The electioneering campaigns for the September 19 governorship election in Edo State is fast sliding from issue-based communications into threats and counter-threats of political violence and pandemonium between the leading political parties and political leaders in the state.
More importantly, there appears to be greater threats to the executive powers of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, ousted national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC); for the protection of lives and property as the Chief Security Officer in the state. This threat emerging from Oshiomhole challenging the executive powers of Governor Obaseki appears to make the drumbeat of war sounds louder in the state in the build up to the governorship election.
The ousted APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had in an interview on ARISE News monitored from Lagos by National Daily, issued a strong threat that APC will not fold its arms and watch Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) violently rig the September 19 governorship election in Edo State. He had declared: “we will meet violence with violence.”
The ousted APC national chairman may have predicated his threat of violence on wrong premise of the intension by the incumbent governor to deploy the powers at his behest to restore law and order and forestall political violence in the state after the pandemonium at the gate of the Palace of the Oba of Benin where gunmen struck shooting at innocent citizens on July 25 when PDP leaders and governors leading the campaign team visited the Oba.
Incumbent Governor Obaseki had on Sunday admonished that stiff penalties could be enforced on anyone found to be involved in political violence, assaults or wanton killing in the buildup to the governorship election. The governor had lamented the July 25 violent outburst perpetuated by some political thugs at the gate of the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II. The governor further cautioned residents of Edo imbued with the intention of causing disruption of public peace and instigating or engaging in mayhem to desist from such act or plans. Governor Obaseki warned that such ploys or acts will not be tolerated under his leadership, saying that he is determined to perform his primary responsibility of maintaining law and order towards the protection lives and property as the Chief Security Officer in Edo State.
Oshiomhole had on the Morning Show on Arise Television in Lagos on Tuesday, misinterpreted Obaseki statement on ensuring law and order in Edo State to imply threat of violence to manipulate the governorship election. Such illusion or deliberate misplacement of reality may have led the former governor to the threat of violence for violence in the Edo governorship election. Oshiomhole had declared: “if they want violence, we will give them violence.”
The former governor also delineated the battle line he has drawn with incumbent Governor Obaseki. He said that the incumbent governor has failed to meet the expectations of the people in the state, adding that Obaseki undermined the development plan of Edo State. At this juncture, it was noticeable that Oshiomhole was projecting similar political template that used to frustrate the second term ticket of former Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode.
The ousted APC national chairman accused Governor Obaseki of writing petition to President Muhammadu Buhari not approve the appointment of Dr. Pius Odubu, as chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); also as a commissioner in NDDC representing Edo State. Oshiomhole expressed fury that the incumbent governor made Edo State lose two positions in NDDC.
Oshiomhole denied speaking ill of the APC governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at any time. He was of the view that he was misrepresented and given wrong reports on Ize-Iyamu in 2016. He stated that Ize-Iyamu has never been a governor, so, he would not have spoken so badly about him.
Oshiomhole, again, reiterated his threat to political war in the election, saying that Obaseki had threatened to deal with APC members and supporters under the guise of dealing with troublemakers in Edo State. Hypothetically, in a seeming self-defeatist argument and threats for violence, Oshiomhole may be subtly admitting that APC sent the thugs who perpetuated violence at the gate of the Palace of the Oba of Benin on July 25 when PDP leaders visited the Royal Father. Invariably, challenging the authority of the governor to deal with trouble shooters and subsequently issuing a counter-violence threat could be a way to shield the perturbators of violence in the state, which in the assumption of Oshiomhole are APC members.
The Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, however, ridiculed Oshiomhole to tell Nigerians the truth on what caused his removal as the national chairman of APC. Osagie had stated: “Contrary to the narrative being advanced by the sacked national chairman that he was a victim of power play, Nigerians who have followed the events that led to Oshiomhole’s ouster closely, can attest to the fact that he was a victim of his own indiscretion and unholy machinations.
“In fact, in Edo State, Oshiomhole was the powerful force that millions of Edo people fought against, so that the governor could breathe and deliver good governance to them.
“In Edo State, Oshiomhole turned against Governor Obaseki when the governor failed to yield to his subservience and his grand plot to rule by proxy.
“He literally invaded the Edo APC and set up parallel structures to hijack it. His predecessor, Chief Odigie-Oyegun allowed the state’s structure of the APC to carry out its activities without any interference. To Oshiomhole’s immoderation, Edo State is today a PDP state and we are free from his inanities.’’
The drumbeat of war continues to sound loud as the ousted APC national chairman sustains his threat to challenge
the authority of incumbent Governor Obaseki. The incumbent governor will also not succumb to intimidation and cowardice.
On the streets of Edo State, a populist warning has been widely issued that “Edo is not Lagos”; also that “godfather does not thrive in the south-south”, with a summary of “Edo is not for sale”.