By Isaac Asabor
If there is any African proverb that has become widely popular through the legendary Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, it is unarguably the one he mentioned in his magnum opus, Things Fall Apart. The proverb says, “Those whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.”
Ostensibly due to the prevailing political milieu in Edo State, and due to my political interest, and more specifically that proverbs can be used to further ideologies to woo potential voters for one’s preferred candidate in the upcoming election, the question of whether the benevolent spirit will crack Obaseki’s palm kernels again at the poll cropped up in my mind. In my attempt to answer the question, other questions emanated.
The first question that is in this context excerpted from the proverb is, “Has there being any time when the palm-kernels of the incumbent governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki were cracked? The answer to the foregoing poser will become apparent when how he emerged as the Chairman of the Economic Team of Edo State Government under the tenure of the former governor of the State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and how he became the governor in 2016 are considered.
Were the foregoing question to be taken to the market square for responses, not few respondents would agree with this writer that Oshiomhole, from whichever way it would looked at, solidly supported Obaseki’s gubernatorial aspiration in 2016. One does not need to go far searching for literatures to buttress the view as videos and memes have been trending on virtual space on how Oshiomhole solidly stood by him. In the footages, Oshiomhole would be seen heaping praises and accolades on Obaseki and disparaging the pedigree and integrity of Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Against the foregoing background, many will agree that any one that was privileged to have that kind of support in his political career, so to say, have had his palm kernels cracked by the benevolent spirit.
Given the fact that the governor was ostensibly oblivious of an African proverb that says, “Don’t drown the man who taught you to swim” and another proverb that says “The gratitude of a donkey is kick”, Obaseki fell out with Oshiomhole, and that the not go down well with most of his friend in the All Progressives Congress (APC); particularly within the political caucus of the Edo People’s Movement (EPM).
Having realized that the backing he gave Obaseki in 2016 was a huge mistake, Oshiomhole publicly declared that he regretted his mistake of supporting Obaseki for governorship in 2016, and added that he supported him to ensure the continuity of his projects and programmes.
He said, “I have made my honest mistakes. Only God is perfect. I am now 68 years. I have come to apologize for the mistake of supporting Obaseki in 2016.
“I am in Edo to repair my mistakes. God had a reason for what happened to Ize-Iyamu in 2016. Leaving as the National Chairman of APC is to give me enough time to correct my errors.
“Obaseki pretended for almost eight years, while he did not believe in what I was doing as the governor.
“In 2007, Ize-Iyamu stepped down for me. In 2012, he was the Director-General of my re-election campaign organization and we won in all the 18 local government areas of Edo. I will work for the election of Ize-Iyamu.
However, without resort to going down memory lane, Obaseki lost his second term ticket to Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the State.
As a politician that has always had his palm kernels cracked by the spirit, Obaseki without insurmountable opposition decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he clinched the gubernatorial ticket for the 2020 governorship election.
Without any scintilla of hyperbole in this context, the spirit was never relenting in cracking his kernel for him as he won the PDP’s primary election where he polled a total of 1,952 votes, being part of the votes cast by 2,234 delegates from the 192 wards and 18 local government areas. The foregoing view cannot be expressed without saying that he participated in the election as the only candidate on the ballot as three aspirants had backed out of the contest and endorsed him.
There is no denying the fact that any politician whose palm kernels were not cracked by the spirit will no doubt meet a brick wall and face stiff resistance for decamping to another party. Contrarily wise, in the case of Obaseki, he effortlessly clinched the gubernatorial ticket despite the fact that other candidates had already indicated interest, and even purchased nomination forms as at the time he joined the party.
But alas! Things have in the recent time changed as it appears that the spirit is no more cracking the governor’s palm kernels. For instance, as the governorship Election Day nears, his appointees have continued to resign on a weekly basis. So far, the number of his appointees that that has resigned has hit 42 and there are speculations that more will tender their resignation.
As if the gale of resignation that hits the governor is not enough, there has equally been gale of decampment from the PDP to the APC in the recent time, and in that vein undeniably leaving Ize-Iyamu to be the biggest beneficiary of the somewhat massive exodus.
In what the elders would best described as being one’s own enemy, most of the governor’s supporters that have decamped to the APC blamed it on the incumbent governor’s leadership style, describing him as being too rigid.
Again, if the optimism which Oshiomhole has been exuding since he came back to Abuja to Edo State to assist Ize-Iyamu in the ongoing electioneering campaign ahead of the September 19 election, one cannot but ask if the spirit will still crack Obaseki’s palm kernels. The question is germane in this context as the former governor is not hiding his resolve to throw everything at his disposal in the campaign to stop Obaseki and the PDP from occupying Osadebey Avenue.
Since Oshiomhole returned to the state ahead of the election, he has not minced words on his resolve to ensure that Obaseki is defeated. While recently giving the above indication since he relocated to the state to solicit for votes for Ize-Iyamu, he has been sounding it loud to party supporters that his mission in the state during the prevailing electioneering campaign was to ensure that APC defeats PDP.
For instance, as party supporters gathered to welcome him at his Iyamho country home in Etsako West Local Government, he assured that his preoccupation now is to see that the state returns to the APC.
His words: “I have come home to join you and start the process of reclaiming the house back to the family of APC. If you people say yes and God says yes, there is no man born of a woman that can say no. So, now, I have only one mission: to bring Edo back to the path of sustainable development. We want to return to the government of the people by the people and for the people.”
Be that as it may, and considering the odds that stand against the incumbent governor, it may not be wrong to ask again, “Will the benevolent spirit crack Obaseki’s palm-kernels again at the poll? The foregoing salient question is germane in this context as not a few political observers have been saying that the governor is not humble. Humble? The foregoing virtue that has a question mark in this context may be where the enemy within the governor lies. The proverbial question is always more salient when understood from the fact that those whose palm kernels have being cracked by the spirit should always forget to be humble. Going by what we read in the newspapers and on the social media, is the governor humble enough to allow the spirit crack his palm kernels again?