Countdown To Politicide

August 13, 2020

With increasing slide into mutually assured political conquest (as distinct from political contest) between the PDP’s incumbent candidate, Godwin Obaseki and APC’s Pastor Ize Iyamo, no political observer pretends about the possibility of a political renaissance again in the “Heartbeat of the Nation”. Political Renaissance is defined here as issued based campaigns, debates, comradeship, and peaceful rallies.

In February, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, Chairman of INEC, announced that the Edo governorship election holds September 19, while Ondo governorship poll would be October 10 this year. Given the dramatised crisis which engulfed the then ruling APC, yours sincerely observed that “the Edo governorship poll raises more political anxiety as much as the last presidential elections” (“Edo:  Politicide or Political Renaissance? Daily Trust of Feb 10, 2020).

Of course, in February there was still a considerable room for reconciliation between the two star actors in APC crisis, namely Comrade Adams Oshihomole and Godwin Obaseki. There was even a possibility of a political renaissance, political reconciliation and political continuity which would consolidate on the achievements of the last 12 years.

Alas, the proverbial waters of distrust and disunity had since overflown the political bridges within the APC and between the PDP and APC, with “justifiable reasons” by the two parties.  The details are devilish for a mouthful: Adams Oshimhole, as the then National chairman of APC was suspended, with an Appeal Court affirming the suspension. Governor Godwin Obaseki has also since dumped the All Progressives Congress for PDP which in turn had rewarded him with a governorship ticket.

Obaseki was disqualified from contesting the party’s governorship primary election in June 22. President Buhari has since announced the dissolution of the National Working Committee of the party which, in turn, terminated the tenure of Adams Oshimhole as the chairman of the ruling party. The party NEC appointed the Yobe State Governor, Mai Malla Buni, as the chairman, Caretaker/Convention Committee Governor Buni. He was the former Secretary of the APC.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had since emerged as the candidate of the APC for the September 19, Edo governorship election. The 2014 national conference deliberated on how “Carpet-Crossing (quitting a party on which platform an elected officer was elected to join another) is a major propellant of instability in the political system”. But the delegates would not have imagined the current political obscenity in Edo in which the APC candidate in the 2016 election is now the PDP candidate in 2020, and conversely the PDP candidate in 2016 is now the APC candidate!

The two parties are deep in wars of attrition to reclaim what they hitherto had on their laps, no thanks to lack of comprises and reconciliation. With two Speakers claiming leadership of a shutdown House of Assembly, Edo has run a full cycle of politicide.  Edo State which once witnessed a renaissance that defeated the old pessimism according to which nothing would work as long as political godfatherism called the shots has taken a deep plunge into bagful of accusations and counter accusations over resurgence of godfatherism.

Apparently, Comrade Adams is permanently hunted by unsavory remarks about Pastor Ize Iyamo which, as political irony had it, turned to be the flag bearer of the APC today. How many post-elections apologies could assuage avoidable verbal assault in the name of politics?

The litmus/acid tests for the 4th Republic democracy are the forthcoming Edo and Ondo States gubernatorial elections. Last Thursday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) threatened to suspend the Edo and Ondo governorship elections if the actions of political actors led to a breakdown of law and order in the two states. The INEC National Commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the warning. It was the same day the Edo State House of Assembly was shut after lawmakers loyal to the two major protagonists in the September 19 governorship election in the state clashed at the assembly complex.

United States has since expressed concerns ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States respectively. The US was more “bothered with the deteriorating political climate in Edo.” US expressed disappointment with the role played by some political actors in the state. The point cannot be overstated that all the political actors must maintain the best of democratic practices to compliment the efforts of INEC in conducting free and fair elections.

With the spike in COVID-19 infection and fatality rate, a political violence pandemic will be one crisis too many for Edo people. It’s not late for the Edo campaign to be issue-based and depersonalized. The responsibility for peaceful and free election in Edo lies on the statesmanship of both the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

The sound bites from Edo are not encouraging. In fact the language of campaign is too dangerously personalized and unhelpful. Democracy is about being measured, being serious so that we can be serious again. No politician is absolutely bad or absolutely good but good governance is indivisible and desirable. And that is what we must work for.

Reading through the reaction of the Presidency to PDP’s political capital on the endorsement of Ize-Iyamu of APC by President Muhammadu Buhari as an act that encouraged corruption, it is clear that there is an end of politics of issues as we were made to believe. My friend, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, urged the PDP to either keep quiet or withdraw the governorship nominations it gave to Ahmadu Fintiri and Bala Mohammed of Adamawa and Bauchi States respectively who were actually on bail from criminal trial on several counts of fraud and embezzlement. So for the APC presidency, it is all about I can out-do you in legitimizing corruption, not ensuring a change as I promised. Could Candidate Buhari in 2014 have told the electorate that he would confer party flag on a suspect of corruption? He could have but certainly not having my vote as I enthusiastically voted and campaigned for him as an anti-corruption champion.

This vicious battle is all for Dennis Chukude Osadebay house. But do the political actors in Edo appreciate the progressive peaceful profile of Dennis Chukude Osadebay, (29 June 1911—26 December 1994)? He was a philosopher poet politician whose qualifications, beyond impeccable academic achievements, included democratic values of debates. As a politician, he detested crude party politics. He was a leader of the movement to create a Mid-Western region during the first Republic. May the democratic legacy of Denis Osadebe temper the unacceptable conduct of the Edo partisan warriors!

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