Edo 2024: Obaseki, Deputy’s feud gets messier

  • Role of Constitution in Govs, deputies’ crises – Lawyers
  • Edo Governor’s preferred candidate unveiled


Uba Group

Despite persistent denials that there has never been love lost between the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu and his principal, Godwin Obaseki, a recent lawsuit has finally blown open the festering problems, which both sides, hitherto, pretended did not exist.

Shaibu has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, to seek protection from Obaseki, to avoid impeachment and removal from office.

The political feud is not unconnected to the 2024 governorship ambition of Shaibu and analysts have explained why the crisis may get messier in the days to come.

According to Edo State Government sources, Shaibu, in his bid for the Edo governorship seat, has perfected plans to dump the People’s Democratic Party, knowing that the zoning arrangements in the party will automatically not favour his candidacy.

Like other states, Edo State has three senatorial districts – South, Central and North. Governor Obaseki, who is from Edo South, succeeded Adams Oshiomhole from Edo North in 2016.

Shaibu and Oshiomhole are from the same senatorial district.

Aware of the zoning system in PDP, Shaibu was alleged to have gone into talks with the All Progressives Congress and members of the PDP from the state, who have decamped to the APC.

It was further gathered that Shaibu unveiled his political moves immediately after the 2023 presidential election by forming a campaign group which has visible presence in all the wards across the state.

Shaibu is said to be acting on prevailing sentiments among politicians in Edo who believe that Obaseki has penciled down another technocrat like himself to succeed him, a development core politicians in Edo State would not want to hear.

The allegation against Obaseki is that he is too frugal and that they do not want another governor like him.

An insider familiar with the development in Government House, who confirmed the feud, said Governor Obaseki had consistently maintained that it was not time for politics so that governance does not suffer, insisting that at the appropriate time, attention would be given to politics.

However, the governor maintained that “he (Shaibu) should follow established protocol.” “Since then, he has been on the warpath by sponsoring Enwanta Adaze, a former disgruntled Commissioner, who is one of his stooges, to attack the governor,” the source, who would not want his name mentioned, said.

Is Shaibu crying wolf where there is none?

Sources said Obaseki described the suit as a surreptitious move by the Deputy Governor to prevent impeachment from office, adding that at no time had impeachment been considered by Governor Obaseki.

Shaibu had approached the court to seek protection from Obaseki, to avoid an imminent impeachment and removal from office.

In a motion of notice brought before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and made available to the media, the applicant (Shaibu) sought an order of interlocutory injunction stopping the respondents or their agents from harassing, intimidating, embarrassing or preventing him from carrying out the functions of his office as Deputy Governor of Edo State, including attending State Executive Council meetings and other functions pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The court papers listed the Inspector General of Police, Department of State Services, the Governor of Edo State, Speaker of Edo House of Assembly and the Chief Judge of Edo State as defendants.


“Both men were so close to the extent that when they were to move from the APC to the PDP, Obaseki made it a condition that Shaibu must retain his position much to the displeasure of PDP members who wanted that slot”

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Kunle Edun expressed surprise “that the court has already made a pronouncement before the process of impeachment begins.”

“That is wrong. That is not the intention of the constitution because we are running a democracy that has to do with a full presidential system of government, where you have the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary; they are supposed to be interdependent, but separate and autonomous within their own special jurisdiction. Section 188(10) provides that no step taken with regard to the impeachment of a governor or deputy governor shall be questioned in any court of law, but what we have seen now, like in the case of Edo State, is deputy governor Shaibu obtaining an interim order restraining an act that has not even commenced,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, another lawyer, Tunbosun Oladipupo hinted on why Shaibu hurried to court.

He noted that impeachments were not difficult to carry out in the country because most governors had already pocketed the state houses of assembly.

“You can see that their bickering is not about the interest of the people. It is the interest of the politicians that matters. Philip Shaibu has gone to court and the court is the hope of the common man. He knows that the state Assembly is in the pocket of the governor. In fact, before the Assembly was inaugurated, there were a lot of problems because APC and PDP had a certain number of lawmakers and it became a problem for the Assembly to have a quorum so that it could be inaugurated.

