflects on the quality of leadership and governance, ultimately leading to the weakening of political institutions. It is a recipe for mediocrity on all levels of governance. The popular choice demonstrated by Edo voters on September 19th is instructive and should place political godfathers across the country on notice.

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Posted by on Sep 27 2020. Filed under All Peoples' Congress (APC), Articles, Columnists, Edo, Governors, Headlines, NNP Columnists, P, Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), Raw Politics, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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