By Ehichioya Ezomon
The ways of politicians are similar to the magicians’, who trade in “advanced trick.” Because they’re adepts, they bamboozle us in the game of “the more you look, the less you see.” We believe them because of our ignorance and vulnerability, which they exploit.
Take the issue of Governor Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and acclaimed godfather to the governor.
Before Obaseki “ported” to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he had said that his beef with the former governor was his demand to share public money to chieftains of the APC.
But did Obaseki spare the state’s treasury enroute his emergence as “unopposed” candidate of the PDP even after closing of the party nomination and screening of other aspirants?
Oshiomhole is reputed to have claimed that if a sinner came into the APC, all their sins would be forgiven. Hasn’t the PDP adopted the same mantra in respect of Obaseki?
As APC’s governor, the PDP vilified Obaseki as a non-performer, treasury looter, and a person with questionable qualifications, over which the PDP went to court in 2016.
During the governorship poll in August 2016, the former chairman of the PDP in its Edo chapter, Chief Dan Orbih, described Obaseki thus: “I have heard Oshiomhole refer to him as a technocrat, and the candidate has described himself as one.
“Here is the school certificate he used to gain admission to the University of Ibadan. In this result, he did not pass Economics, yet he calls himself head of (Oshiomhole’s) economic team. In the same certificate, he made P7 in English and failed Mathematics.
“He claimed he entered the university the year he left secondary school. How could he have gained admission with such result? The result was not even good for any form of preliminary studies.
“This can only mean that Obaseki forged the certificates to gain admission. It is obvious that the man has no academic qualifications, as he had only three credits.”
Orbih didn’t only question Obaseki’s educational qualifications, but also his claim to being a “technocrat” that clearly guaranteed him to head Oshiomhole’s Economic and Strategy Team (EST).
Fast forward to 2020. Obaseki has become “sparkly clean,” and turned a “performer” in the PDP, post-his disqualification by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC in June.
In an interview in New Telegraph on July 5, Orbih, now national vice-chairman (South-South) of the PDP, said he had always seen Obaseki as “somebody, who is focused, and who wants to identify with the yearnings of his people.”
Orbih’s words: “The assessment of the governor is coming on September 19, (and) the way Edo people will vote for him will show you clearly that the man has done well.
“I can assure you that the (governor’s) programmes are very clear. Very soon, they will be talking about the (Azura-Edo IPP) power plant, which he hopes to commission soon.
“How many state governments have been able to go into that area; this is quite unprecedented developmental strides, and there is need for him to consolidate on the good works he has started.
“The average person in the street feels that the man will even do far more than what he has done so far, except for the distractions they gave him (in the APC) in the greater part of his tenure.
“I think now that he is in a party that believes in real democracy, he will have all the time in the world, without distractions, to continue to deliver on his promises and it is good for the state.”
Where’s Orbih’s umbrage over alleged poor performance of Obaseki on the APC platform? Was he “a failure” because he’s in the APC, and a “talk-na-do” governor a few weeks in the PDP?
How will Orbih campaign for Obaseki, when for several years, he repeatedly questioned his qualifications, competence and transparency in governance? And how is he different from Oshiomhole, who’s recanted his smear campaigns against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu when he’s the PDP candidate in 2016?
In December 2019, while welcoming Ize-Iyamu back to the APC, Oshiomhole praised him for returning with “his goodwill, his energy, his resourcefulness, and his own electoral base to join the APC” – qualities Oshiomhole never credited Ize-Iyamu with, as he leveled damaging allegations against him in the 2016 election cycle.
What about Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State? How’s the sharp-shooter going to tell Edo people to vote for Obaseki he has alleged the PDP leaders “collected tax” (aka bribery) from?
Reacting to allegation that he’s backing a PDP aspirant in a suit in Rivers to scuttle Obaseki’s chances in the PDP, Wike labelled the party chieftains peddling the accusation as “tax collectors.”
He said: “I told them (PDP leaders) that in Edo State, we must handle the issue carefully and carry everybody along. They must respect human beings and not behave like tax collectors.
“I have had sleepless nights to resolve the issue in Edo State… I know the members of the National Working Committee of PDP, who connived with (a national daily)… They are tax collectors. Let them challenge me and I will come out with more facts.” The PDP only offered a tepid response: “Our leaders are not tax collectors.”
Wike, head of PDP’s campaign council for Obaseki’s re-election, tacitly accused the governor of deploying Edo State’s money to secure his “unopposed” ticket a few days of decamping to PDP.
Wait a minute! In view of their feud that partly led to Oshiomhole’s sack as APC’s chair, could you imagine Obaseki ever eulogizing him as a “freedom fighter” that came to “release us from bondage?”
Yes, Obaseki deployed those words reserved for the Legends! In a video that surfaced lately, the governor had met a youth group, to express his gratitude for their works for the APC and his regime.
Obaseki relayed that he’s asked how he would deal with certain persons, “boys like Tony Kabaka (whose hotel he demolished) and Akugbe Ventures,” who had cornered everything in Benin City.
While he told his inquirers he couldn’t bundle the said persons, “who are my younger brothers and sisters and children,” and dump them “in the Atlantic Ocean,” Obaseki said he wanted to be governor so he could help such persons, take care of them and direct them… and “move poor people from poverty to wealth.”
Then, he pivoted to giving plaudits to Oshiomhole, for developing Edo State, especially in the areas of roads and schools, whose classrooms, he said, used to be filled “with potholes.”
Obaseki, in admixture of pidgin and the Queen’s English, said: “Before Oshiomhole come dis town (Benin City), wetin dem dey tell us? ‘Edo State is a very poor state; a civil servant state; there is no money.’ Isn’t it? So dat dey go explain why dey no do anything. We fit build roads; we fit do schools? Everything scatter!
“Since Oshiomhole come, no bi im we start dey see government fit do work? You believe sey government fit build road like the expressway? We no do am now?
“What about schools? When we enter dis town, no bi im we see potholes go dey inside classroom? School no pass house now? No bi dat make children dey go school now? So, we don try. Oshiomhole don try. Oshiomhole is like a freedom fighter. He come release us from bondage.” It’s cheers for Oshiomhole!
But can Obaseki, with a straight face, say such good things about Oshiomhole today? Can Oshiomhole praise Obaseki’s remarkable acumen, as he tries to replace him with Ize-Iyamu? Can Orbih call Obaseki a failed governor? Isn’t Wike preaching that Obaseki is the “cleanest” since the invention of Close-up tooth paste?
These are the ways of politicians who, like magicians, play on the people’s intelligence. What have they revealed in this thread? That we shouldn’t trust them, as they’ve always lied to us, and would do the same in the run-up to the September 19 poll. So SAD!!!
Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria