The Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, has shared insider’s knowledge about the behind the scene happenings in the run-up to the emergence of Godwin Obaseki as Edo State governor in 2016.
Ewurare made this disclosure on Wednesday at his palace during a peace conference he called to plead with warring chieftains of both the All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who are at dagger-drawn ahead of the September 19 governorship election in the state to sheath swords and allow peace to reign.
Speaking at the meeting, which had in attendance all the major actors in the political face-off including Obaseki, his arch rival in the upcoming election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC, the former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his predecessor, Chief John Oyegun, the monarch shared insight into how the incumbent governor’s journey to the exalted office all started revealing the roles his estranged predecessor and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote played.
His word: “I had some memorable times with Oshiomhole as governor. People were asking me who would take over from Oshiomhole in 2016. I asked Oshiomhole to propose not to impose whom he had in mind as his successor, but he said he was still thinking about it, promising to let me know at the appropriate time.
“Two or three weeks later, Oshiomhole came back to me and said he had thought about it and gave his position with analysis. I will not bother you with the details. He mentioned three aspirants, but he zeroed in on Obaseki. Oshiomhole gave the strongest reasons in the world, why it must be Obaseki and nobody else; particularly that he was then the chairman of his economic team. I was not against Oshiomhole’s choice and the imposition of Obaseki, but I said no word.
“Halfway into my seeing off Oshiomhole that day, he stopped and asked why I said nothing about his choice of Obaseki. I told him I would give my opinion in future. Some royal members of Obaseki’s family and many other persons were against Obaseki’s choice by Oshiomhole. I am keeping some sensitive parts out.
“Again, after three weeks, Oshiomhole came to me, but I said I still had no opinion. I told him that his decision on Obaseki was not a proposal, but an imposition. That was why I had no opinion. Oshiomhole said Obaseki would do much better than him and continue his legacy projects.”
Continued: “Oshiomhole invited Alhaji Aliko Dangote to speak with me on his choice of Obaseki. Dangote came to Uselu (in Benin) and he spoke with me on Obaseki for over one hour, but I kept quiet. Oshiomhole and Obaseki also visited me in Uselu, but I still kept quiet.
“Since Oshiomhole brought only one governorship aspirant (Obaseki), I had no choice. I knew Obaseki when I was in Atlanta, USA.
“Dangote stood as a guarantor for Obaseki to be of good behaviour and that if Obaseki misbehaved, I should contact him (Dangote). I still kept quiet.
“Oshiomhole and Obaseki were initially very close. What I thought was going to be a smooth ride, turned to unprecedented conflict. I tried to intervene several times and I went to President Muhammadu Buhari over the matter.”