APC, Oshiomhole and the wages of vengeful politics
We open by noting that we find frivolity, perversion and a travesty of symbolism in the macabre dance drama of the APC in Edo State. Nigeria’s political parties’ frequently shifting values are, with the accretion of time, becoming annoyingly worrisome. There is bound to be articulate criticism, for example, of the immorality of the APC gods masquerading as members of an impartial or un-obtrusive screening panel or as an indifferent arbitral appeals committee. It is hardly possible not to reconcile the rehearsed political treatment of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the sitting Governor of Edo State, with the cult rituals of alleged forged or inconsistent entries in the evidence of his academic pursuits and qualifications. The intellectual ferment of our present circumstances necessarily throws up questions of every kind and variety to which only lame or incomprehensible answers may be found. Mr. Adams Oshiomhole’s thrusts are themselves a study in paradoxes. The APC’s inability to rein in the excesses of its erstwhile Chairman is no less baffling.
This self-same Oshiomhole has earlier in his political career been touted as the irrepressible giant-killer possessing the wherewithal for demystifying or exterminating political god-fatherism in Edo State. By his conduct or carriage however, Oshiomhole has conjured for us an elevated drama setting for sustaining our skepticism about the true purpose or intendment of his pet project. We are left to conclude that his irreverence or audacity can only spring from a deep emotional belief in the supremacy of his humanised god-image. Gravitas or a sense of responsibility, iustitia, a sense of justice, and pietas, a man’s duty to his country, his conscience and his dependants are set no store by Oshiomhole even as he thinks of himself as a god who is above all measures. We can reminisce wistfully about the epic achievements of the gods of Edo and be splendidly assured of their warmer emotional prognosis than we can imagine the political rascality of Oshiomhole which he has rudely entertained us with since his foray into partisan politics.
By far the most disturbing heritage of Oshiomhole is the heavily adorned frieze around his persona represented by his thinly-concealed initiation rites for establishing himself as the godfather of Edo politics. At a time when the APC frontiers are assailed and under severe strains and stresses; when the myths of the adversary are being illustrated in stark frightening motifs, Oshiomhole’s world appears in the guise of a demi-god. In the true tradition of a god, he is bullying his way through. He must have his way or nothing. A primitive scaffolding, a battle-ready but compromised mascot in full contemporary armour and a standard bearing Oshiomhole’s imprimatur are all but his arsenal. Nothing more gothic, nothing more frightful. Probably an even more eerie but little-known weapon is that of astrology or the casting of horoscopes which prey on the fears of ordinary mortal men.
There will always be rare characters who will be a match for the irascibility of the masterful Oshiomhole or of persons like him. Obaseki has proven to be one who could withdraw away from Oshiomhole’s eccentricities and forge his own pathway. As nothing can go on or remain new forever and as Oshiomhole’s accustomed temper becomes familiar, it is bound to lose its bloom or lustre and become common place. The facility with which characters in the mould of Oshiomhole will be openly challenged or demystified and their myths blown will be a major feature of an unfolding political experience in the ensuing months. Many protégés have been sulkily content with leading their charges up the lower slopes – treading cautiously into well-marked paths.
They are however learning that reward comes when they go higher; when they audaciously explore the pleasant walks and vistas enjoyed by cultivated men and women. For the records, there have been great climbers too, who have brought their genius and energy to the task of scaling the formidable heights. There is, in the offing, a seeping recrudescence of those dizzying feats. Despite the tell-tale results which the APC’s “we no go gree” brand of politics has produced for it in terms of needless electoral losses, the awful postponement of members’ ordination and the psychological effect of near-misses or of own-goals, the party has gone on as if the lessons learnt are of no moment. In Zamfara, Rivers, Bayelsa etc. the party’s impunitous bearing robbed it of crucial electoral chances in the 2019 general elections.
There is no evidence the party has learnt its lessons going by the unfolding unsavoury development respecting its projected political fortunes in Edo State. The requirement of a noble intelligence, of mature enthusiasm, a super-intending mind, an imaginative principle and a character of wholeness is a rare commodity at the apex level of the party’s governance. The miasma that has dogged the party’s image is fore grounded by a leadership deficit that is needlessly aggressive, insensately abusive and offensively talkative. It is also invidious – calling black, white and denuding precious metals of their allure. The world of the party leadership’s imagination is un-clear, befuddled or inconsistent. Everything is done for effect. There is a false feeling of devotion to an ideal whole even as everything is fragmented into CAN, CPC, ANPP, n-PDP, APGA, etc
Exactly four years ago, amidst loud protestations that Oshiomhole was ferrying little-known Obaseki to the governorship position of Edo State, Oshiomhole is today doing what he knows how to do best – employing cheap demagoguery or sophistry to prop a disreputable position. The grapes have become sour. Obaseki is now a scurrilous scallywag. Within four years, he has ceased to be the brightest star in the Edo political firmament. He did not even go to school. Even his claimed alma mater, the famed University of Ibadan, has, in the estimation of Oshiomhole, not fully answered the question put to it. The issue of Obaseki’s putative qualifications has dramatically shifted from whether or not he attended the University to how he could have secured admission into that institution given his “poor grade”. The same documents which secured for Obaseki the premier political office in Edo State have become incongruous, defective and inconsistent in the eyes of a jury panel who may have been doing the bidding of a vengeful, vindictive party leadership insistent on having its pound of flesh.
Whichever way the governorship election in Edo State ultimately goes, the gods may have been forced to abdicate their responsibility as they stand condemned or compromised as mere raucous interlopers in the affairs of natural men; as they need to be rescued as unnecessarily solicitous “links” with the Supernatural Intelligence; and as they have become poor satirical allegories. They may have to be content with their new station as they magically metamorphose into ordinary symbols to be decoded by historians, archeologists, sociologists or ethnologists. In the fullness of time, they will be fit for nothing than to be studied even at kindergarten for their infamy or ignoble role in history.
Rotimi-John is a lawyer and public affairs commentator, wrote from Lagos.