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July 24, 2024

Ahusemere Ogbeide: The impeachment of Philip Shaibu – A political journey marked by betrayal, consequences

On November 12, 2008, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole emerged as the Governor of Edo State. This victory came after an 18-month legal battle at the Election Petition Tribunal and later the Court of Appeal in Benin City. This legal battle, which culminated in years of political tension and power struggles, saw the removal of Professor Oserheimen Osunbor from the Government House on Osadebey Avenue.

It’s interesting to note how Governor Oshiomhole, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), led Edo State despite having only a few members of the House of Assembly supporting him due to party affiliations. He was known for his doggedness and persuasive character, and he also had the support of his godson, Philip Shaibu. They penetrated the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) through their efforts. They convinced most members who were originally Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers to switch to the ACN, which was the Governor’s party.

Comrade Philip Shaibu was not just an ally but a trusted confidant, a brother, and a godson to Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Shaibu’s unwavering support for the Governor and his efforts to rally other members of the House of Assembly were instrumental in the Oshiomole government’s success. He stood as one of the strongest pillars of the Assembly and the government, a testament to the deep trust and loyalty between him and Oshiomhole.

When Adam Oshiomole was to be impeached by the State House of Assembly, Philips Shaibu rallied support for the Governor and worked hard against the Impeachment of his godfather, mentor, and brother.

I recall visiting the honourable Philip Shaibu with a schoolmate at his official residence in Ihama, GRA, Benin City, in the wake of the Adam Oshiomole second-term election; Philips Shaibu was in high spirits, fighting for the Governor’s re-election.

In 2015, Governor Oshiomole supported Philip Shaibu in securing the Federal House of Representatives ticket, which he later won. He then represented the good people of Etsako Constituency.

As Adams Oshiomhole’s tenure came to a close in 2016, he brought on board his trusted confidant, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, as a critical ally. Obaseki had diligently led the State’s economy team for eight years, earning Oshiomhole’s trust and respect as a brother. Together, they worked tirelessly to rebuild Edo State’s economy during Oshiomhole’s tenure as Governor.

According to Oshiomole, Obaseki has been instrumental in the success of his administration over the past eight years. The Governor also praised Obaseki’s financial management skills and expressed his belief that he will continue to work towards rebuilding Edo State and taking it to even greater heights.

Governor Adams Oshiomole ensured Godwin Obaseki became Governor despite opposition within his camp. Before his emergence, Godwin Obaseki was unknown in Edo’s political space, and even his Oredo local government area had little information about him. Some Bini indigenes who knew him were skeptical about his candidacy. However, Oshiomole ignored all warnings and believed he could use Philips Shaibu, his right-hand man, trusted godson, and younger brother, to monitor Governor Godwin Obaseki, possibly edging him out. This unexpected turn of events added a layer of unpredictability to the political landscape.

In November 2016, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Comrade Phillip Shaibu were sworn in as Governor and Deputy Governor of Edo State, respectively, after being elected in the September 29, 2016, Governorship election that saw the then-ACN transformed into the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Oshiomole believed that he had captured and settled the homefront of Edo politics under his control. He moved on to navigate properly into Federal politics. He aligned with his friend Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They took the chairmanship of the APC from John Odigie Oyegun in anticipation of an easy ride Presidential Ticket for Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s presidential ambitions. Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomole became the chairman of the ruling party APC.

It’s disheartening to see how Oshiomole’s tenure as chairman of the ruling APC witnessed a high level of violence, rigging, and election manipulation by his party. Despite championing the one-man-one vote, he made no efforts to shape the political party and change the narrative of election rigging in Nigeria. The Kogi and Bayelsa 2019 elections are a testament to this unfortunate reality.

Later, he began to have a running battle with his godson, Godwin Obaseki, as most of his political family in Edo state began to complain about his godson’s style of leadership, Governor Godwin Obaseki. They alleged that the Governor was importing people from outside the State to run the affairs of the State, a move that was seen as a betrayal of the local political leaders. They also questioned that the contracts and other political patronage that were supposed to be given to political leaders in the State were being given to outsiders, further fueling the conflict.

The conflict between Governor Obaseki and his godfather, Adams Oshiomhole, was a disagreement and a public accusation of wanting to share Edo state resources. This led to a significant public backlash against the APC leaders and politicians, including Oshiomhole. The situation escalated when the Edo State House of Assembly members loyal to Oshiomhole were not allowed to be sworn into the House. This marked the beginning of a tumultuous political journey filled with betrayal and severe consequences, highlighting the intensity of the political conflict.

In 2020, when it was time to renew Governor Godwin Obaseki’s tenure for a second term in office, Adams Oshiomole, APC-led, disqualified the Governor from being the APC Governorship flag bearer. The shambolic screening panel, widely believed to be influenced by Oshiomhole, cited his doubtful academic record and wanted to avoid taking any risk by choosing him as one of their candidates in the September 2020 Governorship election, a move that further fueled the political conflict.

Immediately after the Governor was screened out, he began to search for a political platform to contest his second term, ambitious in the company of his friends, political associates and supporters and deputy Comrade Philips Shaibu, who dumped Oshiomole and went along with his boss, Godwin Obaseki. He found a new home in the PDP and a new godfather, Governor Wike Nyesom, who played a significant role in supporting Obaseki’s re-election. Governor Wike Nyesom’s involvement in the fight further intensified the political landscape of Edo State, bringing in external influence and support for Obaseki.

