By Erasmus Ikhide
The outgoing governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole will be
departing the state political scene with the knife sticking in the hearts
of the people who previously admired him beyond description. His
much-to-be-said-for-and against reflex the governor’s penchant crave for
political banality, godfatherism. He takes his people for zombies, sort of
unthinking people; as if he is robbing a grave!
No one can be certain whether he has learned from his imminent departure
from Osadebe Avenue that no imperium is absolute, no victory is complete.
But experience must have taught him that about impermanence in power. He
now has 100 plus days to go. It has become clear that his perceived genuine
commitment for what is right and his sudden fall for hollowness and
inwardness speak only of constant variables: people, power, institutions,
history, past, present and the future.
The governorship ambition of one Mr. Godwin Obaseki, a garish parody of
Governor Oshiomhole’s gaieties is at the centre of it all. This singular
misbegotten ambition of Mr. Obaseki has hurl down the comrade governor from
the Himalaya height, lost the people’s love, dominance, bedevilled,
humiliated and, broken upon power. He had chopped down all his legacy of
puritanical poll and now walk the lowly path of perfidy.
In 2007, Edo State almost burst at the seam with the campaign enchantment
of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It was a well woven slogan; revolution-like
song of “No More Godfather” and sundry coinages. That song has now pitiably
been altered by the same comrade to “Continuity Is Not Godfatherism”,
“Anointed Candidacy Is Not Godfatherism”.
The allegorical and dystopian novel by George Orwell, Animal Farm
graphically captures the political plot envisioned by the comrade governor,
a pretentious former unionist. The book reflects events leading up to the
Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet
Union. It was a mirror with full consciousness of what he was doing, “to
fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”.
Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile
to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his
experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union, he believed,
had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and
enforced by a reign of terror.
The book is a classic work that ushers in the pass in disguise. The pigs
start to resemble humans, as they walk upright, carry whips, and wear
clothes. The Seven Commandments are abridged to a single phrase: “All
animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. Napoleon
holds a dinner party for the pigs and local farmers, with whom he
celebrates a new alliance. He abolishes the practice of the revolutionary
traditions and restores the name “The Manor Farm”. As the animals look from
pigs to humans, they realise they can no longer distinguish between the two.
That is the present precarious political situation we have been returned in
Edo presently. Just as The Seven Commandments was abridged to “All animals
are equal but some animals are more equal than the others; the slogan also
changes from “No More Godfatherism”, to “Anointed Candidacy Is Not
godfatherism”. Oshiomhole’s handlers have chosen to have resort to more
obscene illiteracy, rationalising and distinguishing godfatherism from
The impression created by such misconception or outright abuse of language
is to arm twist the people and collapse their discerning minds. It is a
devious tactics to avert the mass of the Edo people’s consciousness of the
real situation so as to manipulate the them out of themselves. It is
nothing far from repugnant political gimmick at best, and at worst, brutal
subversive streak of a treacherous make-believe activist going in the name
The argument for the reintroduction of godfatherism into Edo political
landscape is solely conducted at the level of Governor Oshiomhole’s
anachronistic leadership failure. It is more so at the level of
followership failure because the people allowed themselves to be deceived
by platitudes parading as governance. Without any conceptual linkage to his
earlier stance on inclusive democracy, Governor Oshiomhole’s diachronic and
stale political language and style are capable of derailing and distorting
the democratic process, going forward.
The 2016 gubernatorial election is all about where we are at the moment
rather than where we are coming from and where we are headed. In
retrospect, Governor Oshiomhole’s heroism and considerable political clout
that led to the grand defeat of the godfather of Edo politics and chattered
the nation’s democratic course come with regrettable mayhem and bloodbath.
Many lives were laid waste and others paid the ultimate price for resisting
the then established godfather of Edo politics.
Now, we are back to the same era of manipulative banality of the godfather;
this time by the sole-dispenser of One-Person-One-Vote. It was like the
reversion from “The Animal Farmer” to “The Manor Farm” after Napoleon has
castrated all known enemies and chased the rest away from the farm. The
state’s deputy governor, Dr. Pius Odubu barley escaped being killed by
guns-invading-thugs at his campaign venue at Auchi a few weeks ago whose
allegiance is alleged to have resided with the comrade governor. Several
commissioners, executive directors, special advisers and other aides of the
governor have been sacked and jailed for not canvassing for the governor’s
The comrade governor has been asking Edo people to surrender their
sovereignty to an unstated but turbulent political process that reenacts
everything he previously stood against/for in exchange for the red roof
schools he built and the few roads he tired! Governor Oshiomhole remains a
classic example of how not to be a leader or an incarnate of a mulish
Democracy in all its majesty will fade if strong individual like Governor
Oshiomhole are allowed the usurp the destinies and sovereignties of nearly
five million people. Edo must remind itself where it is coming from before
it becomes a land of living ghosts. It is time for the governor to realise
that the mood of the Edo electorate at the moment is far from the kind of
evangelical hysteria that attended his first and second coming. The
borrowed glamour and facade are over, so also is the dangerous struggle of
a colossus among the dwarfs.
Erasmus Ikhide, a social activist writes from Lagos, Nigeria.