Philip Shaibu’s sudden appearance at Oshiomhole’s party causes ripples in Edo polity

Philip Shaibu and Adams Oshiomhole

By Jethro Ibileke

The common saying in political cycle that nothing is permanent, except one’s interest, simply means that you’re not bound to stay permanent with anyone, at anywhere or by anything; you’re free to discard your associates or the ideologies you once cherished and propagate, for the ones you’ve always vilified, so long your interest is protected. That is why a politician will be here today and in the next moment, he joins the opponent ha has always detested and condemned. It is also the same reason why many see politicians as being immoral, unreliable, people that could not be taken by their words.

Nigerian politicians appear to be worst off in this regard. In fact, most of them, especially those in high positions today could bedescribed as political jobbers moving from one political party to another, in search of greener pastures. A politician once said that the ticket of a particular party is as worthless as Zimbabwean dollar. But, few years after, he swallowed his vomit, went back to the same party to seek its ticket for election. That is the kind of people we have in positions of authority. It is their interest that is permanent. They can hardly be trusted with their utterances or pronouncements.

Recent events in the political terrains of Edo state seem to be pointing to that fact.

It is no news that when Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state fell out of favour with his political benefactor, ex Governor Adams Oshiomhole, (now the Senator representing Edo north district), the after effect of it pitched Obaseki’s deputy, Philip Shaibu, against Oshiomhole, who is widely regarded as Shaibu’s brother and benefactor. The situation was so bad that the two most senior politicians from the entire district became political foes who would rather not set eyes on each other at any event. Every election held in the state presents the two political gladiators with opportunity to test their strength and to express their animosity to each other. It was so bad that people called Shaibu unprintable names, alleging that he betrayed Oshiomhole who had done so much to build his political career.

Philip Shaibu and Adams Oshiomhole

In response to the accusation, Philip Shaibu at an event sometime this year, while explaining what actually transpired between him and his brother, said that it was Oshiomhole who actually betrayed him, and not the other way around. He narrated how he brought Oshiomhole into politics, encouraged him to contest for governor of Edo and all he did while he was in the state house of assembly, to the point of shedding his blood on the floor of the House, to protect and defend the then governor Oshiomhole from the opposition lawmakers who were bent on impeaching him from office. Of course, Oshiomhole did not utter as much as a word in response to Shaibu’s claims, but, in some cases, that was enough to put paid to their relationship.

On Tuesday last week, governor Godwin Obaseki swore-in newly appointed commissioners. The state function coincided with the day the national assembly was inaugurated. Shaibu who was supposed to be seating next to his principal on the high table was conspicuously absent. Why could he have been absent at that important state function? What happened? Till date, no official from the government has said anything about it.

Few hours after the inauguration of the new commissioners in the state, photos of Shaibu siting side by side with Senator Adams Oshiomhole at a reception party held of the APC’s national assembly candidates went viral on the internet. It means that while Obaseki was busy with the swearing-in ceremony in Benin, his deputy was in far away Abuja, wining and dining with his brother who is now the senator of his constituency. That incident, as harmless as it may appears, speaks volume in the political arena, and, of course, many have started reading meanings to it.

Shaibu’s surprise appearance at the reception party for the newly sworn-in members of the national assembly from the Edo north district left tongues wagging as to what exactly was his mission. Given the rancorous political relationship between the two, Shaibu was the least expected guest at such an occasion, let alone, sitting beside his political foe. This was reason why many expressed shock and disbelief when pictures of his appearance went viral.

It is pertinent to note that the three local government areas that make up the Etsako axis of the Edo north district where both Oshiomhole and Shaibu came from, were not represented among the 15 commissioners inaugurated on the aforementioned date. Before long, people and groups from Etsako have heaped the blame on Shaibu. On the other hand, others have blamed Shaibu’s absence at the state function on the likelihood of a crack between him who has been described as the most loyal deputy governor ever and his boss.

A pressure group, Afemai Vanguard, blamed the deputy governor over failure of the three Etsako councils to produce commissioners. The group in a statement made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Benin City, few hours after the sworing-in ceremony, accused the deputy governor of the brain behind the non nomination of commissioners from the three local governments. Shaibu’s chief press secretary, Ebomhiana Musa, however exonerated his principal.

The group’s statement signed by the Convener, Harrison Igbafe, alleged that the commissioner slots for the three local councils were not filled because the Shaibu did not attend meetings called to reach a consensus on the list of commissioners from the affected area.

But, Musa, in defense of his principal, said there was no time such meeting was called and the Deputy Governor refused to attend.

He said: “There is no meeting they called that he was not there and you don’t need to call meeting before you know who to represent you in the three local government as leader of Edo north in PDP. I am not aware that the deputy governor boycotted any meeting. If somebody on the tour of Edo North trying to reconcile aggrieved party members, do you call that boycotting meeting. He know those who are qualified and fit to be commissioner so he doesn’t need to attend meeting to decide that.”

If it was true that Shaibu failed to attend the meeting of Etsako PDP, as claimed by Afemai Vanguard, why would he want to do that, especially being the most senior party member from that region? Speculations are rife that the deputy governor might be plotting his way back to where he began his political career and also enjoyed a meteoric rise to political stardom. In politics, anything is always very possible. You could be here today and choose to be there tomorrow, it is permitted. Nothing is permanent, except your interest.