How to picture Comrade Philip Shaibu, the one-time protegee of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who became the principal adjunct of his (Oshiomhole’s) persecutor, that is Governor Godwin Obaseki, is an unfolding political drama emerging in Edo State.
Stradling between the two main encampments in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo State, Shaibu has the undignified adornment of a hate figure among the two streams, one led by Obaseki, the other by Chief Dan Orbih, the powerful national vice-chairman of the PDP.
Shaibu was chief cheerleader in October 2021 when Obaseki mobilized his aides among other political actors in a show of tomfoolery to suspend Orbih from the PDP. That act of political buccaneering was especially touching given that Orbih was the one who managed the campaign that helped the Obaseki-Shaibu ticket to a second term just a year before.
Even more brutal was the fact that Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, the former member of the House of Representatives who was the shoo-in to be the PDP governorship candidate in 2020 was also suspended. Ogbeide-Ihama had surrendered the ticket to Obaseki following the intervention of Orbih, Nyesom Wike among others.
At that point and given the background of the fallout with Oshiomhole, many claimed that ingratitude was the viable currency of transaction for Obaseki and Shaibu.
Shaibu’s particular slant of ungratefulness had earlier been projected by his cavalier denunciation of the man he once claimed as his father, Comrade Oshiomhole at the height of the quarrel between him and Obaseki.
For his fidelity while it lasted, Obaseki made Shaibu to be the most respected of Nigeria’s 36 deputy governors. He had oversight over the Ministries of Local Government, revenue collection and even had time for his devotion as a full-time player of Bendel Insurance FC.
However, Shaibu’s dependability within Obaseki’s camp became an issue with his determination to contest the 2024 governorship election.
That quest has been questioned by many on the basis of the agitation of power shift to Edo Central, the only senatorial zone yet to enjoy a four-year term since the creation of Edo State out of the former Bendel State.
Critics say that Shaibu’s Edo North has been in the power equation in the state as either governor or deputy since 1999 with the notable exception of the 20 months Senator Oserheinmen Osunbor held sway.
Beyond the sophistry he uttered to newsmen in Bauchi last Thursday that his deputy has the constitutional right to contest, it is, however, generally known that Governor Obaseki has responded with vehement hostility to the idea of Shaibu contesting against his word.
Remarkably, because of his past acts of political perfidy, Shaibu has not won the kind of support that the common man in Edo normally shows towards the oppressed. In fact, in some places, he has shockingly made Obaseki a good man among some people.
However, despite the chronicle of political hustling and shifting, Shaibu’s proof of service as served following his declaration on Monday appears worthy of being put to test.
Speaking in an interview on Arise News Television last Monday, the Edo Deputy Governor showed a substantial solidity in his convictions as to why he should succeed Obaseki.
Your correspondent was particularly appreciative of Shaibu’s assertions of kicking off his government from day one with his list of commissioners and principal officers of government. Even more, he promised that if elected he would reveal the list of commissioners with their portfolios on his day of inauguration.
Whether his promise was made to mock Obaseki who took months to name his commissioners is a matter of political conjecture. Indeed, for months, after winning reelection, Obaseki ran his PDP government by himself with Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie as his only political enablers.
Shaibu’s commitment is a welcome enterprise in the face of the contradictory gestures of the political class.
Even if Shaibu had wallowed in the past as a political delinquent, the issues he brought forward in his interview are indeed interesting and should be the point of engagement for those focused on lifting the levers of governance in Edo State.
Comrade Shaibu’s determination to press on with his ambition despite the stern opposition of Obaseki is a welcome act and a renunciation of the pretense of loyalty that has garnished political relationships in our shores.
Across the border up north, Shaibu’s counterpart in Kogi State, Edward Onoja who has been variously accused of scheming and arranging to be Yahaya Bello’s successor easily cowed as the outgoing governor listed his community member as his successor. After he was told to go and sit down, Onoja simply obeyed even without the white lion roaring.
But not Shaibu who has brought forward his arguments. And the arguments are simply interesting. As the lawyers will say, it is an invitation to treat that is much welcome and the issues he is bringing forth should be worthy of debate.