The recent confirmation of the Edo state nominees by the Senate for Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) job is a clear indication that ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole and National chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) hold the axe in the battle of wits with governor Godwin Obaseki. PATRICK AHANOR reports.
Oshiomhole’s big smile
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) must have woke up last week Wednesday morning with a giant smile on his face following the confirmation of Dr Pius Odubu as the chairman, Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by the Nigerian Senate a day before.
The confirmation was in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of Odubu and other members of the board including Niger Delta States reps in the commission.
Oshiomhole repays Odubu
For many, Odubu’s confirmation was soothing news for Oshiomhole and a consolation of his political dexterity as far as federal appointments from the State is concern amidst unending battle of wits with his “godson”, Mr Godwin Obaseki, the governor of his home State.
And for Odubu, the appointment is a reward for loyalty and a giant leap of his sojourn in politics which begun in 1999 during which he represented Orhionmwon/Uhunmwode federal constituency at the House of Representatives between 1999-2003 and 2003-2007.
Odubu, a lawyer turned-politician was the deputy to Adams Oshiomhole for two-term ( 2008-2016) and aspired to succeed Oshiomhole at the time.
His (Odubu) aspiration was however rejected by the Oshiomhole who at the time rooted for his Special Adviser on economy, Godwin Obaseki who eventually picked the party’s ticket and went on to win the governorship poll.
However, like the proverbial loyal servant, the duo soon afterwards resolved their differences and ran a rancour free campaign for Obaseki.
Political analysts are, therefore, of the view that Odubu’s appointment and subsequent approval by the Senate was owned largely to the influential support of Adams Oshiomhole.
Appointment below the belt hit for Obaseki
The appointment, according to insiders, was a below the belly political blow to Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki who had openly rejected the appointment of Odubu and the state representative designate at the commission, Chief Victor Ekhator.
Few days after the announcement of Governor Obaseki alongside governors of Niger Delta state rejected appointments of the NDDC board and State representatives designate for the commission.
South south governors ignored
In a meeting in Abuja, the governors, which included Obaseki, expressed concerns over the appointment and declared that the process does not reflect effective governance mechanism.
Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state had said the governors would meet with Buhari to address their concerns.
According to Dickson, the concerns arose from protests by stakeholders across the nine member states of the NDDC. President Buhari nonetheless forwarded Odubu’s name and other nominees to the Nigerian senate for onward approval.
And the Senate accordingly approved as requested with the exception of Dr Joy Nunieh, a nomine from Rivers state, because she failed to appear before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta for screening.
In Edo state, the nominee of Governor Obaseki, Mr Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, did not made it to the Senate as it was reportedly dropped in place of Oshiomhole’s nominees.
Observers say the development raises concerns over Obaseki’s relationship with the presidency in the long drawn battle with his benefactor, Adams Oshiomhole.
The governor also had a political bruise in Abuja after his ministerial nominee was rejected and thereafter paved way for the present Minister for State, Budget and National planning, Mr Clem Agba.
15 federal appointments, none from Obaseki
At last count, there are over 15 federal appointments from the state with no evidence of the governor’s impute, a development that have reportedly deemed any hope of reconciliation between the political actors.
In July, a visibly angry Obaseki cried out at a meeting with members of Benin Community resident in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, over his relegation to the background when federal appointments are made from the State.
According to him, “I have endured so much as governor. As governor, I have not been able to even nominate somebody for a federal appointment. Meanwhile, federal appointments are made every day.
“I will sit down they will call me from the Senate. Are you aware of this? I keep quiet; I cannot be governor and not be governor.
“I have said it that at the end of the day, I only have one mandate to serve Edo people and as long as God has given me this opportunity, I will not allow Edo State to be a pawn in anybody’s political chess game”.
He further disclosed that his actions had been in the best interest of the people of the state, adding that the political crisis was an embarrassment.
Obaseki said he would no longer allow a certain individual to continue to lord over the state, making all federal appointments and cancelling the elections he had conducted.
Obaseki sacks Oshiomhole’s cronies
At home, Obaseki in one fell swoop fired over 300 aides, which included Special Assistants and Senior Special Assistants.
Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq, in a statement claimed the sack is to reorganize governance structure and added that “fresh appointments will be announced within the next 30 days.”
The mass purge was in addition to the earlier sacking of eight commissioners believed to be loyal to Oshiomhole.
Besides, four local government chairmen aslo reportedly loyal to Adams Oshiomhole have been suspended on corrupt allegations in addition to the recent sacking of some supervisory counsellors and special advisers across the 18 local government areas of the State.
Insider source said:“It’s the general believe within government circle that majority of the governor’s aides are members of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a breakaway group of the state APC and reportedly loyal to Adams Oshiomole.
As the battle of wits rages between former allies, observers say the presidency holds the ace to reconciliation as its actions and long silent in the crisis could be misconstrue.