What is happening in Edo State today is similar to what took place in the 2004 American Presidential election which, as you will recall, was a polarizing time in America.
Everything was reduced to red and blue. John Kerry was the devil incarnate to Republicans, while George Bush was the devil incarnate to Democrats, and there was no room in the debate to consider each man on his own merits, nor each issues on its face.
It was as if the fate of the World was hung in the balance just as the fate of Edo State is hanging in the balance between two political gladiators today.
Leaders of each party whipped Americans into such a hyperventilated frenzy that otherwise, intelligent Republicans started to believe that if John Kerry won the White House, America would cease to exist, while Democrats felt sure that if George Bush retained the White House, they were all doomed. So it is today in the eyes of the storm of this blind partisanship, according to this Etsako born analyst.
The fate of the Edos, is locked in this forth coming experiment of influence called election. The only thing expected of them is to pray, hope and wait for the outcome of the gladiators battle, particularly with the Covid 19 pandemic, which has created a situation where not everyone can participate in the election, be it direct or indirect system of primary, for fear of being infected.
Indeed, many are the challenges militating against the prosperity of Edo ahead of the coming election. All the aspirants in the forthcoming Edo Governorship primaries are not greenhorns in the political arena. They have tasted power and so know what it is.
The election will pit the incumbent Godwin Obaseki, against familiar foes that were on the trenches with him in the 2016 general election. This is not unexpected though, but one thing that is certain is that whatever becomes of the Edo APC primary election, the incumbent Godwin Obaseki is sure to be in the race. The platform will become obvious at that time of the election, but if the other aspirants don’t arrive at a consensus, then the tide is sure to favor the incumbent on same platform of the APC.
Despite the crowd of aspirants jostling for the APC ticket, it will soon be clear how many will remain in the party by the time the party fences out other aspirant after one candidate has emerged. The political ideology of a party ought to be a binding force that keeps politicians together in their chosen political party whether they loses out in an election or not.
But because personal interest reigns in majesty over political ideology, this doesn’t even exist in our party system in Nigeria and it becomes difficult to control desperate aspirants after every failed election primary.
After four years of Obaseki’s reign with tough political battle, all of the previous aspirants and new entrants are back to the trenches. Have things changed? Would Obaseki’s second coming be embraced by all Edo people? Or will Ize-Iyamu who was the opposition candidate in the 2016 election be given a nod?
A better question will be the issue of zoning. Former Governor Lucky Igbenedion from Edo South governed for eight years. Comrade Governor from Edo North governed another eight years. The tenure of former Governor Osunbor from Edo Central, was terminated by the Court ruling that brought in comrade Adams Oshiomhole from Edo North who completed a two term of eight years.
Incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki from South is almost completing his first four years. But the forces that brought him into the political scene seem to be against his return for a second term as the tradition had been. The implication is that, the political calculation would be sustained only if Obaseki is allowed to return for a second tenure.
However a change of government will short change other zones in the existing zoning formula. This is because a new governor from Edo South will be a political suicide to Edo Central and Edo North. Those Senatorial districts will have to wait for another eight years before their zoning entitlement can return to them.
Obviously, no new governor would do single term irrespective of the vows and covenant that he would sign before swearing in. Once in power, the language is never the same. Will the new governor be willing to do only one term? Did you remember our incumbent President was supposed to do one term? Will Edo North and Edo Central be willing to supervise Edo South for a straight 12 years as governor of Edo State? These questions have their answers tucked in the womb of time.
The more worrying fact about the Edo governorship polls will emerge after the primary elections of both the APC and the PDP. Politics is not totally predictable because, human behaviour is involved and there can be no direct cause and effect among the Political variables.
One touching concern to me about the events that would be happening after the Edo State Primary Elections, would be the high level of double allegiance that will characterise the political scene. I am not a prophet but a political scientist. The science of Politics will play out in Edo State, where it will become obvious that humans are not scientific materials that can be predicted to produce same results consistently over time.
There is no circumcise hands in politics. No sacred hands that can’t fail in political predictions because humans are changeable molecule unlike scientific elements. Political reality has distinctive properties which make it unamendable to the forms of explanations used in the natural science. Nothing is new about conflict in politics. In-fact, disagreement is the atmosphere that creates political phenomena.
Politics itself is conflictual. That’s why politics does not necessarily aim at total elimination of conflicts. What i expect at this point of our politicking in Edo State, is for leaders to come together to define the limits of such conflicts and thereby create ways for mitigating it.
The people of Edo State should not be carried away by the ongoing Cloud-lessness political battle. They should not allow themselves to be manipulated to believe that the 2020 Governorship election would be the most important election of their lifetime, which it may well have been, but we can be certain that when the 2024 election rolls around it will also be routed as the most important election of our lifetime.
The news flash is that even in the year 2028 governorship election in Edo, it will be the same story all over again. There is no middle ground in politics. Nobody is fighting for nothing. Political powers are never given but are taken through crisis. Conflict is the breeding ground for exchange of political powers. To expect to see an Edo that would have lesser conflict in the future is to wait forever. Can you remember the game that played out in Akwa- Ibom between former Governor Akpabio and his own former Aide who is now the incumbent Governor?
The deepening divide between our leaders are not purely for our interest. Because as a political science graduate and a Broadcaster, I’m aware that the currency of politics is power and influence. How they get it is not as relevant as getting it. The masses are merely the guinea pig for these power hustlers, so it couldn’t have been for our collective good. Our founding fathers got it right, and within the frame work of our democracy there is room for leadership and courage and vision and all those good things that made the old Bendel and Mid- Western region great and strong.
