The godfather-godson conundrum

Dele Adeoluwa

POWER is delusive. It gives the holder a false sense of invincibility. It is also a fleeting adventure. While it lasts, you are akin to the nectar of a bloom; people of all shades will court you, just like the nectar magnetises the butterfly.

While it lasts, you are the best to have happened to the leeches who ‘eat’ at your whim. But when power bears its fangs, shows you its fiendish side and you descend from the pinnacle of attention, the same people will be the first to dump you like the butt of a spent cigarette and nimble to the next port of power. That is the blight of power that holders ignore to their peril.


The contest for political power in our clime is fierce; it is big business because in a highly impoverished environment like ours, government itself is big business.

For many political gladiators, it is more about dispensing patronage and pillaging the commonwealth than of service to the fatherland.

It’s more about rapacious tendencies. It’s about sickening accumulations by a few, which impoverish the majority.

That is why elections are a war. However, there are a few who seek power for the overriding interest to serve, which shows in the legacies they leave behind.

It is seen in how they still affect their people and the system even after leaving power.There is a common streak that tends to run through the godfather- godson conundrum.

Usually, a current holder of power, political power in this context, or a power broker shows more than a cursory interest in who succeeds him or takes power next, as the case may be.

The reasons, however, vary. For some, and this is very few, it is for altruistic intents; it is mainly to ensure continuity and get a good system running after the exit of a trail-blazing pioneer.

But for many others, it is for selfish purposes. In the latter case, the godfather, usually an incumbent, seeks out a pliable subordinate who will watch his back to conceal the putrid stench under the cloak of power.

What is more, the contest for political power is also about relevance. A holder of power does not want to let go easily, even when his time is up.

This is because the other side of the allure of power could be repugnant. Every holder of power dreads it. So, even outside power, he remains in the periphery. He still wants to be courted. He still wants to feel a sense of belonging.

However, in the larger context, at the root of the godfather-godson ding dong, in most cases, is the eagerness of the successor to break free from the stranglehold of his predecessor the moment he takes power.

He wants to quickly cast off the master-servant toga that births their relationship. He no longer wants to be dictated to from the shadows.

Now, there was no presentiment that anything could go wrong in 2016 when the then Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, stuck out his neck to insist on his friend, Godwin Obaseki, an economic expert from the business world, as his preferred successor.

His choice of Obaseki was opposed by a lot of his supporters because of what they believed largely to be his inexperience in politics, but the comrade-governor stuck to his guns.

He took his friend round the state and deploying his oratorical prowess, he campaigned vigorously and vouched for his choice. Obaseki won the poll.

However, not long after he took the mantle of power, cracks began to appear in his otherwise iron cast relationship with his friend and political mentor.

One of the contentious issues was the sacking by Obaseki of private revenue collectors appointed by his predecessor.

Those sacked easily pitched tent with Oshiomhole against the governor, blaming the former for bringing him(Obaseki).

Again, the formation of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) in April by some aggrieved APC chieftains in the state also exacerbated the quibble between them.

The group was formed purposely to checkmate the governor for allegedly dismantling some of Oshiomhole’s legacies, his failure to open the Central Hospital built by Oshiomhole and what they called “lack of political patronage”.

The ex-APC national chairman himself confided in some people that his main problem with Obaseki was his refusal to heed his advice on a number of issues, which included the settlement of the entitlements of his deputy in office, Dr. Pius Odubu, and how best to manage party leaders and supporters in the state.

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However, the inauguration of the state House of Assembly by the governor with just nine members, leaving out 14 lawmakers-elect, who were mostly Oshiomhole’s loyalists, blew open the frosty relationship between the two and externalised the crisis.

And EPM easily listed that legislative infraction as one of the governor’s “sins.” Obaseki thereafter began to clear the vestige of Oshiomhole from his administration by sacking some commissioners believed to be loyal to him (Oshiomhole).

The sacked commissioners were: Joseph Ugheoke, Osahon Amiolemen, David Osifo, Mariam Abubakar, Emmanuel Usoh and Mike Amanokha.

At this juncture, it became clear that Obaseki wanted to be his own man. He accused Oshiomhole of wanting to play ‘godfather’, the same thing he wrestled to rout out of the system when he took power.

But the former governor refuted the claim, saying his interest is strictly good governance and a cohesive party in the state. Those who are close to the comrade say he detests the word ‘godfather’.

As it is now, the die is cast and the stakes are high, as both camps have gone back to the trenches in preparation for the September 19 poll.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was a one-time State Government (SSG) but ran against the incumbent as opposition PDP candidate in 2016 is back to reckoning.

He is now the new bride, having clinched the APC ticket. Obaseki, after his disqualification from the race by the APC screening panel, resigned his membership of the ruling party and has now pitched his tent with opposition PDP. He has emerged the party’s gubernatorial flagbearer.

As September 19 inches closer, tension is thick in the air and there are fears of a possible descent into violence if the irascible tendencies in both camps are not properly managed.

Stakeholders in and outside the state, therefore, owe it a duty to rally the gladiators into placating their supporters to embrace peace by all means possible.

Source: The Nation Online Nigeria


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