Emergence of Politics With Bitterness in Edo State

It seems the rift between the PDP government of Edo State under Governor Godwin Obaseki, and his former party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), is far from being over, even after the last gubernatorial elections in the state. It appears that the governor’s team is not willing to let go of the past as the sins of the father are being visited upon the sons. This is because Governor Godwin Obaseki’s government had, on the evening of 23, March 2021, demolished buildings belonging to three close allies of his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshimole, all of whom are top APC members. The victims are Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, Dr. Pius Odubu and Mr. Mike Etemuagbon. Unconfirmed reports claim that the actions were direct orders of the Edo State governor.

Dr. Pius Odubu is a former deputy governor, while Prof. Julius Ihonvebere served under Oshimole’s administration as secretary to the Edo State government. He originally resigned as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) following a flawed Edo North APC Senatorial Primaries. He is currently a member of the House of Representatives. Mike Etemuagbon is equally an APC Chieftain.

Prof. Ihonvbere’s property which was located along Edo Osagie street, GRA, Benin, was under construction. Dr. Odubu’s property located along Dennis Osadebe Avenue was occupied by his younger brother and his family when it was demolished.

Dr. Odubu, bemoaning the action, stated that “information came to me this afternoon, March 23, that my property situated along Dennis Osadebe avenue has been brought down by agents of the government on the directive of the governor.” Speaking further he stated:

“Before now, my attention was brought to a publication in the Observer Newspapers in January, that the C of O of my property has been revoked without prior notice given to me.

“I went to court in the matter and I am surprised that after they have been served, the government still went ahead to bring down my house with a bulldozer.

Wife of the former Deputy Governor’s brother, Precious Odubu, also corroborated that about 4 p.m. on the day it occurred, she noticed some fierce-looking policemen making their way to the compound, before she gathered momentum to accost them on why they were there. In her words: “The way they came in, not through the main gate, I was afraid but I confronted them on their mission. In a sharp response, they told me that they want to demolish the house and if there are children in the building, they should be brought out now.

“Without even waiting for my response, they just brought in their bulldozers and started destroying the house, without allowing us to remove our properties”.

The questions on the lips of many in Edo state and beyond are– was the demolition of the house of the APC leaders justified? Were the buildings not approved? Did the demolition follow due process or could it just be a case of personal vendetta?

Those who insist that the demolition is a direct shot at Adams Oshimole and a way of getting back at the opposition All Progressive Congress noted that about this same time last year, the Edo State government also demolished the private property of Mr. Tony Kabaka Adun, who is an APC Chieftain. Edo State’s humour merchant and veteran comedian, Francis Agoda, aka I Go Dye, called on Obaseki to desist from embarking on that line of action. He noted that “two wrongs do not make a right”, and “in spite of the low business fortune of Edo State and the future which is pregnant with repercussions, it won’t be in your government’s best interest to destroy any property without exploring all available options.”

The Nigerian comedian further asked the governor to “please prove to all that you have a heart of gold that you can forgive and embrace even your enemies on the battlefield.” However, the state government went ahead in her resolve to bring down the properties.

It is equally believed that the recent demolitions were carried out while the cases were still in court which tantamount to contempt of court and subversion of the rule of law. As critics assume, “Obaseki’s recent move is in a bid to intimidate, suppress, hound, crush and silence his perceived enemies.” But are all these without grave implications?

In a related development, last month, Obaseki had accused his predecessor, Adams Oshiomole of gross misappropriation of funds in a N30 billion water project. All of these expose the strange nature of Nigerian politics. This revelation came after his four years first tenure, just as he fell out with the former governor before decamping to PDP. it is a clear indication that Nigerian politicians only fashion out financial malfeasance and other corrupt vices when it involves their political enemies. When it involves their allies, they simply look away.

Moreover, it has become quite common in Nigerian politics to have such scenarios. The latest is the endless drama in Imo state. Ex-Governor Ihedioha, for instance, did not see anything good in Okorocha. When Hope Uzodinma assumed office as governor, he took it many steps higher.

Meanwhile, during the face-off with Adams Oshimole, Godwin Obaseki had received the backing and support of a huge number of people, especially when he was abruptly dropped as the gubernatorial candidate of APC in the last elections. It was rumoured that some APC members aided his victory. His defection to PDP was no doubt a moment of crisis for the APC.

Obaseki, however, is now losing touch with a good number of his die-hard supporters who are uncomfortable that the recent moves of his government were done out of malice. They believe it doesn’t speak well of their man whose political sagacity (following his developmental strides in Edo State) should lead him to the awareness that vendetta will always boomerang.

As mentioned earlier, the consequences for the state and the political class could be grave if the cycle of malice and vendetta persist. It is a covert recipe for crisis. Such actions borne out of political intolerance could overheat the polity. Stakeholders have also emphasised the implications of destructive politics and the need to expunge it from the Nigerian political milieu.

As former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan puts it, “Nothing drags a people and a nation back more than social crisis occasioned by the struggle for leadership. We cannot pretend to love our people if we place our personal ambitions over and above everything else and allow it to frustrate the people’s will and our common good”. Provided the demolition was justified and followed due processes, bitter politics might just be brewing again in Edo State.

Nelson Okoh

Categories: Features, Politics

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