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ANALYSIS: Tinubu Rescued Oshiomhole, But Turned His Back On Obaseki

ANALYSIS: Tinubu Rescued Oshiomhole, But Turned His
Back On Obaseki by ijustdey: 8:43am
Godwin Obaseki, the embattled governor of Edo state,
had his moment not too long ago and almost brought
down Adam Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the
All Progressives (APC).
Mr Obaseki, other APC governors, and some ministers
from the South-South had put in all their political might in
a plot to remove Mr Oshiomhole before the
commencement of the party governorship primaries.
And, of course, that appeared to be the safest route for
Mr Obaseki to easily pick the APC ticket to run for a
second term as Edo governor after a once-promising
relationship between him and Mr Oshiomhole became
horribly sour.
Back home in his Edo State where he had served before
as governor, Mr Oshiomhole had been suspended by the
local chapters of the APC and thoroughly discredited in
the state, obviously through the prompting of Governor
Obaseki.
Time was ticking against Mr Oshiomhole.
In a matter of days, he would be kicked out of office as
the APC chairman, most people had concluded.
And just in the nick of time, Bola Tinubu, the man that is
highly regarded as the party’s national leader, stepped in.
He said those who were plotting Mr Oshiomhole’s
removal saw the national chairman as the obstacle to
their 2023 political ambition.
“The Chairman has been a tireless campaigner and
mobilizer for the party. He has steered the party through
difficult elections. His contributions should not be
undervalued now that the bulk of elections are behind
us,” Mr Tinubu said in a statement in March.
Mr Tinubu said it would, therefore, be “an act of
ingratitude” to remove the APC chairman.
“It is no secret that the Chairman and Edo Governor
Obaseki are in dispute. This is unfortunate. However, the
party has moved through proper procedures within the
proper organs of the party to hopefully resolve this spat,”
he added.
The sea became calm, quiet, and safe for the APC
chairman, after Mr Tinubu’s statement.
Nigerian politicians share a common belief – if you do
not “finish” your political enemy, if you give him a
breather, he is likely to come for you with every strength
he could muster, and with every ‘weapon’ he could lay
hands on. And also when the fight gets dirtier, you could
actually be fighting under the rule that there is no rule.
Mr Oshiomhole survived the plot, gathered some
strength, and, with Mr Obaseki’s disqualification on Friday
from contesting the forthcoming APC governorship
primary in Edo State, it seems he has now taken his
pound of flesh from his erstwhile protégé.
Oshiomhole-Obaseki political fight has been on for
several months. In fact, it became an open secret in June
2019 that the two leaders were at war against each other.
The fight divided the APC in Edo state and crippled the
Edo House of Assembly, where 14 elected lawmakers,
out of 24, are yet to be inaugurated several months after
their elections. The 14 members are loyalists of Mr
Oshiomhole.
Governor Obaseki, in order to take complete charge of
Edo politics, kicked Mr Oshiomhole’s loyalists, one after
the other, out of political office.
But in the latter days, when it became clearer that Mr
Oshiomhole and his supporters were closing in on Mr
Obaseki, some of the governor’s aides, including his chief
of staff, resigned from the administration.
What is Tinubu saying?
Mr Obaseki and other APC governors met with Mr Tinubu
recently to seek a possible resolution of the Oshiomhole-
Obaseki rift.
“Though I cannot quote exactly what he (Tinubu) said
because I was not there, but essentially he took side with
Oshiomhole, by insisting that they should go and do
direct primary with this COVID-19 challenge that we are
faced with,” Mr Obaseki’s spokesperson, Crusoe Osagie,
told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday evening.
Shortly after Mr Obaseki’s meeting with Mr Tinubu in
Lagos, Joe Igbokwe, an APC chieftain in Lagos and a
strong supporter of Mr Tinubu wrote on Facebook, “But
they said Edo is not Lagos,” apparently mocking those
who had boasted that Mr Obaseki was going to trounce
Mr Oshiomhole, unlike the former Lagos governor,
Akinwunmi Ambode, who failed to secure a second term
because of his disagreement with Mr Tinubu.
“Please fear PMB, Jagaban and Oshiomhole. These are
not small boys,” Mr Igbokwe added in his Facebook post.
When the national leadership of the APC announced that
the party would use direct primary (against the indirect
primary canvassed by Obaseki) to choose their
governorship candidate in Edo it became obvious that Mr
Tinubu and others, probably including President
Muhammadu Buhari, had turned their back against the
Edo governor.
The disqualification may just be a confirmation that Mr
Obaseki has been abandoned to face his fate.
On June 12, a few hours after Mr Obaseki’s
disqualification, Mr Igbokwe again took to Facebook to
celebrate the development. “Please know that APC is not
PDP. Men in APC are not boys. Sometimes they take hard
decisions to send some strong signals out there,” he
wrote on the social media site.
PREMIUM TIMES asked Mr Obaseki’s spokesperson if the
governor felt betrayed by Mr Tinubu. “I wouldn’t know, let
me not react to that,” he responded.
Is Obaseki leaving APC?
Mr Obaseki’s initial statement, through his spokesperson,
Mr Osagie, appeared as though he had given up on Mr
Oshiomhole and APC.
“We have decided that it would be effort in futility to
appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation
and screening process of the APC will be, especially
when Comrade Oshiomhole has declared that he is the
Supreme Court and ultimate determiner of the fate and
future of our great party,” the governor’s spokesperson,
Mr Osagie said in the statement.
“We wish Oshiomhole well in his maladministration of the
party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to
find the path to true liberty, freedom and justice,” he
added.
But when PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Osagie, Friday
evening, to ask him specifically if Mr Obaseki was leaving
APC, he said the governor had not said so.
Mr Obaseki has told his supporters to remain calm and
wait for a further directive, Mr Osagie said.
Mr Obaseki, as it is now, has the option of heading to
court to challenge his disqualification. He could also get
the ticket from another party to contest for his re-
election.
The chairman of APC in Edo State, Anselm Ojezua, a
loyalist of the governor, gave an induction that may be Mr
Obaseki’s direction.
In a statement late Friday, he said the APC only stopped
the governor from using its platform not from contesting
the election. He vowed Mr Obaseki will contest and win.
Nigerian politicians share another common belief that 24
hours before any election is enough time for any political
maneuvering to take place and that anything can happen
within such available time.
The governorship election in Edo is in September, about
three months from now. Mr Obaseki still has enough time
to pull out all his cards against Mr Oshiomhole.

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