The just concluded election in Edo state has seemingly put a final nail in the political coffin of the former governor Adams Oshiomhole. Ironically, the annihilation of Oshiomhole, construction of the coffin and final death procession was orchestrated by his former godson; none other than incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki.
The Edo election on Saturday was not about the performance of Obaseki in the past four years. On the other hand, it was rather a campaign against the 12 years of Oshiomhole’s reign as the de facto ruler of Edo state. The people care less about Obaseki’s performance, in local parlance, “Naa only him? E don do!” This was the rallying cry, something similar to the “o to ge” battle cry.
With the outcome of the election in Edo, Oshiomhole will be joining other godfathers; many of whom have been kicked to the curb by their estranged godson. Indeed, Oshiomhole will be in good company with the likes of Goodluck Jonathan, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Godswill Akpabio; as well as Sen Aliu Wamakko, George Akume, Peter Obi and others.
Interestingly, Obaseki, a proud Edo son, refused to take the proverbial “Ambode’s treatment.” He fought hard and won. He sold the narrative of a “poor little Governor” oppressed by an over bearing godfather. And like magic, the people rallied round him and the victory was resounding. He took everything from Oshiomhole. In fact, his victory has been adopted as inspiration to fight godfatherism in Nigeria.
The basic truth is, the defeat of Oshiomhole is not in entirety a fight against godfatherism; it is just a winning formula that fits a particular situation and time. Obaseki once enjoyed the privileges of being the favourite of a godfather. His refusal to swear in those 14 lawmakers whom he suspected of not pledging fealty to him is a sign of a “mini dictator” not a democrat.
But election is all about narratives. In 2015, Buhari’s ‘change’ was a game changer, as the ‘boy without shoes’ of Jonathan’s era in 2011.
The validity of the hypothesis of Obaseki’s victory being a victory against godfatherism will be tested in 2024. That is when Obaseki’s tenure expires. Will he move to the university as a lecturer as he had promised? Will he allow a free and fair governorship primary? Or will he toe the usual path of many before him by trying to install a successor? Those questions cannot be answered now until 2024.
While we cannot test or predict what will happen in 2024; we can put Oshiomhole in the growing cycle of godfathers defeated by godsons.
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List of godfathers defeated by godsons
Peter Obi and Obiano
Yes, the same Peter Obi, the former Governor of Anambra state singlehanded installed Willie Obiano as his successor. And in less than a couple of months, the two fell apart.
Not long after things went south between them, Obi accused Obiano of not performing. On his part, Obiano in turn accused his former beneficiary of demanding N7 billion from him as money he spent on his election. In 2018, Obi campaigned really hard to dislodge his former ally by bankrolling Obaze Oseloka; his former Secretary to the State Government.
In fact, a video circulated online showing Obi sharing money to potential voters, the virtue he constantly preaches against.
Obi’s travail looks similar to Oshiomhole’s. In 2014, Obiano was the best person to succeed him. However, four years after, it was “Obiano must go.”
Goodluck Jonathan and Seriake Dickson
Goodluck Jonathan is another name that many would never have expected on this list. In 2012, Jonathan’s loyalists from the Green Movement plotted and executed disqualification of the then governor of Bayelsa state; Timipriye Syva from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary.
Sylva was disqualified from contesting the PDP primary. Sounds familiar? Unlike Obaseki, however, Sylva did not decamp from the PDP. The ticket was given to Seriake Dickson and with the support of Jonathan, he emerged as governor.
Five years later, with Jonathan out of Aso Rock; Dickson made moves for the entire structure of the party in the state. Of course, the Jonathan camp reacted, a move that allowed the opposition in the state to establish a foothold during the 2019 election and subsequently won the Governorship election until the intervention of the Supreme Court.
With the intervention of the Supreme Court; Dickson has established himself as the de facto leader of the PDP in Bayelsa state; perhaps until his own godson, Diri Douye makes a move against him.
Kwankwaso and Ganduje
Rabiu Kwankwaso before 2015 was like the Alpha and Omega of Kano state and with his Kwakwansiyya movement; he penetrated other states in Nigeria. On his way to the top and at the peak of his powers and influence; one man was at his side: Umar Ganduje.
Ganduje served as deputy to Kwankwaso from 1999-2003. When Kwankwaso was appointed as Minister of Defence, he took along Ganduje. And when he got re-elected again in 2011, Ganduje served as deputy. Not surprisingly, in 2015, Kwankwaso handed over to Ganduje. However, even before the election, there had been reports of a cold relationship between the two.
Ganduje has become the political Lord of Kano state, while Kwankwaso is in semi political stupor.
Godswill Akpabio and Gov Udom Emmanuel
Shortly after the announcement of Obaseki as the winner of the Edo governorship election; Gov Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom reminded everyone that he also recently defeated his own godfather, Godswill Akpabio.
“Today, our brothers and sisters in Edo State have replicated the same wholesome faith and belief in God over the boastful exuberance of ordinary mortals by voting to return a leader who best represents their values and ethos; a doer and not a talker,” he had tweeted.
The shot was aimed at Akpabio, his former godfather. Just like Akpabio, Udom was also a bank executive handpicked by Akpabio to be his successor. Like other godsons, he had famously fallen out with his godfather. Akpabio had to leave the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC). However, Akpabio was roundly defeated during the 2019 elections.
Wamakko and Tambuwal
Sen Aliu Wamakko was elected as governor of Sokoto state in 2007. This was after serving for seven years as deputy to former Governor, Attairu Bafarewa. In 2015, he handed over the reins to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
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Wamakko, like every other godfather, strategically positioned himself in the Senate. The godfather of the seat of the Caliphate was controlling the entire apparatus of the APC in Sokoto. However, Tambuwal, the charismatic godson who is notorious for rebellious moves; (he emerged as Speaker in 2011 by going against his party to team up with the opposition parties in the House); soon rebelled against Wamakko and dumped the APC for his former Party, PDP.
The 2019 election was the real test of popularity for the two men and Tambuwal survived. Although Wamakko is still in the Senate, there is only one overlord in Sokoto. For the first time in a long time, his name is not Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, rather Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji
In 2006, Orji Uzor Kalu moved his entire political machinery from the PDP to the little known Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA); where he contested for president and supported Theodore Orji as his successor.
During the 2007 election, Theodore was in detention for alleged corrupt practices. However, he won his election with support of his godfather. Like always, things fell apart between the two. First, Theodore took over the political structure of PPA and moved it to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) before finally returning to the PDP.
Orji was left in political wilderness until 2019 when he won election into the Senate. Thereafter, he established the APC in Abia state by winning two House of Representatives seats.
Perhaps if Mr. Kalu had seen the future, he would not have picked his name sake.
Other honourable mentions
Rotimi Amaechi vs Nysome Wike
Goerge Akume vs Samuel Ortom
Liyel Imoke vs Ben Ayade