EDO POLITICAL CLASS UNDER THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES
By: Washington Osa Osifo, Ph.D.
Every upward looking society crave for good leadership. Indeed great leaders are most wanted for what they could do with their gifts and talents to revolutionize development . Their dreams and visions are always so distinctly unique that even in times of drift, their mere presence instill hope and confidence. In that quest, sometimes, a shot in the dark occurs resulting in fortuitous satanic contraption. Edo State has just now been entrapped in such a hellish cobweb. Statecraft has suddenly become rocket science while security of lives and properties are attended with laissez faire attitude. Government promises on paper are advertised with bold face as monumental achievements at national fora to the chagrin of dumbstruck populace. Worse still, is that, the tyrannic display of executive powers to inflict deep wounds on citizens is phenomenal and has continued to fuel a feeling of imminent catastrophic slip into the precipice. In the circumstances, sound logic dictates that the people should disenthrall themselves from the mess and rescue the State. Apparently, the pre- election hype, the ballyhoo, the gaudy tinsel of rhetorics and the massive hope, ballooned to high heavens has turned out as mere hot gas! The most fanatical supporters of the Governor patiently waited for a developmental momentum to no avail. Unarguably, ‘Alaghodaro Annual Talk Shop’ stands out as the greatest legacy project in these perilous times. Let it be known that no matter how much you try, an empty sack cannot stand erect!
I recall vividly that in 2016, a stealthy figure silhouetted against the silver lines of the then Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole impressive stewardship, suddenly emerged on the political stage as a gubernatorial messiah. He rode on the shoulders of the then boss, Comrade Oshiomhole, who fiercely fought every opponent to pave way for him. Being relatively unknown, it was the lot of his campaign handlers to clean him up and properly identify him before the people. A commodity must have a label and utility value before displaying it for sale in the market! As an aspirant, he looked egregiously naive, diffident and unsure-footed. He had no gift of physical appeal and was greatly hampered and unpersuasive in speech. As his confidence built up over time, a whiff of eccentricity and unpredictability began to be increasingly noticed. His hazy image was crystallized and heavily laundered to hagiographical heights and the unsuspecting public in their characteristic gullibility bought wholesale into the project. Make no mistake about it, it was a classic shot in the dark that berthed a bull in a china shop! Everyone and everything before him was untrustworthy and a target for destruction. First, he stereotyped the entire political class as unproductive and irredeemably corrupt – a case of pot calling the kettle black! His hatred for them was never hidden. As Governor, he organized a group of brutal media attack dogs and marshaled every ounce of gubernatorial power and influence against his benefactor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC. It was at a monumental financial cost, as the secret activities of the conspiratorial group at the seat of power in Abuja were bankrolled with Edo State resources. By that act, Edo State lost strategic national presence in the party. He led an onslaught against the leadership of the state APC, disorganized and dismembered them. When they obstinately refused to succumb, he hounded them down individually with guns, bombs and bayonets, venting his anger on their properties. He had a long standing plan to weaken the legislature under his administration. No one will forget so soon how, in the year 2019, particularly on the 17th day of June, figment of impeachment imagination triggered his phobia to attack the elected members of Edo State House of Assembly at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City. The attack was led by his CSO and clearly caught by cameras. Till date, Obaseki has continued to rule Edo State without a properly and legitimately constituted House of Assembly as defined by Section 91 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On such ugly sides of history, he chose to be counted as champion!
Governor Obaseki was disqualified from running for a second term under the APC. He cried blue murder from the limbo of frustration and was rescued by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who bent backwards over to accommodate him. He won the election and was sworn-in for another four years tenure. Less than six months in office under the PDP, he literally asked the leadership of the PDP to hand over the structures of the party to him. To those who rescued him from the limbo of hopelessness and ‘partylessness’, taking over the party structures was a superfluous request, as it did not form part of the deal since he was not going to run for a third term. Rather than deploy emotional intelligence to negotiate a win win compromise, Obaseki characteristically resorted to iron fist measures by directing the suspension of the commanding chieftains of the party. Typical of his double barrelled approach, he filed several Court cases by proxy seeking the asphyxiation of the party and the humiliation of its leadership. Let us be more categorical here. Chief Dan Orbih ostensibly personalized the PDP struggle for nearly two decades at about the same time that Comrade Oshiomhole rescued Obaseki by making him Chairman of the state economic team after running his company into financial mess in Lagos. How dare you try to uproot such an entrenched colossus? In any case, why should stakeholders in Edo State allow a flawed character like Obaseki to destroy those who make Edo count and relevant in national politics? The National Leadership of the PDP rightly denied him conspiratorial support and the Governors disowned him, both organs were wisely guided by his track record of reprehensible jackboot tactics. For a man with explosive ego and unquenchable capacity to inflict pain on others, the fight has only just begun! Beyond politics, the errant Governor even dared to disagree with the most sacred of our institutions on matters that are not strictly within the state government‘s purview. That has left no one in doubt that his sociopathic attributions are deeply justifiable. A sociopath is worse than an atomic bomb in the destruction of human relationships, structures and systems. Evidence abound that the toxic sword of Damocles is menacingly hanging over the political class in Edo State. They have been targeted for humiliation and decimation with a view to poisoning the atmosphere with yet another half baked, ill- conceived and unworkable technocratic agenda. The political class must act fast with a united force. This iconoclastic monster must be tamed, gagged and thrown into the dungeon with the same pitiless manner that he launches out at his perceived enemies!
