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Thursday, August 6, 2020

For Obaseki, It’s Cul-de-Sac! Bukunmi George-Hanson


In politics, globally, and in life generally, emotional maturity and emotional intelligence are two different but symbiotic factors essential to maintaining healthy relationships.

Experts describe emotional maturity as the ability to handle situations without gratuitously escalating them. Instead of seeking to blame someone else for their problems or behaviour, emotionally mature people seek to fix the problem or behaviour and always accept accountability for their actions.
No matter the situation, or so the experts assert, emotionally mature people don’t lie in uncomfortable situations. Rather, they face the reality of the situation frontally. And, they don’t resort to personal attacks during a disagreement; they address only the issue. They are not impulsive and don’t speak recklessly. They ensure that they are calm and think before they speak.
On the other hand, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. You can identify an emotion and respond to it rather than react, which is another critical skill.
But those who – like Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State – are deficient in these areas see a breakdown in communication and, ultimately, complications in or the breakup of their political, business or even romantic relationships.
Perhaps, because he doesn’t even know what they are or understand how they work – both separately and in tandem – Obaseki forgot to acquire the skill-set needed to navigate life and politics, which is why the house his predecessor literally helped him build for the collective sheltering of Edo indigenes with sweat and sheer willpower, has collapsed under his watch.
Even the umbrella that he sought refuge under is now leaking porously. Everything that can possibly go wrong with a political campaign is going wrong with Obaseki’s. From the gale of resignation to a groundswell of apathy by the electorate to his ambition, all the indices are that the second term bid of the governor is dead on arrival.
Obaseki and his cheerleaders were in denial all along as they continued to run on their contrived popularity and propaganda but the penny has dropped with happenings in their camp in recent days.
Last Tuesday, Mr Patrick Iyoha, the Director, Obaseki/Shaibu Movement, resigned his appointment with immediate effect, citing personal reasons. The resignation of Iyoha, also a member of the Edo State Waste Management Board, threw the campaign organisation into disarray, as he was the nerve-centre of Obaseki’s re-election bid.
But it was not only Iyoha that resigned within the week. Two members of the State Post Primary Education Board – Mr Gabriel Oiboh, Chairman and Mr Osanyemwere Osawe, a member of the board – also resigned their appointments. Oiboh and Osawe said their resignations followed pressure by Obaseki to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Earlier on Monday, July 27th, three commissioners of the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission had resigned their appointments. The commissioners – Osamwonyi Atu, Emmanuel Odigie and Rilwanu Oshiomhole – hitherto represented Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North senatorial districts.
Particularly, Odigie said he was resigning, because “The appointment was given to me based on my membership and commitment to the APC. I have contested elections twice to the House of Representatives on the APC platform, as a party loyalist, and based on my principles, I strongly believe it will be unfair to cross over to the Peoples Democratic Party.”
Oshiomhole echoed the same sentiment, adding that as a loyal party man, his resignation was to enable him to work for the success of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the APC governorship candidate in the September 19th election.
The previous Friday, Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Dame Omoua Oni-Okpaku resigned from the state cabinet, joining a long list that includes several cabinet members and senior aides of the governor. These resignations were preceded last May by the shocking exit of Taiwo Akerele, the immediate past Chief of Staff to the Governor.
Those conversant with Nigerian politics and how the government – whether federal or state – works, know that the appointive position of the Chief of Staff is usually given to an ally of the governor or president as the case may be. Akerele was seen as Obaseki’s eyes and ears in the government, the major interface between the governor and the people, stakeholders in the state and appointees.
The blame of Akerele’s shocking resignation was laid squarely at the feet of Obaseki, who was variously accused of having evolved into an imperious and inexorable leader especially as it became clearer by the day that he was taking on too many pointless, ego-driven battles.
When John Maiyaki, a former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Obaseki resigned his appointment in 2019 long before the governor defected to the PDP, he said it was the people of Edo State that are opposed to the governor’s second term, not the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole.
Maiyaki said those, who worked for the election of the governor in 2016 were disappointed that he abandoned the developmental agenda on which he was elected and had subjected the people of the state to abject poverty. He further alleged that it was indisputable that Governor Obaseki has refused to implement the continuity agenda promised to the Edo People in 2016 describing it as a needle to the bubble of lies created by agents of underdevelopment and poverty in the state.
According to him, “It is a decision made after a clear evaluation of the competence, actions, and intentions of Godwin Obaseki, who though admitted to the success of the administration he succeeded, has merely reversed the gains recorded in a futile attempt to create a political dynasty founded on nepotism, ethnic division, corruption, and disregard for the rule of law.
“Certainly, no right-thinking member of the society would support this. It is therefore not a surprise that Edo citizens, high and low, young and old, have abandoned personal sentiments or affiliations, and resorted to logic and core hard facts in their collective rejection of the governor.
“This simple truth is backed by the fact that Godwin Obaseki is presently fighting to earn the approval of his own family members who have since embraced the party and the Edo People’s Movement in the mission to kick out the inept leader from office.” Maiyaki should know. He was Obaseki’s spokesman for three years.
Like Dr Mike Murdoch once said, “A foolish man will enjoy a perfect today and lose a perfect tomorrow. A wise man will forfeit a perfect today to gain a perfect tomorrow. Maturity is the ability to delay gratification.”
Obaseki seamlessly rode into power on the wings of the accomplishments of his predecessor. As noted by Maiyaki, he was supposed to consolidate on the gains bequeathed to him but deviated and took the state many years back. Alas, where the people expected political maturity, they found scapegoating and scaremongering.
His subsequent projections, including paranoia, an inability to self-analyse, and a lack of emotional intelligence will lead to his downfall at the polls.
In the twilight of his administration, especially, Obaseki began treating governance as some spectator sports by fomenting trouble where there was peace with the intent to distract the people from their daily drudgery and to expect somehow, at the end of it all, that the miracle of a better-governed state would emerge.
But there is a silver lining in all these, of course, and the informed electorate of Edo State has fully come to terms with the sure-fire power of their votes to effect a change in government, which they have unanimously consented to do on September 19th.
In the end, it is left to Pastor Ize-Iyamu to help the people sort through all of the debilitating disruptions of Obaseki. He is coming adequately prepared for the job.
Apart from having spent the best part of his meritorious existence in the state, he has acquired, along the line, political maturity and dexterity, and a leadership skill-set that would come handy as he attempts to put the state back in order from the day he is sworn in as the next governor of Edo State.

* George-Hanson lives in Lagos

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