In the life cycle of every community or State or nation as the case may be, a time comes when the forces of progress gather momentum, enough momentum to withstand the onslaught of the forces of retrogression. One thing you can rest assured is this—- it is never a walk in the park.
Such is the moment yesterday as the APC candidate flanked by APC governors and who’s who in APC storm Benin to provide wind to Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Mission—- to signal the beginning of the end of the reign of terror in Osadebey House.
A man who had it all, propelled by the ancient myth of the invincibility of power, rode roughshod over his friends, his associates and his enablers once he ascended the throne. His belief in democracy only went as far as it would benefit only him and no one else.
When I look around Obaseki today, I see a General who could have been. I see a leader who could have been. Having been helped to power, he proceeded to decapitate everyone who helped him on the journey.
On the day after his inauguration, a childhood friend of his who had been by his side throughout his campaign in 2016, feeling confident that now that the guns of war had gone silent and victory had been won, he was entitled to some form of harvest, took up a chair in an office in the government house.
He was the Director General of his campaign. His name is Osakue Aiyevbekpen. It is said that Obaseki screamed at him—- “What are you doing here!!! I don’t need you. Get out of here.”
His aides watched in consternation. Did he have to humiliate another man like that? Was it necessary? Where are the others who helped him from the start? Where is Barrister Idahagbon? Where is Rasaq Belo Osagie? Where is Saturday Uwulekhue? Where is Osemwengie Garrick? Where is the Chief of Staff?
Where is everyone? Na only you waka come?
It was the same medicine he gave his friends that he gave all the APC leaders—-“Go to the Secretariat,” he shouted at them. “Government House is not an ATM. I don’t need you.” Can anyone govern alone?
For Obaseki, that answer is “Yes.” He has proved all of us wrong that one man cannot govern alone. For a full year, he did not have Commisioners. When he eventually got a handful, he lectured them thoroughly like children—- “If you think you have come here to steal, this is not the job for you.” That is all well and good if your hand as governor is equally not in the cookie jar. It was. Big time.
Every Ministry and every area of government had a Consultant installed, usually a person from Delta or Lagos, an outsider. The hiring of consultants is the most clever way to steal. It is surgical. You cannot pin anything on the Governor. The entire government was Obaseki’s own ATM.
There was only going to be an Alibaba. Who needs the 40 thieves? They were going to slow him down.
Today, as the forces arrayed against him gather at the University of Benin grounds, the Ogbe Stadium having been denied their use, he will be watching all by himself on Television, what could have been his crowning for a second term. For four years, he has ruled Edo State like a dictator, without a Legislative Arm of government, thus violating the basic tenets of democratic rule, a principle enunciated by Baron de Montesquieu——(1748), the theory of Separation of Powers, clearly spelled out in his treatise—- The Spirit of The Laws.
For democracy to be said to be practiced, there must be three co-equal arms of government— the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. No arm can be wished away. Imagine if Buhari refused to allow the National Assembly to function?
The same people of Edo State would mobilize and go into the streets to scream dictatorship! Why do we think it’s okay for Obaseki to be a dictatorship at a local level and Buhari cannot be at the Federal level? For his first four years as President, Buhari had to endure and negotiate and deal with a hostile National Assembly run by Saraki.
Have we forgotten so soon? Why was it so difficult to deal with 24 men? I have written over and over again— Obaseki has a disagreeable personality. He should have joined the Military where they bark orders. He does not belong in a democracy. In a democracy, you negotiate.
The PDP knows who he is. They sold him a bogus ticket. He was desperate for a platform. There as yet remains a sticking point. All the PDP Ward Chairmen in all 192 wards are waiting for Obaseki to give them N10m each. That was what he promised them in his moment of desperation. Having paid N10b to procure the tickets for himself and his deputy, he turned around and told the Ward Chairmen that they should accept N2m each.
They simply told him —No. He has increased it to N5m. Again, they said —No. N10m is N10m. This is the glaring difference between a leader and a ruler. These same Ward Chairman would work for Osagie for free. He makes a human connection with people.
Everyone who works for Obaseki says the same thing. He is a transactional leader. This is a sharp contrast with Osagie Ize-Iyamu. He connects with you. He builds bridges. He retains friendships.
Obaseki could have gone to PDP with humility but who is going to advise a man who knows everything? He told his best friends who tried to advise him to slow down on picking a fight with his benefactors, “This is politics. Go and face your business and let me face politics.” They left him alone.
They all call him a four letter word behind his back. After September 19th, he will go back to Lagos and there will be no friends waiting and falling over one another to throw him a welcome back party. For anyone who wants to, or aspires to be in government, please take a lesson from Generalissimo Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki on how not to govern.
When the history of his foray into politics is written, one word will feature very boldly—Pride. It goeth before a fall. It is tragic and it is sad.
Author, Poet, Playwright and Public Affairs Commentator. I write because I am involved.