Obaseki, Oshiomhole and the third generation of greed

WESTERN psychology teaches that a child learns by emulation. The theory is that a child is believed to copy everything that an adult does in his/her presence. More often than not, such a child perfects the adult’s acts and arts and come out with a variant that is more sophisticated or modern and even more complex than what he/she copied. The belief that the philosophy of child education by emulation is the exclusive preserve of the Western World is eternally false! Right from the time “lizards were few,” Africans have been training their children through the theory of emulation.

Whatever a man does not want his child to do; he avoids doing such in the presence of such a child, at least. The Black man’s life is ruled by philosophies which guide and serve as moral gateways to his actions and inactions. One of such philosophies is that of the “third generation of greed”. In my place, it is a common saying that “upele keta okanjua ule li hi ko”. That is Ekiti dialect, in case you don’t know. It means that third generation greed naturally transforms to burglary. This saying becomes handy when a child does something most despicable. The elders, in analysing the child’s conduct, use the benefit of history to see how his progenitors had behaved in the past. Once they find the connecting link, they conclude that the child could not have behaved otherwise.

Every child, good or bad, perfects the greedy acts of his/her parents. But this philosophy goes beyond those with blood affinities. Children also copy from guardians, called “alagbato” in Yoruba language. Alagbatos usually have overbearing influence on their wards; at times stronger than that of the biological parents. The Yoruba would describe such pattern of behaviour as “eni bi ni o to eni to’ni” (a parent is not as important or of great influence as the one who raises a child). Like children, adults, especially politicians, also take after the behavioural patterns of their leaders.

When the news broke late Tuesday, March 23, that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State had rolled in the bulldozers and brought to ruins the homes of the immediate past deputy governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu, at the Government Reservation Area, GRA, Benin City, I was thrown into momentary shock. Odubu was not the only victim of that late evening demolition. Equally affected were Professor Julius Ihionvbere, former Secretary to Edo State Government, SSG; a current member of the House of Representatives representing Owan Federal Constituency and a prominent  sports lover and promoter, Mike Itemuagbon of the Okpekpe 10km Marathon. The trio, are close associates of the immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is Obaseki’s immediate predecessor.

The quartet of Obaseki, Odubu, Ihionvbere and Itemuagbon all played key roles in the eight years of Oshiomhole’s reign between 2008 and 2016. Obaseki was the Head of the Economic Team of the administration. Oshiomhole told the entire world in 2016 that Obaseki was the brain power behind the initiation and execution of all the economic plans and achievements of his administration. The main reasons why Oshiomhole imposed and handed over power to Obaseki were his (Oshimhole’s) personal convictions that his successor would continue to implement all the policies he put in place. Oshiomhole was the political guardian to Obaseki for eight years.

Like a ward in tutelage, Obaseki too studied all the nuances of his political guardian and godfather. When the fullness of time came, Obaseki began to externalise all the acts and arts he learnt from his masters. He naturally turned out to be a worse version of Oshiomhole in terms of content and character. How do I mean? Obaseki was in government when Oshiomhole moved against all those who helped him into power and literally “retired” them by  waging political wars of attrition against them all, almost to the point of annihilation.

The first victim was the flamboyant Esama of Benin kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, whom Oshiomhole called unprintable names; upbraiding him at any given opportunity; even when the multi-billionaire maintained his cool and stayed off anything relating to Oshiomhole. Obaseki noticed those shenanigans and recorded them. Moving from Igbinedion, Oshiomhole attacked in a very vicious manner, the architect of the development of the defunct Mid-Western Region and old Bendel State, the late Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia. One evening in September 2011, Oshiomhole called in the bulldozer and pulled down houses linked to Ogbemudia, who was both a military and civilian governor of the state and that of the former Senate Chief whip, Roland Owie.

