The Oasis Reporters
January 2, 2020
In choosing the Man that has impressed him deeply enough to be endowed with the Man Of The Year title, Yinka Odumakin started his essay off with a philosophical analysis about
Godfatherism that he calls “a form of political corruption in which an influential member of a party assists another person/party in the climb to leadership due to many reasons including the unpopularity of the latter.
“This pernicious practice is rapidly converting our politics from a civil engagement to a trade where only the money bags and influential are beneficiaries of the political process. The godfathers rely on their wealth and influence to sponsor candidates of their choice whom they put under their control when they get into office through all shenanigans including fetish oaths in some cases”.
How does Odumakin describe the behavior of godfathers ?
“The predatory behaviour of godfathers in Nigeria has caused serious upheavals in many states in the county in the last 20 years. We cannot forget the virtual burning down of Anambra state during the prebendal crisis between not-so-literate Uba and Dr Chirs Ngige as governor of the State. A friend of mine from Anambra who was close to Chris Uba told me how Ngige “duped” the moneybags with humility to get what he wanted .He told me of how he was with Uba one day and he called Ngige as a governorship candidate and allegedly and handed him a document to go and make photocopies for him. The doctor ran out of the room to carry out the instructions of the master. It was when he became governor that he now tried to assert himself and this culminated in the festival of arson in the state”.
Returning to his major theme of discourse, Yinka Odumakin continued:
“The latest theatre of godfatherism crisis is Edo state where the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, may soon have to do away with his bourgeois khaki as his erstwhile protégé, Governor Godwin Obaseki, and his Deputy, who used to be his political boys, are now looking him eyeball -to-eyeball and are poised to wrestle him to the ground with sweat all over him.
Adams Oshiohole is a very strong character who will not surrender to anybody lording it over him. But by some inferior scholarship, he thought he could serve others the meal he would not touch by picking then apolitical Obaseki as his successor. I was told Obaseki was crucial in raising funds for him when he sought to be Edo governor but his attraction for him was that he didn’t have politics. He failed to learn from his benefactor in Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who fell apart with Mr Babatunde Fasola and Mr Akinwumi Ambode who were chosen because they were not very political.
He then picked Mr Philip Shuaibu, whom he thought would be his enforcer as his deputy. It was easy for him at the beginning as Obaseki has revealed openly that Oshiomhole compiled the list of his commissioners in his living room all by himself. But since characters who play godfathers are usually too domineering and don’t want to take 99% and leave 1, Obaseki started to get irritated until the game was over for the godfather .
When I watched Shaibu speak at the Tribune Platinum Awards in Lagos recently I knew Oshiomhole was in trouble. He was sure – footed as he declared matter-of-factly that there was no crisis in Edo state beyond their stubborn defense of what Oshiomhole stood for: no responsible leader should surrender governance to a godfather.
Hear Oshiomhole: “Over the last eight years, we have tried to orientate our people not just the voters but politicians that the season of election rigging, where one or two godfathers write the results is over and we were committed to dismantling the rigging machine.
“We had a rerun in 2012 with all the godfathers on one side and new forces of change on my side; I won in all the 18 local government areas. Our people have spoken loud and clear that they believe in democracy, they just don’t want to be beneficiaries, they want to be the drivers of the process. This was shown by the way they conducted themselves on Election Day.
“It is outstanding and remarkable that tensed as the election was with all the predictions, the APC won 15 out of the 18 local government areas decisively.
Those who were loudest in making noise have been revealed where they stand in relation with the Edo people.
“We have humbled Chief Tom Ikimi even in the local government he claimed to have created. We defeated Chief Raymond Dokpesi in his polling unit, his ward and his local government.
In Okada, the political family that has boasted that they will continue to govern this state and even compelled the state to adopt them as the queen of England whose birthday must be celebrated was rejected.
“In Esan land, the senatorial zone of the PDP godfather, we won two out of the five local governments. We gave him a fight that he managed to escape. He used the factor of his age to play on the emotions of the people. It is a victory for the people of the state. Edo people are now proud they can now determine who rules them and no one godfather can choose a leader for them”.
Yinka Odumakin’s reading of the Edo game is that “Obaseki and Shaibu have made up their minds” now to fight to the last man. “They have been making the right moves and speaking the right language”.
“Realising the uphill task of a village boy from Iyamoh uprooting a thorough-bred Benin man from office, Oshiomhole went after Pastor Iyamu, a Benin man to come join the APC but he was under “house arrest” the day they fixed for his declaration.
Majority of the Assembly members whom he had thought he would use to whip Obaseki to line have lost their seats without sitting for a day! Obaseki has also drawn a fine distinction between educated minds in politics and shop floor masters with buccaneer mentality when he said winning an election should be about working for the people to earn their votes and not deploying thugs and snatching ballot boxes. If this is from the heart, it sets him apart from the gaffe of the APC chairman after the governorship election in Osun State that “those who cannot stand rigging should not contest election.”
Obaseki is now talking tough with his declaration on Oshiomhole at a rally on Thursday is a signal of things to come:
“The APC is one party. Those that say they are in the EPM are not APC, including their national chairman, whom we have suspended in Edo State. Those mistakenly elected into Edo State House of Assembly, who are members of the EPM, have been thrown out and the Independent National Electoral Commission is aware and will soon announce a date for a fresh election, where we will have the opportunity to elect credible representatives, who will represent us in the House.
“Any person doing anti-party activities, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked us to deal with them. We have been told to go back to organise our party. That’s why we are here. As a ruling party in the state, we have done a lot for the Edo people, moving the state forward progressively, but the EPM are afraid of progress and will do anything to ensure we don’t get another term.”
“His talk was followed with Shaibu his deputy being made the political Leader of Edo North where Oshiomhole is from in a deft no-retreat-no surrender move. Oshiomhole position as the chairman of APC is actually becoming untenable. How can a man who cannot guarantee harmony in his home state successfully run a national party?
For reducing the number of active godfathers in Nigeria by one, Obaseki is my man of the year, including his deputy Shuaib”.
The test of what Afenifere chieftain, Yinka Odumakin says about Edo State governor, Andrew Obaseki versus his erstwhile godfather would play out when the governor files out to face whoever the People’s Democratic Party, PDP presents as their candidate in the gubernatorial election coming up this year 2020.
The last one was held on 28 September, 2016 to determine the Governor of Edo State. The election was originally scheduled for 10 September, however two days before, on 8 September it was postponed due to security concerns.