The recent attack on Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his entourage at the residence of the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, at the latter’s country home in Etsako West Local Government Area of the state is an indication that hooliganism has been rekindled ahead of the 2020 governorship election.
The question of who becomes the flag-bearer of the APC in the forthcoming governorship election in the state has ignited supremacy battle between Obaseki and former Governor Oshiomhole, a situation that has turned the state to a battleground of sorts.
Governor Obaseki, his deputy, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and other dignitaries were reportedly attacked at the residence of Oshiomhole by alleged political thugs during the first convocation of the Edo State University, Iyamho. The event was reportedly turned into a political gathering as thugs believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole, who is seen as the governor’s godfather, turned out in their numbers.
Very important personalities who attended the occasion were Oba Rilwan Akiolu, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Godwin Obaseki, the state deputy governor, Phillip Shuaibu,
Others were the Otaru of Auchi, HRH Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, and the chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group, Dr Aderemi Makanjuola, who was installed as the university’s chancellor; Senator Domingo Obende. The convocation lecture was delivered by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
It was gathered that after the convocation ceremony, Governor Obaseki, accompanied by Oba Akiolu, the deputy governor of the state and some dignitaries, left for Oshiomhole’s house to have lunch, but suspected thugs prevented them from entering and started throwing stones at them. In the process, windscreens of two vehicles in the governor’s convoy were smashed.
It was learnt that as soon as the supporters of Governor Obaseki saw Oshiomhole, they chanted, “Four plus four,’’ which signifies eight years for Obaseki in Edo Government House.
Also, immediately Obaseki arrived, supporters of Oshiomhole started chanting, “Three plus one, no more four,’’ which signifies only four years for Obaseki .
It was also learnt that the deputy governor was accompanied to the event by commercial motorcycle operators, popularly known as okada riders, as well as other supporters of the governor from his hometown, Jattu. He reportedly abandoned his official vehicle and rode on a motorcycle to the area.
It was gathered that tension was created when supporters of both political gladiators met. It was further alleged that Oshiomhole’s supporters had already been mobilised to the area. It took the intervention of the police to avert a bloody clash as the thugs were dispersed with teargas.
The development is said to have shocked dignitaries because during the ceremony, Oshiomhole hailed Governor Obaseki for exhibiting the spirit of continuity while Obaseki praised his predecessor for his foresight in establishing the university.
Earlier, Oba Akiolu had, in his remark, warned the youth to beware of politicians who would only give them little money that might take care of their temporary needs. They were reminded that their salvation was in the hand of God.
“When I was coming to this hall, I saw young people showing support for Obaseki and Oshiomhole. And young people are not only doing this in Edo State but nearly everywhere in the country. The little money given to you is temporary,’’ Oba Akiolu advised.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the attack, Governor Obaseki said, “It is really unfortunate that we can’t feel safe in the house of our national chairman. I am not sure that if I went to the house of the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party they would attack me the way they did in the house of our chairman.
“It is really unfortunate that this thing has degenerated to this extent, but we will continue to pursue peace. We cannot afford to lose the gains of the last three years.’’
On his part, Oshiomhole alleged that the deputy governor of the state mobilised thugs that attacked his residence at Iyamho. He said he had a video evidence showing that the deputy governor rode on a motorcycle in the company of hundreds of okada riders to the venue of the convocation.
“The police had to use teargas to disperse the thugs when the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria insisted he could not deliver lecture under such circumstance since he was not invited to address a political rally.
The deputy governor, however, denied having a hand in the attack, saying he was also attacked by the alleged political thugs.
The Edo State Government also alleged that the attack was premeditated and executed with the connivance of Comrade Oshiomhole.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, demanded that an unreserved and unconditional apology be tendered to all persons who were victims of the attack.
According to the statement, “Oshiomhole invited guests to his residence and obviously was aware of the buildup of thugs within his compound in advance for the arrival of the governor and dignitaries.
“It is clear, from the sequence of events, that the attack on the governor, the Oba of Lagos and other dignitaries was premeditated and could not have occurred without the active connivance or directive of the national chairman.
“In the circumstance, the government of Edo State believes that the only option open to a host who has superintended such misdemeanor is to tender an unreserved and unconditional apology to all persons who were victims of this sacrilegious, treasonable and extremely embarrassing event.’’
Also, the Edo People’s Movement (EPM) blamed Governor Obaseki and his deputy for the attack and gave them seven days to apologise to Oshiomhole.
A statement by its convener, Henry Idahagbon, said the attack had seriously embarrassed the APC in the state.
“We are wondering what the governor and his deputy would be looking for at the residence of the national chairman if not trouble. This is because they were never invited for lunch. The incident at the gate of the national chairman’s house was masterminded by the state government so as to give Oshiomhole a bad image,’’ he stated.
He said the state had not witnessed this kind of thuggery, adding, “This is the same government that said they didn’t want touts, but today, they spent taxpayers’ money to recruit thugs all over the state for their desperate ambition for a second term.’’
The chairman of the party in the state chairman, Anselm Ojezua, a lawyer, condemned the attack and called for the prosecution of those involved.
“I expect that out of regard for the victims of the attack, there would be criminal prosecution. I am aware that those involved are identifiable, so I expect immediate investigation and prosecution.
“It is a very unfortunate situation and shows that the situation in our party is fast deteriorating. I call on the national chairman of our party and the governor to review the situation and do the needful because they will have to take responsibility for whatever happens subsequently,’’ Ojezua said.
Also reacting to the incident, Senator Domingo Obende, said, “I am shocked at what I saw. If this is the hospitality a party national chairman can offer his visitors and important dignitaries in our country, then our journey can be better imagined than concluded.’’
As it is, only time will tell who laughs last in the supremacy battle between a godfather and his godson.