Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki is being deserted by prominent aides. Festus Okoro writes on the implications for his re-election bid.
There are indications that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki’s ambition for a second term in office is fast becoming an unending nightmare as his party members, political appointees leave in droves.
“A leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk.” In that one quote, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner explicitly paints a picture of a leader whom his followers or allies have lost confidence in. But why do so many people lose faith in their political leaders or politicians at a time – as in the current situation with Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and his once passionate followers including close associates and appointees? Does it mean they reject his ideas on “leadership?”
Although Obaseki and his “leaning” fanbase wants everyone to believe otherwise, basic knowledge of political behaviour suggests to every discerning mind that the massive depletion of the Governor’s camp is an indication that the noose is getting tighter on his second term ambition. Those who hold such view are quick to point to recent incidences of resignation of appointments by key officials of his government in a worrisome manner. For instance, Director, Obaseki/Shaibu Movement and a hitherto member of the state Waste Management Board, Mr Patrick Iyoha, announced his resignation from his appointment to the amazement of many on July 28. Although Iyoha did not give reasons for his resignation in his letter dated 28 July, 2020. But those who are close to him said he did so as a protest against the Governor Obaseki’s lackluster administration and stack disregard for democratic tenets.
Besides Iyoha, two members of the Post Primary Education Board: chairman of the board, Mr Gabriel Oiboh, and a member Mr Osanyemwere Osawe appointed by Governor Obaseki also resigned their appointments about 24 hours after Iyoha threw in the trowel. According to them, they left because they could not bow to pressure to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
On Monday, July 29, three commissioners of the Edo state Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission reigned their appointments. The commissioners — Osamwonyi Atu, Emmanuel Odigie and Rilwanu Oshiomhole — represented Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North senatorial districts. Several state commissioners have also resigned.
“Can someone tell OBASEKI to leave the position when the ovation is laud than to be humiliated at the end of the day? It is a pity that Obaseki is not sensing it that his time is up in Edo Politics. He has refused to do the needful at the right time only to be fighting elders in the state and refused to inaugurate Edo State House of Assembly,” a political analyst, Asia Jones said in reaction to the depletion in the Governor’s cabinet and mass defection from the PDP into the APC.
The resignation of Mr Iyoha is one that sent some shivers down the spines of Obaseki’s supporters. The tsunami list of many appointees of Governor Godwin Obaseki who have parted ways with the governor ahead of the September 19 gubernatorial election in the state is swelling up each day. The list is becoming endless, giving credence to those who say Obaseki may just be on his way out of government house.
About 42 political allies of Obaseki have resigned their positions in his cabinet. Three members in the board of Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission on Monday resigned their appointments, citing political and personal reasons.
Taiwo Akerele, who was the Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki up and until April this year resigned from the position, saying his decision to exit the administration “is based on administrative and governance grounds.” Akerele said he had to resign for being sidelined, over his refusal to join the fight against the former National Chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Can Governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, survive the rampaging wind of resignation and defections trothing their base?
Samson Akiemughu, an Edo state born political economist says it remains a tight rope for Obaseki and his deputy to walk. “It’s becoming interesting. As it is now, it’s almost predictable to say Obaseki can garner enough vote to beat or win his major rival and candidate of the All Progressives Congres, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the coming election,” he said in an interview with this newspaper.
Like Akiemughu, Johnson Raymond, an Abuja based public affairs analyst, believes that “it will take extra grace for Obaseki to win the September 19 election. If you look at the Governor’s countenance, his disposition and unarticulated campaign speeches during his tour of the state, you will better understand that his self-confidence is waning at high speed,” Raymond said.
But, Joel Osa would slightly disagree with Akiemughu and Raymond. In his reaction to the debate, he said: “I don’t know why it’s the people who don’t leave in the state that will critisie the government… Am an Edo indigene and obaseki has done well in just 4yrs…. He defected to the PDP because “issue with his Godfather Oshiomhole. ”Oshiomhole did not want him to contest by accusing him of not having proper credentials to run for the next elections… If the people want to resign let them resign Edo must move forward the actions of few people cannot dictate that for everybody and there is a man for it…”
He however, acknowledged that “Ize iyamu himself is not also bad, but all we pray for is good governance.”
Many believe that Obaseki will not go far or score significant result at the polls, based on what they described as mass movement of the governor’s trusted allies and political appointees who are supposed to be members of his immediate family. The general view is that due to his “abysmal performance in the last three years and half, re-electing him would be difficult.
They believe that Obaseki is notorious for not delivering on his campaign promises to the state. Hence his current struggle to get reelected into the government has become an uphill task. His critics stressed that his current struggle is because of his poor performance in the period he has been in office. Not a few people think he should be voted out of office to allow for efficiency in delivery of the desired dividends of democracy to the state. Those who are on ground point to the fact that Edo state is now worse in terms of provision of infrastructure like roads, school buildings, power and housing.
“Road network across the state is the worse in the entire Southern region. Cases of armed robbery and bioreports+ are getting worse. The rate of girl traffiking and prostitution is alarming. No enough teachers in our schools – from Primary to tertiary education level. He cannot even find a way to partner Benin Disco to ensure average power supply to Benin City, talk more of the rural areas. It’s darkness across the state at night, providing safe haven for criminals and criminality.
“He brags about constructing few roads despite scarce resources. Let Obaseki measure his standard of governance with his peers across the country, he will realise how much he has taken Edo state backward. Instead of focusing on governance and delivery of his promises to the people of Edo state that elected him massively in 2016, he there chasing shadows and engaging campaigns of calumny, hatred and brigandage,” Osas Omo said in an interaction with our correspondent,” adding: “Is that the kind of person you expect us to vote in again as Governor of Edo state? Never will that happen.”
As the clock ticks to the September 19 for the election of the next governor, many hope that the elections will be devoid of violence.