When the outcry became too deafening for the governor, Oshiomhole handcuffed one Major Lawrence Oloye, then Chairman of the Edo State Task Force Committee on Illegal Structures, hanging the demolitions on his neck and had him driven round Benin City in an open van. Days later, he appointed Oloye as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment. Oloye was never a civil servant anywhere in the country! Again, Obaseki took mental note of that perfidy. Not done, another cool evening, on January 5, 2015 at about 5.00 pm, Oshiomole called in the demolition squad and pulled down the official guesthouse of the Vice Chancellor, University of Benin, located at the GRA. His excuse was that the land belonged to the state government and was only leased to the university by the administration of Ogbemudia which established the university. Oshiomhole practically brought the building down on the Vice Chancellor, Professor Osayuki Oshodin’s head as he was in his bedroom when the bulldozers attacked the building. Obaseki again watched from the sidelines. At the twilight of his administration in 2016, Oshiomhole gave parting gifts to his aides, close associates and friends. The gifts were the very parcels of land he repossessed from individuals and institutions as government-owned. The foursome of Obaseki, Odubu, Ihionvbere and Itemuagbon were beneficiaries of the rather odious munificence.

But things fell apart, when Oshiomhole and Obaseki began to have political differences. Obaseki left the APC for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having been denied the second term ticket by the APC. I need not recall the violence that characterised the September 19, 2020 governorship election. Just as Oshiomhole boasted that he would retire the late Chief Tony Anenih from politics and end godfatherism in the state, Obaseki too vowed that he would nail the political coffin of Oshiomhole. Obaseki did not only get Oshiomhole suspended as APC member, he superintendent over his sack as the National Chairman of the party. He capped that by ensuring that Oshiomhole only won five out of 18 local government councils during the election; despite the fact that Oshiomhole prostrated, knelt down and genuflected to beg Edo people to vote his midnight adopted candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

The result was very humiliating for the Comrade as the result from Oredo Local Government Area alone swallowed all the votes APC garnered from Etsako West, Central, East, Owan East and Akoko Edo, with over 2,000 votes as jara for the PDP. Oshiomhole became introverted, ever since.

The last time he spoke after his re-registration into the APC, he had to issue a retraction some days later! As if that was not enough, Obaseki moved against known allies of Oshimhole and revoked the Certificates of Occupancy, C-of-O, of some 11 government property allotted to them by Oshiomhole on the eve of his departure as governor in 2016. He went ahead and demolished the property. Osarodion Ogie, the current SSG, said Obaseki took the decision on December 21, 2020, adding that one of the properties which the C-of-O was also revoked was allocated to Obaseki himself.

“The properties have been revoked and recovered and therefore automatically belong to the original owner, which is the Government of Edo State”, he declared. According to him, the demolished Odubu’s property used to be the official residence of the SSG. “The implication of this is that all SSGs after Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s administration will not have an official residence”, he added. Ogie has been SSG since 2016 and no record shows that he has been sleeping at Ring Road. Again, if the building serves as the SSG’s quarters, why destroy it instead of just ejecting “the trespassers and squatters.”

But it does not matter now that Obaseki suddenly woke up after over four years, to realise that the property belonged to the state government. The time a man wakes up is his morning. Many believe that the main target is the Okoro Otun, Benin GRA residence of Oshiomhole. Ogie gave the clue to that thus: “Some of those affected, including a former governor, have now resorted to media blackmail when in fact they forcefully ejected senior academic staff of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) from these government properties, only to convert them to their own private use.”

Oshiomohole’s property had come under the attack of Obaseki before. He once caused the garbage collecting trucks of the Edo State Waste Management Board to block the street from both ends and prevented his godfather from gaining access to the house. The beauty of it all is that someone in this present government is also watching, learning the crude ropes of crass political malice! History is a beast. It repeats itself in a more vicious way. The third generation of a greedy race usually becomes a burglar. Obaseki’s Hosanna-shouting boys of today will also one day bellow shouts of “crucify him”! It is a vicious cycle of retribution. Nothing, other than justice, halts it.

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