The new twist which the political atmosphere took on Saturday, July 25, 2020 in Edo State can only be equated to the Biblical saying in the book of Sirach 27: 30, which says: “Grudges and wrath are abominations, but sinful people excel in them.”
Better still, any keen observer of the Nigerian political terrain will acknowledge the fact that beating the drum of war in a political contest as the current one in Edo State is equal to blowing on a spark to ignite a politically tensed system, yet an evil tongue will go ahead to do so; not minding the consequences.
It is shocking to see a seating governor and his deputy who left the All Progressives Congress (APC) on frivolous and trumped up claims to the other party which presidential candidate in the 2015 election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, repeatedly said and demonstrated that his political ambition is not worth the blood of anyone, to be so intolerant of criticisms and opposition.
Better still, when he has continued to blame his hitherto godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of overbearing demands, it was ordinarily expected that Governor Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu, his deputy, would have drop their toga of violence and follow the part of non-violent or peaceful campaigns as Goodluck Jonathan who though a rare patriot, lost the 2015 election to President Muhammadu Buhari; understandably so.
A typical example is the experience of Jonathan and his wife, Patience, who were severally maligned, out rightly billed and mocked even to the point of being called unprintable names, yet they did not order the arrest or intimidation of anybody.
Even as a seating president, Buhari has also been demonised in many quarters. Some even called him Jibrill of Sudan while others labelled him ‘Baba go slow’. Some critics even went as far as saying, President Buhari was cloned.
Despite all that, heaven did not fall. In the midst of such demonisation and strong insult on the leaders, they never utter a word of high handedness or tyranny as we now see in Edo State.
Away from Nigeria, American President Donald Trump has being facing stiff opposition from various sides both local and international. He is now about the most criticised American President.
But in the expected character of a democrat like Buhari and Jonathan, Trump has not witch-hunted or harassed any opposing view to his policies and administration. Tyranny as the one being experienced in Edo under Governor Obaseki has no place in any democratic setting. Is Edo State blessed or cursed with incarcerated leadership. Your guess is as good as mine.
But the body language and conduct of the governor and his deputy in the face of the momentous gathering of political activities in the state recently, leave much to be desired of a team that claims confidence in winning the September 9 governorship election in the once peaceful state.
On one breathe, the governor claims widespread acceptability and admiration of most electorates in the state to the extent that he brags of defeating Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC with landslide. On the other hand, he is seen sponsoring political violent attacks and hounding perceived opponents. That alone is an indication of a drowning contestant who is unsure of himself even in a state where he presides as the chief security officer.
Recent events have shown that Governor Obaseki is not only running his government based on lies, he is also hounding opponents who refuse to support his government and reelection bid. Obaseki and his deputy have been making several attempts to intimidate supporters of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and other respected APC supporters, including Captain Hosa Okunbo.The lastest of such unprovoked onslaught on his opponents took place last weekend when supporters of the governor launched a violent attack on APC members near the palace of the Oba of Benin, leaving several persons injured.
It happened when PDP governors, led by the chairman of the PDP Campaign Council, Governor Nyesom Wike visited the Oba of Benin. His visitors who were in the state to flag off his campaign watched as many APC members and those believed to be opposed to his reelection were manhandled.
Obaseki should take a queue from other political leaders across party lines and know that this is not a bloodbath politics. It is a civil contest and should be moderated to that extent, with lots of decorum.
Whether true or not, it is believed that the governor instigated the thugs to attack the people as retribution for their public booing of his arrival with various chants labelling him a rejected candidate and for spurning his rally.
Instead of doing introspection on his public rejection at the palace of the first class traditional ruler, Obaseki and Shaibu loosed their attack dogs on innocent APC supporters who were on a peaceful campaign outreach in the metropolis.
Obaseki and his loyalists allegedly destroyed their own billboards at different locations in the state as a gimmick to deflect responsibility and get a reprieve for the alleged organised destruction of APC billboards after the party filed a petition with the police and other relevant agencies.
Like Edo State Media Campaign Council of the APC rightly noted, it is sad that Mr. Obaseki has displayed the same traits of intolerance and penchant for violence that made the people of the state to unanimously reject him. That is unbecoming of a governor who was elected to protect and secure the life and property of all Edo people, irrespective of party affiliation.
For a governor that prides himself as a gentleman, it would be better if he had responded to the issues rather than orchestrating violence of politically-exposed opposition members and rising supporters’ base of the APC. If this can happen now, what would we expect when Obaseki is allowed to occupy the leadership position of the state in September?
In a civil contest as the one that is underway in Edo, everyone must see preventing targeted violence as part of a larger set of needed interventions to improve the Nigerian democracy that includes freedom of choice without harassment from any quarter.
It was Pastor Ize-Iyamu, the leader candidate in the governorship race that assured residents of the state of a violence-free election while calling on his main opposition, the PDP, to shun provocative acts and engage on campaigns based on issues, not insults and name-calling. Ordinarily, many people expected Obaseki and his co-travellers to learn from that and restrict themselves to issue-based campaigns devoid of violence and name calling, and a campaign of calumny based on things non-beneficial to the people of the state.
However, the people of Edo State are left to ponder and decide that ‘the intolerable actions witnessed in the last four years and perceived as a tyrant by watchers and indigenes should not be welcomed the second time otherwise the state’s fortunes may rubble to sand dust at the end of the day.’
We are wiser now. Fool us the first time – we are ignorant, but no room to whisk us again as we have brought to the fore a better replacement come September election.
– Obetoh, a political analyst, sent this piece from Benin City.
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