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OF EDO GOVERNORSHIP, OSHIOMHOLE AND CHIMERA

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Very shortly after the April (2011) Legislative elections in Edo State, I wrote an article entitled: “Edo Central Polls: Between Oshiomhole and Hedonism”, which was published in no fewer than ten newspapers and a couple of the numerous on-line media.

To me, as a privileged member of the journalism profession, it was an incredibly wide publication by all standard for which I remain eternally grateful to the respective editors of the media organizations who considered the article publishable.

But Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s publicists, both former and current, reacted to it unjustifiably because the issue I interrogated in the piece was clear: the outcome of the legislative polls in Edo Central. I never delved into Oshiomhole’s performance in office.

I was also very clear-headed in weaving the thematic essence of the article, which was to illuminate the role played by Chief Tony Anenih, the Iyasele of Esanland, in ensuring what I consider to be critical victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the senatorial district.

The election issue resolved itself in favour of Anenih: that, despite the comrade governor’s pre-election claim that he had buried the godfather (Anenih) in Edo State, the outcome of the election in Edo Central had proved contrary thus rendering the claim fallacious.

That was the truth and still remains so-the truth and nothing but the truth. Anenih, in his private capacity, without any government machinery, was able to stop in Edo Central what would have been Oshiomhole’s rampaging conquest of the PDP in the state.

If it had happened, the conquest would have confirmed Oshiomhole as the political supremo in Edo. It would have produced in him hubris that would have been too big for his size. But it never happened; and so, the defeat of Anenih to which Oshiomhole now refers is, as far as I am concerned, tentative.

It is not the kind of defeat that should gladden the heart of any incumbent governor. Consider how Governor Raji Fasola in Lagos completely dismantled the PDP machinery in the state. Consider how Olusegun Mimiko did the same in Ondo. Are there no “heavyweight” politicians in the PDP in these states?

But Anenih, in Edo State, stood solidly between the comrade governor and complete dismantling of the PDP and thus denied him the usual self-indulgence whenever he appears to be in charge of his environment. It was apparent Oshiomhole did not like the development.

The reactions by his publicists, which aggregated, in the main, Oshiomhole’s disposition to the polls outcome in Edo Central, thus illuminated his deep anguish and the despondency within his political party machinery; some elements in the senatorial district had to lose their jobs in Oshiomhole’s government.

The publicists’ reactions thus confirmed the point I made in my piece that they had wished that their setback in Edo Central were a dream. Much as I believe in the democracy of ideas and freedom of opinions, I find repugnant some of the reactions (about three or four written with pseudonyms) that were ridiculously pedestrian and derogatory.

They were outright red-herrings from the issue which I interrogated. Nevertheless, I consider the one written by my friend, Kassim Afegbua (Oshiomhole’s former Chief Press Secretary) somewhat rational. I chose to ignore the many ludicrous issues and claims made against my personality in some of the downrightly vulgar rejoinders.

As the vituperative reactions lingered (for instance, a particular rejoinder was published thrice-in Saturday Vanguard, Sunday Vanguard and Vanguard), I was not in any way moved to, quickly, respond to some misinformation and misrepresentations deliberately churned out by the writer(s).

I cannot because of calculated blackmail and propaganda in the media against my person, abandon my well-considered position and analysis on the legislative polls outcome. I am happy, at the risk of being labeled an ethnic jingoist, that my part of Edo State, voted for the PDP in the legislative elections because of one man who has effectively played the role of prime minister (Iyasele) ministering, to the best of his ability, to the needs of Esan people both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

It was in appreciation of the genuine leadership that Anenih is providing that Edo Central has resolved to loyally stand by him and PDP has indirectly become a secondary beneficiary of that loyal support. There was nothing Oshiomhole and his camp could have done about this; and, I declare, with all sense of responsibility, that there is nothing they can do about it in the nearest future.

I have decided to write again, this time round, on a similar issue, which was anchored by Oshiomhole on the same April legislative elections in the state to make a prognosis of an impending political contest in a different context, to wit: the July 14, 2012 governorship election in the state. Read him: “Anenih will be defeated again, even in his local community. I will show him the number of roads leading to his house that I have tarred.”

