The political events unfolding in Edo State are getting clearer as the lines further diverge, rather than converge, towards congruence within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State. The recent hoax around “attack” without bruises, on the National Chairman of the party and the immediate past governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole, highlights the worrisome situation. This hoax was capable of over-heating the polity of the state, complicating the smooth functioning of the state security system, especially the police, and distracting effective governance as well as encouraging anarchy and lawlessness.
There is an unrelenting clash of interests, between the government, led by Governor Godwin Obaseki, and the entrenched economic interests that have been displaced. These entrenched interests are those that became too powerful as self-imposed revenue collectors, using coercion, crude and opaque records; as well as those politicians that want nothing short of business as usual, regardless of the grim financial realities of the state. Somehow, unfortunately though, these two sources of opposition have coalesced into a political movement with Comrade Oshiomhole as their patron.
Our question is what is wrong with the revenue war lords? They became too wealthy, at the expense of the elected government and the people, leading to concentrated raw political power, that undermines democracy and peace. It is this entrenched tendency that portray participation in politics as high risk by civil, law abiding citizens with the skills as well as the character to provide, high impact public service. This aberration where thugs and cultists dictate who get elected and where they form a parallel enforcement channel with the constitutional law enforcement state agencies is the crux of the matter. Adams Oshiomhole called them his “infantry” or military wing, and said so during his address of the touts after the so-called arranged attack on him.
It is instructive that he was “rescued from the attack” by this “infantry” and not by the official police force. The state Commissioner of Police, caught up in this toxic political situation, had to rise up, very professionally, to explain that Adams Oshiomhole was accorded full security protection or cover throughout his stay in Benin. Moreover, and putting it factually, there was no attack, and perhaps no formal report to the police of a threat of any form. It was a hoax!
Is it true as contained in a press statement by the Edo State Government that Oshiomhole does not inform the state APC chapter, or the State Government of his visits, to his own state? If true, this is preposterous and can only be compared to an oddity where a father, relocates to his neighbour’s house. It seems that the Comrade has succumbed to the dissenting voices within the party, instead of playing the role of a neutral leader with the credibility to reconcile the contending forces. In all these, where is the public interest, the masses, whose purpose the elected government should serve. It is only by weighing the issues clearly, wearing the lenses of the party manifesto and of President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance on corruption, as well as, on the welfare of the masses that Adams Oshiomhole can rescue the situation. From all his actions and indices, for now, he has allowed himself to be captured by those within the party that cannot resonate with the public.
The impasse at the state House of Assembly runs on this same track, the coalesced opposition under the covert support or remote of the Comrade.
He has earned his place in history but how he handles this Edo situation will be the make or mar; he needs to return to his political main stream and allow the incumbent governor to stamp his style. The old ways must CHANGE to the NEXT LEVEL. Supporting touts, thugs, fake infantry, delinquent contractors and political parasites will only muddy the political waters; what is required are the type of civilised and transparent reforms that the award winning Governor Godwin Obaseki has courageously and skillfully embarked upon; this momentum cannot be reversed. Reinstating the Kabakas should never be contemplated. A word is enough for the wise.
Shadrack Omoregbe is the convener of Public Accountability Initiative for Africa.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.