June 11, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Edo 2024: Comrade Shaibu responds to ‘preferred candidate’ debate

THE controversy has raged in Edo State where retiring Gov. Godwin Obaseki is vehemently opposed to his deputy Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu succeeding to the governorship proper.
So much has happened: the governor, through relevant apparatchik of government, first began to lock the deputy governor out of executive council meetings – in one instance that all-important state function was moved away from Edo to Lagos state with a bash tagged Exco Retreat. The deputy governor was deliberately not invited.
Later, the media crew of the deputy governor’s office was disbanded and relocated outside the grounds of Government House, Benin-City.
Finally, Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu was physically ejected from the deputy governor’s section of the Govt House and moved to a “ramshackle” accomodation renamed Office of the Deputy Governor (ODG), against the norm that the ODG has always operated from within the confines of Government House proper.
Deputy governor Shaibu was so overwhelmed, he succumbed to the now dubious but uncharitable mantra of Nigeria’s nouveau-political class: go to court.
He went to court to say the governor was goading the state house of assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings against him.
Not unexpectedly, both the governor and the assembly speaker denied the charge and Comrade Shaibu was encouraged by several Edo leaders and senior political figures to sheath his sword in that direction. He did, so what next?
The deputy governor heeded counsel and initiated the process of reconciliation, including taking some of those elder statesmen to physically go to Gov. Obaseki offer apologies for any perceived wrong-doing.
Shaibu even offered a public apology on national television. In all this, what is the boss’s anger against his deputy?
The governor said plainly that the only way the deputy governor of Edo State could be “forgiven” is that Shaibu denounces his aspiration to run for governor.
That was the state of affairs as of Monday November 27, 2023 when the deputy governor hurriedly had to shift the venue for the formal declaration of his ambition to run, because there was credible intelligence that agents of government had warned the venue owners not to allow the event.
Yet, attendance at the declaration showed how enthusiastic Shaibu’s sponsors are and how determined the aspirant is.
Two days later, Gov. Obaseki began saying he has no preferred candidate to succeed him, even though many keen observers of the Edo political succession saga suspect that Mr. Asue Ighodalo is riding on the governor’s train.
Nevertheless, Comrade Philip Shaibu is confident; he has his campaign plan well mapped out, yet you would never hear him speak a derogatory word against Gov. Obaseki. For CentralNews, Chukwuemeka OKORO spoke to the Comrade Deputy Governor exclusively and now reports….

Reporter: Comrade, Sir, you are so calm in the face of what is clearly a powerful opposition.
Shaibu: Thank you. My ambition is a collective decision. As I have said many times, I have consulted very widely: we have decided that the next governor of Edo State must be a homeboy.
It would no longer be an experiment by persons who do not understand the core nuances of our people’s quest good, effective governance.
Oh, sure! This government (of His Excellency Godwin Obaseki) has done its best but we know where the real problems are and how to go about tackling them.
Nobody goes into battle by revealing all his strategies in advance but we shall prevail. One thing I need to say now, however, is that we are determined to change our young people’s aversion for honest hard work; we shall change their mindset.
Q: Is it worrisome that the governor is not supporting your governorship aspiration?
A: The same way that I reserve the right to enter the race, His Excellency similarly has his right to decide who to support. Nobody can or should deny him his choice to either support or not support my aspiration or any other person’s.
Rather, I should say that a great majority of stakeholders in this project consider me to be the right homeboy at this time.
It would not be boastful to say that People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, especially of the Legacy PDP persuasion are solidly in support of my candidature.
Support groups at the various strata of the population and within the party tell me not to fear; I believe and trust them.
Q: About zoning and rotation?
A: That is not a matter to particularly dwell on. We in Edo State could not say we have any decided formula for how leadership in the state is to be shared.
Sharing and inclusiveness are the beauty of democracy, but there is no formal arrangement in Edo State for that, yet our cohesion as a people has never been bogged down by any claim of alienation.
Conversely, I should note that in the many political seasons since the return of democracy nearly 25 years now, the PDP has dominated in Edo State, but has never given its governorship ticket to Edo-North, my area.
One should hope that the time is now right for that.
Q: One of the things the governor has said on the matter of successor is that he would not support “inexperience ….”
A: (Cuts in…) Certainly, that could not be in relation to my humble self!
I have been national president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), multiple-tenure member of the Edo State house of assembly where I was majority leader severally, and then to the House of Representatives (HoR) from where I was drafted to be deputy governor.
In the past seven years, Philip Shaibu as deputy governor has been given several critical assignments impacting the core values of the government’s quest for peace, development and happiness in the state.
I have documented evidence of instances where the governor himself has praised my intervention in those fastidious apportionments and the results.
He once wrote that I was “the best deputy governor” any state chief executive should aspire to have.
Philip Shaibu is standing on the platform of CAPACITY, and the stakeholders agree.
Q: You were “ejected” from your statutory offices….
A: (Cuts in again)… They relocated our offices. That is another of the facts that for five months now, no statutory allocation has been given to the Office of the Deputy Governor (ODG).
Indeed, I have heared that they may soon stop the fuelling of vehicles in the ODG’s fleet.
Let’s watch out, but I can assure of my confidence that my name would be on the ballot when the time comes. No unsavoury words against His Excellency.