June 11, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Quicksands of democracy in Nigeria, the Edo State example (2)

CentralNews “Personality of the Week,” this week, is still Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu. In the first of a 4-part piece, we took a resume published by the Edo State Government on its official social media handle. Today, we take another piece sponsored by the state government, published Leadership Newspapers. Promise: tomorrow, we shall give you what we consider our reading of the shenanigans. Enjoy this scene of Act 1, Scene 2.

Obaseki/Shaibu feud: What is next for Edo Deputy Governor?
TO say things have fallen apart irretrievably between Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu is stating the obvious, as latest political developments in the heartbeat state of the nation, Edo, has gone south.
Some political watchers in the no love lost relationship between the two highly placed government officials in state are of the opinion that the embattled deputy governor should eat the humble pie and toe the path of honour by tendering his resignation letter as the only option left for him as it appears there is no end in his fence-mending move to pacify his boss, Governor Godwin Obaseki who appears to be determined to cut him to size and finally clip his political wings.
Speculations are rift [sic] that Shaibu who had supported Obaseki against his political godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in the battle for Obaseki’s second term in 2020 may not survive the political gang-up, humiliation and annihilation that lies ahead if developments in the last few days since he returned from his annual leave is anything to go by.
Since the feud began between the duo, the governor has striped his deputy of state responsibilities he had once controlled and presided over with commendable success, such as revenue supervision and sports administration in the state. Few days ago, the governor had ordered the disbandment of his media crew over what the state government described as an ugly and unfortunate incident that happened during the colloquium held to mark the 60th anniversary celebration of the Midwest Referendum at the Sir Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub.
However, in the face of the crisis, the deputy governor had expressed optimism that the storm between him and his boss would eventually be resolved outside the prying eyes of the public and the media. But how that can be achieved still remains daunting.
Nobody would have expected that the cordial relationship and bond between Governor Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Shaibu would have broken so soon. The signs that all is not well surfaced when Shaibu showed interest in succeeding his boss come 2024 when the tenure of Obaseki will have come to an end.
Shaibu, it was learnt, has not formally informed his boss of his intention and is said to have embarked on consultation over his ambition with the hope to later make his intentions known to the governor at the appropriate time. However, Obaseki appears not to be in support of his deputy to succeed him and was said to have appealed to all close to him interested in the governorship to rather focus more on ensuring that the administration finished well and strong.
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to release timetables and guidelines for the election, interested aspirants across political parties have taken advantage of social media and other platforms to indicate their interest.
Obaseki’s body language and posture not to support his deputy to succeed him may not be unconnected with his desire to cede the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s ticket to Edo Central Senatorial District, a zone that is expected to produce the next governor of the state based on the unwritten agreement of power sharing in the state as the zone has continued to insist on fairness, equity and justice.
Edo South and Edo North have dominated the governorship since 1999. Senator Adams Oshiomhole, who hails from Edo North Senatorial District, was governor for eight years between 2009 and 2017. Governor Obaseki who succeeded Oshiomhole is from Edo South.
Be that as it may, speculations about the looming crisis between Obaseki and his deputy a few months ago had gained traction in the social media. It was then refuted. However, a clear sign that after all, all is not well came to the open when Shaibu approached a Federal High Court in Abuja and alleged that the governor and the State House of Assembly were plotting to impeach him. The court granted the deputy governor an interim-restraining order pending the proper determination of his application.
Shaibu’s search for legal protection came to Obaseki as a shock, setting the stage for the feud that has dominated major political discussions in the state and Nigeria. The Federal High Court has fixed September 7, 2023 to deliver final judgment on the Shaibu’s temporary restraining order of alleged planned impeachment.
However, the Edo State House of Assembly and the governor had denied knowledge of any plans to impeach the deputy governor.
Obaseki had reacted to his deputy’s action, accusing him of disloyalty and planning to overthrow him because of his desperation to become the next governor of the state.
According to Obaseki, “Shaibu went to Abuja and was boasting that he has connections in Abuja, that he has people in the National Assembly, that they are all with the president now, that they will take care of him if he cannot get the ticket in PDP, he knows what to do.
“I kept quiet and said I thought we were together. But what struck me, and I have never said this to anybody, is that after I proclaimed the house of assembly, we were now going to elect officers.
“He was in Abuja; he came back that day. I am the chief security officer of this state. I get any information I need. But I have that responsibility to keep quiet and use the information properly.
“My deputy called the leader in APC, telling him that during the elections the next day, particularly the speaker of the House of Assembly that he has five members who are loyal to him and that he would like the seven members of APC to work with his five members of PDP to produce the next speaker.
“As far as I am concerned, that was not working in our common interest. Why would the deputy governor seek to have another speakership candidate outside what the governor wants? Are we working together? That was when I knew we had a problem. That the deputy governor has become so desperate to take over.
Mending fence move
As the gulf between Obaseki and Shaibu widened, the deputy on return from his annual leave abroad, appeared in public for the first time since the crisis began at an interdenominational church thanksgiving service to mark the 32nd anniversary celebration of the state, held at the new Festival Hall, Government House.
Dressed in white native attire signifying peace, Shaibu declared his loyalty to the governor describing him as his elder brother and boss.
“My loyalty to the governor remains absolute. I see that everybody is doing solidarity. I am also in solidarity with the governor. I am also declaring my unalloyed solidarity and loyalty to the governor and nothing more.
“As for the issues that were around town when I was away, I really would not want to talk. Issues that concern my governor are not things I like to speak about on camera. No, no, no! He is my elder brother and boss and I don’t think I should talk about anything.
“And if I have issues with him, I think it is better settled at home and not in the media. I am well brought up. I can tell you that from my Christian background, if you make a vow with God that you want to do something, you must fulfil it. And the vow I have taken with God is that I will continue to support Godwin Obaseki as the governor of Edo State from the beginning to the end.
“But that does not stop anything that has to do with ambition. Ambition is personal and it does not affect loyalty. My loyalty to the governor remains absolute. I see that everybody is doing solidarity. I am also in solidarity with the governor. I am also declaring my unalloyed solidarity and loyalty to the governor and nothing more,” he said.
As if that was not enough, the next day (Monday 28th September 28, 2023 he stormed out of the venue of a government function after some of his media aides were denied entry at an event hosted by Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki.
Shaibu had arrived at the venue alongside some aides while the governor was making his opening remarks but some security operatives at the entrance of the hall barred his media aides from entering. He later ordered his aides to leave after failed attempts to reach amicable resolutions.
As it stands, the deputy governor appears to be alone and isolated. He does not appear to have allies either in the PDP or the APC. The embattled deputy governor doesn’t even have the backing of party stakeholders from Edo North where he hails from. PDP bigwigs from the zone have disowned him over his suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to halt the plots to remove him.
A PDP leader in Edo North who does not want his name mentioned described the move by the deputy governor as counterproductive and of no basis to have gone to court on mere rumour and speculation.
“What the deputy governor has done is most unfortunate and we find it very embarrassing that he could go that far to drag the governor to court. If I were the deputy governor, I would resign and move on.