Obaseki: A profile of tortuous voyages to victory
By John Mayaki
It is the bard and playwright of undiminished relevance, William Shakespeare, who through one of his many compelling characters philosophically avers that, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. This is one of the irrefutable facts that define human lives everywhere.
As humans, we achieve greatness in life in different ways and means. In matters of leadership, where some have the thrones and governance epaulettes fastened on their shoulders with little or no dash on their part, there are others who toiled and laboured spiritedly before they got the diadem of leadership.
Among those latter group is where you find the cultured and cultivated incumbent governor of Edo State – Godwin Obaseki. His election as governor of Edo State did not result from an easy journey. He did not walk the primrose path to become the number one citizen of the state. Many are unanimous, and rightly so, in their view that his victory was a product of serious efforts and hard work. Some achieve greatness.
A thoroughgoing administrator from the highly competitive world that is the private sector, Governor Obaseki is not a stranger to the taxing demands that rising from the first rung of the ladder of greatness to its zenith inescapably require. With more than 30 years of career in Investment Banking, Asset Management, Securities Trading and the public sector, both internationally and in Nigeria, he cannot be said to be one who is jittery of competitions and contests.
So, when the time came in 2016 for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to elect its candidate for the office of the governor to succeed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Mr. Obaseki declared his interest in the race. From that point, his voyage to the Edo State Government House in order to be its helmsman earnestly began. The signs that the journey would be anything but smooth began to manifest when other big names in the politics of the state and from within the APC joined the race.
For those who remember, the Deputy Governor of the state at the time, Pius Odubu, was among the 12 aspirants that eventually participated in the governorship primary election, the committee of which was headed by Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State. That exercise of June 18, 2016, will be remembered as one that was keenly contested. All kinds of hatchet jobs went on on the parts of some candidates, the discomfiting fires of false allegations were stoked, and the poisonous bread of disunion and mischiefs were confected. All in a bid to scuttle the victory of candidate Obaseki.
But the man would scale the hurdles of that primary successfully. The 1, 618 delegates from the total of 2, 873 delegates from 192 wards in the state who gave him their votes were strongly convinced that candidate Obaseki was the right man to fly the party’s flag. Yes, while it is true that other candidates were not political neophytes, the incontestable fact remains that Obaseki has such record of requisite experience and qualifications that are necessary in advancing the state and its people beyond the point where Comrade Oshiomhole left it with striking evidence of beneficial transformation.
With that tortuous voyage put behind him, Obaseki was ready to begin another equally gruelling journey. This time it would be for the real sceptre of power as governor. Among others, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, appeared the toughest, making the election a two-horse race. For Obaseki, this too was not going to be a jolly ride. But with the formidable support and preparation of the party, and the unflinching faith of the electorate in his competence and vision, he trounced the PDP candidate and was declared the winner of the governorship election. Though weakened and withering due to its recorded misbehaviour and gluttony, and of course by the sterling performance of the Oshiomhole administration, the carcass of the PDP still managed to flail about and garner some unhelpful votes.
Because it has always been incapable of coming to terms with untainted facts – in about the same way that those who had ruled the state on its platform were tellingly visionless – the PDP and its candidate began to caterwaul that the same electorate they had banished out of reckoning through scandalous rigging and substandard governance overwhelmingly voted for them. Those votes, they claimed brazenly, were stolen by the APC and therefore their mandate hijacked. It was in the midst of this absurd drama that Obaseki was sworn in. He would immediately upon assumption of office put his hands on the plough of real work given his diligence and responsiveness. But the PDP falsity, which it had taken to the Governorship Election Tribunal, was not to be ignored.
There again began another tough trip for Governor Obaseki. The legal fireworks sounded for months. Happily, he emerged victorious. Not one to admit defeat, the rejected PDP appealed the victory. At the Appeal Court, in and behind closed doors, the PDP concocted many strange ideas. It lied infernally to the public, an infraction that the governor and his team had to constantly expose.
For the Edo governor, the PDP trumpet of disinformation was not easy to abide. In no time, the Appeal Court made an open show of the PDP tissue of lies and affirmed the victory of Obaseki.
An impossible entity custom-made for self-inflicted suffering, the PDP took its bag of untruths to the apex court.
There too, it was told in unmistakeable expressivity that it was incapable of winning election in Edo State. In other words, its evidence of self-besotted victory did not tally with the evidence of what truly transpired at the polls.
The Supreme Court, like the Tribunal and the Appeal Court, confirmed the truth of the willing decision of the larger electorate in the state. The PDP in Edo remains a contaminated apple; no one will touch it with a long stick.
Put together, the journey of Obaseki to being the governor of Edo State was in every dimension not an easy one.
Therefore, when last Sunday he found his way to the church to render his gratitude to God for weathering all storms on his path, he was clear in his mind about what he was doing. He knows too clearly the tortuous paths he had walked to become governor.
He knows that the impedimenta of the wicked would have made it impossible for him to emerge as governor and further improve the human condition of Edo people. In going to express his appreciation to God, he understood quite well that had it not been God who was on his side, the tide of lies and conspiracies would have swept him off the shores of the responsibilities he is now discharging with aplomb and panache.
The steady and manifesting good governance being witnessed under Obaseki’s watch should teach any mischief maker that, in supporting the man who becomes his successor, Oshiomhole proves that he is indeed a star leader whose judgement is sound.
From all indications, Governor Obaseki is leading Edo to greatness. It cannot be any other way. He understands how rough and hard his journey to the office was. It is only by improving comprehensively the socioeconomic condition of the people that he can claim the exhausting journey was worth it.