Column Opinion

The Toxicity of Edo Politics, By Zainab Suleiman Okino

The way issues are unraveling concerning the September gubernatorial election in Edo State, majority of the people who are least talked about, may rise up one day against their political elite to demand for restitution, especially from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders, who exploit them for their power-game and daily traumatise them through their toxic political theatrics.

I’m not talking of the ex-chairman of APC and strongman of Edo politics, Adams Oshiomhole’s tongue-in-cheek apology for giving Edo people a bad product (in the person of Governor Godwin Obaseki), who he supported to win — some will say, who he imposed on Edo State – four years ago. That apology was an emotional blackmail to draw public sympathy and sway votes to his candidate, Ize-Iyamu, who, by the way, he called a thief four years ago.

Edo people will rise up against them, for being public enemies, for their nuisance value, for disturbing their peace and for taking them (the non-partisan people of Edo) for granted. Indeed, the two political gladiators should pay a price for their indiscretion.

I concede though that the two personalities are in a finish-all, deadly end-game at its worst and their political futures are at stake; but their kind of politics is uninspiring, and worrisome.

Robert Greene, in Law 15 of his 48 laws of power, says: “Crush your enemy totally”, which has since become a pattern in the country.

“All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed totally… More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit”. Obaseki and Oshiomhole are at that stage now.

Certainly, whoever wins this election will run the other out of town and send him into political oblivion forever, as Oshiomhole did to the late political juggernaut, Tony Anenih. He never recovered till his death.

While on a home-coming visit to his home town in Iyamho, Oshiomhole declared that he had made a mistake by supporting Obaseki and apologised thus: “I have made a mistake by supporting a man who has no vision for my people. So I want to correct my mistake by making sure a servant of God, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is elected as governor and kick the snake out of the Government House. From now till September 19, I’m here in Edo State because as a political lion, I’m not scared of anything”.

So, one man ignored a population of over five million people, and installed another man he thought would do his biddings, only to be stung by that snake.

How audacious, self-centred and impudent, politicians like Oshiomhole are. How do you make mistakes with the welfare and security of lives; just to satisfy your ego as a godfather?

And how sad for leadership recruitment that only a few political elites decide who rules over Nigeria as a whole, and in each state of the federation.

On the other hand, Obaseki spent the last four years opening battles on all fronts and now hopes to have a smooth-sail. He is at his eleventh minute, and is now running from pillar to post for succour. While in APC, his attempt to go solo without his erstwhile godfather failed woefully. He ran to the opposition party, and eventually found sanctuary in the struggling PDP. From depriving some constituencies from being represented by their lawmakers, to instigating the expulsion of Oshiomhole from his ward, which later led to his final ouster by the court, to the deliberate demolition of houses of people loyal to his former godfather, the governor wasted precious time fighting enemies than working hard in terms of development, such that his work could endear him to the people for endorsement for re-election.

By the time he realised the implication of his actions, it was almost too late.

In both cases, the two political giants have merely been fighting for survival and running away from political annihilation, with the obvious consequences of heading to the dustbin of history, only to face the wrath of the law later. So, make no mistake about it: The war of attrition between the duo is neither about good governance, performance, nor the development of Edo State. It would have been okay if the ‘mutually assured destruction’ is confined to Oshiomhole and Obaseki alone. Their duel is something akin to a pandemic, which though may start from only a few, surely affects an ‘exceptionally high population’.

The wide-range consequences of the feud is on the people, who have to bear the brunt in terms of deprivation, lack of basic amenities and infrastructural deficit, besides the fear and anxiety they are made to go through.

In other climes, the electorate has a choice and say in a matter like this. They can ostracise Oshiomhole’s candidate and Obaseki if they are politically savvy; they can reject the duo’s parties and vote en masse for another credible party. This may not happen in Edo State.

The sad reality of our political environment is that it is fraught with violence and brigandage.

Recent elections in some states are proofs that the electorate is powerless in determining the outcome of any election in Nigeria presently. Instead, the police, thugs and even aerial bombardment and maximum force are means of getting advantage over political opponents.

Indeed, election rigging has been with us since independence, and PDP applied it in its 16-year rule. However, APC has taken rigging to a new dimension. They use all means, fair and foul, including not just the police, but the security agencies to force the hands of the people and arrive at a pre-determined outcome.

With the notoriety of the political class and their desperation to win elections at all cost, the fear that Edo will become a war zone during the election is not far-fetched. My admonition to the people is that they should be wise and, if possible, boycott the election and spare themselves unnecessary headaches.

For officials involved — the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police and other security men, I urge them to do the right thing. Politicians are not worth fighting for or rigging election for to the detriment of the people. They are a bunch of selfish people working for their own good alone.

Everything about the oncoming Edo election is antithetical to the tenets of democracy. The candidates, their godfathers and other interested actors are toxic people who only use the ordinary people as pawns in their political chess game. The losers in the epic fight are the ordinary people of Edo State. They must be shielded from a war they did not create and which will not benefit them in any way.,

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