The toxicity of Edo politics, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

Zainab Suleiman Okino.
Zainab Suleiman Okino.

The way issues are unravelling concerning the September gubernatorial election in Edo state, majority of people, who are least talked about may rise up one day against their political elite to demand restitution, especially from APC and PDP leaders, who exploit them for their power-game and daily traumatize them through their politicians’ toxic political theatrics.

I’m not talking of 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 whom he supported to win—some will say he imposed on Edo state four years ago. That apology was 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 future is 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”. This is becoming a pattern in politics generally.

“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 to political oblivion forever, as Oshiomhole did to the late political juggernaut, Tony Anenih. He never recovered until his death.

While on a home-coming visit to his home town in Iyamho, Oshiomhole declared he made a mistake supporting Obaseki and apologized 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 5 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 god-father?

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 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 of 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 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 realized the implication of his actions, it was almost too late. In both cases, the two political giants were merely fighting for survival and running away from political annihilation with 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 about the development of the 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, but will surely affect ‘exceptionally high population’.

The wide-range consequences of the feud are on the people who have to bear the brunt in terms of deprivation, lack of basic amenities and infrastructural deficit, besides 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 ostracize 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. Instead, the police, thugs and even aerial bombardments and maximum force are means to get an advantage over your opponents.

Indeed, election rigging has been with us since independence, and PDP applied it in their 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 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 like INEC, Police and other security men, I urge you to do the right thing. Politicians are not worth fighting for or rig election for at the detriment of the people. They are a bunch of selfish people working for their own good alone.

Everything about Edo election is antithetical to the tenets of democracy. The candidates, their godfathers and other interested actors are toxic people that 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 will not, in any way benefit them.


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