Obaseki or Oshiomhole: On whose side were You? By Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Over the past week, most Nigerians and indeed Edo people were shell-shocked at the rapprochement that took place between former Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole and the incumbent, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki. In times past, the duo were political friends and acquaintances – the one seen more as a political godfather to the other. Godwin Obaseki was economic adviser to Adams Oshiomhole and formed part of his inner caucus. Therefore, when it was time for Mr Oshiomhole to make a choice in a successor between his deputy of eight years, and his economic adviser, he went for the later.

Therefore, when things fell apart between the duo, most Edo people and particularly members of the political class pitched their tents on their preferred divide. One divide argued that the choice of Obaseki as Oshiomhole’s successor ordinarily should suggest that in the whole of his lifetime, Obaseki should be grateful to Oshiomhole, and do all he can to pamper and cultivate his benefactor. They hold that in having any kind of rift with his ‘benefactor’, Oshiomhole’s political son has been biting the finger that fed him. They say that even though Mr. Obaseki is deft with the management of men and materials, he alienated the political elite by refusing to give them money.

For those on the side of Godwin Obaseki, their traducers have no inkling of the crucial role Obaseki played in the Oshiomhole admin in boosting the Edo financial base in the face-off between Oshiomhole and the Goodluck Jonathan administration. They describe their man as one whose palm kernels were not cracked for him by the benevolence of Mr. Oshiomhole. They say that their man is his own man, and who is good at the management of men and materials. One such Obasekite referred this author to an Amsterdam magazine, The Voice. It said of Mr. Obaseki that for seven years in the administration of Governor Oshiomhole, he was voluntary Chairman of the Edo state Economic and Strategy Team as well as Chairman of Tax Review Committee for the Edo state Internal Revenue Service, TARC and the committee on micro, small and medium enterprises’.

Over the weekend when the duo got together, they embraced and smiled at the cameras. One of them blamed the press, who most politicians refer to as jourliticians, as responsible for the festering rift. ‘We are brothers’, Oshiomhole said.

At CERLSI, we often wondered if the rift and the support it generated on both divides ever improved the living conditions of the supporters of both ‘brothers’. How many live in the kinds of mansions that we all saw at the venue of the rapprochement of the brothers?  Did the rift put more food on the tables on those vociferously championing this as against the other divide? If it did then it means that those who benefitted from the rift between both brothers are carpetbaggers and political mercenaries. Did power supply normalize or did it help to tar the failed portions of some of the roads in Edo state?

The supreme lesson for those for and against the rift between both men is this: it is better to stand up and take the case for the people of Edo state rather than pitching tents in favour or against politicians. These supporters must realize that most politicians have two faces, two mouths, four ears and are nocturnal. Their interest – to better their lot and that of their families, is paramount and permanent. There are no permanent friends and enemies in the game of thrones. Instead, there are frenemies. The Alliances politicians forge are fickle.  As they shake hands with you, they prepare the other hand to box your ears.

CERLSI encourages both brothers to fight a different kind of fight now: that to improve on the welfare of the people they represent. Enough of the mundane and the banal.  

Etemiku is deputy executive director, Civil Empowerment & Rule of Law Support Initiative, CERLSI, Abuja.