Humbled and humiliated: hapless Obaseki vacates his self-made throne to cajole the people
By John Mayaki
Very few things humble politicians like elections do. It is perhaps the best feature of a democracy. Godwin Obaseki of Edo State gives credence to this truism with his latest acts of desperation as the state prepares to rebuild its House of Assembly that the governor infamously broke and defenestrated.
Aloof, proud, and uncaring; Obaseki had built an altar to himself. Perched on a throne he dubiously acquired in 2020 in Osadebey Avenue, he ruled with commands and decrees, showing little regard for tradition, precedence, or even the rule of law. There are too many instances to cite, each more outrageous than the last.
Consider his infamous assault on the state’s legislative assembly. Unwilling to be accountable and out of profound disdain for the necessary checks and balances that define a functional democracy, Obaseki dismantled the arm, unleashed thugs on its sacred chambers, and permitted admittance to only those willing to worship at his altar in Osadebey Avenue. Put more plainly, he replaced the will of the people freely expressed at the polls with his own whims, deforming democracy in the process.
Then he went on a demolition spree. Abusing state powers, he marked the homes and business establishments of vocal opponents for destruction, ignoring court orders forbidding such tyrannical action. Like Joseph Stalin of the old Soviet Union, Obaseki outlawed dissent and citizens expressed criticism at the expense of their freedom. Talk and the bulldozers and gallows will be parked on your lawn the following morning, waiting to pull down your home and slay you.
Sensitive government positions were filled with incompetent maniacs whose only qualification was the ability to sing, dance, and self-deprecate during the daily praise and worship conducted before the altar Obaseki erected in the government house. Whilst Obaseki, as the little man he is, drew life from the ceaseless Hallelujah of his army of worthless sycophants, ordinary citizens were forced to deal with the consequence of their maladministration.
Edo State ground to a complete halt. Infrastructure decayed and collapsed. Roads cracked and gave way. Markets were desolate and uninhabitable. Schools went decrepit. Businesses lost investments and patronage. Public purchasing power nosedived. People barely survived. But that didn’t matter to the demi-god Obaseki, as long as funds continued to flow from the state treasury to fund his foreign trips where he embarked on adventures too dark to narrate. His hired guns constantly insulted the people with demands they, too, joined in their sycophantic and mindless praise and worship.
Nothing grew, except taxes. And Obaseki withdrew with a special kind of cruelty. Helpless market women must either cough out the funds for his foreign misadventures or risk several nights in jail. Ditto bus drivers and other small business owners. Edo State, essentially, became an enclave devoted exclusively to the satisfaction and odd cravings of a power-drunk man.
Not pleased with his persecution of the ordinary masses, he stretched his impunity to the palace and chose, foolishly, to wrestle with a revered king and an institution older than his existence over artifacts he had no claim to. Such was the limitless nature of his greed, irreverence, and foolhardiness.
He thought he could get away with it all, believing in the assumed strength of his amateur image-makers and propagandists. But the presidential and national assembly elections offered a glimpse of reality, and the sight traumatised him. He led the PDP, which he invaded and divided with his corrosive presence, to a startling defeat not known since 1999. The so-called ‘man of the people’ lost the state, his constituency, and even the polling unit where he cast his vote to the opposition.
Only then did he realize he has been rejected. He is a governor only onto himself and his clownish team of deluded ass-lickers. The people are only biding time, waiting to see his back, and perhaps plotting to hasten the process with the state assembly.
The realization has now driven him crazy, similar to King Nebuchadnezzar who displayed similar arrogance in the gospel. Unable to point at any meaningful achievements, his play to keep the state assembly within his suffocating grasp so that he can continue his reign of terror and corruption without consequence, is to exploit faultlines, particularly tribal difference and suspicion.
All of a sudden, the man who foolishly challenged the palace over artifacts that belonged to the King, who denied the palace a chance to be represented in the state assembly, who blocked the ascension of a member of his tribal stock as the head of the NDDC, who hunted proud Benin sons and daughters for sport and flattened their homes and businesses — is now posing as a tribal warlord who must now be rescued by the same people he has spent the past few years insulting and riding roughshod.
A charlatan without principles, he yet again attempts to play a fast one on the people. But there are no signs that he is succeeding. The people suffer no confusion about his true nature and identity. Obaseki is no Benin hero. He is a self-serving egomaniac with neither the competence nor moral fibre to lead. He has a date with destiny on Saturday, and the prospect of vomiting all that he has illegally acquired has already aged him. He seeks to distract by inventing ‘enemies’ from the outside. But his problem lies with those in the house who endured his oppressive reign. They will show him who, truly, is king on Election Day.