The push by some elements close to Governor Godwin Obaseki to rejig the structure of his new party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP across all levels to accommodate those who joined the party with him last June is shaking the foundations of the PDP in Edo State. Emmanuel Aziken reports that the ensuing crisis dismissed by the PDP leadership in the state as a storm in a tea cup could turn into a storm in a bowl!
The true story of how Adams Oshiomhole and Godwin Obaseki met before the 2007 Edo State governorship election continues to be a matter of debate between the governor and his political foes in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The true story of that dissolved political marriage allegedly facilitated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote has been muddled by the dirty and vicious politics that shadowed the 2020 governorship election.
That election campaign saw Oshiomhole fight viciously, but in vain to stop his onetime political godson from a second term.
Obaseki on his part, fought like a wounded lion after he had been made to dance naked. Some allege that he is indeed still fighting after his glistening image in the Nigerian corporate world was thoroughly messed up by his former political father.
At the height of the dispute in June 2020, Obaseki was made to come and sit in a room at the APC headquarters with his school credentials waiting like a desperate job seeker to be screened by a committee constituted by Oshiomhole. It was one of the great ironies of politics.
Obaseki, a man who had been credited with some of Nigeria’s biggest corporate transactions including the floatation of Dangote’s empire in the capital market was being exposed as one who did not pass his Secondary School exams.
The Obaseki team, fighting back, also hit at Oshiomhole as also lacking the same certificate required of the governor.
It was in the midst of this brawl that some fast-thinking political entrepreneurs who had been watching in the shadows pushed Obaseki’s defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Remarkably, some in the PDP in Edo State were opposed to him coming, believing that the party would triumph in the face of the mutual war of destruction between Obaseki and Oshiomhole.
Indeed, at that point in June 2020, the PDP had acquitted itself as a combative, if not successful opposition party. Despite failing to win the governorship elections of 2012 and 2016, the party had won the majority of Senate seats even conducted by the APC Federal Government. It had also despite Oshiomhole, won all the presidential elections since 1999.
One of the most impactful signs of success was when the party successfully confronted the Oshiomhole administration in the local government elections in 2014. Drama unfolded in Esan North East, when as the results were being declared in the local government, state authorities cancelled the process and declared a rigged result in Benin.
The PDP went to court, and in an unheard-of development, officials of the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, EDSIEC came to volunteer evidence that the PDP won the election. They were promptly dismissed!
Chief Dan Orbih, the PDP chairman at that time apparently made way for them into federal appointments.
After nearly 10 years as chairman, Orbih gave room to another robust politician, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi last year.
Perhaps because Aziegbemi was new as chairman, Obaseki after his humiliation by Oshiomhole negotiated his entry into the PDP at the national level after consulting some of the nearby governors.
However, six months after his inauguration for a second term it seems as if the governor is still fighting, and not just Oshiomhole, but now those who gave him the platform for a second term.
The ooze from last weekend’s ‘caucus’ between the governor and the state chairman, Dr. Aziegbemi witnessed by the governor’s former APC generals with some PDP godfathers like Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Chief Tom Ikimi and Senator Ehigie Uzamere is now the latest gist in town.
The request by the caucus to dissolve the party structure has raised fire with the State Working Committee, SWC literally asking the governor to go to hell.
The PDP structure which fought and held its own for eight years of the Oshiomhole era told the governor to, if he likes, to keep running his government alone given that he has made only one appointment since his second inauguration.
Some also alleged that some of the PDP godfathers at that meeting aimed to deceive the governor and get what they lost at the congresses through the backdoor.
With the notable exception of Senator Uzamere, who won elections as PDP and ACN, and who is also the first Edo South senator to serve two terms and who can hold his own, the gist was that the PDP ‘godfathers’ also wanted the party structure dissolved for them to have their own men in charge.
But whatever, the capacity of Obaseki to enter into another fight when the dust of the fight with Oshiomhole is yet to settle is one that will inevitably smear his legacy.
For a governor who has been accredited with good reviews in infrastructure delivery among other achievements in education, sports (never mind trailing Delta), entering, into a war on behalf of his political allies would be foolhardy.
As the leader of the party in the state, he has to act with discretion towards those that came with him from the APC and those he met in the PDP.
Should the governor start a fight, the men in the PDP will tell him that even if there is an argument as to how he and Oshiomhole met and arranged themselves, but that they know where they met him last June. He was at that time a political orphan!