A page 10 report in The Nation of Wednesday, October 12, 2012 with the headline: “I’ll defeat Anenih again says Oshiomhole” caught my attention and after reading through it, I laughed at his exhibited dull sense of appreciation of political developments around him. I am amused that he refers to the outcome of the April polls as a defeat of Anenih. Indeed, I see that outcome as an upset by Anenih of the applecart of the party in government.

Oshiomhole has simply shown how tentative he is about his capability in the political battle that is going on in the state; otherwise he should not be talking of defeating a man he said he had buried politically even before the April legislative elections. If he truly buried the godfather, then the implication is that the godfather indeed miraculously resurrected to terminate his hubris.

It is quite interesting that Oshiomhole, in the elections, could not, with the machinery of government at his disposal, overrun the political machinery of Anenih- a private citizen-in the central zone (forget about the attempt to conclude that the National Leader is now a senatorial leader). Anenih secured his Edo Central stronghold from the constabulary-like political operation-sweep-the-polls, which Oshiomhole and his party heavily funded with government money.

Now, I cannot because of the demonstrated rascally rejoinders to my first article fail to comment on developments in my state as they appeal to my sensibilities. This is why I have decided to analyze Oshiomhole’s prognosis at the thanksgiving reception in honour of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Lucky James at Apana-Uzairue (Etsako West Local Government) that he would defeat Anenih again even in his local government.

True, Oshiomhole’s ACN candidates might have won the legislative assemblies seats in Edo North and Edo South, the defeat does not, in any way, translate to the defeat of Anenih. Anenih has never been a candidate in any election in Edo State since 1999. He has only, as a leader of his party, been working assiduously and selflessly to ensure the victory of his party, not minding, for instance, who is in the saddle as governor.

In 1999 and 2003, Lucky Igbinedion was the candidate of the PDP and governor of the state up until 2007. The victory of the PDP then was understandably regarded as Igbinedion’s and not Anenih’s victory; the initial victory of Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor (the PDP candidate) as governor in the 2007 election was regarded as Osunbor’s and not Anenih’s victory.

Oshiomhole’s victory at the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal on November 12, 2008 was regarded as his victory and not that of any leader of his political party because he was the candidate who contested against Osunbor in the election. Anenih is not contesting the governorship of Edo State in 2012 against Oshiomhole. It is the candidate of Anenih’s PDP that will slug it out with Oshiomhole.

On the surface, I would consider it simplistic on the part of Oshiomhole to reduce and dress Anenih in the garb of any candidate that flies the flag of the PDP in 2012, but his declaration is an expression of his real and innermost fears: Anenih has, no doubt, become a veritable bugaboo to Oshiomhole’s second term bid.

It is understandable why the fear of Anenih is the beginning of wisdom to Oshiomhole. Having successfully defended his Edo Central zone, the zone has become a rampart from where he would drive the PDP machinery to launch a destructive onslaught against Oshiomhole and his ACN machinery in the governorship election. The comrade governor will fall back on his Edo North zone while Edo South zone, with the highest voting population, will become the beautiful bride.

And, I do not think Edo South people would not appreciate one of their own becoming the governor. As a journalist who has been at home with intricate political analyses over the years, I cannot see the PDP getting it wrong if it is able to field a very good candidate from the south to fly its flag in the crucial July 14, 2012 election.

Anenih is not from Edo South and he is not going to be the candidate. It is with the PDP candidate that Oshiomhole will slug it out for the soul of Edo. But Anenih, like the leaders of the ACN, will back the candidates of their respective parties to win the election.

The battle, to my mind, is in Edo South. So, Oshiomhole should not be consumed by the illusion that he will defeat Anenih. He should stop pandering to the use of propaganda and political-speak about showing Anenih the number of roads leading to his (Anenih’s) house that he claimed to have tarred (whatever that means).

The Esan people will not abandon Anenih. For whom will they abandon a man who has lived his life for them? Certainly not for Oshiomhole who, like many others that have taken deliberate steps to label him dictatorial so as to discredit him, has taken every opportunity offered by politics to heap insults on him.

But Oshiomhole would appear to have advised himself on the forthcoming governorship election. Read him: “I am not afraid of the general in politics. I’m not a military man, but when the time comes, we will see that the era of promise and fail politics is over.” Perhaps, the general, and not Anenih, should be his concern because the general (whoever he is that he-Oshiomhole- was referring to) may turn out to be his Achilles’ heel.

* Sufuyan Ojeifo, Editor-in-Chief of The Congresswatch magazine, contributed this piece from Abuja.


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