Obaseki, the giant killer

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.. Implications of his defeat for Tinubu and 2023 permutations in APC
By Tunde Abatan
Perhaps, if Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had stayed put in the Peoples Democratic (PDP), and seek to represent the party at the election as he did four years ago, perhaps and perhaps, he would have won the election.

But the likes of Adams Oshiomhole over reached themselves and lured him into the All Progressives Congress (APC), which had been polarised by infighting.

Ize-Iyamu’s first defeat in the hands of Obaseki came in 2016 when he flew the PDP flag in the election while loquacious Oshiomhole who was the out-going governor then was the chief promoter of Obaseki whom he had described then as the linchpin of his administration just as he deployed all manner of unprintable words to de- market Ize-Iyamu.

At the end of the day, Obaseki won.

That he came off the election victorious is not the crux of this article but the real issue is that it was not long before Obaseki and his godfather Oshiomhole began to disagree first with the crisis in the state house of assembly. This again is not our cup of tea as far as this write is concerned. Rather, what interests us is that Obsaeki has become what they call in football circle a giant killer.
It is interesting to note that just as Oshiomole vowed to demystify late strong man of Edo politics,Chief Anthony Anenih aka Mr Fix it, who is reputed to having possess the winning formula through which the PDP had the state under its firm grip for eight years between 199-2008,same fate also befell him in the hands of Obaseki his god son.
As fate would have it, Obaseki who was used by Oshiomole to remove late Anenih from relevance in Edo politics till he died,is also the new nemesis of Oshiomole his godfather. With the acrimony and bitterness which led to the removal of Oshiomole as chairman and later defeat as the godfather of Edo politics,then, he had better been planning for his own retirement too.

In a bid to show to Obaseki that he made him politically and can destroy him, Oshiomhole as the ruling party’s, APC chairman, made sure that Obaseki was denied a second term ticket of the party and in his stead, Ize-Iyamu, who just defected to the party from PDP was handed the APC flag to fly at the election that just took place yesterday.

While all these lasted, Obaseki digged deep, instigated or joined other APC members and governors that Oshiomhole had stepped on their giant toes before the 2019 general elections; the likes of former governors Ibikunle Amosun, Rochas Okorocha both of whom are now senators and both of whom must be having a good laugh at him for what is happening to him, made sure the ex-labour leader was pushed down from his high horse as APC’s chairman. That was victory number one for Obaseki.

Remember in the run- up to this first major victory against Oshiomhole his loyalists took control of the leadership of the state house of assembly and sent ‘Osho’ boys (loyalists) to exile in Abuja.

Not done or satisfied but determined to finish his enemy finally like Robert Greene admonished in his books 48 Laws of Power and the Act of Seduction, Obaseki triggered a crisis between Oshiomhole and his party members at the ward level; a crisis that led to his suspension. The suspension became a weapon his traducers at the national level armed themselves with to obtain the famous Abuja judgment that led to his first removal from office. Even the vacation of the judgment by a Kaduna court was not enough to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from sacking the entire APC National Executive Council(NEC), Oshimohole inclusive.

But rather than retire to his Iyamoh country home to sulk, Oshiomhole became one of the arrow- heads of Ize- Iyamu’s campaign to the surprise/anger of Edo people.

Not only that, he went on bended knees begging traditional rulers to forgive his anointed candidate of his perceived sins just as he ate all the unprintable words he said about the same Ize-Iyamu in 2016.
With resounding victory, Obaseki has become one godson, who looked his godfather eyeball to eyeball and picked a fight with him.
With the defeat of Iyamu and by inference Osiomole,the road to who controls the fortune of the APC vis a vis the south -south machinery of the party prelude to the 2023 presidential election which was part of the bitter struggle for the soul of Edo state by former governors,incumbent state governors and leaders of the party.
It will be recalled that during his fence mending moves to retain his ticket before crossing to the PDP,Obaseki paid visit to Lagos home of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,the national leader of the party.
Though Tinubu did not openly take sides with the two combatants for the soul of the party structure in Edo state,yet it is apparent he won’t ditch Oshiomole who he supported to emerge as party chairman in preference to former national chairman,John Odigie- Oyegun. That Oshiomole defeated Oyegun did not go down well with some former and then incumbent state governors who pitched their tent with Oyegun for a second term in office prior to the 2019 elections.
It was a policy of” rob my back and I rob yours”.
That Oyegun fell did not go down well with the governors most of who relied on him to either win their second term in 2019 or install their surrogates like former governor Ibikunle Amosun now Senator wanted to do in Ogun state. In annoyance,Amosun retain one leg in APC and funded and encouraged his faction of the party in Ogun state to move to Allied Peoples Movement(APM).The rest is history.
In Lagos,the support of governors from other states to save Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to retain his set and get nomination for a second term failed as Tinubu in conjunction with Oshiomole ensured direct primaries policy was used to pick a candidate and with party structure firmly in Tinubus hand,Babajide Sanwoolu defeated Ambode.
But rather than crossing to another party,the later,refused to rock the boat, bowed to party supremacy and ‘supported’ Sanwoolus emergence.
As things stand today,the race for 2023 presidential election which Tinubu is believed to be interested in is gets more interesting.
With APC out of power in Edo state and the likelyhood of Obaseki moving back to the APC if for anything to keep faith with the ‘rebel’ APC governors who surreptitiously backed him to regain power,the influence of Tinubu to get APC ticket through a disunited front in the South South is doubtful especially since some of the incumbent and former governors and ministers in the party are are also eyeing either the vice presidential slot or Presidency itself.
For now,the fledgling control of Tinubu in Ekiti,Oyo(with the death of Senator Abiola Ajimobi) and the slippery nature of Ondo politics and allegiance may seriously diminish his hold on the region noted for his sophistication.
What is more,the general mood for Restructuring and Self determination in the Yoruba speaking states is another drawback to Tinubus efforts to carry the region along in his bid to convince other zones of his presidential aspiration more so when some of the former and incumbent governors in the south west are known to secretly harbour one grudge or the other against Tinubu and are indeed plotting their own ambition.
What is certain in all this permutations is that the political attitude of Yoruba south west states to the Nigerian question and perceived sidelining and open marginalisation of the region which support led to Buharis emergence after three failed attempt, is crucial to both divides in the APC.
How are they going to get the three million votes they secured from south west in 2015 to defeat the opposition PDP which seems to be struggling to get its bearing in national politics was the remark of a notable PDP symphatiser.
Tinubus cold attitude to the formation and enforcement of South West security outfit,Amotekun,is also another factor that may affect his ability to control the region which is in total support- a support which cuts across party divide at least in the South West region.
The growing insecurity and palpable fear of a secret agenda been nurtured by the Northern power cabal surrounding Buhari,may prove enough ammunition for mistrust and ability for Tinubu to mobilise the region,already feeling frustrated by the national arrangement.
What is more,the groundswell of opinion against Buharis sectional policies and growing insecurity in the country by notable south west leaders and opinion moulders like former President Olusegun Obasanjo,Professor Wole Soyinka and the ever growing restiveness of Yoruba at home especially the emergence of Yoruba World Congress(YWC) and the Yoruba in Diaspora may combine to diminish efforts of APC and even PDP aspirants from the south west who have eyes on either been running mate or taking a shot at the Presidency.
Only unfolding scenario and time will Tell where the pendulum will swing in the coming months towards the end of Buhari’s presidency.

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