Adibe Emenyonu writes about the looming crisis between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, over who succeeds the former in November 2024.
The battle for succession that has been secretly raging between the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, has now become a public spectacle.
Previously, both political gladiators, through their Media aides, denied any form of rift. But in spite of these denials, the stain already caused by the bad blood could not be wiped off.
Since the day Obaseki won the governorship election with Shaibu as his running mate when the duo defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was their initial party, Shaibu has never hidden his ambition to succeed his boss as governor of the state, forgetting that the state stands on a tripod: Edo South, Edo Central, and Edo North.
Since 1999, the central senatorial district has only tasted the governorship seat during the 18-month stint of Professor Osarhiemen Osunbor before he was sacked by the Appeal Court.
At the end of Obaseki’s tenure in November 2024, Edo South will have completed 16 years of holding power in the state. Edo North had eight years of governorship under Adams Oshiomhole, now a senator. Besides, Edo North also had 16 years as deputy governor. First was Mike Oghiadomhe (1999–2007) and now Philip Shaibu (2016–2024).
However, Shaibu, who is from Edo North, has kept on salivating about his desire to contest the 2024 gubernatorial poll without taking into consideration the Central district and other tribes from his zone like the Owan and Akoko-Edo that are yet to produce governors.
In the past six years, the number two citizen has reportedly been displaying an attitude of entitlement that has helped the governor conquer enemies and, as such, deserve to be compensated by succeeding his governor.
Shaibu was said to have, on several occasions, displayed this feature manifestly. For instance, a source close to him hinted that his ambition to succeed the governor by all means without considering the feelings of others is the driving force behind creating crises in order to get public sympathy.
It was learned that on several occasions he had sauntered and gallivanted into the State Executive Council (EXCO) meetings like the son of an emperor while the meeting was ongoing and while the governor, who was already presiding, had to pause the important sessions to allow his comrade in the struggle to take his seat before continuing with the crucial proceedings.
“These are no secrets. Any Executive Council member from November 12, 2016, when Obaseki became the state governor, till date can attest to this fact. But for the governor’s maturity, tolerance, and carriage, Shaibu’s fecklessness would have hit the vortex long before now.
“Imagine a deputy governor who insists that all other vehicles on the governor’s convoy must be behind his own vehicle when he and the governor are traveling together. Any vehicle in the convoy that dares to overtake his vehicle, Shaibu will direct his security agents to descend on the driver and unleash mayhem on him.
“A particular driver in the governor’s convoy on a trip to one of the Niger-Delta States in 2020 was beaten to stupor under the supervision of the Deputy Governor and his wife. His crime was that he dared to overtake Shaibu’s vehicle in order to catch up with the governor’s convoy, where he was supposed to be. That driver is disfigured to this day with a missing tooth as a mark of the beast to remind him and his unborn generations that their father dared and played in the terrain of an ultimate bully. This is the kind of person that Philip Shaibu is.
“Obaseki has told him that it is not time for politics so that governance does not suffer and maintains that at the appropriate time, attention will be given to politics, but he is not ready for that and wants governance to be abandoned for politics,” the source, who did not want his name mentioned, noted.
He argued that in all of this, the most to blame is Obaseki, who according to him is trying to adopt a civilized manner in relating with his deputy governor in a society where such gestures are taken for weakness, adding, “Imagine having the governor officially transfer full executive powers to the deputy governor to act on his behalf anytime he proceeds on leave. Though this is the right thing to do, most governors will never do it. The reason is because of characters like Shaibu, who in his selfishness resorts to tantrums like a child who was denied biscuits and sweets he felt were his right.”
Shaibu, it was further learned, has always played the card of a very loyal deputy, which the source said is far from reality as the only proof of loyalty was his involvement in the faceoff between Obaseki and the immediate past governor of the State and former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Adams Oshiomhole.
“However, what Shaibu will never do is disclose the benefits that accrued to him while the quarrel persists,”, THISDAY was told.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back, which further strained the relationship between the two, came when Shaibu was featured in a viral video having a party with Oshiomhole and other members of the APC in Abuja after the inauguration of elected national assembly members.