“Now that the governor has successfully inaugurated the Assembly, they are in his pocket and he has his way there and that is why it is very incumbent upon the deputy to approach the court to halt the process of impeachment. Nigerians will now understand that these politicians don’t have the interest of the common man in their minds, they are only united when their interest is the same. But, when they don’t have the same interest, you will see them fighting so as to disturb the polity,” he stated.

Oladipupo further submitted that “Obaseki has no option than to obey the court order. Section 6, sub section 6 of the Federal Republic Nigeria has given the court the power and authority to determine issues between parties, between government and the people. If he does not obey, then the normal process of court will take its course. But, everybody is bound to obey the order of the court.”

‘Fight is about Edo Governorship in 2024’
Further investigation revealed that trouble allegedly started about two months ago when Shaibu was seen in a viral video with Adams Oshiomhole during the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in Abuja.

Sources further alleged that, a few days after, the governor summoned all PDP members of the State House of Assembly to his mansion, excluding his deputy, which was extremely unusual.

The deputy, who was briefed about the meeting, drove directly to the governor’s mansion but was rebuffed and stopped by the DSS personnel, who told him he was not on their list of invitees.

Many watchers of the happenings in Edo are surprised that things could fall apart between Obaseki and Shaibu.

The deputy governor was considered to be very powerful and the governor conceded a lot of things to him, according to reports.

He was said to be the executioner who had the guys to carry out a lot of the ‘dirty jobs’ on behalf of the government. The governor trusted him with bringing revenue and put him in charge of the last National Sports Festival hosted by Edo State.

Both men were so close to the extent that when they were to move from the APC to the PDP, Obaseki made it a condition that Shaibu must retain his position much to the displeasure of PDP members who wanted that slot.

A political analyst from the Esan speaking (Edo Central) part of the state, Marvins Abhulimen, said the clamour that the next governor in the state should be an indigene of Esan, was probably the reason for the brouhaha.

Abhulimen said, “I am from the central part of Edo State, that is, the Esan speaking side, and there has been a clamour for that part to produce the next governor. We have not produced the governor since 1999. The only time we produced a governor was short-lived because of the court, and (Adams) Oshiomhole took over.

“So, Edo State is going towards that direction (where the next governor would emerge from) and that is one of the reasons Shaibu might feel he needs to start taking a position because he wants to move up to the next level and become a governor, which, honestly, he has paid his dues.”

“He is entitled and qualified to contest but I am sure Obaseki might have made an earlier commitment to politicians that the Esan agenda will be supported in the next dispensation,” he added.

A PDP Chieftain from Edo State who preferred anonymity described the deputy governor’s action as a proof of two strange bedfellows who had been pretending to have and believe in the same ideology.

He said, “What is playing out now is an exhibition of strange bedfellows pretending to be working together but, in the actual sense, they don’t trust each other. Remember how they fought Oshiomhole on their way to reelection. They were both in APC, when it was clear to them that they had lost the APC ticket, they jointly jumped into the PDP but from the outset, they were never in agreement.

“The governor, from information I gathered, has his anointed son whereas his deputy is equally interested in the seat. How can there be peace between them? As it is today, the deputy governor has more followers in PDP than the governor, so the only way to stop him from picking the ticket is to impeach him and spoil his political career. That was why Shuaib quickly ran to Court to stop it. His major problem is that Governor Obaseki has total control of the state house of assembly and the judiciary. I learnt his preferred candidate is a serving lawmaker. This is why his deputy’s move is in order, if you ask me.”

On the possibility of resolving squabbles between governors and their deputies, the party chieftain said it would linger on as far as the country continued with the political roadmap.
He said both the Nigerian and party constitutions belittled the office of the deputy governor while exalting that of the governor.
“It’s a master servant thing but it shouldn’t have been so,” he said.

Ambiguity in constitution is the problem – Lawyers

Many commentators, who volunteered opinions on the seeming intractable problem between governors and their deputies, traced the root cause to the constitution.

Kayode Ajulo, a respected human rights and constitutional lawyer noted, “In one breath, the constitution makes a governor and the deputy governor co-pilots, but in interpretation, he is not better than a spare tyre. If your regular tyre is good while you are driving, you have no need for a spare tyre. Unfortunately, the constitution does not make deputy governors co-pilots in practice. If a deputy governor lives under the illusion that he has equal status with the governor, he has himself to blame.

