New Telegraph

Obaseki/Shuaibu: Oshiomhole’s gods are alive (2)

I n my last week’s treatise, I wove my discourse around the theory of contradiction which may give birth to a new set of outies in solving the puzzle that has enveloped Osadebe House. On the one hand, a serial betrayer is feeling betrayed; lamenting pretentiously that his deputy has been plotting a coup against him, in cohort with the opposition, to unseat him. My mind quickly reckoned how many people would be chuffed at this news and my lungs unleashed a gale of laughter; as I imagined the emotions of Governor Obaseki, lamenting his deputy’s untoward behaviour. Indeed, I was amazed that Obaseki even knows the word, betrayal.

Was he actually serious when he talked about Phillip Shuaibu betraying him or was he just pretending? If he can complain about such behaviour towards him, what does he want former Governor Wike, Chief Orbih, Comrade Senator Oshiomhole, and all his other victims who have tasted his bitter pill of betrayal to do? The Edo local government elections are by the corner; and we are likely going to see the governor, trying to whip up sentiments, and sounding close to tears; pretentiously, to cajole the undiscerning. That is Governor Obaseki’s traditional style. He manipulates his people wanting them to be empathetic towards the usual facade he puts up; as though he is being sawed apart with a blunt scalpel. I feel happy that these two actors in the Edo political drama are now at each other’s throats. It would allow us see them for who they really are. The Revenue Service has now been removed from Phillip’s care; ditto for sports and other areas of governance that tended to buoy up the Deputy Governor.

Now, with Shuaibu a veritable paper deputy, Obaseki does not have a Deputy Governor on ground. At the Ogbe stadium on Saturday 19 August, Governor Obaseki was physically present to cheer on the Bendel Insurance Football Club, as they took on Aso Chef FC of Algeria. His Deputy on paper, Shuaibu, was sitting at home watching the match. Before now, Phillip Shuaibu had been the chief motivator of the Insurance FC; to the extent that he signed up as one of its players, just to motivate the boys, and rescue the team from its backwardness of over the years; and indeed, gradually, Bendel Insurance is bouncing back and showing itself as a reputable brand in the last two years. Shuaibu’s inlaw, who used to superintend over the operations of the sports agency, has been redeployed to another agency, leaving Shuaibu feeling more like a stranger within its fold. On that Saturday, Governor Obaseki was on hand to support the home team to defeat their visitors from Algeria.

The Speaker, Blessing Agbebaku and the beleaguered Chairman of the PDP, Anthony Aziegbemi, both showed up with their wry smiles, as they joined the governor at the Ogbe stadium in show of solidarity. And on the other hand, Obaseki is trying to deceive the Oba of Benin that he respects him and the Benin Kingdom. Before last Saturday’s denouement, the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, had issued a statement about the allocation that was granted to the traditional rulers in the state. Ogie’s terse and cursory statement was a red-herring. The state government was trying to whip up support across the state from traditional rulers; the same traditional rulers that have been abandoned for very long as he announced to the whole world their statutory allocations. By doing that, he tried to dubiously “massage” the ego of the Great Benin Kingdom, even as further plots are being fine tuned to balkanise his Kingdom; Governor Obaseki’s unfinished business of trying to undercut the monarchy is moving northerly on his To Do list. In the entire seven Local Governments in Edo South Senatorial District, there are no Kings; the only King in the district, is the Great Oba of Benin.

He appoints his own Enogies, who serve as his representatives in all the local governments. When compared to the British Monarchical order, they are like the Dukes, who act on behalf of the King of England. Governor Obaseki, is desperate to undermine the suzerainty of the Great Oba of Benin Kingdom with plots and sub-plots that have been unfolding and unfolding. Going by the content of Osarodion Ogie’s statement, it appears that the government is going for broke in its goal to balkanise the Kingdom. Obaseki plans to reduce the traditional powers of the Oba of Benin, promote Oba’s Dukes to assume the status of Kings, and then back them up with allocations taken from the Benin Traditional Council. Governor Obaseki thinks he is smart, but he is fooling himself. The authority of the Oba of Benin cannot be decimated; not at all; let alone in such a whimsical manner by a tenured leadership that has less than fifteen months to exit the podium of governance. The state government tries to play a smart Alec but its real intentions and positions are always betrayed. Unable to get a full grip of the returned artefacts, Governor Obaseki has been running around, trying to make meaning of meaningless adventures.