This reportedly infuriated the governor, who summoned a meeting a few days later without inviting Shaibu. Getting wind of the meeting held behind him, the Deputy Governor was said to have sought an audience with his boss but was rebuffed.
Sensing that something must be amiss and that his days as deputy governor are numbered, Shaibu decided to seek refuge by approaching a Federal High Court in Abuja and asking for a restraining order to stop his removal.
The Edo state deputy governor perfected his move last Thursday in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1027/2023, stopping Obaseki from impeaching him. Those mentioned in the restraining order include the Inspector General of Police, the State Security Service, the Governor of Edo State, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, and the Chief Judge of Edo State as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth defendants, respectively.
Shaibu, who is conversant with their modus operandi as an insider, also alleged a plan by those he believed to be loyal to the governor to do away with him.
He also sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the 3rd, 4th, and 5th defendants or respondents or their agents from commencing an impeachment process against him. The Deputy Governor further prayed the court to restrain the governor of the state or other persons acting on his order from harassing and preventing him from effectively discharging his duties as the deputy governor of the state.
The reliefs read in part, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the third defendant or respondent, whether by himself or his agents or persons acting for and on his behalf, from harassing, intimidating, embarrassing, and preventing the plaintiff or applicant from carrying out the functions of his office as Deputy Governor of Edo State, including attending the State Executive Council Meetings and Functions and other duties about his office, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Consequently, the perceived impeachment has been halted. The same Federal High Court in Abuja issued an interim order stopping the move on Friday. Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed issued the temporary order while ruling in a motion on notice filed by Shuaib, praying the court to stop the move to ease him out of office by his principal.
Ruling on the motion argued by Moses Ebute from the Chambers of Ogwu James Onoja in Abuja, Justice Mohammed directed the parties in the suit to maintain “Status Quo Ante Bellum”. The order would last just 14 days.
A reliable source, who confided in THISDAY, said Shaibu carried out the move preemptively to prevent impeachment and keep his position while at the same time, in talks with APC, boasting to use Wike’s method in Edo.
“It is just a preemptive move to prevent impeachment and keep his position, but what happens after the 14 days?’ the source also asked, adding that “Shaibu boasted over two months ago of using the Wike system in Edo. He is in talks with members of the PDP from the state who have left for the APC.”
Nevertheless, it takes two to tango. It is only the mad man who will be seen quarreling with himself. When people help a dictator fight his enemies, justice demands that they be allowed to take some of the booty.
Shaibu no doubt helped his boss fight his kinsman, Oshiomhole, and so he wanted Obaseki to let him have a shot at the governorship position, but his boss vehemently opposed it given the fact that one senatorial district is still being denied the governorship seat, and in the spirit of justice and fair play, they should be compensated.
That notwithstanding, one thing Shaibu failed to understand is that he didn’t know the kind of spirit that guides Obaseki. He refused to acknowledge the fact that he is dealing with someone who is assertive in practical terms despite wearing the toga of a Democrat.
For someone to wrestle his benefactor without considering that he could be blinded by the old man’s loin cloth; for the same person to have cajoled the Edo PDP to give him the first right of refusal after being denied a governorship ticket by his then party, the APC, only to turn around and hijack the party from them, and today, most of the stalwarts and members of the Legacy Group, as they pride themselves, have all fizzled out after clipping their wings, is enough reminder for him to thread softly with such principality.
Today, the dice are cast because any moment from now, Shaibu will be out of favor. If he is not impeached, he would be rendered incapacitated politically just to teach him a lesson: when you are in the jungle, you dare not engage the monkey in a wrestling contest.
Another precept is that the “Mafioso” war is a battle of supremacy. Just as they help each other eliminate their perceived enemies, they also turn around to eliminate each other. That is why, in politics, there is no permanent friend or constant enemy because allies today can suddenly become foes tomorrow.
Culled from Thisday Newspaper