By Sebastine EBHUOMHAN
Reading through the above-titled call and a generated remark, I have noted with suspicion, the motive for Mr Osazua Ivbaze’s commentary on the essay written by Hon. Samson Raphael Osagie to sound an early alarm on an undemocratic move to duck direct contest of the forthcoming Edo State governorship election with the formidable and fearsome candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, by the incumbent Governor and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Hon. Osagie, a lawyer and politician of no mean feat, the former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives and now the Coordinator, APC Campaign Council in charge of Edo South Senatorial District, titled his piece as: Obaseki And PDP’s Wicked Plot To Procure A Court Order To Stop APC And Its Candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu From Participating In The September 19, 2020 Governorship Election In Edo State: A Call For Judicial Caution.
In the simple, concise and lucid essay, the two-term former federal lawmaker described his fears and sounded an early alarm about a pernicious move by the rejected, confused, fearful and quarrelsome Obaseki to ensure that Mr Ize-Iyamu is prevented from participating in the election he is presently campaigning vigorously to win. Obaseki is seeking through the legal backdoor of a baseless injunctive order to stop the APC candidate.
Hon. Osagie concluded by urging the Chief Justice of Nigeria to prevail, as he has democratically asserted since he assumed office, on all superior courts of record to exercise utmost discretion and restraints in matters relating to Edo State governorship election before, during and after the poll without prejudice to their powers to entertain post-election petitions, so as to prevent avoidable constitutional crisis in Edo State.
Despite the obvious clarity in Hon. Osagie’s intelligent observation, Ivbaze, an educated and cerebral analyst, would rather focus his gaze on elementary issues that have no relationship, direct or indirect, to the write-up in a manner that portrays the journalist as deliberately seeking, albeit poorly, to divert attention from the weighty and criminal issues that Osagie raised against Obaseki, Ivbaze’s benefactor.
What are the key issues Osagie raised against Obaseki? One, that Obaseki is obviously jittery because of the high profile, pedigree, formidability and acceptability of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the APC. Two, that Obaseki is allegedly romancing and “grovelling” before an unnamed PDP godfather in Port Harcourt, who recently described the PDP as a party of “tax collectors” with the wicked intention of using the godfather to derail Edo State political process. Third, that with his alleged search for pliable judges, Obaseki is seeking to prevent through the back door of judiciary by ways and means of “injunctive order,” Ize-Iyamu’s participation and expected victory in the election. Four, that two senior lawyers: one in Edo State Government’s public service and the other in private practice have allegedly been contracted in tandem with another lawyer in Lagos to work to scuttle to the smooth election of POI, the people’s choice. And five, that millions of dollars and billions of naira are allegedly involved in the undemocratic scheme.
Osagie did not stop there, but went further to supply some base evidence in support of his claims, including the accurate description of a changing room talk.
While one or two of his claims are already domiciled at the public domain, others are so weighty that they cannot just be swept with a wave of the hand. One, that Governor Obaseki and his party, the PDP, are not campaigning anywhere in Edo State right now. Two, that the grounding of Obaseki’s re-election campaign has since resulted to a rift between him and his Deputy Governor. Three, that Mr Jack Obinyan, a Special Assistant to Governor Obaseki erroneously twitted words of the suspended former Edo APC Chairman, Anselm Ojezua, as saying: “APC has no candidate,” even when he and Ojezua knew APC NEC overwhelmingly ratified the candidacy of Ize-Iyamu at the party’s last meeting at the Presidential Villa. Four, that Obaseki, Ojezua and Obinyan are living in fools’ paradise for assuming they could throw spanner into the smooth work of Edo APC where Ojezua remains suspended with his well-known plans to sabotage APC work with the help of a few disgruntled party chairmen; which should make a sane person to ponder the question of who be granted audience out of a suspended and an unsuspended leaderships. And five, that Ojezua “virtually attended, albeit erroneously” the National Executive Committee which held at the Presidential Villa and which ratified APC governorship primary for Edo State.
In spite of the factual evidence available for a knowledge and understanding seeking commentator coupled with the fact that Port Harcourt has become the centre of recent dubious political injunctions even by PDP aspirants against fellow PDP aspirants, it beats the imagination of a reader hollow to see Ivbaze subjecting Osagie’s claims to a dismissive doubt, veiled in his half-hearted shock expressed without a scintilla of verification or investigation. It shows the hatchet columnist is either expressing a blind bias for his benefactor or just out to cause some mischief intended to derail the focus of the general public from a glaring tendency for increasing violence, deadly desperation and impulsive implosions of Governor Obaseki as he watches his re-election slipping through his shaking, almost lifeless fingers.
To conclude, the concern of every well-meaning Edo son and daughter for a free, fair and credible governorship election should be to see Governor Godwin Obaseki and PDP leaders truly stopping their internal wrangling and embarking on a serious political campaign across the nooks and crannies of Edo State before September 19, 2020. That is the only way Obaseki can revive his dying re-election dream.