Obaseki’s Call For Truce With Oshiomhole, Taiwo Akerele’s Ultimate Vindication
It has been months of frostiness in Edo State, as two of the political bigwigs in the ruling party, APC have gone on a collision course.
Governor of the State, Godwin Obaseki has been in an endless rift with the National Chairman of the party, and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole.
When two elephants clash, the grass, they say, suffers. The constant political clashes has deprived Edo State of its appropriate growth as the governor has concentrated mainly on the supremacy battle, and the fight for his political life.
Their clash has been a matter of interest to Nigerians with many players in the political sphere, and onlookers waiting to see the next steps that will be taken by the governor, his predecessor and the party.
While Oshiomhole has resisted many of the mudslingers and fireballs pelted at him, the battle may even be more feisty than first thought.
From firing shots at each other in the press, the governor showed his incumbent power when he sacked eight commissioners believed to be Oshiomhole’s loyalists. It was the move that drew the first blood and established the feud between the governor and his predecessor. The Commissioners sacked at the time were; Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties Mika Amanokha who is also Oshiomhole’s nephew; Commissioner for Energy and Water Resources Joseph Ugheoke; Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development Magdalene Ohenhen and Commissioner for Infrastructure Engr. Osahon Amiolemen.
Others are Commissioner for Health Dr. David Osifo; Commissioner for Budget Mariam Abubakar; Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment Barr. Emmanuel Usoh; Commissioner for Science and Technology. Dr. Christopher Adesotu
Obaseki didn’t stop there but further went on to stop Oshiomhole’s other loyalists from gaining access to the government house. One of the victims of his otherwise high handed approach was Osakpamwan Eriyo, a former youth leader of the party in the state. Eriyo was remanded in prison for three months, on the orders of the governor.
According to information gathered from the state, the battle line got drawn when nineteen (19) members-elect of the House of Assembly were not inaugurated as a result of Obaseki’s non-proclamation. Nine members, who are loyalists of the governor were present on the night of June 17, 2019 to get inaugurated and a speaker was elected by less than the required majority.
In another move, Tony Kabaka, one of Oshiomhole’s core loyalists also had a section of his hotel being demolished by the state government as Obaseki continued his proxy war with his predecessor.
The current governor has also declined to open the Edo Central Hospital built by Oshiomhole and has launched scathing attacks on his predecessor on the construction of the hospital. The battle has since gone on, and Obaseki is the man on the lips of majority now.
This squabble could have been avoided if Obaseki listened to a man he appointed for his moral competence and cerebral strength, Taiwo Akerele. Akerele, the former Chief of Staff to the Edo State Governor played his role to great effect and left an indelible mark in the state and became the toast of many in the process.
His alluring love for peace, gentle demeanour and patience in handling issues project his huge wisdom, a quality a man in such a position like the one he resigned from can’t do without.
Akerele resigned from his position as Chief of Staff to Obaseki, citing administrative and governance issues as reasons for his decision. While it was not met with reception from the governor, further underlining his importance to him, Akerele felt exposed by the governor’s defiance to reach a peaceful accord with Oshiomhole, a man the former CoS describes as a father in Edo politics.
He was placed in a difficult position and was not protected enough, as he always worked hard for the benefit of the state and his people, amid an unflinching loyalty to the governor.
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” J.R.R Tolkien said. It’s in this vein that Akerele, in his boundless wisdom called for a truce between the two political aficionados in the state. He sensed the bleakness of the future and the bad situation and position it will leave the state in.
On many occasions, Akerele advised the governor to settle his rift with his predecessor, for the benefit of the state, and the party. On every occasion, Obaseki refused to budge to the advice of a man strategically placed to give him his bit, with no holdback nor fear.
In an interview with the Nation Newspaper published on the 23rd of March, Akerele said;
“Whatever the issues are, they are resolvable. Oshiomhole and Obaseki are very close, nobody should be deceived. The issues they had were political. They had political disagreements. The cause of falling out is political and resolvable politically.
“When there is political crisis, a lot of factors will come in, that will tend to heighten the tension, especially the activities of fifth columnists or third force. We were in Iyamho (Oshiomhole’s hometown in Edo State) during Sallah break, which was in the middle of the crisis.
“Governor Obaseki remains the leader of APC in Edo state, while Comrade Oshiomhole continues to be the father of all, not only as a former governor of the state, but as the current national chairman.
Comrade Oshiomhole is our man anytime, anyday and he is best of friends with Governor Obaseki. What happened was a normal political disagreement, which is settle-able. Every other issue is subsumed under this sub-issue. In any case, no matter how we war war, dialogue and peaceful settlement remain the ultimate.”
During his book launch of the 2nd of May, he made the same point and called for dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the ongoing rift. On every opportunity Akerele gets, he exudes his preference for unity as a strength, rather than take sides. Loyalty is not puppetry, it should always come with the truth, and that, the man from Akoko-Edo gave to his former superior.
“I have expressed my views on several occasions concerning this matter and I will just summarise by saying the governor remains the leader of the party in the state while Comrade continues to be father of all not only as a former governor but also as current national chairman. Adams Oshiomhole is our man anytime any day and he is best of friends with Godwin Obaseki. What happened was a normal political disagreement which can be settled. Every other issue is subsumed under this sub issue. In any case no matter how we war war, dialogue and peaceful settlement remain the ultimate. Obaseki means well and he requires the support of all APC members and general electorates,” he said.
Akerele announced his resignation on the 25th of April 20, and just over a month after, he has been vindicated of his stance for a truce and a dialogue. As the quest for the governorship seat in Edo State hots up, Obaseki has gone on to see national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. His desire to get an indirect election was rebuffed as Tinubu insisted on the prevalence of the party’s democracy. On Monday, he met President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, while some APC governors also met Oshiomhole. The outcome of all the meetings still borders around the insistence on direct primaries, and Obaseki’s new position.
Akerele was vindicated by the desire of the governor to reach a truce with his predecessor. It was always going to be the best decision and the former CoS saw this a long time ago.
“It is unfortunate that he is
taking the position he has taken; I believe that he was not properly guided.
I am his Governor and it is my responsibility to seek peace for my State and with all my citizens. I will continue to
strive for peace, I will continue to pursue peace, seek the interest of our people and I am open, that we should talk
about how to move things forward.
“The relationship is still frosty but I
am doing all I can to try and make it
warm just for the sake of Edo people. I am committed to whatever it will
take to have peace and not to lose lives in Edo, within the law, whatever I
can do that is constitutional, I will do,”
Obaseki told State House corespondents in Abuja.
It may have taken months before Obaseki realised where Akerele was coming from and his futuristic view of the situation, but the governor’s new stance is an ultimate vindication of the man who saw ahead.