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Forces that pulled down Osunbor

Posted by By JOHNSON MOMODU on 2008/11/19 | Views: 2029 |

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Forces that pulled down Osunbor


It was clear from the outset that Osunbor was not a clever politician; otherwise, he would have taken his time and allowed the forces that produced him to perfect the process of consolidating his victory before he began to throw punches at them.

It was clear from the outset that Osunbor was not a clever politician; otherwise, he would have taken his time and allowed the forces that produced him to perfect the process of consolidating his victory before he began to throw punches at them.

He demonstrated political naivety by moving against the formidable structure and leadership of former Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.

Osunbor had wanted to wrest the control of the party machinery in the State from Anenih, the man who brought him into politics and propped him up as Senator. He had lost focus when he chose to preoccupy himself with the battle to demystify Anenih in a bid to position and consolidate himself for the 2011 re-election battle, when the election of 2007 had not yet been concluded. And, in doing that, he had aligned with some pockets of forces in Edo to challenge Anenih’s leadership, thus causing irredeemable disaffection within the party.

That was where Osunbor got it wrong. Nudged by the likes of Samuel Ogbemudia, Sunny Uyigwe, Isaiah Osifo, Albert Legogie and Peter Obadan, whose interest in his defence and support was, at best, self-serving, he had rolled out the machinery of government to accomplish the hijack of the party machinery. The intendment of his action was to eclipse Anenih. He became a tool in the proxy fight by some forces both within and outside the State (and finger of guilt was pointed in the direction of former President Olusegun Obasanjo) against Anenih, whose political legerdemain has become legendary.

In a manner that portrayed him as someone without scruples, Osunbor dumped Anenih and charted a new political trajectory for himself, a process that was largely assisted by deployment of state funds. He sponsored intrigues within the State Chapter of the party in a bid to control the party machinery; whereas, he should have held on to government machinery and left party machinery to the political forces that assisted his election, which was their irreducible minimum requirement.

Obasanjo’s role
While Anenih was said to have concerned himself about helping the party in the State to be more cohesive, Obasanjo had, in his characteristic bullish manner, left Ogun State in peace and "invaded" Edo State to sow a seed of discord between Anenih and Osunbor, who was about 10years ago, a Law Professor at the Lagos State University, but who was drafted into politics by Anenih and whom Anenih ensured picked PDP ticket to contest the Edo Central Senatorial Seat and won.

Osunbor was in the Senate from 1999 to 2007 before he became Governor. In the original calculations, Osunbor was a mere fallback position in the battle to succeed former Governor Lucky Igbinedion. Former Solid Minerals Minister and current Senator Odion Ugbesia was positioned by the Anenih political machine to succeed Igbinedion.

But Obasanjo had, in a bid, to diminish Anenih’s political structure, insisted that he would not accept his (Ugbesia’s) candidature; whereas, the coast was clear for Ugbesia to emerge.
Anenih, according to reports, had told Obasanjo to allow him to recommend another candidate if Ugbesia was not acceptable to him. That was how Osunbor emerged as the governorship candidate. Ugbesia, who was the candidate known to virtually all the delegates at the primaries, had to lift Osunbor’s hand and introduce him to them at the venue.

Countdown
But all that political understanding was shattered by Osunbor when on Thursday, February 28, 2008 in Benin City, he organized a parallel congress to elect the State Executive Committee. Osunbor was reported to have sponsored a group of party men who were largely his appointees in government to hold a congress at Ogbe Stadium to elect a State Executive Committee headed by Mr. Edward Sadoh (Edo North).

Whereas the other congress organized by the vast majority of stakeholders and leaders of the party in the State at the NTA Pavilion had produced Chief Dan Orbih (Edo North). The group had in its fold loyalists of Anenih. For instance, top party officials, two serving Senators (Yisa Braimoh and Odion Ugbesia), Minister of Interior, General Godwin Abbe (retd.), members of the House of Representatives led by the House Leader, Hon. Tunde Akogun as well as Local Government Council chairmen and councilors from the eighteen Local Government areas had attended the congress at the NTA Pavilion.

Osunbor and Ogbemudia attended the Ogbe Stadium Congress, with some former political appointees of government. The former State Deputy Governor, Chief Lucky Imasuen did not attend either of the congresses. Reports said that Anenih was at his Uromi country home when the political drama was going on in Benin.

This was the development that broke the PDP in Edo into two groups. Osunbor did not help the healing and reconciliation process initiated by the Presidency and the National Secretariat of the party. He had kicked when the National Working Committee (NWC) waded into the Edo crisis and resolved that the Anenih group, being the most formidable group on ground in the State, should produce the State Chairman of the party.

Although, Chief Samson Ekhabafe, who was Osunbor’s Commissioner of Water Resources and Energy, had emerged as the choice of the Anenih group, Osunbor had ensured that the process of take-over was stalled by litigation which he quietly sponsored against the party decision. He had deployed the resources of the State to foster division within the party and succeeded in virtually paralyzing the party.

But now that he has lost the governorship seat, the position of influence and authority that he was using to maintain his stranglehold on the party, he has lost everything, particularly the party structure that he was desperate to pocket to bolster his 2011 re-election plan, which has now turned out to be a mirage with the Oshiomhole victory. With the Oshiomhole victory, the Anenih group can now regain the party structure and retool for the 2012 governorship election.

Osunbor was in the Senate from 1999 to 2007 before he became Governor. In the original calculations, Osunbor was a mere fallback position in the battle to succeed former Governor Lucky Igbinedion. Former Solid Minerals Minister and current Senator Odion Ugbesia was positioned by the Anenih political machine to succeed Igbinedion. But Obasanjo had, in a bid, to diminish Anenih’s political structure, insisted that he would not accept his (Ugbesia’s) candidature; whereas, the coast was clear for Ugbesia to emerge.


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