Obaseki as poster boy of opposition politics


Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki does not pretend to love the ruling All Progressives Congress or what the party represents. He does not waste any opportunity to criticize the APC aggressively, writes NSEOBONG OKON-EKONG

Uba Group

The 2020 governorship election in Edo State brought out the valour in Governor Godwin Obaseki.

It was the battle for his second tenure. Fortunately, he came out victorious in a political war that deployed every kind of dangerous weapon and device. The campaign period was one where the people witnessed an unparalleled season of gangsterism.

Having triumphed over seemingly unconquerable enemies, Obaseki has refused to let go of bitter rivalry.

He seems incapable of forgiving those who denied him the second term ticket of the All Progressives Congress, which sponsored his first tenure.

Convinced that he could win the election on his own steam, Obaseki had switched political party loyalty to the People’s Democratic Party.

The 2020 governorship brawl in Edo State goes down as one of the dirtiest exchanges of brickbats in the political space.

Obaseki’s erstwhile godfather and former Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole sided with Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to ensure Obaseki’s ouster from the APC.

Oshiomhole was not on the ballot directly, but assumed the role of leading Ize-Iyamu’s campaign from the front, because he sought an opportunity to grind the Edo governor’s nose in dirt for daring to confront him.

More than five years later, the confrontation between Oshiomhole and Obaseki is yet to abate.

If anything, it has increased in intensity and complexity with the recent alleged attempts to impeach the Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, accused of hobnobbing with Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s archenemy.

In 2020, the Obaseki campaign came up with a mantra that spread like wildfire and was generally used: “Edo No Be Lagos!”

This was, of course, meant to galvanize negative sentiments against the then national leader of the APC, now President Bola Tinubu, an acknowledged decider of political fate in Lagos.

Vehement and hostile chants of “Edo No Be Lagos,” forced Tinubu to beat a quick retreat from Edo after APC lost the governorship contest. With head bowed, he returned to Lagos to continue plans that ensured he won the 2023 presidential election.

Truth be told, Obaseki’s views on mismanagement of the Nigerian economy can’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand

With the emergence of Tinubu as Nigerian President and Oshiomhole, one of the three senators from Edo State, the political equation in Edo State has changed dramatically.

Indeed, Obaseki is hemmed-in on all sides: All three senators representing Edo State in the National Assembly are his opponents from the All Progressives Congress and Labour Party.

Like a man scorned, Obaseki is striving with his last ounce of courage to achieve a seemingly impossible goal-win in the 2024 Edo governorship contest for the PDP.

The Edo Governor does not pretend to love the ruling APC or what the party represents. He does not waste any opportunity to criticize the APC aggressively.


Recently, Obaseki lashed out at the Tinubu administration saying it had no clear plans on what to do after the removal of subsidy on petroleum.

The Edo State governor said he was very scared because the Federal Government doesn’t seem to have a solution to the economic challenges.

“I am shocked that people who campaigned around the country, saying that they will remove subsidies, had no clear plans on what to do after subsidy removal,” he said.

Obaseki added that he was scared because Tinubu’s government doesn’t seem to have a plan or solution to the biting economic situation in the country.

I am shocked and scared of what we are passing through today, where the government doesn’t seem to have a plan or solution on how to respond to the consequences of the policy measure put in place by their administration,” he added.

Determined to drag the APC in the mud, at every turn, Obaseki linked the rising socio-economic challenges in Nigeria to the failure of the central government to live up to its responsibilities.

He lambasted the Federal Government, heaping blame on it for most of the country’s problems.

In viral images, which many have since concluded were deliberately taken to provide another opportunity to knock the central government, Obaseki’s convoy of cars were stuck on a flooded road suspected to be Benin-Sapele Road. The sordid state of the road provided the Edo State governor with ammunition he needed to fire at the Federal Government for the deplorable state of federal roads in the state.

Relaying a personal experience, Obaseki enacted a horrible story of his travel on the federal roads linking Uromi in Esan South East of Edo to Agbor in Delta State.

“I went to Esan land a few days ago and I passed through Uromi in Edo State to Agbor in Delta State and saw almost 1,000 trailers stuck on that bad Federal Government road. But it took a few minutes to traverse our state roads when we entered from Igueben, Ujogba to Ugoneki in Edo State.

“The problem today is the failure of the central government. The road network in Edo that ought to be a blessing to us is not. The Federal Government roads in Edo are connecting several locations across the country but the roads are bad.

“You can’t go from the West to the East, from the North to the South without passing through Edo State. That is why we have many federal roads here but none are motor-able as all are bad because of the failure of the Federal Government,” Obaseki said.

Lately, the perceived face-off between the Edo State governor and his deputy has provided him with another opportunity to shoot down Tinubu.

According to Obaseki the ‘Emilokan’ syndrome will not be accepted as a strategy for winning elections and ruling the state. “Emilokan” (Yoruba for ‘It’s my turn’) was uttered by Tinubu in the heat of his quest to become President of Nigeria.

Of the 13 governors in PDP-controlled states, Obaseki is the lone critical voice always punching the APC-led Federal Government.

His own traducers have warned, however, that the Edo State governor may be taking his hatred for Tinubu and the APC too far by shunning two National Economic Council meetings under the current administration. Truth be told, Obaseki’s views on mismanagement of the Nigerian economy can’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand. As a seasoned stockbroker, he knows what he is talking about when he says we have to deal with inflation, between 20 and 25 per cent.

“It means that the people will feel more pain, especially the weak and vulnerable in the society, particularly our pensioners as whatever they get as their entitlement will do only little for them.

“But for us in Edo State, we would not abandon you. We don’t like the word palliative because it is deceitful as we would rather use the word ‘support’. We would support those who are already victims of this policy measure,” he said last week.

Without attempting to dress his words in nice robes, Obaseki has incited the people against Tinubu’s administration.

When the Nigeria Labour Congress declared a strike, Obaseki was the only governor who openly backed the labour movement.

The State Edo governor said the palliatives by the Tinubu-led administration “is a continuation of fraud the Federal Government has always undertaken against the people of Nigeria.”

At another instance, Obaseki called on residents of Edo State to help themselves by contributing to the development of the state, saying that the Federal Government has thrown the country into an economic crisis.

“The country is in crisis economically. We can’t continue to fold our hands and wait for a country that can’t help us. Rather, we will do all we can to help ourselves and our state.

“If we are a truly thriving country, states will survive on their own, without relying on Abuja. Whether they give us or not, we would survive as a state. We have been surviving before now. Our administration is transparent and accountable, that is why the World Bank trusts us,” he said.

The Edo State governor is now, arguably, the only visible chieftain of the opposition, PDP, consistent in openly expressing disapproval of Tinubu and the APC on the basis of perceived mistakes by the Federal Government.