We depend on leaders with course and vision to keep us headed down the right road, but from time to time there’s vacuum. From time to time, we find ourselves in a state of such profound drift and I keep wondering whether we will ever see our way back to the way it was in the Bendel era because these days we are drifting sideways.
The Political pendulum swings back and forth in the heartbeat of Nigeria. Currently, we are at the troubling end of its arc. I have spent all my adult life working with various level of politicians and I can’t say have seen it all, but I know when power is abused and when limits are exceeded.
The Lucky Igbenedion and the PDP era veered Edo off a principled course of development, then Comrade Adams Oshiomhole surfaced as the Messiah to return the State back to the path of development as envisaged by the founding fathers but today we are forced to ask if the same Messiah is out to return the State back to the hands of those he had previously claimed it from.
The Opposition are definitely praying for this moment to come for the APC for them to leverage upon. We must not forget that it was this same kind of crisis that removed PDP from power. We are yet to see a house that is divided against itself and still remained the same. It is a question and not otherwise because how we’ve let things slip to where politics is no longer about doing good but about winning elections and destroying opponent is still tales.
The stakes in our politics are always too high. Its all the same. Even in the Edo State Senatorial and House of assembly elections, we threw caution to the wind in defending our stands. I was a victim of that war of words. The tensions we created particularly in the media was needless. Of course, Political intrigue and smear tactics are nothing new, but we must all remember that we are first brothers before we became opponents.
Whether politics fails or succeeds, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Comrade Philip Shaibu are from Etsako. Politics will not change their history. If we are conscious about this fact then we would discover that we are not fighting an enemy but ourselves.
I have always worked with Politicians outside Edo State. My attraction to Edo my own state was the unity and comradeship that existed between Adams Oshiomhole and Philip Shaibu as far back as 2007. Today, the two people that got me interested in our politics are on opposite sides of the trenches. I weep as I write this and I passionately plead for both of them to reconcile again and I mean true brotherliness reconciliation. I am not talking of political reconciliation but as it was from the beginning. Because Edo State and Afemai land will not come to an end with the current administration.
We ought to find some way to inject competition into a tired, rickety system and see if that doesn’t help. This is because competition drives everything in our society. But the missing link is that, we have turned competition into conflict. Conflict exist when two people wish to carry out acts that are mutually inconsistent.
Conflict is good and not bad because politics in its true sense is conflictual by nature. Once there is the cause for inter group relations, conflict becomes inevitable and peace must be given a chance. Peace must be given a chance because the struggle at its apex occurs in form of war, crisis and violence which leads to aggressive behavior and conflict escalation. Conflict escalation has to do with compounding already complex aggression. Conflict is indeed not in the best interest of anyone.
Governor Obaseki did many things in his first term in office for which the entire state commended him for taking everything in their stride, which worked like a charm with all Edo adoring his administration. My disappointment today, is that all of a sudden, no one seem to see anything good about the same Obaseki anymore.
We only see his weaknesses and not his capacity anymore. It is amazing to note that the quality that made him the most preferred aspirant in 2016, those same qualities that made him the most qualified are no more seen in him. “How has the gold become dim? the bible once ask. Shall the prey be taken away from the mighty? the Holy scripture also asks. But who will provide the answers to those soul touching questions?
Because conflict is in favor of the strong and never the wise. But has the worst happened? Can we not still salvage this situation in Edo State? Is there no third party that can come to settle this crisis in Edo State? Have we run out of alternative options? Has diplomacy failed? It is only when Diplomacy fails that war usually breaks out. Diplomacy has not failed at this point because no one is patient to listen to the view of the other.
Indeed Edo State is anxiety and tension soaked. The State has a fragmented political class. All aspirants are busy dissipating their energies on Obaseki and rarely address issues. First it was Obaseki’s certificate, later it was his style of leadership, his neglect of party structures and many others issues reared their heads. The ongoing consultation by Politicians is more about abuse and war of words with hired media mercenaries engaged to do a media hatchet job against both the incumbent Governor and his deputy.
They have been malicious, relentlessly uncouth and deliriously loquacious, stigmatizing the Deputy Governor of Edo State as a Covid 19 patient, an allegation they later regretted by tendering apology to the Radio and Tv station they raised alarms about. What a primitive way of seeking relevance in a civilised society like ours? How does a pot confront its potter? Have we run out of human resources as we seem to have run out of ideas? Where else can a son who has been disowned by his parents who seeks to skin him lay his head?
This was why Bob Nesta Marley said: “You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” We can’t all have been wrong at the same time. The truth is that it is the media handlers of these aspirants that have created unecesary tension as if the State was on fire when there was no spark anywhere.
Caution must therefore start from the media handlers. We must not talk because others are talking. The sea of Edo political waters could appear to be calm but deep. This you won’t understand until you attempt to trouble the waters. The polity has been heated almost to a boiling point. It is as if some people are determined to waste the state away if they cannot have their way. So much hate and venom have been spewed in the mass media and social media, not by the aspirants themselves, but by their hired mercenaries.
We have witnessed governorship primaries in Edo State before, none has been so divisive and hate filled as this ongoing campaign. The aspirants themselves are not the problem but their media aides, who are seeking relevance and undue favour from their pay masters. Only few have gone beyond decent and acceptable limits. In their struggle to undermine one another, real developmental issues that affect the people of our state were relegated while wars of words are given prominence.
The polity in the next few days, will be turbo-charged.