By Prince Kassim Afegbua.
Coincidentally, today marks the 3rd year anniversary of Governor Godwin Obaseki in office, but I am not going to dissect his adventure thus far. That will be an assignment for a later date.
Let me continue from where I stopped last week, the Iyamho debacle. The Iyamho show of shame has been given different interpretations and connotations with accusations and counter-accusations followed by sky-rocketting rebuttals, depending on what cylinder one is firing from.
The Governor who spoke about pursuing peace, refused to pick the phone calls of his boss, Comrade Oshiomhole, who declared that his calls to Governor Obaseki, rang out. The Iyamho show of shame has a tinge of embarrassment to it, with a cincture of mutual suspicion. First, is the Oshiomhole angle. Second, is the Obaseki/Shuaibu angle.
The common denominator is the love lost, which led to some unhealthy conducts more on the part of the state government and partly Oshiomhole’s side. It is this love lost that breached the protocol in the entire scenario.
Information has it that Governor Obaseki attended the Friday 1st November, 2019 Convocation Lecture without extending courtesies to his National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole at the latter’s home. It snowballed into the macabre theatre that played out the following day which has now been outsourced to professional hirelings, government bootlickers, naysayers, coupon clippers and rentiers, to further the ugly narrative.
Even at that, a discerning mind would easily see the loose end. If there was the usual camaraderie, on arrival, both the Governor and his Deputy would have proceeded to the residence of their National Chairman to pay the usual courtesies and from there, all the dignitaries including their host, would ride in a bus to the venue for the day’s business.
So, the love lost became the catalyst for the show of shame. Even at that, I am yet to reconcile the rationale for the Deputy Governor’s decision to subject our collective psyche to such dangerous ride. As a number two citizen of the state, his total package should worry all of us. He belongs to us as our number two, the same way the Governor belongs to us as our number one in the state.
Riding on top of motorcycle on that busy Okpella-Benin highway exposed all of us to undue hypertension. What if peradventure, God forbids, any of those trucks’ drivers plying that road failed to apply his brakes, and decided to ram into those motorcyclists, including that of the number two?
What would have been the explanation? There have been many instances of brake failure and mindless carnage on that ever-busy road by heavy duty long trucks by no ordinary design of their own. What moral lesson was the Deputy Governor trying to communicate to the average graduand of the University? What was the motivation for mobilising such huge and unruly crowd to the extent that the soldiers and police would shoot teargas canisters to disperse them? Was that supposed to be a role model display or a condemnable act bearing in mind the theme and environment of the event? Was it proper for the Deputy Governor to climb a make-shift podium to give directive to the crowd like a movie director?
A usually serene, small, University community like Iyamho would expectedly become boisterous seeing such a huge, campaign-rally type of crowd on a day that should ordinarily be for merriment by parents and their graduating children.
Containing such already charged atmosphere would also be a tall order, not when teargas canisters had been fired to create additional panic. Now, in the midst of such charged atmosphere, the event ended and the Governor decided to accompany other invitees to the residence of his boss, the National Chairman, bearing in mind he never extended such courtesy a day earlier.
It is expected that those imported “okada” riders and thugs would naturally accompany their leaders to Oshiomhole’s residence chanting 4+4, in full obeisance to the salutary lure for second term. Expectedly, there is already a “home-grown” crowd at the entrance to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. Only naivety would think otherwise. You are bound to have contestation or “balance of terror” between the imported and the home-grown crowds. Any security conscious person on advance duty ought to have properly communicated this situation to the Governor and his entourage, knowing full well that both actors have not been in the best of terms for sometime now.
The personal security details of the Governor failed in their responsibility of proactive trouble-shooting. The simple doctrine in VIP movement is to think ahead of your principal and see if any intending atmosphere is suitable enough to accommodate a hitch-free entry for your principal. The Governor’s security details ostensibly became part of the crowd and part of the problem, thus making the entire situation uncontrollable. It is one thing for you to mobilise crowd to an event, managing them to behave in a most civilised manner, often times, becomes herculean. Did the Deputy Governor depart the scene on “okada” the same way he came with them? The answer is no. He was reportedly inside the bus that conveyed other dignitaries to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. He left the imported crowd in the hands of the “home-grown” crowd and zoomed off with his principal. The end product was the battering and smashing of windscreens that later became relics of the encounter. Lowering the standard of public office as exhibited by the Deputy Governor is morally reprehensible, given the assignment of that day.