The supreme godfather, Adams Oshiomole, projected Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for the APC, a man he once heavily criticized in the build-up to the September 2016 Governorship election. He called on the Edo people never to consider him for the governorship position, but many wondered why he turned around to support him now in the September 2020 Governorship election. This move by Oshiomhole, which was seen as a betrayal by many Edo’s, further complicated the political landscape and raised questions about the future of Edo State politics.

After securing the PDP ticket as the governorship candidate with his deputy under the PDP, they continued their battle to silence godfatherism in the Edo political landscape and, by extension, the nation. The Governor and his deputy used all their networks from the homefront and outside the State to ensure that money politics orchestrated by godfathers became a thing of the past in Nigeria.

Oshiomole’s tenure as the national chairman of the APC and his status as the self-proclaimed supreme godfather of Edo politics came to a disgraceful end when his ward in Iyamo suspended him as an APC member. Despite having a position of power, Oshiomole lost his grip on the State and its treasury, thanks in part to the efforts of Obaseki and Shaibu. In the end, he and his candidate were overwhelmingly rejected by the good people of Edo in the September 2020 Governorship election.

With the support of Wike and other PDP governors who came to Edo State for the election, Godwin Obaseki won the September 2020 governorship election in a landslide victory. His deputy was also re-elected, showing the people’s trust in their leadership and vision for the State. The people of Edo State made it clear that they wanted to re-echo that “Edo no be Lagos” and that 4 + 4 must be “Togba.” The resounding voice of the people was heard throughout the ballot in the Governorship election that shook the State, and even the revered Oba had to intervene and call for peace among the contestants.

After a change of events, Oshiomole moved on and re-established himself in Edo North, successfully winning the Edo North senatorial seat. He is now dedicating his time and effort to fulfilling his senatorial duties and serving the good people of Edo North in his new position. He has left his former godson and his deputy to their faith.

Philip Shaibu, who has become the most popular deputy Governor in Nigeria, has set his sights on the Governorship of Edo State; despite his boss’s Obaseki promise to return power to Edo Central, Shaibu believes that he has a divine calling to lead and is determined to pursue his ambition. While some view his decision as a betrayal, Shaibu is resolute in his conviction to serve the people of Edo State as the next Governor.

The selection process that resulted in Barrister Asue Ighodalo becoming the PDP candidate for the upcoming gubernatorial election in the State prevented any disloyalty from the former Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu. Despite his removal from the government residence and subsequent relocation to a nearby office, Shaibu remains steadfast in his aspirations and determined to achieve his goals. His unwavering determination leads him to believe that he must either become Governor or nothing at all, even when the signs suggest otherwise.

Shaibu conducted a parallel primary for the governorship election on February 22, 2024. He was the sole PDP candidate the same day the party conducted its primary in Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, Edo state. He felt that the Governor betrayed him and should have supported him, considering his loyalty to his boss. Shaibu led nine other PDP candidates who lost during the PDP primary at Ogbemudia Stadium in protest, but the protest failed as Asuen Ighodalo was duly recognized by INEC.

On March 2024, the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA) commenced an impeachment process for Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu for disclosing government secrets. The Edo state chief judge of Edo State Judiciary – Justice Daniel Iyobosa Okungbowa, inaugurated a panel on April 8, 2024, eventually leading to the deputy governor’s Impeachment, making him the first Deputy Governor of Edo State to be impeached in office. His Impeachment has finally crumbled his political journey in Edo State politics: a new deputy governor, Engr. Godwin Omobayo (37 years old) was sworn in within a few hours of his Impeachment.

Regrettably, he didn’t allow common sense to prevail despite the Constitution’s guarantee of his right to contest.; His downfall marks yet another milestone in the series of political battles that have characterized Godwin Obaseki’s political career. These have ranged from his former supreme godfather and other political leaders of the Edo APC who played a significant role in his rise to the powerhouse in Osadebey Avenue to his emergency adopted godfather Nyesom Wike and the arrow-head of the Edo legacy group PDP-Jewerel Dan Orbih, along with Aslem Ojiezua and other involved parties. The term “betrayal” aptly captures his actions. Shaibu’s inability to distinguish between genuine friends and those of convenience was apparent. The powerful godfather fostered a friendship of convenience between Obaseki and Shaibu to strengthen his hold on the state government. When push came to shove, Godwin Obaseki turned to his faithful friend and ally, Asuen Oghodalo, as the sunset.

Inevitably, those who betray their own will indeed be betrayed. It is important to be cautious of those who only pretend to be your friends when it benefits them, and it’s a risky move to team up with outsiders to overthrow your own. Philip Shaibu’s failure to grasp the concept of timing and signs led to his downfall in his attempt to lead his political party, the PDP, in the September 2024 governorship election. His overconfidence, evidenced by his self-proclaimed title “Home Boy,” proved his undoing. His betrayal of his former mentor and supreme godfather, Adams Aliyu Oshiomole, sealed his fate.

By Ahusemere Ogbeide – A social activist; Email: [email protected]

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