By Tony Erha
While in the web of forming the thoughts that would flow before this paragraph, the bottomline is that the foregoing narrative certainly befits the situations of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the fifth elected governor of Edo, a vibrant state of Nigeria, which goes by a fitting epithet, “The Heartbeat of the Nation”. However, this is taking into account all the pervading conflicts and uncertainties that have enveloped the state, with his four-year incumbency, setting Edo polity as a labyrinth of misgovernment and lawlessness. Like the brimstones droppings from hell!
Power is an intoxicant. An intoxicant is a stimulant which usually takes over a man’s reasoning faculty until it wears out. But, this writer is not the manufacturer of these axioms. For he, like the others, had been frequently reminded by an overused parlance that power intoxicates a man much more than “Ogogoro”, the strong Nigerian alcoholic brew which, although appears crystal clear and looks like water, can’t be referred to as the same thing as water. Since it commands and commandeers an overwhelming attention, Gin, another name for “Ogogoro”, goes by some other belittling monikers like “Akpetesi”, “Kaikai”, Shepe and “Push Me I Push You” etc.”
While testifying to its mind-altering or intoxicating influence on men, a popular comedian once joked that a man would be shocked if he thinks “Ogogoro” is a drinking water. Another joker also said that the theory for “Kaikai” was that no man ever failed to frown when he drank it. As a mere child, who was fed with fabulous “campfire tales”, from Pappy Utue (a.k.a BBC), an acronym for British Broadcasting Corporation, this writer came to know the link between “Drunkenness and Power”. BBC, an old village folklorist and itinerant, who was also called “Telephone Without Wire”, was also the renderer of a moralistic narrative which likened the shortlived or ephemeral nature of “Power” to the lustful waist of a “generous” Mistress that stays by a man, only for a while before hopping to another.
Frankly speaking, governorship power, though mostly seen as mere when compared to the supremacy of a sitting president like Muhammadu Buhari, has apparently taken over our dear Godwin Obaseki, that was initially thought to be meek and ordinary. And after supping the Ogogoro brew of the Osadebe Avenue, the Edo seat of power, an innocent populace may be shocked to have a little Adolf Hitler, a nagging puzzle to overcome.
The psychoanalysts, in their critical studies readily inform humanity that those who have the mindset and proclivity to inordinate utterances and actions of Mr Obaseki, are usually misled by the illusion that they are some “demigods” who are above others. At the Uselu Psychiatrist Hospital in Benin City, the Edo State capital, where the governor commandeers an oppressive presence and in Aro, a town closed to Lagos, where he once plied his sundry business practices, the same psychoanalysts or psychiatrists are there as competent hands in the special hospitals to treat and manage the mental patients. These clinical specialists are the diagnosis opposed to individual addiction to primitive acquisition of earthly materials and power mongering that influence mental disequilibrium and are captives of the individual to raw power.
How else would one explain out the sudden metamorphosis of a man thought to have possessed an ambience of gentleness and single-mindedness to do the common public good, now faraway to a new-found disposition, suggestive of him as a victim of power capture and vainglory?
Honestly, the Godwin Obaseki everyone perceived was apolitical one who wouldn’t touch partisan politics, even with a long pole, but now bewildered that he had overnight turned a harbinger of political pessimism. And, to boot, braggadocios. Not for a man, who was assumed to mind the business of good governor, once elected, as he once wore the garment of a seasoned technocrat. Observers of the heating cauldron that Edo had become since his now expiring tenure of office, where the governor is a mastermind and far more aggressor in the two factional crisis that has rocked the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party that brought him to power, which he soon decamped from, indicates political rebellion and retarded corporate governance quests.
Presently Obaseki, by his turn-around, has apparently confirmed the fears of numerous Edo people. As an imposed, but a neophyte aspirant in 2016, he was actually foreseen by most political pundits as a man far too inexperienced and immature for the sophisticated governorship position he sought for, neither was he fully equipped for it. Interestingly, this has brought to reality the accurate blurts of an intrepid Chief Evlyn Igbafe, a “Tigress of the Edo Politics” who, to the dismay of the then marketers of the Obaseki brand, posed an innuendo of “an unripe mango called APC governorship candidate”.
Governor Obaseki’s lashing of the very APC executives and other members, who helped to elect him, in whatever excuses, wasn’t only divisive and antagonistic as it was actually an “unripe” action (apologies to Chief Igbafe). Glaringly, this misfiring was the Harmattan that expanded a bush fire already set by the governor, where there were APC factions, incessant and reciprocal street brawls between party members, arsons, bombings, gun duels, and rampart litigations etc, which unsettled the state and national political turfs.
Still without remorse and unrelenting, Governor Obaseki further stoked the already tense-up crisis, with his nocturnal inauguration of a minority ten lawmakers out of the original twenty four memberdhip configuration of the state’s House of Assembly, thus sideling and relegating the majority twenty four.
Supporters of the governor encouraged him to carry on with the illegal inauguration. Now that he had mechanically become the standard bearer of the same opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that he contested against in 2016, it would be pertinent to ask if ten out of the twenty four constituencies are actually the criteria he needs to win the September 19, 2020 governorship election?
Not yet done, Governor Obaseki, who ought to know that he would be the first victim and the man to blame for the factional crisis he needlessly caused, went for the throat of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, his very predecessor-in-office that singlehanded saw to his election. It would be seen that the crisis he spearheaded at home and recruited Oshiomhole’s detractors into the fray, may have hastened the removal of his principal benefactor as National Chairman of the ruling APC party.
What manner of politics or the allures of office that could make a protégé fall out with a political party, associates and a benefactor, who solely raised him from grass to prominence? What would make a man abandon his blood relations, followers and avowed public-spirited principles which Mr Obaseki had publicly proclaimed? What would he want the PDP hawks to take him for, even if he wins the election? Is he going to unrecognize the PDP members, to fight dirty, the way he did to APC and continue with the crisis he wrought in APC, without further suffering by the common people? Let us wait and see!
▪︎Tony Erha, a journalist and a pro-democracy activist, writes from Benin City, Edo State.