‘Many politicians lack understanding of the environment’

Godwin-Obaseki

Godwin Obaseki

For the estimated 3,023 state delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, the choice of the governorship candidate for the party, preparatory for the governorship election later in the year would be unpredictable.

This is given the array of aspirants that have indicated interest and the alleged closeness of some of them to the state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, with most working closely with him from the beginning of the administration.

These included: Dr. Pius Odubu, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Chris Ogiemwonyi, Kenneth Imansuangbon, Comrade Peter Esele and Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor to mention but a few.

A choice however must be made when the primary election takes place and the eventual preference of the delegates would determine whether the APC will emerge winner at the governorship polls to consolidate on the gains of the incumbent governor or blow their chance and give it to the rival Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which incidentally was still battling to forge a consensus on how to better its fortunes in the state.

The surprise entry in the race is Godwin Obaseki, the chairman of Edo State Economic Team, who until mid last year when his ambition became known, remained largely apolitical in the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s administration.

Right from the beginning he had convinced himself that he would be more effective and relevant to the government if he avoided taking up any political appointment but rather preferred to remain in the backroom.

“Initially my role was to help build an economy that would run the government efficiently and to that extent I did not feel I should play politics. I thought I would be more effective if I was apolitical.”

So what informed the change of mind and the decision to play full blown politics even to the extent of gunning for the number one seat in the state?

A number of the political actors do not understand that the political environment has changed drastically, that our current economic realities was impacting on the politics of governance … Being in Government House in itself does not make things happen, you have to have the ability and capacity to make things happen

Obaseki who was a Council member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange disclosed that it was after the re-election of Governor Oshiomhole that he picked some interest but noted that even then, he was not fully involved adding: “It was not something I planned to do.”

However, he hinted that gradually the thought of who will continue after Oshiomhole and what would be the fate of policies and programmes they have collectively put in place crept into him.

Besides, he stated that they ran the risk of losing the gains of what the administration had accomplished with people concluding that the Oshiomhole’s era was a fluke if no competent hand took over to consolidate on the gains.

Furthermore, he said: “After Buhari’s election and Buhari succeeded despite all odds … for me that gave me a push, some perspectives about the possibility of an outsider coming to take over power.”

He contended that he has at least seven years experience of actively monitoring political occurrences in the state stressing that what Edo needed at this point in time was not just some political actors but one who has some kind of managerial ability to manage the governance of the state.

Obaseki believed that after 16 weeks of politicking, going round the local government areas (LGA) and some of the wards across the state, that he was the candidate to beat. According to him, “I have gone round the 18 LGA’s, I am going through the wards presently and I have been to 30 wards and the people are happy seeing me.

“A number of the political actors do not understand that the political environment has changed drastically, that our current economic realities was impacting on the politics of governance … Being in Government House in itself does not make things happen, you have to have the ability and capacity to make things happen.”

Some watchers of the political developments in Edo argued that the entering of the chairman of the State Economic Team into the race has changed the political equations given the alleged tacit endorsement from the governor.

Others however, were quick to write him off claiming that Obaseki was a technocrat and not a politician, and most importantly, they believed that he lacked the political structure to see him through the race successfully.

Reacting to this criticism, he said: “The fact of political structure itself does not deliver a person. What I do not understand is that I belong to a party and I still have my own party within the party. For me I don’t have a structure, the only structure I have is the party. So I work solely with the party’s structure … the delegates are members of the party and they are the people we need to go and sell ourselves as to what we can offer.”



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