After months of proxy war and trading of political tackles by their respective supporters, the incumbent governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, and his estranged godfather and predecessor in office, Adams Oshiomhole appear set to sheathe their swords and be brothers again.
In their reconciliatory moves, however, the media, as usual, became the whipping boy with Oshiomhole blaming the feud on the Fourth Estate of the Realm. The duo seized the opportunity of the Sallah holidays to kick-start the healing process in their hitherto frosty relationship which had severely fouled the political air and threatened the electoral fortune of the ruling party ahead of the 2020 governorship election in the state.
It was a case of Mohammed going to the mountain when on Monday night, Obaseki, who had in the past avoided face-to-face meeting with Oshiomhole, the national chairman of his party, swallowed his pride to pay the latter a visit at his Iyamho country home ostensibly in the spirit of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration. But contrary to reports that the meeting was a surprise one, the magazine gathered that it had been pre-arranged. A source who should know hinted that the governor was with Oshiomhole in Abuja last Thursday and it was then that he promised to visit with their mutual friend and major mediator, Aliko Dangote on Sallah day.
Dangote could, however, not make it because of his personal engagements. Obaseki who left for Iyamho from the venue of a reception party in honour of the immediate past national chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun, who clocked 80, had hinted earlier in the day at a thanksgiving mass at St. Paul Catholic Church, however, he had met with his predecessor and efforts were being made to resolve their differences.
Obaseki, who had insisted that there was no rift between him and the former governor, stated that the issues were created by “third parties” in the state, also assured that efforts were on in pursuit of peace in the state. In his words, “we have met – me and my predecessor in office – and fortunately, we do not have any fundamental issues. And because we do not have any fundamental issues, I believe that whatever third parties are trying to propagate, I am sure we can talk over it. I assure you that very soon, things will return to normalcy in Edo State.”
Oshiomhole was to echo Obaseki’s voice when the duo emerged from a closed-door meeting which lasted about one hour, to address anxiously waiting journalists. The APC national chairman who claimed to have been in constant touch with the governor, also blamed the rift on people with personal interest, describing Obaseki as his brother. According to him, “from time to time, we have always been meeting. It is not an unusual visit; the meeting afforded me the opportunity to meet with my brother and with people I have worked with”. He said it was unfortunate that “the media liked creating factions for their own gain.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Obaseki said “there is nothing unusual about this meeting. Today is Sallah and we have just finished celebrating with the former APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in Benin City, and we decided to come here to celebrate Sallah with my predecessor.”
According to him, people who think there was a rift between him and his predecessor should stop thinking. But reacting to the allegation by the duo, one of the governor’s opponents said “we are the third parties he is referring to and we accept the blame. There is no problem about it at all”.
He, however, hoped that the process would bring peace to the state again, stressing that “we are interested in peace. Let us see how it pans out”. On what happens to the loyalists of the two protagonists now that they are talking peace, the source said “ideally, after peace meeting like this, there should be a meeting of everybody where supporters of both parties will be carried along in the peace deal.”