When he began to confront what he described as the suzerainty of the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki felt the need to ramp up his response by embarking on extraordinary and extra-constitutional measures.
The governor completely ignored his own failings, including many antidemocratic measures, and instead concentrated largely on Mr Oshiomhole’s excesses. He even managed to frame and control the narrative, painting the party chairman as a hypocritical godfather and a remorseless tyrant who must be dethroned.
To achieve his twin goals of neutralising Mr Oshiomhole and securing a second term nomination, Mr Obaseki implemented a cornucopia of measures that saw his government splitting the state APC, cajoling his opponents some of whose houses were either demolished on one pretext or another or their papers withdrawn and rendered vulnerable, muscling nearly all opponents from organising rallies on the pain of severe punishment, and virtually introducing pass laws to bar unwanted Edo indigenes, no matter how highly placed, from coming into the state.
The government not only became entirely and enthusiastically repressive, it also promises to get worse except the governor gets the nomination, and perhaps wins the election.
In their response to his initial struggles with Mr Oshiomhole, when the issues involved in the acrimonious battle for the soul of the state were still foggy, Edo indigenes were ambivalent towards their governor.
First they suspected that Mr Obaseki was becoming too frantic; but second, they also feared that Mr Oshiomhole might in fact still have his hands on the plough. But when the governor sexed up his manifesto against the party chairman, introducing many draconian measures to castrate not only the chairman but anyone opposed to him, Edo indigenes began to be wary. Now, that wariness has grown to outright revulsion.
Mr Obaseki’s last throw of the dice was his joint effort with some rebellious APC governors and leaders to overthrow their chairman. Had Mr Oshiomhole been overthrown, Mr Obaseki’s stock would have risen slightly in Edo, and disgruntled Edo indigenes would have had no one to rally around.