Allegations of intolerance are mounting against Edo State Governor who is also the PDP flag bearer for the September Gubernatorial election. The latest report of purported intolerance is provided by The Nation Newspapers. The report indicates that several thugs, allegedly mobilized by the state government have been going around the city and pulling down Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s campaign Billboards.
Just two days ago, it was reported by several newspapers that the governor had been intimidating officials within his administration to decamp with him into his new political party, the PDP. Though Obaseki has a point in wanting officials of his government to join him in the PDP, however, alleged use of coercion and intimidation is a strategy that threatens to backfire on the Governor, spectacularly.
Obaseki is known to be a tough, no nonsense Governor. It is however, not so surprising that he is allegedly using intimidation rather than outrightly replacing such ‘erring’ officials. To sack such officials and replace them with new ones so close to an election would definitely be counterproductive to the Governor's electoral fortunes. Such government officials who might secretly be working for the opposition APC candidate could gladly just pick up their sack letters and gleefully leave the administration.
Such an incident could become valuable campaign slogan for the opposition candidate to mock Obaseki as being a leader without followers. That could explain the resort to alleged destruction of his opponent’s campaign billboards. The Governor might or might not have sanctioned such actions.
However, whether Obaseki is aware or not is immaterial at this time. The Governor should therefore be wary of the optics of such actions upon his chances of reelection. Even rumors of such might give a negative impression that Obaseki feels he is fighting a losing battle, hence dissuading his own supporters against his candidacy. He should also know that his reputation as a tolerant politician, and true democrat, has been seriously bastardized by previous actions.
The Governor‘s penchant for apparent ‘smash and grab’ had been defined by actions like:
- Placing a ban on a welcome rally organized in order to welcome Ize-Iyamu back into the APC
- Allegedly using thugs to disrupt rallies organized by his rivals
- Destruction of a multi-million Naira hotel built by a former youth leader of his own (former) party, the APC
- Allegedly instigating the suspension of his former godfather, Adams Oshiomhole
- Plotting with other Governors to try and oust Oshiomhole from National APC chairmanship
- His declaration that he is now the Edo state PDP leader, on the very first day that he became their member
...these are just the most recent instances. As humans, we always like to give people benefit of the doubt. This means that many people could have been prepared to give Godwin Obaseki a second chance, on the premise that those former acts perceived as being automatic were done because he was desperate and had no choice. However, now that he has been offered a choice away from the APC by the PDP, Obaseki might not be excused of allegations bordering on destruction of a political opponents campaign infrastructure.
According to the report quoted earlier, some staff of an outdoor advertising company in charge of billboard management who spoke anonymously, disclosed to The Nation Newspapers that they had been under threats from officials of the Edo state government after the billboards were installed. The state government allegedly resorted to pulling down Ize-Iyamu’s billboards after the company refused to be cowed by threats to remove them.
Reportedly, thousands of market men and women have been demonstrating and expressing dissatisfaction with Obaseki’s autocratic actions of pulling down his opponents campaign infrastructure.
Let those who advise the Edo state governor make him realize that, such actions, so close to an election, threatens to erode whatever legacy he might have built over the past four year. If he is not returned as Governor in September, then he would not have only torn down Ize-Iyamu’s campaign billboards, but his administration's legacies as well.
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