“The governor is the sole administrator. There is nothing to share. He controls the security vote. He controls the state legislators, the police and DSS. The reason there is so much noise about removal of deputy governors is because the process for removing them is the same as that of a governor. Deputy Governors share the same immunity with governors, but governors make sure that their deputies do not have money so that at the time of moving against them, they will not be able to pay for legal services. Some commissioners are even wealthier and more influential than deputy governors.”

Sharing a similar opinion, a Senior Lecturer, Politics, Policy, Law and Media, Pan Atlantic University, Tomi Vincent, said, “The role of the governor is quite executive and that of the deputy governor is usually more of a complement to the governor. To a large extent, the governor needs to have trust as it were or confidence for the deputy governor to function properly. If that is lacking, it becomes a problem for the deputy governor. There is a kind of leeway for the governor to always do what he wants to do with the occupier of that office one way or the other.

“If there is friction between them, he will deploy all sorts of methods, whether constitutional or not, in removing the deputy governor. Over time, some of those removals were overturned in court, but it speaks to what I will consider a weakness of the constitution in that capacity.”

Another lawyer, Jimmy Jones, said, “The case of Nigerian governors and their deputies are like two full-horned goats that cannot eat from the same plate without having issues, they must lock horns. Now, the question is, are the deputies truly loyal to the governors? Once the governors see that the deputies are over-ambitious, they tend to always have a way of cutting ties with them and the way to do that is through impeachment; after all, the governors handpicked them in the first place, let’s not forget, and it’s constitutional. The constitution mandates that there should be running mate, just like the President and Vice President.

“What is playing out now is an exhibition of strange bedfellows pretending to be working together but in actual sense, they don’t trust each other”

“The disadvantage with that of the deputy governors is that there is not much role attached to them. It is only in the event whereby these governors go on vacation on their own or they take time out or they are sick, incapacitated in one way or the other, that they transmit to the deputy who will continue running the affairs of the state.”

Speaking on the most recent row, involving Obaseki and Shuaib, which has led the latter to approach the Federal High Court, Abuja to stop the move for his impeachment by his principal, Silver Emeka, a lawyer and activist, said the row that exists between governors and their deputies is a creation of the Constitution.

“The 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended created room for this row. The Constitution ab initio, made deputy governors appendages to the office of the governor by allowing the governorship candidate to hand pick his running mate who will eventually run with him in one election. What it implies is that the owner of the ticket is the governorship candidate who won the primary and then had the right to choose whosoever he wanted to be his running mate. When they get into office, the governor sees his deputy as his appendage, not a colleague,” Emeka said.

What may likely happen going forward

Calling on the National Judicial Commission to take a serious view on the way courts handle such matters, Edun said he “looks forward to how it (Shaibu court case) will play out.”

“Interim order has been obtained when the case has not commenced, but the court has already dabbled into it, which to me, is wrong. Perhaps, Obaseki may want to appeal, that is within his rights. The court should respect itself. Of course, you don’t expect the court to do nothing when someone who is being persecuted runs to the court. But there should be a dividing line when the court can say there is a course of action or there is no course of action. For now, I am yet to see any proper course of action,” he said.

A former chairmanship aspirant of the PDP in Lagos State, Adeniyi Adams, advocated for constitutional roles for deputy governors to enhance better relationship with their respective principals, the governors.

“I think constitutional roles must be given to deputies. Once they’re given more constitutional roles, I think it will help their relationship,” he noted.

According to Adams, the disagreement between the former state governor, Oshiomhole and his successor and incumbent governor, Obaseki, is a family affair, which will be resolved. He, however, urged traditional leaders in the state to intervene.

“I don’t think their crisis is irreconcilable. I think it’s still a family affair; they’ll still sit down as members of one family to resolve it. I think the traditional leaders in the state should get involved because they have a strong traditional institution. I believe they should also wade into it because when you have one, two to five of your children out there doing well, you should be able to bring them together,” he added.


188. (1) The Governor or Deputy Governor of a state may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing is signed by not less than one-third of the members of the House of Assembly.

(b) Stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.

“Gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion in the House of Assembly to gross misconduct.