Urging Obaseki To Sincerely Forgive Shuaibu, And Apologize To Edolites

By Isaac Asabor

If you can’t remember the last time a deputy governor apologized to his or her principal when they fell out, you are not alone because they hardly apologized. Rather, they fight dirty, and wash their dirty linens outside, particularly in the social media domain.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not an exaggeration to say that Nigeria’s political history is replete with chapters that tell the stories of how deputy governors and governors fell out in various states across the country. In fact, prior to the ongoing feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuaibu, it is expedient to recall that an age-long history of political tussle between state principals and their second-in-command exists.

At this juncture, it is germane to highlight a few of those notable tussles between state governors and their second-in-command. They cut across the ones that occurred in Lagos State between Bola Tinubu and Kofo Bucknor, and later between him and Femi Pedro who replaced Kofo Bucknor after her resignation even if some political commentators still erroneously think she was impeached.

In a similar vein, former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, had two deputy governors for his two terms in office and fell out with both of them at different points. For instance, Jude Agbaso was deputy governor of Imo State till March 2013 when he was impeached. It was said that Agbaso’s battle with his principal began when he challenged the then-governor for a second tenure, citing a supposed gentleman’s agreement that stipulated that Okorocha would rule Imo State for only four years. He was sent packing and summarily replaced by Prince Eze Madumere.

In Kano State, Prof Hafiz Abubakar resigned as the deputy of the then Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje on August 4, 2018, saying that the decision was taken due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ on matters relating to governance and government operations, and added “immeasurable and unjustifiable humiliation” for over two and a half years on issues of governance and the desire to keep government on track to his grouse.

In Akwa Ibom State, the former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah’s not-so-cordial relationship with his then deputy, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, degenerated to the point that the latter was impeached.

In Ekiti State, former Governor Ayo Fayose was alleged to have instigated the removal of his deputy, Abiodun Aluko in 2005 as the state House of Assembly impeached Aluko after finding him guilty of 16 offences. The lawmakers claimed all the offenses were grounds for impeachment.

In Bauchi State, Alhaji Garba Gadi was said to have crossed the red line with his principal, Isa Yuguda, owing to the latter’s refusal to defect to the PDP from the ANPP that brought them to power. Gadi was impeached but later re-instated by a High Court in Bauchi due to irregularities in the proceedings leading to his impeachment.

In Ondo State, former Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, was said to have enraged his principal, Olusegun Mimiko when he defected to the APC instead of joining him in the PDP.

A dispassionate review of the foregoing feud between deputy governors and their principals showed that neither of them was repentant, remorseful, or forgiving enough to say “I am sorry” the way and manner Shuaibu has recently done to Obaseki who is reputed to spare no prisoners. At this juncture, permit me to congratulate Shuaibu for setting the pace under a troposphere where political players hardly say sorry and ask for forgiveness when they step on shoes.

It is not as if most politicians cannot say sorry or apologize when they fall out with their co-politicians, it is because it is not ingrained in them despite the fact that the earliest lesson imparted to them by their parents and teachers is the art of saying “I am sorry”, yet the virtue refused to transfer neatly to adulthood, particularly while holding political offices.

Contrarily, in the case of Obaseki versus Shuaibu, it is different as the deputy governor has apologized, and begged for forgiveness. In my view, he has done the right thing, particularly in a society where politicians find it difficult to apologize publicly as it was a risky move. Apologizing under the atmosphere in which Shuaibu did, can be said to be highly political, as every word matters even as refusal to apologize can be riskier.

At this juncture, it is expedient to recall that in physiotherapy that apology can help free the hurt person from life-draining anger, bitterness, and pain. Given the physiotherapeutic benefits that are inherent in apologies and forgiveness, it is expedient to urge Governor Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State to forgive Shuaibu, particularly as he has recently at a public domain said he is sorry, apologized, and asked for forgiveness. In a similar vein, Obaseki should apologize to Edolites as he has hurt not a few of them in the yet-to-be-resolved feud between him and his deputy.

While urging him to apologize to Edolites; both at home and in the diaspora for letting them down as a result of the divisive political feud that has taken the trajectory of supremacy battle and personality crisis, has no doubt dragged governance in Edo state backward. Despite the damage done so far by the crisis, Obaseki should open the window of succession for everyone who aspires to become the next governor of Edo State even if it is crystal clear that the road to healing the rift is difficult. The reason for the foregoing advice cannot be farfetched as the retrogressive and divisive rift between them is driving the state to the precipice.

It is laudatory that Shuaibu, who is on one side of the political divide, has hit a conciliatory note, apologizing for his part in causing disunity, thus: “Like I have always said, I am a loyal servant, and there is nothing that has changed. I took a vow to support my governor, and that is what I will do.”

“As you can see, the Catholic people are here. I can only wish that the relationship we had is sustained. I prayed and know that in the next few weeks, it will come back.”

Obaseki should in his apology urge his supporters to always speak gently, criticize constructively, and embrace, and respect dissent and competition as healthy and civilized ways of collaboration. He should in the same vein challenge them to lead the course of redefining Edo’s politics by telling them that their political differences should not always lead to enmity. In fact, he should equally urge them to shun ethnic division driven by political competition. He should explain to them that if Edo is to remain strong, there must be a change in the approach to political competition.

At this juncture, it is expedient for this writer, who is invariably an Edolite, to remind the governor that there is an urgent need to heed the foregoing counsel as his administration which is now running for close to 8 years has brought us very close to complete ruin. Dispassionately speaking, too many appointees, executives, and lawmakers under his regime have been manipulating our ethnicities to make us hate ourselves and then exploited it to win elections.

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