Monday, 11th December 2023

‘In Edo, governance suffering owing to Obaseki-Shaibu feud’

By Michael Egbejule, Benin City
24 September 2023   |   4:04 am
“I have always said that I am a loyal servant and nothing has changed. I took a vow to support my governor… I am missing my governor and I prayed that God will touch my governor’s and all our hearts, and even those that are trying to be in between us, God would touch their hearts to know that I mean well.

[FILES] Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu. Photo: Facebook/PhilipShaibuEDSG

• Obaseki/Shaibu Feud’ll Be Over Soon – Edo PDP
• Withdrawal Of Suit Against Obaseki, Only A Truce, Not Reconciliation – APC Chieftain
• We Can’t Wait For 2024 To Bid Obaseki Farewell – Legacy PDP

“I have always said that I am a loyal servant and nothing has changed. I took a vow to support my governor… I am missing my governor and I prayed that God will touch my governor’s and all our hearts, and even those that are trying to be in between us, God would touch their hearts to know that I mean well.

“If there is any mistake I have made as human, it is just human and not act of wickedness because I am not wicked and I have a clean heart…”

These were words of the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu while addressing select journalists at an event in the state. They were words meant to assuage Governor Godwin Obaseki and attempt to repair the seemingly strained relationship they have now have.

Recall that only recently, Shaibu made a show of being locked out of his office premises. The development was considered as another low point in their ongoing feud.

Many observers had thought that his move to withdraw the suit he filed at the Federal High Court to stop the alleged plot by the state governor, Obaseki, to remove him from office would heal festering wounds in the Edo Government House, but the reverse has been the case.

The embattled deputy governor stated that the decision to withdraw the suit came after a series of meetings involving himself, Obaseki, and well-meaning citizens of Edo and Nigerians, including party leaders, traditional rulers, and the Archbishop, Benin Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.

Shaibu’s travail started when he ‘marched the line’ in local parlance by dragging his boss to court over alleged impeachment plans and others, which is not unconnected with his 2024 governorship ambition.

Without reading between the lines, Shaibu embarked on a voyage to nowhere and has suddenly backed down to seek peace in the ensuing conflict.

The discord between two top Edo citizens has continued to threaten the peace in the state, particularly amongst loyalists and supporters of the deputy governor, and Governor Obaseki.

In a swift intervention of notable personalities and leaders of the ruling PDP, the governor was pacified through series of meetings to sheath his sword and tow the path of peace by giving his deputy a chance to retrace his step, which led to the atonement of his sins against his boss and the subsequent withdraw of the suit.

Prior to now, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Anthony Aziegbemi had assured that the rift between the Governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, would be resolved earnestly.

The State chapter of the PDP didn’t go to bed with their roof on fire, they engaged stakeholders on the way forward to save the party in the face of the rift between Obaseki and his deputy.

In an interview with The Guardian, Aziegbemi said that it was not out of place for disagreements to occur between two persons, saying even identical twins do have rifts.

While the rift has now degenerated, taking a worrisome dimension among stakeholders, Obaseki had denied knowledge of any plan to impeach his deputy, but rather claimed that the move by Shaibu to seek a court order to stop his purported impeachment was preemptive ahead of his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The governor, who noted that his deputy has been actively engaging with senior actors both at the national and state level of the APC, negotiating his way into their party, accused Shaibu of being on the verge of finalising moves to defect to the APC.

Obaseki, who expressed sadness on the desperation by his deputy to succeed him at all cost lamented that he had supported Shaibu in several ways but was bothered to see  “on social media that he (Shaibu) was in Abuja rubbing minds with the opposition party. I have heard for months now that he has been in closed consultation with friends from another party because he was not sure that you, the leaders of PDP, will give him the ticket as governor in 2024.

“I must state here that Philip Shaibu has never had the courtesy to discuss his ambition with me. The last time we spoke of my successor after the House of Assembly election, I did say that we should be patient and that our task is to try and finish well and conclude all our projects we started. It’s only when we do this right that we will have the support of the people for my successor.

“I believe that this action by him is a preemptive move to get a court order, keep his ticket and move to another party. I think it’s unfair for our party. We don’t need this sort of crisis. I have been getting calls all over the world and it’s rather sad that somebody who is part of an administration will do this to the administration because of his personal ambition.

“I am not angry but naturally I should be disappointed.  I understand what is going on. I thank you for your solidarity. We should not be distracted but consolidate and unite our party and bring all on board.”

Adjoto, a former speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly told The Guardian that, “We are surprised and embarrassed by the behaviour of Shaibu, in his ill-advised mission to govern the state by all means. It is unheard of in the history of Nigeria where a sitting deputy governor will initiate a court action against his governor without any justification as in the instant case. And also go ahead to engage social media miscreants to disparage his Governor.”

