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Shaibu’s impeachment is history repeating itself in Edo State

Philip Shaibu has been impeached as the deputy governor of Edo State and replaced by 38-year-old Omobayo Godwin. He has declared his impeachment illegal, but…

Philip Shaibu has been impeached as the deputy governor of Edo State and replaced by 38-year-old Omobayo Godwin. He has declared his impeachment illegal, but until a court of law follows suit, such a declaration would remain beyond his fiat as an erstwhile deputy governor.

In Nigerian politics, the heads that are reared up too soon are swiftly cut off and served in salomenic style as the prize for ambition in a gathering of power.

Since he indicated his intention to become governor, he has become the number one enemy to power in the state. Godwin Obaseki, the governor, has been open in his opposition to Shaibu’s bid. Obaseki’s grouse that Shaibu did not tell him, has quickly become fierce opposition to his bid in all respects. It is a strange case of a governor being in the opposition together with the legislature, all arrayed in battle against one man.

Snippets from Shaibu’s side of the story, which have come more out of compulsion than actual consternation or contempt, betray feelings of betrayal. Having sunk his resources into a joint ticket, he feels he should now be the first name on what is a testament to its success story. But that is not how things work. In the cut-throat world of Nigerian politics, loyalty is often a knife sharpened for one’s back.

What iniquitous offence did Shaibu commit to impel his impeachment? What has changed to make a pariah out of a man who has claimed to have bankrolled elections in 2016 and has not been challenged?

Shaibu’s fate sealed from the moment private disaffection over the next governor of Edo State spilled into public disagreement is a remaking of the impossible remit of the Nigerian deputy governor. An office hamstrung by the Constitution itself is often made impossible by the clownish tendencies of governors who act like emperors, and crave control of everything.

What is happening in Edo State is history repeating itself. In 2010, as President Musa Yar’Adua dangled between life and death from the threads of a terminal illness, his closest aides and family members cared less for the president’s survival than to check his inevitable replacement by the vice president to the office. This was until death checked them all.

Ondo State also required death to ultimately disarm the bomb that was about to detonate in the state. Since 1999, deputy governors in Zamfara, Oyo, Kogi, Ekiti, Imo, Lagos, Osun, Akwa Ibom and Bauchi have all been impeached for farcical offences. It is a battle that is never far away from government with the prudent question being where next.

It is disruptive that a governor should spend his last days in office orchestrating the impeachment of his deputy rather than consolidating his legacy.

The clearest lesson for Shaibu and other deputy governors may yet be that in a duel of big dogs, it is impolitic to show sharp teeth.

There is also a sense in which those who have treated Shaibu so shabbily are heedless and reckless students of history.

Edo voters recognised a system synthesised to oppress and deployed their voter power to foil it. They may yet queue behind Shaibu as he seeks to shame his executive and legislative oppressors. But before they can, Shaibu may have to leave the PDP lest fortune which fears the brave but tramples cowards underfoot fails to foil his fate.


Kene Obiezu wrote via [email protected]


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