History is a great teacher. Those who cannot learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. The political environment has no room for outsiders. Any political milieu that admits an outsider into the most powerful leadership position would have only invited a killer virus to itself. Party politics is a collective endeavour anchored on common political ideology and interest which are rolled out on acquisition of power through fair competition. The parties are additionally organic entities driven by certain group values, norms, traditions and the principle of reciprocity which are expressed in patronage. Members imbibe these ideological and operational values and norms through active participation in the political process over time. These values promote party spirit, energize foot soldiers and hold the party together as a united front. A party stands endangered if an individual who has not been sufficiently groomed to internalize group values suddenly becomes the leader.
The need for systematic grooming and orientation of members is informed by the fact that the action of men proceeds best from their need, belief, passion and character. It should ordinarily form the basis for leadership recruitment.
In 1933, the Germans made the mistake by allowing Adolf Hitler to rise to power on the platform of the Nazi Party. The World has not recovered from the impact of Hitler’s tyrannical rule ever since. Recently, we witnessed how Donald Trump suddenly emerged as the President of the most powerful country of the World, the United States of America. Donald Trump demystified America, its entrenched vision, together with the dreams of its founding fathers and made it look like a banana republic where bizarre exceptions became the order of the day. In both instances, mainstream politicians were outwitted and totally paralyzed. A lethal mix of ambition, fear, and miscalculation conspired against them and they unwittingly handed power over to an autocrat.
If the individual so thrown up is a charismatic outsider, as it is often the case, he would leave no stone unturned to woo and win public sympathy, as he challenges the old order. Many times, the divided political class falls prey as the political insurgent smartly plays one group against another on the political chessboard to his advantage. Among mainstream politicians, there are the fickle-minded, the ones bereft of principles, good conscience and character, commonly referred to, as ‘Any Government in Power ( AGIP)’. They are pro power or pro establishment who would try to co-opt or align with the toxic outsider for their stomach sake. This sort of devil’s bargain often mutate to the benefit of the insurgent. Godwin Obaseki may not have been thrown up as President of Nigeria but as the Governor of Edo State, a subnational body, he runs the State with the same iron fist of Adolf Hitler and the hypocritical propaganda of Donald Trump. He menacingly dangles a double edged sword and the political class in Edo State live under the technocratic sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest thread over their heads and capable of being cut at any moment. Only a double fool will wait to be told what to do under such looming danger!
Today, the political class are clearly endangered and embattled in Edo State. They have a common enemy in a sociopathic bugaboo turned full blown tyrant enthroned by them in the flurry of divisive partisan competition. For their own survival, they are obligated to rail a constellation of forces against the avatar of evil. When a man with honeyed words but evil mind, persuades the people to give him power, great woes befall the people as reward. And when a government is secretive about her finances and expenditures, when a government is not transparent and does not give accounts of its stewardship to the people, when a government goes after the properties and investments of citizens without recourse to legal processes and procedures and when a government fails to deliver visible achievements but make fathom claims on paper about its great accomplishments, what you have is full blown tyranny. To confront a tyrant is a civil responsibility and obedience to God! The deathlike stillness of the otherwise energetic and restless society is killing initiatives and the tranquility of servitude will never be allowed to further take the place of that animating contest of ideas that we have long been accustomed. We shall prevail on our youths to stop being used as instruments of firing cannons, throwing bombs into opponents buildings and for thrusting bayonets, whether on the social media or physically, in the service of a man that was born cold-blooded, completely without the pleasant and rekindling emotions of gratitude. It’s time to break away from the tranquility of sit-down-look and servitude and rise to the exigency of the moment. Time to close ranks and act in one unbreakable accord!
In the admonitions of Sir Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”
Washington Osa Osifo, Ph.D