Since when the Federal Government gave sole custody of the artefacts to the Benin Palace, Governor Obaseki has been utterly confused. His initial Edo Museum of West Africa Arts, EMOWAA, has been repackaged to exclude Edo, and has now been rechristened, Museum of West Africa Arts, MOWAA. It must be that it is being built to house Obaseki’s own artefacts; perhaps as a business concern that will be driven by outsiders that lack the understanding of the spiritual importance of the Benin Artefacts. The gazetted document by the Federal Government has added puissance to Obaseki’s venom. The governor is livid with anger, causing him to up his resolve to undermine the Monarchy. The terse statement by Osarodion Ogie, cheaply exposed his dubiety when he declared that the Oba of Benin is the sole chairman of all traditional rulers in the state. Who doesn’t know that? It amounted to selling coal to Newcastle dwellers. The Benin Monarchy has survived thousand years of intrigues, betrayals, manipulations, hypocrisy, and it remains unbowed. Its grand authority remains unyielding and unwavering despite repeated attempts by real smart ones to usurp its powers and authority.

During the military rule, a governor that attempted to whittle its influence and rubbish the sanctity of its tradition, got a huge dose of its superior spirituality; and I dare say that this ongoing effort of Godwin Obaseki will crumble like pack of cards. It is worhty of note that the Benin Monarchy has never played second fiddle in its long years of reign through a succession order that has been in place for over a thousand years. Its records and traditions are well captured and documented in history; including record of betrayals that tried to wittingly undo it during the colonial invasion in 1897. The influence of the Benin Kingdom spreads across several villages, communities, towns and cities up to Dahomey, the present day Lagos, Ogun and parts of Benin Republic. As one of the oldest dynasties in Africa, its traditional fecundity remains inviolate.

The people still hold their Oba as semi-divine. Their connection to their ancestors is still very much mystical, as they offer prayers to their Oba every now and then, even in absentia. The beauty of the Monarchy is further gratiated by the respect the Oba enjoys. “Oba gha tor kpere ee, Isee”, ‘long may Your Majesty’ reign. It is a monarchy that makes every reasonable Edo mind to be proud of his ancestry. It is a Monarchy that epitomises the can-do spirit of an average Edo man. It is a monarchy that retains its originality and imperial dominance to the admiration of all. Nobody shares space with the Oba. His word is law.

That is what Governor Obaseki wants to desecrate; such an abominable act that is orchestrated by sheer hypocrisy of the government in Osadebe Avenue. By repeatedly saying Oba of Benin is the permanent Chairman of the traditional rulers of the state, a thing that has existed for so long, is trite. It is aimed at veiling the pretenses behind such an obvious declaration. Finally for this episode, Governor Obaseki, I must advise has to tread with caution.

By 11 November 2024 he will be a former Governor of Edo state. He should focus on the good for which he would be remembered and not waste his time unleashing venom with the golden opportunity he has now. He doesn’t know what the pregnant tomorrow will bear for him. Many of what he thinks are within his purview presently, will be taken away. Many of his decisions will be overturned. Those that are clapping for him today in subservient support, will see him on the streets and look away. Many will curse him in public.

Others will see him as belligerent. The legacy that is better for him to leave behind, is a legacy of honour and respect, not one of hate. The scar of being a betrayer will take a long time to heal, certainly in this generation. And it is likely to affect other great minds of the larger Obaseki family who are quietly gnashing their teeth over the stains and blotches on their family name. As a member of APC, Godwin Obaseki was quarrelsome and rambunctious. Entering into the PDP, he still displays the art and act; why? A lot of those who assisted him to mount the podium of leadership, are licking their wounds; chiefly because he is heavily intoxicated with power. This power does not last forever. It is ephemeral and fleeting. Respect is earned by benevolent conduct not by decree and fiat. Those who beat their chests to show their might and valour, should remember that their heartbeat is beyond them. Let the great Oba of Benin be. Let Edo State be. Let us breathe!!.

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