If what the Deputy Governor wanted was a show of political strength and bravado in Oshiomhole’s domain as a mark of political independence, he got his fingers burnt and thoroughly embarrassed his boss, the Governor, the state and other invited dignitaries. By the time the security agencies profile and analyse those amateur videos, they would be able to place their hands on the jar.
I am enthralled by Comrade Oshiomhole’s reported phone calls to the Governor and other dignitaries few minutes after the ugly incident was brought to his attention. The only sore thumb was Oshiomhole’s declaration that he didn’t actually invite the Governor. That was off the mark. Not responding to Comrade Oshiomhole’s calls was another off the mark on the part of the Governor. In the African tradition, the visitor or guest is the head of the house because of the respect we accord those who visit us. I am sure that was the motivation for Oshiomhole’s calls to the Governor to extend his apologies. He didn’t stop there, he also personally apologised to the Governor and other dignitaries including the revered Oba of Lagos, through press interview, over the untoward behaviour of the errant youths.
That apology, to me, was the hallmark of humility against the background of the love lost between the two major actors. Going further to join issues with his political son was another off the mark chronicle. He should simply have called for the State Commissioner of Police and the Department of State Service to investigate the matter and come up with a report, after all, both agencies had their men on duty on that fateful day.
Talking seriously, as a student of power, ingratitude has its own consequences. The addictive properties of power often make its distribution suffer certain deprivations and end up creating frictions between godfathers and godsons. In the Edo scenario, I have read a couple of very misleading, ill-informed commentaries as the rationale for the seed of discord that has germinated between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole. They called it “refusal to share money”, a cheap blackmail, loaded in baloney, a banality that is neither here nor there.
The Edo debacle is purely a function of ego, pure and simple. As a Muslim who believes in the efficacy of my five times prayers, it is becoming a motto on the lips of people to offer this prayer line: may your case never be like that of Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Often times, you hear a deafening sound of A-M-E-E-E-E-N. Why is the prayer that instructive and disturbingly so? It is because of the robust relationship that hitherto existed between the two of them for 8 solid years when Godwin Obaseki served as Economic Advisor to Oshiomhole and the level of decay it has suffered just within three years.
No one would have contemplated that Governor Obaseki would derive the balls to confront an Oshiomhole whom he often offered the honorific salutation of “yes sir”, “yes sir” in those years. Coupled with this, is the current role of the Deputy Governor, Phillip Shuaibu, a once political son of Oshiomhole, who has now chosen power in place of long held relationship. They say you do not know the true depth of a man’s character until power and money are thrust upon him. Power! Power!! Power!!!. What a crazy aphrodisiac that makes men blind to their real intentions and derobe their sense of humanity when faced with the lure of high office. I am yet to reconcile in retrospect why Comrade Oshiomhole would have to withdraw Phillip Shuaibu from the House of Representatives and make him Obaseki’s running mate, when there were better, intellectually mobile and cerebral minds from Edo North who could have filled the opportunity. Power, they say, works in an uncommon fashion.
If the opportunity presents itself, would Oshiomhole be willing to do same? That is the lesson of history and experience. I now hear the unprintable names Oshiomhole is being called by those beneficiaries of his compelling lobby and argument. Some say it is the law of karma at play, others say it serves him right, yet some say, it is a lesson for those who tend to serve power ala carte.
Obaseki got his hands on power ala carte, right from the oven of Oshiomhole’s kitchen. Having been fed with the menu of some ideological precepts, he has now built his own army of praise-singers and colony of clapping youths who deafen our ears with suffocating chants of 4+4. In the inner recesses of power, especially in Nigeria, sustaining the drive becomes a distraction and money guzzling adventure, but from Obaseki’s body language, he seems ready to break the till to prove a point that he indeed is the real King on the throne. Power and its allure presents intoxicants for those who wield it and gives ingratitude a new meaning…..
To be continued….