The cold war between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has entered another dimension as the embattled governor tries to consolidate his position ahead of his second term bid in 2020.
Those close to the state of affairs in the state allege that Oshiomhole is determined to take back control of Edo from Obaseki’s iron grip. Although the governor has largely succeeded in establishing his own strong structure since coming into office, the APC national chairman’s current prominence on the national scene is said to give him a joker, especially as the National Working Committee of the party which he presides over will have to approve the Edo governorship candidate of the party.
The genesis of tensions can be traced back to 2016 when Oshiomhole, the outgoing governor of the state then, handpicked Obaseki, who was then the chairman of the state Economic and Strategic Unit, as his successor against the advice of many stakeholders. Obaseki went on to win the elections.
Oshimhole must have neglected to emphasize the virtues of loyalty in his handover notes, for no sooner had Obaseki settled down than he went about hounding some of his predecessor’s most loyal men placed in strategic positions. While some were arrested and detained, others were summarily dismissed; the rest were unceremoniously run out of town. Only a few lucky ones either too entrenched or too low on the totem pole survived the purge. The governor also allegedly undermined some of the projects of the previous administration, like the Benin Central Hospital built by Oshiomhole which is yet to be opened several years after completion.
Since then, Oshiomhole has an axe to grind with his former protégé. And as the time approaches to choose the state’s number one citizen, he senses his opportunity to get his pound of flesh. The governor knows this too, hence the recent token attempts at conciliation ahead of the recent general election. His cause wasn’t helped by the party’s performance during the presidential and house of assembly elections as the party under his stewardship lost several seats to the PDP.
Desperate to bolster support, Obaseki has turned around and embraced some of those he persecuted in the early days of his tenure. By hook or by crook, he has wooed some of Oshiomhole’s foot soldiers of yore to his own side. But he knows that isn’t enough. His situation is like when the heroes of a martial arts film have fought their way through an assortment of henchmen only to come face to face with the big bad boss who stands between them and their ultimate quest.