By Sunny Awhefeada
But for the liberty which postmodernism confers on the use of language to express the oddity which defines contemporary reality, it would have been hard put for anybody to aptly describe or encode the political turmoil going on in Edo State. The unfolding absurdist script written, directed and acted by one man has again raised a lot of salient issues about politics in Nigeria. While conceding to the devious underpinning of the etymology of the word “politician”, the Nigerian variant of it must have astounded the very man or woman who first pinned dubiousness on politics. It is in Nigeria that politicians will not only come back to say good evening after saying good night, but will without batting an eyelid make a king of the man they called a villain yesterday and cast stones at the one with whom they shared the same bed overnight. Doublespeak, guile and acute shamelessness have become virtues in much of Nigerian politics as it is playing out in Edo State presently.
Had a prophet predicted that the two major actors in the unfolding Edomagic, Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole, would fall apart in the manner they have done, that prophet would have been told to go and jump into the Ologbo River. Come to think of it: how come none of Nigeria’s uncountable prophets could predict the rift between the hitherto Ake and Pawpaw of Edomagic? They couldn’t because it was a phenomenon nobody knew or thought could happen. If any godfather, in Nigerian politics, was so besotted with his godson, it was Oshiomhole and Obaseki.
The former did everything to ensure that the latter became governor after him. He rated and promoted him over himself in terms of integrity, understanding of government and the economy and told the world that he would perform much better than himself. The protégé coasted to victory. That was four years ago.
Today, four years later, the godfather has turned against his enamoured mentee and recreated him as a fiend. The godfather has jumped into bed with the fellow against whom he fought the battle of his political life to make his godson become governor. That fellow is Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Oshiomhole took him to the cleaners and described him in the vilest of terms four years ago. Oshiomhole defamed Ize-Iyamu every second of the campaign period in 2016. What he did to Ize-Iyamu was enough to recommend him for moral quarantine till the end of days. But this is Nigeria. The same Oshiomhole swallowed his vomit and went back to Ize-Iyamu in 2020, knelt before him in remorse, wore him golden shoes, hung garlands around his neck and put the APC diadem on his head. He absolved Ize-Iyamu of his “sins” and teamed up with him to fight a friend turned foe in Obaseki.
The contest in 2016 was between Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu. Obaseki merely graced the ballot. It was Oshiomhole who did all the talking, the abuses and the dancing. The same scenario is playing out now in reverse.
The present contest is between Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Oshiomhole has been doing the talking, the kneeling, the begging, the dancing and the prancing. Were he to have eyes at the back of his head, he would have seen Ize-Iyamu’s derisive looks mocking him behind as he pranced and danced! Oshiomhole it was who marketed Obaseki to Edo people in 2020. He it was who de-marketed Ize-Iyamu then. What he is doing now is a sluggish antithesis and the joke is on him. Obaseki’s handlers should be given credit for excavating the video footages of the 2016 campaigns in which Oshiomhole romanticized Obaseki and demonized Ize-Iyamu. I saw the videos on giant television screens in Benin City. The video footages are running as political adverts on major television channels in Nigeria. They are also circulating in the social media.
Oshiomhole had reckoned that his verbal assaults on Obaseki would diminish the man and erode his political worth. His ultimate goal was the subversion of Obaseki’s reelection. Obaseki’s team in playing the old videos of Oshiomhole praising him and denigrating Ize-Iyamu has succeeded in subverting that (Oshiomhole’s) goal. This is the manifestation of the “subversion of subversion”! Many are wondering how Oshiomhole feels whenever he sees the 2016 videos vis a vis what he is doing now. He was asked a question to that effect in a recent interview and he dismissed it as lazy thinking. But is this true? Of course, it is not. What Oshiomhole is doing at the moment is a manifestation of a dead of conscience and loss of morality. What has happened to Oshiomhole in the last one and half years amount to a moral burden that should make him morally leprous.
His stormy tenure as the national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the many acts of indiscretions he committed ought to have mellowed him and subjected him to some measure of compunction.
Oshiomhole it was as chairman of APC who sneered at those he described as people who could not bear the pain of rigging. He also assured thieves of state to join the APC so that their sins could be written off. The APC became a disaster and anything, but progressive under him. Unable to tolerate him as he became more of a liability than an asset, the cabal kicked him in the mouth and relieved him of his perch as party chairman. The logical thing was for comeuppance to follow for Oshiomhole. But that hasn’t come.
The Edo 2020 governorship election is turning out to be the one in which the most lethal verbal missiles were deployed in Nigeria. The bitterness and tension it has generated remain unprecedented. It is like two great armies massing for war. The accusations and counter-accusations of acquisition of arms and the recruitment of thugs as well as the number of security agents that have flooded the state all point to the lack of democratic spirit. What the combatants must realize is that it is the people that matter in this election. They should allow the people to elect the candidate of their choice this Saturday.
The outcome of the election will mean certain things: the extermination of godfather syndrome or its entrenchment, the endorsement of a democratic ideal or the rule by a clique, the triumph of the people’s choice or its subjugation and whether Aka is Eko or not. Let the people of Edo State see this election for what it should be: democracy and development. They must not succumb to the cant of charlatanism. They should come out in their numbers and vote for the candidate of their choice, They should also be resolute in protecting their votes. The people of Edo State must reject neo-fascism.