Ambode’s Humiliation: Will Obaseki follow suit?

Tony Ademiluyi

History repeats itself because man in his usual frailty learns the stories but never the salient lessons. This weakness of man ensures that events are perpetually recycled when such needless rigmarole could have been nipped in the bud.

In the 2015 build up to the elections in Lagos state, the question of the lips of most Lagosians was Ambode who? He had no political antecedent after leaving the civil service of the economic nerve centre of the country. The then incumbent Governor and current Works and Housing Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola had his preferred candidate in the person of the state’s erstwhile Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Supo Shasore SAN.

At the end of the day, the ‘Governor-General’ of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had his way and his protégé, Akinwunmi Ambode won the keenly contested primaries of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC).

Power intoxicates as it is the elixir that makes puppets want to dislodge their masters. Ambode was no different as he wanted to prove to the Jagaban Borgu that he was indeed his own man. He introduced a new form of environmental waste management when he brought in a foreign firm called Vision Scape to manage the waste crisis of the state. It was bad that the firm couldn’t deliver on their grand promises, it was worse that he alienated some stakeholders in the waste management sector who were compensated with it as part of a robust party patronage. Lagosians wouldn’t forget the ordeal of a popular vicar who got a raw deal in the hands of the then First Lady with a conspiratorial silence from Ambode.

In 2019, he was taught the political lesson of his life when a hitherto unknown Babajide Sanwoolu defeated him in a similar manner a school Principal flogs an errant student in the assembly ground on a Monday morning.

Ambode is now so politically irrelevant that he is alleged to have gone to Ghana on a self imposed exile when his Ikoyi home became too hot for him to be domiciled in.

In 2016, Edolites asked a similar question: Obaseki who? He wasn’t a known politician as the then Governor Adams Oshiomhole hired him from Lagos where he ran a successful non bank financial institution, Afrinvest to lead the economic management team of the state popularly known as the Heart Beat of the nation.

He worked quietly and mostly behind the scenes and used his clout to attract some investments to the state. During the campaign, Oshiomhole played the role of the spokesman as he was the one that was publicly lampooning the then PDP Flagbearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who ironically was the Director-General of his second term campaign team in 2012.

The federal might and Oshiomhole combined in harmony to ensure that Godwin Obaseki got elected. Typical of most godsons, he chose to assert himself when he tasted power which didn’t go down well with his former benefactor who later became the National Chairman of the APC.

They clashed and their initial alliance crashed like a pack of cards.

Political pundits were amazed when Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu defected from the PDP to the APC. He had been in and out of the two parties since 2007. He left the PDP for the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) where by his own admission he helped Oshiomhole win the seat in the Dennis Osadebay Avenue. He later jumped ship by returning to the PDP when it was crystal clear that Oshiomhole wouldn’t hand over power to him before his recent defection to the APC.

The psychology of an average Nigerian power is to win elections at all costs and not on any foreign ‘political ideology’ which is viewed as a strange western phenomenon.

Recently, the Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was endorsed by all the stakeholders of the APC including seven aspirants who unanimously endorsed his candidacy making it now a straight fight between him and Obaseki.

Oshiomhole has been publicly silent but the ‘Voice of Jacob and ‘Hand of Esau’ can be seen playing itself out here.

Ize-Iyamu is a grassroots politician who has been in the game since the third Republic where he cut his teeth as the personal assistant to Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion when the latter was the Chairman of the Oredo local government. He managed Igbinedion’s campaign when he wanted to become the Governor of Edo state in 1991 when he flew the flag of the then National Republican Convention (NRC) where he lost to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

He became the Chief of Staff and later the Secretary to the Government when Igbinedion held sway. He later became the National Vice Chairman, South-South of the then ACN. He knows the game like the back of his hand and narrowly lost to Obaseki in 2016. It is worth recalling that he ensured that former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan won Edo state in the 2015 presidential election as his campaign coordinator in the state.

Even if Ize-Iyamu defeats Obaseki in the APC primaries scheduled for June 22 this year and becomes the next governor, Oshiomhole cannot still become the Edo state godfather as Ize-Iyamu is far too street smart and wily to be caged like a bird. Where really will that leave Oshiomhole? He would only succeed in replacing his once docile Obaseki with a power hungry Ize-Iyamu.

Obaseki has allegedly been running from pillar to post including a secret visit to Tinubu to ensure that he returns back to power later this year.

Some of his aides have been quietly reading the handwriting on the wall with some jumping ship most notably Francis Taiwo Akerele, his former Chief of Staff who surprisingly threw in the towel this year.

Can Obaseki who is more of a technocrat than a politician spring a surprise by pulling the rug off Ize-Iyamu’s feet? Will Oshiomhole who has fought many political battles including permanently retiring Late Chief Tony Anenih from Edo politics have the last laugh? Will the PDP cash in on this crisis to win the election as a house divided against itself cannot stand?

Over to you time!

Tony Ademiluyi wrote from Lagos and edits

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