Will Governor Obaseki Become The New 'Ambode' Of Edo State?


Picture: Akinwunmi Ambode and Governor Godwin Obaseki

The cases of Governor Godwin Obaseki and former governor Akinwunmi Ambode are similar to each other and might likely end the same way if the political trends in Edo State continue. Both of them were technocrats with impressive resumes. By their stakes in the societies, they frolicked with politicians who found them suitable for public positions. Ambode was backed by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be the governor of Lagos State in 2015, while Comrade Adams Oshiomhole - the National Chairman of the APC railroaded Obaseki to power in 2016. That kind of leapfrog to the topmost positions in their different states of origin is what most Christian faithful hotly pray for in churches every Sunday.

Ambode and Obaseki who are members of the same political party - All Progressives Congress, must have had passive interests in politics but lacked the influence and financial wherewithal to chase the dreams. Well, who wouldn't be interested in politics in Nigeria with the regular windfalls?

Ambode and Obaseki rode on the backs of godfathers to become number one citizens of their states. After the achievements, they wanted full control over the affairs of their offices. They wanted freedom from external forces but they couldn't have it both ways. The godfathers simply compromised the ladders that took them up and their stay at the top became turbulent. Ambode fell flat, and crashed his back like the proverbial tortoise; his strong support base at Epe failed to save him. Since Ambode shamefully failed to secure a second term in office, the established financial consultant and former Accountant-General of Lagos State has slipped into oblivion. His image has been maligned and he might even be scared to use his formerly golden name in public. At times, it appears the foremost anti-graft agency in Nigeria, EFCC could swoop in on him at any time for alleged corruption during his administration. 

Picture: Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Obaseki is at the same point and the script is playing out the same way but it might not necessarily have the same result. The only difference is that Obaseki wants to fight his principal. Firstly, Oshiomhole by his leadership role within the APC has recommended direct primary elections in Edo State. This is the Achilles Heel of most governors whose influence is more suited for the indirect primaries that involve transactional delegates. The governors find the loyalties of the selected delegates easier to buy with their war chest. This was the same move that crippled the second term bid of Ambode, who was beaten hands down by his rival, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the primary level, in an election ridden with malpractices.

Another similarity both cases share is the fact that cabinet members tend to leave the troubled heads in their times of despair. Obaseki's Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Paul Ohonbamu, resigned on Thursday and was replaced immediately. His Chief of Staff, Taiwo Akerele, had also resigned amongst others due to the ruckus between him and Oshiomhole. Ambode had his own fair share, a number of his political appointees stood behind him physically but left politically to side with Sanwo-Olu's camp. Even his deputy, Dr Oluranti Adebule, voted for Sanwo-Olu during the party primaries and granted an interview to the media in the process.

Picture: Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Governor Godwin Obaseki

Most pundits believe Oshiomhole's anointed man - Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is going to school Obaseki in the June 22 party primaries. Truth be told, Iyamu is a more grounded politician who has over the years learnt many dirty tricks in the game. Obaseki, on the other hand, struggled to communicate with the rugged Edo people during political campaigns. A novice in Nigerian politics following the political campaigns in 2016 must have hastily thought Oshiomhole was the political candidate.

The combo of political influences between Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole possibly coupled with federal might could wreck the camp of Obaseki. Obaseki seems confused between seeking peace or war. He has also been struggling to secure external viable alliances as he seeks the support of Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari. Obaseki knows what he is up against. He is already preparing an exit route to the main opposition party in Nigeria - Peoples Democratic Party, should he fail to secure the governorship ticket under the banner of the APC. Since there is no credible difference in ideologies between both parties, Obaseki will waste no time in hitting the ground running.

Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu have also been using the law courts to slow each other down in different regards as Nigerian politicians normally do in desperate and tensed up situations like this. They want each other disqualified from the contest.

The victory and losses will be in two stages. If Obaseki secures the party ticket in June, then he has won the first leg of the showdown with his godfather. The second leg will be the governorship election on the 19th of September. Should he replicate the same feat again, Oshiomhole's political career and kingmaker career would be dealt a devastating blow. But it might also go the other way round. If Obaseki fails to get the party ticket, he will be running into the waiting hands of the power-hungry PDP members desperate to control the financial resources of Edo State. If he manages to secure the ticket and loses the main election, then it might be over for him politically. With that kind of defeat, Obaseki would consider returning to Lagos to run the financial institution that made him attractive to Oshiomhole administration. He will be leaving the Southern state with his tail in between his legs.

Oshiomhole will not let him go easily. His image will be battered in the media, he will be taunted incessantly, some dark areas of his administration will be exposed, and he could be hounded by the EFCC under the guise of a corruption probe. He might end up or even worse than Ambode - a man that is regularly talked about when narrating 'grace to grass' stories but never seen. He is just like a ghost!

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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