After joining forces with Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State to fight his age-long ally and former governor of the state, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu had warned that he would fight Obaseki if he attempted to assume the role of a godfather on who would succeed him. Ejiofor Alike reports that their relationship has crashed as it is now obvious that Obaseki would not support Shaibu’s bid to succeed him in 2024
In what many analysts believed was a strategic move to save his political career, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu had abandoned his long-time ally and former Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole to join forces with Governor Godwin Obaseki when the governor fell out with Oshiomhole, who was also his close associate.
Oshiomhole had anointed Obaseki as his successor on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after the former Edo State governor completed his eight-year tenure in 2016.
The former labour leader was said to have abandoned all his political associates to ensure the emergence of Obaseki, who was regarded as a technocrat.
But no sooner did Obaseki assume office than the relationship between the ‘godson’ and his ‘godfather’ turned sour.
Oshiomhole later became the National Chairman of the APC, a position he used to deny Obaseki a second term ticket of the ruling party.
To ensure that Obaseki did not clinch the APC governorship ticket for the governorship election held on September 19, 2020, the APC screening committee had disqualified the governor from participating in the party’s primary held on June 22, 2020.
Chairman of the screening committee, Jonathan Ayuba, while presenting his report to Oshiomhole at the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja, had revealed that Obaseki was disqualified over a “defective” certificate.
The governor had predicted his disqualification when he told journalists after his screening by the Ayuba-led panel that he was not sure of getting justice because Oshiomhole had refused to recuse himself from the process.
He later defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he was given the governorship ticket to contest the September 2020 governorship poll, which he won.
But shortly after the APC governorship primary, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Many analysts believed that Obaseki masterminded Oshiomhole’s suspension by his Etsako Ward 10 chapter of the party in Edo State, which paved the way for his sack by the party’s NEC.
Shaibu, a long-time political ally of Oshiomhole had stood behind Obaseki throughout the crisis between the governor and APC national chairman.
Shaibu was believed to have abandoned the APC national chairman to save his position as Obaseki’s deputy. Oshiomhole alleged that Shaibu, his ‘political son’ betrayed him.
But speaking through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Musa Ebomhiana, the deputy governor denied the claim, insisting that he was just following Oshiomhole’s footsteps by ensuring that there was no godfather in the politics of the state.
Shaibu had later, in an interview with select journalists at his residence in Benin-City, insisted that there was no room for godfathers in the state.
Speaking on his relationship with Obaseki, Shaibu said: “My relationship with Obaseki is like an older brother and younger brother and it’s my first time of being under somebody; I have always been on my own, but as we move and I begin to understand him, he is also able to understand me.”
At another forum, Shaibu reiterated that he fell out with Oshiomhole to pursue his dream of ending poverty and eradication of godfatherism in the politics of the state.
However, signs of a possible collision between Shaibu and his boss emerged in February 2022 when the deputy governor warned that he would turn against Obaseki, if he attempted to assume the role of a godfather on who will succeed him as governor of the state in 2024.
However, exactly one year and four months to the end of their tenure, the relationship between Obaseki and Shaibu has gone sour.
The dispute between the governor and his deputy came to fore last weekend when Shaibu deposed an affidavit of urgency at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court where he is seeking the court’s protection from being impeached.
Before this development, Shaibu had been consulting about his ambition to succeed his boss by 2024 when their tenure would have elapsed.
However, Shaibu’s ambition did not get the blessing of his principal.
The deputy governor, who feared that the governor might move against him, had approached the court for protection against his impeachment by the state House of Assembly.
But in a swift response, Obaseki, last Monday, stated that there was no plan to impeach his deputy.
The governor, however, noted that Shaibu’s court action to stop his purported impeachment was preemptive ahead of his alleged plan to defect to the APC.
Obaseki alleged that his deputy had been actively engaging with top leaders of the APC, negotiating his way into their party, adding that he was on the verge of finalising moves to defect to the ruling party.
The governor added that his deputy never discussed his governorship ambition with him.
Obaseki later explained why he would not back his deputy to succeed him. He said it was not yet time for intense politicking, as doing so would be a distraction.
The governor’s Special Adviser on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, said no amount of blackmail would make the Edo governor support Shaibu’s governorship aspiration at this time.
The media aide said it was his boss’ well-considered position that abandoning governance to pursue intense politics now would not be in the best interests of the Edo people.
Osagie, who described Shaibu as a rabble-rouser, noted that he took his indiscipline and hubris to the zenith by trying to create a crisis.
Sources close to Obaseki had hinted that the governor would want his successor to emerge from the Edo Central senatorial zone for the sake of justice and equity.
The sources disclosed that it would be the turn of Edo Central to produce the next governor as the Edo North and Edo South had taken their turns in the person of Oshiomhole and Obaseki, respectively.
Shaibu is also from the same Edo North as Oshiomhole.
Already, a group from Edo Central Senatorial District, Esan Okpa Initiative (EOI) had stated that it would meet with leaders from Edo North and Edo Central Senatorial Districts to plead with them to concede the next governor to the Esan to complete the tripod in which the state stands.
Shaibu’s ambition is widely seen as an exercise in futility. Apart from the fact that it is not the turn of his Edo North senatorial zone to produce the next governor of the state, Shaibu will also have to contend with the leader of the APC in the state and Senator representing the Edo North, Oshiomhole, who had felt betrayed by the deputy governor.