Adjoto described Shaibu’s court action as not only speculative but baseless and highly embarrassing.

Also, former deputy chief of staff to Obaseki, who served in Shaibu’s office, Jimoh Ijegbai, said: “For us in Owan, it is a complete distraction at this time when INEC has not released timetable for election. We have no hand in what Shaibu is doing, we are with Obaseki.”

Ijegbai said no notice has come from the State House of Assembly to confirm the rumoured plan by Obaseki to impeach Shaibu, adding “he is our son, we don’t want him to be impeached.”

Also, speaking on the development, an ativist and President, Edo National Voice (ENV), Mr. Osaro Culture Iyamu described  as unfortunate, though expected, the rift between Governor Obaseki and his deputy.

“I am not surprise to seeing the rift between him and his deputy. For me, the fight between Obaseki and Philip is long over due judging by the way and manner both of them betrayed Edo people that brought them to power in 2016 and 2020. Most worrisome is that the battle of Supremacy and Godfatherism which was orchestrated by Godwin and Philip in 2017 has been centered on selfish aggrandisement and selfish interests and this ugly development has never been beneficial to our oil and cultural rich state state.

“For those who don’t know how Obaseki and Philip emerged in 2016, it will interest them to know that the marriage between both of them as Governorship Candidate and Deputy Governorship Candidate was built on deceit and pretence. Hence, the reason why both of them have been accusing each other plotting coup against each other. So, what ever reconciliation that might happen afterwards will be fake and will spell doom for yet another bigger rift that will come their way.” Iyamu said.

Some personalities including a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who simply identified himself as Eboigbe said the governor and his deputy are reaping what they sowed, noting that the discord would not be over soon going by the ‘mere withdrawal’ of the court matter where the deputy governor dragged his principal on allegation of purported impeachment.

“Except, he is going to write a Letter of Apology to the Governor and publish in National Dailies for the public to read. Then and perhaps, Obaseki would find reasons to forgive him.

“But, if it’s the mere withdrawal of case in court. It goes nowhere, because you cannot fight your Father or Elder in the market and come to the House and begin to dress him well. For me, both of them are reaping what they sowed. It’s like law of karma .

“The governor did similar thing to his predecessor, ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Now his deputy is doing almost same to him. Both men are equal match and are guilty of wrongdoings, “Eboigbe said.

A staunch PDP leader in Edo, Nosa Adams said the crisis rocking Edo PDP started in 2020 shortly after the duo’s reelection under the platform of the PDP and now degenerated to the face- off between Governor Obaseki and his deputy.

Adams who traced the ugly development to the cross over from APC to PDP of Obaseki and his deputy, said fighting is the hallmark of Governor Godwin Obaseki led government. He added that the governor is known for fighting battles against his benefactors and his partymen.

“The tension is generated basically by the events that started in 2020. If you look at the whole development in retrospect, you will agree with me that the governor came in 2020 to join the PDP. When he came, the PDP leadership met under the very amiable and erudite leadership of Chief Dan Osi Orbih.

“We met and resolved to give Obaseki the party’s ticket. We all went to Ogbe Stadium that very day and Obaseki was duly nominated. All those who were to win nomination in PDP were prevailed upon to step down for  Obaseki, which they did. Obaseki eventually won the election. We remember vividly, after winning the election, Obaseki took the Deputy Governor, SSG. He took the Chief of Staff, all the Commissioners, took all the Chairmen on the Board of Parastatals and members of the Board of Parastatals. All those who joined him from the APC to the PDP to meet us Legacy members of the PDP were engaged by his government.

“It has been so. Those who ganged up against the legacy PDP are the ones fighting themselves now. What is the issue all about? It is about self aggrandisement, power tussle, greed, selfishness  and all geared towards what I call political dominance by one man.

“Obaseki is the one that is virtually fighting every other person. He is the only good guy. Every other Edo man or woman is a bad person in Obaseki’s view. Governor Obaseki fought Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Nyesom Wike, Chief Dan Orbih,  Philip Shaibu, traditional institution as we speak, and the Federal Government.”

On the way forward and if there is any end in sight ahead of the 2024 polls, Adams said the coming days in the state would be interesting because, according to him, the deputy governor is desperate and wants to succeed his boss.

“In all of these, what is very clear to us is that governance has suffered in Edo state because the governor’s focus has been misdirected. If you visit Edo State, nothing is going on. Governance has completely crumbled in Edo state. You cannot pass through any road in good condition in parts of Benin City, be it federal and state roads.

“Whereas other states are celebrating development, in Edo state, we are celebrating the numbers of people we can fight and crush. By and large, the consequences of these whole tension is the crumbling of governance in Edo state and at the end of the day, the people are made to suffer. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in this very terrible situation.”