BY JOHN DENNIS

I have just finished reading a letter addressed to Captain Hosa Okunbo by Governor Godwin Obaseki, which was a response to his open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and the good people of Edo State.

My takeaway is that Governor Obaseki was simply playing the Ostrich in his letter, trying to absolve himself of complicity and blame whereas the more he tried to do so, the deeper he got enmeshed in the credibility deficit of his explanation and self-justification.

A good governor or anybody for that matter, who is God-fearing, should not play the Ostrich in a serious matter like this. I believe the governor knows that Capt. Hosa (as he is popularly called) is not a flippant person. For him to have resorted to an open letter to President Buhari and Edo people was a confirmation of the seriousness of the issue at hand.

Significantly, Capt Hosa’s action showed his loss of fidelity in any redemptive step to dissuade Governor Obaseki and his sponsored agents from their orchestrated campaign of calumny and sponsorship of media attacks calculated to ceaselessly embarrass him because he made a choice that did not align with their political agenda.

It is instructive that in the series of charges that Capt. Hosa levelled against the governor in his open letter, he had simply attempted to diminish the weight of the businessman’s open letter by appealing to the sensibilities of the readers and trying to wash his hands clean of everything that connected him with bad faith in the entire saga.

I hope Governor Obaseki is not deluding himself to think that his explanations were believable and that Edo people have taken them hook-line-and-sinker. I do think that Edo people are not in doubt that his explanations were nothing but after-thoughts. He called Capt. Hosa his brother and friend, but to me, that strategy was mischievous. The purpose was to, like an Ostrich, hide his head in the sand in an attempt to distance himself from his sponsored machinations against Capt. Hosa.

If he was sincere and not dissembling, what did he do when his agents were hurling stones at the businessman? If Capt. Hosa was his brother and friend, as the governor claimed, did he ever reach out to him even when he (Capt. Hosa) severally urged the governor and his agents through the media to leave him out of their politics?

Governor Obaseki should have impressed it on his agents that Capt. Hosa was his brother and friend and therefore they should stop their coordinated attacks, even after he saw a letter that the businessman personally addressed to the public on the issue. Did the attacks not continue there after? Why did Governor Obaseki play the Ostrich and why has he chosen to continue in that odious path?

Really, the governor’s letter has not mitigated anything; it has only succeeded in firing up the revulsion of Capt. Hosa and all well-meaning Edo people to see his brazen act of official dissimulation for what is-unfortunate. It is quite sad that these ridiculous justifications of himself could be endorsed as coming from someone who occupies the high office of a governor.

After the consequential damage that he and his agents had caused to Capt. Hosa’s reputation, Governor Obaseki’s obvious attempt to extricate himself of blame and look good in the eyes of the people did not come as a surprise. This strategy of trying to draw the sympathy of the public to himself is ungodly. Can someone, who once brought down the hotel of an innocent citizen because he withdrew his initial support for him and gave it to another, be believed to be rational, accommodating and compassionate?

When his agents went around the State, bombing the residences and facilities of political opponents, did he give a hoot? Did he rein them in? Yet, he had deiced to wax sanctimonious, just because election is around the corner, to portray a misleading picture of himself as a man with empathy.

Could there have been a more subtle way of passing a message across to Capt. Hosa that he (the governor) was the one paying the piper in the outlandish libelous claims by his Special Adviser on Media and Strategic Communication, Crusoe Osagie, who irresponsibly linked Capt. Hosa and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole with sponsorship of thugs and cultists to be deployed in the September 19, governorship election without any iota of proof?

The governor’s acts of indiscretion of playing the Ostrich by sponsoring and encouraging his agents to swarm on Capt. Hosa only exposed his modus operandi. Governor Obaseki, before God, knows that Capt. Hosa’s letter contained the gospel truth.

I would like to ask at this point that as a major stakeholder in Edo state, “his brother and friend,” did Obaseki ever tell Capt. Hosa that he was interested in a second term and needed his support and vote?

Having chosen his own course of actions, it was unfair of Governor Obaseki to want to deploy blackmail and character assassination to cow and intimidate the businessman to lose his voice and right of choice. If he had been interested in his support, he should have discussed with him rather than unleash his aides, to wit: Crusoe Osagie, Adaze Emwantan, among others, who are still on the rampage, to assail his person with unsubstantiated claims in the social media.

There was nothing ennobling in the basis and motivation of Governor Obaseki for responding to Capt. Hosa’s open letter other than to play the mind game on the people by portraying himself as a gentleman and pacifist. Obaseki was only trying to gain sympathy and Edo people are not fools. They have since seen through his chicanery.

Although, without solicitation, Governor Obaseki had advised in his letter to Capt. Hosa, to wit: “But you must recognize that the world of politics is not a tea party and the choices that we make in life always come at a cost and we should all have the courage to bear and accept the consequences associated with those choices we have freely made”, I think this is a subtle threat.

I do not think Capt. Hosa is a lily-livered person to fall cheaply for that intimidatory tactic. He had already declared in his open letter that he had decided to align with President Muhammadu Buhari for the development of Edo State. There was no better way by which Capt. Hosa could have told Obaseki that he was ready and willing to face the consequences of his choice.

It is also important to advert attention to Obaseki’s tactic of approbating and reprobating at the same time on the issue of godfather. It has been convenient for him to call the former governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, a godfather, whereas, he remains the greatest beneficiary of Oshiomhole’s large-heartedness as a godfather who, against all odds, foisted him on the party as the governorship standard bearer in the 2016 election and went ahead to ensure that he won the election.

And, for eight years, he was Economic Adviser to Comrade Oshiomhole, as Chairman of the State Economy and Strategy Team, why did he not resign from his position since his claim was that he was offering his service pro bono? He did not resign; yet, he keeps derogating Comrade Oshiomhole as a godfather who must be dethroned.

Therefore, it is uninteresting to want to deploy ethnic nationalism in putting a wedge between Comrade Oshiomhole and Capt. Hosa. Playing the ethnic card is lame and unproductive in the current reality of Edo politics. Oshiomhole is not on the ballot. It is a two-horse race between Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki.

The governor’s claim or insinuation in his letter that Comrade Oshiomhole wanted to use him to steal Edo State money was preposterous. It does not add value to his campaign. Significantly, Comrade Oshiomhole was in office for eight years and executed more infrastructure projects in his first four years than the propaganda of the last four years that has been deployed by some young men and hirelings who have been abusing respected elders and statesmen in the name of politics.

It is sad that through the governor’s imprimatur, politics in Edo State has been reduced to its very nadir where bombing, character assassination and blackmail have become the directive principles of state policy. On this score, it is indeed wrong to characterize Capt. Hosa as the face of oppression in Edo State. I think that perfectly fits Obaseki himself.

Capt. Hosa has been in the vanguard of support and economic empowerment of market women in actuality and not in rhetoric for years now. His disposition and commitment are quite different from the empty promises by the government. It is on record that the businessman has deployed his personal resources more than the governor has done with state resources in the last four years.

Overall, my inevitable impression is that there is apparent deceit in the governor’s letter, which intention was to, once again, mislead members of the Edo public to gain traction with him in his electioneering and garner from them undue electoral sympathy. I think the governor has missed the point altogether.

Dennis, a public affairs commentator, contributed this piece from Ikeja, Lagos.

 

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