By Sebastine Ebhuomhan
In one of his famous quotes, James Edwin “Ed” Worley described politics as a dirty game in which politicians often change positions.
“Politics is a dirty game. And distortions of one’s voting record and one’s position seems to be the order of the day. So, whatever happens happens,” Ed, the Minority Floor Leader from Richmond and Democratic member of the Kentucky Senate, representing the 34th District since 1999, said.
If you are doubtful about how politicians distort voting records or how they change positions, Pittston-born professor of English and author of aphorisms, Austin O’malley said it is difficult to pin a position or anything on a politician.
“A politician is like quicksilver: if you try to put your finger on him, you find nothing under it,” he exclaimed.
In other words, a politician might change his or her mind even when he or she continue to deceive the followers through a false belief of maintaining an old ground.
What else could have so correctly portrayed politicians in our society as amorphous subjects or objects much more than the news of an anticipated resolution of Edo APC crisis before the state governorship primaries expressed by a faction of the two bitterly contesting to seize the soul of Edo State in 2020? The news was credited to Charles Idahosa today. It got a very wide media coverage and represents a twist, the turn of direction or, if you do not mind, a tactical retreat, as observers of the political struggle in Edo State, Nigeria’s heartbeat, have described it.
Mr Idahosa is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. A former adviser and friend of the state’s immediate past Governor and current National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Idahosa has become of recent not just the armour bearer of the incumbent Governor, Godwin Obaseki, in the latter’s bitter struggle against his predecessor, but also the town crier that breaks down the faction’s tactical strategies.
Idahosa has repeatedly called out and harassed Oshiomhole before now to either resign or prepare to be removed even after several threats by the Governor’s camp to remove the former labour leader from APC leadership position had failed to galvanise support. So, reading Idahosa’s optimism over and over again, for Edo APC crisis to be resolved amicably before the primary election this year, one could not but wonder why Governor Obaseki, who Idahosa speaks for, would suddenly be hoping or praying for an amicable resolution of the crisis instead of pursuing Oshiomhole’s removal as they have been threatening and promising Edo State people.
The political retreat Idahosa’s new master is not far-fetched. Indeed, events, situations and circumstances beside the sheer difficulty of removing Oshiomhole have conspired to put Governor Obaseki and his APC faction at the mercy of APC National Working Committee (NWC) and, particularly, Oshiomhole again.
It could be recalled that while this writer had written in the past that only two (2) persons can easily and truly resolve Edo APC crisis even without organising a meeting or series of meetings, unguarded utterances of Governor Obaseki and his followers have made both persons and other interested peacemakers to keep some distance.
The first person is President Muhammadu Buhari and the second is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. These men, who are highly respected and accorded listening ears as National Leaders of APC, are persons that can call both Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki any day and time and both of them will be prevailed upon to cease fire.
While Mr President, even by his body language, has delegated his power to party and government leaders on the matter, Asiwaju Tinubu has rather been looking at the tug-of-war with a relishing indifference to the obvious disadvantage and chagrin of one of the groups. He has been indifferent until now no thanks to the subtle insults the Obaseki faction was directing towards him in Lagos. Hailed during his election as a protégé of Tinubu, neutral APC leaders and Tinubu’s followers consider as a directed insult, Obaseki’s initially adopted and later abandoned slogan of: ‘Edo is not Lagos’.
That the Governor’s faction also understood the negative inherent meaning that was drawn from the slogan, directly or indirectly, by Tinubu’s enabled foot soldiers and Oshiomhole’s supporters who made Obaseki Governor and the realisation of its grave implication and repercussion might have forced Obaseki’s faction to quickly change to ‘Torgba 4+4’ as its new slogan. But the damage had been done on the Governor’s 2020 re-election bid, as political analysts have debated.
As a reader, whether you agree with this view or not, the attempt by Governor Obaseki to whip up sentiments against Oshiomhole especially by dropping Mr President’s name after the privilege of travelling abroad with him in an aircraft, following which he claimed upon his return that President Buhari has given him greenlight to deal with Oshiomhole, and who, he further claimed, remained suspended until apology to APC, failed to receive the sympathy of even his own factional diehards. Likewise, his attempt to use unfriendly elements of Progressives Governors’ Forum, which he leads as Vice Chairman, to sack the Oshiomhole-led APC NWC.
On the other hand, Oshiomhole, who has now learnt the huge benefits of talking less, is calmly watching how Mr Obaseki and his factional leaders have been unable to shake or asphyxiate him as a firmly rooted iroko tree, let alone dethrone, uproot and consign him into political oblivion as Obaseki has repeatedly chorused in Benin.
Keen watchers of the disagreement say Oshiomhole is merely waiting to take his pound of flesh at the right time and place. Others say it is difficult to predict what lay ahead of the bitter struggle for the soul, votes and power of Edo State. However, there is a common agreement that Asiwaju Tinubu has already provided a pathway or vista to the future in another widely circulated news report today.
In the report, Asiwaju Tinubu did not only dismiss the call for Oshiomhole’s resignation as APC National Chairman but also labelled the call as against the laws and interests of the national ruling party. His statement is tantamount to shifting the goalpost impatient players want to use to quickly score an offside goal before the whistle formally signals the beginning of a game.
He spoke after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on Wednesday.
Tinubu said Oshiomhole has neither violated APC constitution nor engaged in anti-party activity that could warrant his removal from office.
“We all have to respect the party supremacy,” he declared.
“We gave three options, consensus. Where there is no consensus because you are more than two or three and you cannot agree to one candidate, you go to the next level.
“The next level is the stakeholders’ delegates and you have to be supervised by the National Working Committee of the party; national election committee of the party.
“That shows party supremacy or the freest option. The less cumbersome option is to open direct primary, line up and count the number, 1, 2, 3. If you win, you win and if you fail, go home.’’
“Party is supreme. Party must be respected. Abuses will not do it and anger will not do it. It is party politics. Somebody will win and somebody will lose, too bad,’’ he foreclosed.
Considering the grave implication of Tinubu’s statement, which clearly demarcates the position of APC national leadership and that of President Muhammadu Buhari from the narrow position of Governor Obaseki as his supporters, it is unsurprising therefore that the most vocal supporter of Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr Charles Idahosa, would quickly and suddenly express an amicable resolution of the Obaseki self-inflicted Edo APC crisis before the party’s primary election in the coming weeks.
It is still early to insist this will be the only twist or turn that will mark the struggle. But what is however crystal clear by now from Oshiomhole’s statement that he is not afraid of the attempt to remove him from a back door, from Idahosa’s new sudden hope of resolution of the crisis before primary election and from Tinubu’s insistence that the party and its symbol of authority, the NWC, are supreme on issues of APC congress and primary election, is the fact that Governor Godwin Obaseki and his followers have undeniably failed in their coup d’état, which implications will only grow with the fullness of time.
Mr Usifo Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is an award-winning Nigerian journalist based in Abuja. He can be reached at: email@example.com.