As Obaseki feud gets messier

The political feud between the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomole, and the state governor, Godwin Adams Oshiomole has taken a turn for the worse as the governor is set to probe Oshiomhole.

Loyalists of the duo have engaged in media war trying to discredit each other and win party members and supporters to their side. Many party members have become casualty of godfather/godson hostility even as eight commissioners said to be loyal to Oshiomole have been sacked by the governor.

Those sacked; Joseph Ugheoke, Commissioner for Energy and Water Resources, Magdalene Ohenhen, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development and   Engr. Osahon Amiolemen, Commissioner for Infrastructure. Others are; Dr. David Osifo, Commissioner for Health; Mika Amanokha, Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties; Mariam Abubakar, Commissioner for Budget; Barr. Emmanuel Usoh, Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment; Dr. Christopher Adesotu, Commissioner for Science and Technology.

A new twist was added to the drama last week when the state government announced its intentions to probe the central hospital contract awarded by Oshiomole.

Governor Obaseki in a statement said he was setting up a Commission of Enquiry to probe the award of the contract for the construction and supply of equipment for the Benin Central Hospital following pressure from the people.

The governor’s media aide, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement said: “Actors within the government are calling on the governor to probe the contracts in which billions of tax payers’ money was expended on a project that was poorly executed.”

“The commission would ascertain if details of contracts were strictly followed, especially the quality of materials, and determine the extent of irregularities regarding the purchase of equipment, among others.”

According to him, individuals contracted to procure the hospital equipment will be called to hear their side of the story, adding that the investigation was to unravel why the equipment are yet to be supplied, denying taxpayers’ value for their money.

He noted that the contractors who handled the building have questions to answer regarding shoddy jobs done, among others.

Also last week a group known as the Obaseki/Shaibu support group, comprising of teachers, market women, pensioners, youths, religious leaders among others, held a solidarity rally in support of governor Obaseki. During the rally Obaseki dared politicians in the state, who he said are operating from Abuja to come and take over activities of the Edo State House of Assembly.

“To those of you who have gone out to Abuja, to send people from outside the state to come and invade Edo and seal our House of Assembly, we are waiting for you,” he said.

According to him, it was regrettable that some politicians who had in time past joined in the struggle to entrench ‘let the people lead’ mantra in Edo State now seek to work against the people.

“This struggle started 12 years ago in this town, the struggle has not ended, the struggle has just entered gear two. To those of you who are old enough, what we are going through today, we went through it 10 years ago. It is unfortunate that some people who were with us 12 years ago, we do not know what has happened to them. It is a struggle we will win. It is a struggle that says that the people must lead. Democracy is about people,” he said.

Speaking on the new twist, the Publicity Secretary of the APC, comrade Godwin Erhahon, described the development as unfortunate and a bitter lesson for Oshiomole. 

He said what is happening now with the alleged probe of Oshiomole was a vindication of some party members who warned him against sponsoring Obaseki as governor.

“With this now, Obaseki is playing anti-party activities and disloyal to the party. This disqualifies any member from seeking nomination in any elective position. And I don’t know how Obaseki will pass the string of the party now,” he said.

Also speaking, the Edo state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Dan Orbih, said the probe was a welcome development but added the time of the declaration of the probe can be seen as political.

“The decision to probe the hospital should not be used as bargaining tool to settle political differences. If fraud is committed in the award of contract for the supply of equipment, it can’t be swept under the carpet on political expediency,” he said.

He however warned that the decision to probe Oshiomole should not be linked to political differences and interest.

On assumption of office, Governor Obaseki was said to have stopped the old practice whereby politicians who never had business in the government house were allowed to troop there on a daily basis.

Shortly after that, Obaseki sacked Toni Kabaka and Sakpamwan  Eriyo who believed to be  Oshiomole’s foot soldiers as revenue collectors on behalf of the state government and returned the collection to the local government.

This was said to have angered Oshiomole loyalists and other party chieftains who were stopped from the government house demanding patronage. This development was believed to be the genesis of the feud between Oshiomole and his godson, as all entreaties by Oshiomole to return the revenue collection to his foot soldiers were resisted by Obaseki.

As a result of this, Oshiomole was said to have felt betrayed that the godson whom he made the state governor against all odds could stab him in the back by abandoning his loyalists. It was learnt that following this, Oshiomole urged his loyalists who felt betrayed to brace up for the coming governorship election and withdrew his support to the governor in respect to his second term bid. 

Interestingly, party chieftains had rejected Obaseki when Oshiomole picked him as his successor because they saw him as one who would not dance to their tunes. Also, Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that among the sins of Obaseki was his alleged refusal to put the newly commissioned Central Hospital to use almost three years after commissioning.

The feud became tensed and known to the public during the selection of candidates for the National and State House of Assembly election as well as the principal officers of the State House of Assembly.

While Obaseki wanted his loyalist as speaker of the assembly to secure his second term bid,  Oshiomole wanted  his choice too as a move seen to be aimed at  denying the governor a second term.

While Oshiomole wanted Victor Edoro as Speaker, Obaseki is rooted for Frank Okiye, who he believes would serve his interest. Interestingly out of the 24 member-elect,  nine of them said to be loyal to governor Obaseki were inaugurated by the Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai, after the governor had transmitted a letter of proclamation to the house.

Few days after the inauguration of the nine members-elect, three other members-elect were sworn-in bringing the total number of Obaseki loyaliats to 12.