Obaseki, Shaibu, Oshiomhole, Alimikhena: Divided by politics, united by furneral

L-R: Former Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District, Francis Alimikhena; Catholic Bishop of Auchi Diocese, Most Rev. Gabriel G. Dunia; Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu; Senator representing Edo North Senatorial District, Adams Oshiomhole, and former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, after the funeral mass of the wife of Senator Alimikhena, Francis Alimikhena, Monica, at Igiode, Agenebode, in Etsako East Local Government Area, on Friday, September 29, 2023

By Jethro Ibileke

At times, life has a funny way of resolving issues that otherwise proved difficult. Just as it is said that there is nothing God cannot do, at times, it could be very safe to say that there is almost nothing that could not happen in life, even the unthinkable or unexpected. That was the case of four political gladiators in Edo state, who could be described as sworn enemies that will not see eyeballs to eyeballs. These four politicians of are: Governor Godwin Obaseki, his deputy, Philip Shaibu, the immediate past Governor of the state, now the Senator representing Edo north at the national assembly, Adams Oshiomhole and his predecessor at the assembly, Francis Alimikhena. All of them were divided by politics one way or the other, but were all united at a funeral.

Obaseki, Shaibu vs Oshiomhole:
Oshiomhole could best be described as the political godfather of the other three. Against all odds and expectations, Oshiomhole anointed Obaseki to replace him as Governor of the state. He influenced the election of Philip Shaibu into the federal house of representatives, and later as running mate to Governor Obaseki. He was also credited for the emergence and election of Senator Alimikhena, who was relatively unknown in national politics.

It was not long after their election and inauguration, as it is always the case, Obaseki and Shaibu began having misunderstandings with their political benefactor and godfather, the type that always lead to betrayals among godfathers and godsons. The once-cordial relationship turned sour and later snowballed into a full-fledged political war among the three. The situation was that bed that at a point, Obaseki declared that Oshiomhole must get a clearance from Edo government before he could enter the state through the Benin City airport, according to him, for security reasons.

Whatever the case, the three battled for supremacy, and it consumed both Oshiomhole and Obaseki. First, Oshiomhole suprintended over the denial of Obaseki from contesting for the ticket of the APC in the 2020 governorship election in the state, a development that later led to the latter seeking refuge under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Obaseki who remained unruffled, fought back ferociously like a wounded lion. Before long, Oshiomhole was sacked as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, allegedly at the instigation of Obaseki’s camp. In fact, the Iyamho, Etsako west strong man had to lie low for a while on the political landscape. But, like a ram that withdraws backward during a fight, is only gathering strength to take it’s opponent unaware, Oshiomhole was gathering more strength to outwith his enemies. Till of recent, the three gladiators engaged in a cold war. Whenever the meet at unavailable public functions, the atmosphere was always tensed and of course, deceitful.

Obaseki vs Philip Shaibu:
Governor Obaseki and his deputy also engaged each other in the battle of their lives. The cause? Shaibu’s ambition to contest in next year’s gubernatorial election. Obaseki however did not like that idea one bit. To worsen the matter, Shaibu rushed to an Abuja court to obtain an injunction forbid anyone from impeaching him.

For a long while, the two did not see eyeballs to eyeballs. The rofo-rofo fight resulted in his being chased out of his office in the Government House in Benin. Of course, the deputy governor had to eat the humble pie by tendering a public apology to his boss.

Oshiomhole vs Alimikhena: Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also single-handedly projected Francis Alimikhena, a retired military officer, for Edo north senatorial race. He eventually enjoyed a two-term of four years at the red chamber of the national assembly on the platform of the APC.

But, when it was time to being preparations for the last general elections, it was reliably gathered that the leaders of entire Edo north met and opined that the zone was in dire need of a senior politician of repute to lead at the national level. None other person fits the description than their illustrious son, Adams Oshiomhole. And the only available platform on which the person will run is the senate. Alimikhena however did not like that idea. He wanted to go for a third term. This resulted in another political battle.

True to the saying, the river that forgets its source will dry off. The battle line was drawn. The two engaged each other in a ferocious battle for the senate ticket. At the end, Oshiomhole doused Alimikhena in the party primaries. Not satisfied, Alimikhena decamped to the PDP where he was given the ticket to run against his benefactor. But, of course, he was no match for the former Labour leader.

Alimikhena went ahead to contest the result of the election as declared by INEC. Again, Oshiomhole came out victorious.

Like it is said, you don’t drag you neighbor to court and expect to still remain friends. The political gladiators have continued to wage their cold wars.

It was a case of what politics tore apart, funeral brought together on Friday, at the small town of Igiode, Etsako East local government area of the state, when the four cme together, heartily pumped hands and exchanged pleasantries. The venue? The local Catholic Church, venue of the funeral mass of the wife of Senator Francis Alimikhena, Lady Monica.

At the event, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Deputy, Philip Shaibu, who recently made up after their protracted battle, their erstwhile godfather; Senator Adams Oshiomhole and the host, Francis Alimikhena were all in attendance. A former deputy governor of Edo State, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe was also present.

Speaking with journalists after the funeral mass, the governor described the late Mrs. Alimikhena who passed away at 69 on August 30, as a very quiet, committed and prayerful woman, who was very devoted to the development of her community and the state.

He said: “I had the privilege of interacting with her in her lifetime. She was a very lovely woman. During my campaign in 2016 and also as a Governor, I visited her house in Abuja and will not forget the good and lovely meal she used to prepare for me.

“She was very quiet, committed and a prayerful lady who always saw progress and always prayed for her husband, the State and all those who interacted with her in her lifetime. We would miss her but we thank God for her life and what she represented and pray for God to rest her soul in peace.”

The governor also added, “It’s a difficult time for our Senator Francis Alimikhena. I have been with him and knew when the challenges of her health started and we need to pray for him and pray the Lord strengthen him for he is in a difficult time especially now.”

Indeed, it was a case of what politics divided, funeral united. We hope that the former political warlords will henceforth learn to live in peace with one another.