• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Edo guber: Shaibu’s impeachment can be suicidal for PDP

Philip Shaibu

…Onovo, Obinyan, Uko, others warn, urge caution

Many political observers say recent move by the Edo State House of Assembly to impeach the Deputy Governor of the state, Philip Shaibu could

further polarise the party, and possibly scuttle the chances of its gubernatorial candidate, Asue Ighodalo in the September 21 poll.

Read also: Edo Assembly moves to impeach Philip Shaibu amid rift with Obaseki

Although the latest situation did not come as a surprise to many political watchers considering there has been serious political tension between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy in the last one year, observers who spoke to BusinessDay expressed fears that impeaching Shaibu just when electioneering is about to commence, may weaken the Edo PDP chapter’s chances and strengthen the opposition.

Shaibu had contested the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP after organising a parallel primary against the advice of Governor Obaseki, who wanted him to support his anointed candidate, Ighodalo.

Ighodalo eventually clinched the party’s ticket, but the victory did not go down well with Shaibu who threatened to work against his party and the candidate in the September poll.

Speaking before the gubernatorial primary, Shaibu had said he felt betrayed that his principal was not supporting his governorship ambition.

He accused the governor of using state resources to procure support for his preferred candidate, alleging that he was duped while supporting the governor’s second-term bid in 2020.

According to Shaibu, “I feel betrayed by the governor. I feel very betrayed. When we go to church, there are certain Biblical verses that are beginning to make meaning to me.

“There is this particular verse that has been going through my mind: ‘The heart of man is desperately wicked.’ When I see what the governor is doing, the verse now makes sense to me.

“I supported the second term bid of the governor with my structures, vehicles, and finances, including how we got the ticket of PDP. I contributed financially, both in naira and dollars, and I discovered I was even duped.

“If I say betrayal, it is an understatement. I feel very hurt and betrayed.”

As the political impasse unfolds in the coming days, analysts have warned that considering Shaibu’s political strength, structure especially in his constituency, in which he delivered and won the constituency for the party and Obaseki in the 2020 poll, it may be counter-productive to impeach the Deputy Governor at this point.

They said Shaibu leaving the PDP with his support base, many of his supporters, at this time would only weaken Edo PDP, creating tension, causing distraction and divided members ahead of the gubernatorial election.

Governor Obaseki was advised to manage the situation amicably and listen to advice of many political stakeholders across the state who have in recent days warned him about the implication of impeaching Shaibu at this time.

“If PDP is united and goes into the election it is a huge advantage for them, if they are not united it is a minus for them and a gain for the opposition.

“A tree cannot make a forest, politics is a game of numbers, when you impeach Shaibu, he goes with thousands of his supporters, who benefits”? Martins Onovo, political commentator and former presidential candidate, said.

Onovo further stated that the Edo gubernatorial election would be competitive considering the candidate of the three major parties, emphasising that it would be unwise to impeach now.

“To say Shaibu is not a factor is a lie, what you need is a man that can win three senatorial districts, and he can win one. He has weight and experience, having been in the House of Representatives, the gubernatorial election would be tough,” he said.

Onovo also pointed out that the deputy governor was an experienced politician, but for now may not have the capacity to challenge the governor.

Similarly, Victory Uko, political analyst, said it could be suicidal for Obaseki if Shaibu is impeached few months to the gubernatorial election, saying it would further polarise the PDP and cause serious political crisis in the state.

According to him, “It could be suicidal for Obaseki if Shaibu is impeached few months to the election and the end of their tenure. I’m not sure Obaseki knows the implication.

“Shaibu is an experienced politician, he won his Senatorial district for the governor four year ago, and he is widely supported there.

“My fear is the PDP and its candidate may lose that support of Shaibu’s base to another party if they go ahead and succeed with this impeachment, I can tell it would have serious implications for everyone. What is happening is not shocking to me, this is politics.”

Also speaking, Babatunde Olanrewaju, a PDP chieftain, said that there are other ways Obaseki could have dealt with Shaibu’s excesses rather than impeachment.

“Why should one run an unnecessary race? Keep your breath for the main race. Disregard and curb his excesses in office. Withdraw his security or monitor his movements with those securities.

“Whether you remove him or not, he can still do what pleases him. Save your fuel for another journey.

“Is there any democracy that is not laced with crises? Handling and management of events determine the results,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are those who mocked Shaibu that his current travail was self-induced, because his decision to contest the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP was borne out of greed and lack of empathy for other constituencies in the state.

“Whatever is happening to him is self-induced, because his aspiration is borne out of greed and lack of empathy for other people; this is a man who was a member of the state House of Assembly, he became a member of the House of Representatives and now deputy governor.

“Yet he wants to be governor also, this is despite that his brother was recently governor and he was told to allow those who are yet to enjoy the seat have it, but he refused and wants to test his strength with the governor; let’s see how far he can go”, Kunle Okunade, a public affairs commentator, said.

In recent days, some stakeholders have called for urgent resolution of the feud between Shaibu and Obaseki, ahead of the September 21 gubernatorial election.

One of those seeking the resolution of the Obaseki/Shaibu feud is fiery Catholic Priest, Very Rev. Father Andrew Obinyan who appealed to Governor Obaseki to prevail on the House of Assembly to halt the impeachment move against his deputy.

In a statement titled ‘Between Empathy and Impeachment for Your Deputy,’ Obinyan said: “I make a humble and passionate appeal to Governor Godwin Obaseki. I entreat you because I regard you as a civilised and enlightened man.

May it not be in the annals of Edo political history that there was once a Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, impeached under your watch for his aspiration. It will be perceived as a sting of ‘betrayal’ and it will invariably redefine loyalty and aspiration as antithetical.

“This is the kernel of my entreaty: Leave your deputy alone to deal with his issues and resolve them without initiating impeachment. Reconciliation is always a prosperous option. Listen to your kind heart. I am not insinuating he must be Governor. Yet, we cannot justify an impeachment without putting a wedge on the path of positive advancement in other spheres of life.

“Please, Governor, talk to Edo State House of Assembly to discontinue the impeachment process. Honourable members must ensure that legislation prohibits any move that bears the semblance of retaliation. Do yourselves a favour because you don’t know the next victim in sudden political twists and turns.

“Bear with Philip Shaibu, not for his sake but for the sake of your own indomitable spirit. What I see in you is what I see in your Deputy – a resolute spirit. We often say only God can determine who gets power. This saying should not be personalised and meaningful only when it is to our advantage.

“When you were at your lowest point and facing your political trials, your rock bottom foundation was the support from Edo people and your deputy, who you used to call your brother.

“I am pleading. Your silence has been golden. Continue to be a big brother to him. Feel for the number two man who seeks power so passionately and determinedly without your support.

“A man whose level of determination makes him literally stressed out, worried, burdened, spending strength and resources, deserves empathy not impeachment.”