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Contemplating Obaseki’s long, divisive goodbye



In the human story, goodbyes are usually simple, touching transitions.  But deploying quirky hubris, cant and divisiveness, the outgoing Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has ignobly tried to change the narrative. I was reading the book of Daniel Chapter 5 earlier in the week and the story of King Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, who was the notorious Babylonian King was very instructive even as it provided a compelling insight into the governorship of Obaseki. 

For those who do not know the story about how the Kingdom of Babylon was divided and taken from the lineage of Nebuchadnezzar, I would quote verbatim verses 1-31 so that those who do not want to touch the Holy Bible can, at least, read it from this write-up.

Ok, here we go:

1.    Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.

2.    Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.

3.    Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.

4.    They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

5.    In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

6.    Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

7.    The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.

8.    Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.

9.    Then was King Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished.

10.  Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live forever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

11. There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the King Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;

12. Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.

13. Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?

14. I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

15.And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:

16.And I have heard of thee that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chai of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

17. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

18. O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour:

19.And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.

20. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him:

21. And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.

22. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;

23.But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

24. Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

25.And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

26.This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

27.TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

28.PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

29.Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30.In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.

31.And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

As I was reading this Chapter, it was the Kingdom of Edo and the incumbent monarch that occupies Osadebe Avenue that were flashing through my mind. I thought about Nebuchadnezzar, the father of Belshazzar, who was, because of the impunity that defined his reign, punished by God and was made to spend seven years in the bush with wild creatures where he was eating grass for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And, in the narrative, his son was walking in the path of his father and daring God. He commanded that they should bring the golden and silver vessels which his father ,Nebuchadnezzar, had taken out of the temple, which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.

It was in the same hour that the judgment of God was pronounced upon him and his Kingdom through the instrumentality of the fingers of a man’s hand that came forth, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.  And the writing, according to Verse 25 is this: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  The title of this piece had been explained in Verses 26, 27 and 28. The explanation is more dramatically presented in: “Numbered, numbered, divided”, which flags down attention to this piece.

As I read, I remembered some historical occurrence and development around the great Kingdom of Benin and the great relationship between Ovoranmwen Nogbaisi and his friend and Chief, Agho Obaseki (later the Iyase), which went awry on the grounds of alleged betrayal of one by the other to the British Colonial masters. The banishment of Ovonramwen to Calabar and his fatal terminus on my mind. Fast forward. Some dots have continued to be connected.  I remembered Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his friend, Godwin Obaseki, who for eight years issued out diktats from Osadebe Avenue. 

Oshiomhole had handed over the baton to Obaseki, his Chief Economic Adviser, to continue from where he stopped, believing that Obaseki would keep fidelity to the continuity philosophy.  It was a matter of trust.  But what Oshiomhole got as a recompense was lip service to build on the legacy built by him (Oshiomhole) during his eight-year administration. And, when I tried to put together the jigsaw puzzle that Obaseki’s first term has become – his inability to to manage victory; his failure to secure the second term ticket of his party; the avalanche of resignations by his aides; the expenditure of Edo money, which he said he would not give to APC leaders, on procuring the PDP platform and the governorship ticket for himself and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu, I could clearly see a divided Kingdom, a lost opportunity to renew and revalidate governance mandate, with a confetti and whiff of numbered days.

The D-Day, the day of reckoning has come, not like a thief in the night, but this time round, it came in a gradual and sure-footed fashion, even as Obaseki had been expecting and relating with the reality of an endgame with an arrogance that still confounds.  If his administration had performed just like Oshiomhole did in his first term and on which basis, he secured a second term, defeating the PDP in all of the eighteen local government areas, it would have been a different kettle of tea altogether.  His four-year reign has been uninspiring and yet he expects to get an inspiring result from Saturday’s plebiscite.

Perhaps, the razzmatazz by the PDP leaders, typical of noisy opposition politics, must have perhaps served to diminish the magnitude of the potential electoral damage of the political hara-kiri of dumping the APC for the PDP. His confidence is a product of incurable optimism. 

Right from the day he lost the trust of the vast majority of APC leaders, defied the overtures of the different organs of the APC-led Federal Government to submit to some reconciliatory arrangements; the effrontery to shun the revered Oba of Benin in the process and, to boot, the orchestration of unconscionable and malicious attacks against some Edo sons, especially business mogul, Captain Hosa Okunbo, it was evident that the days of Obaseki’s reign were numbered and his government was already divided and the greater half of it given to another. 

That other person is the candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu-whose crowning will be effected on Saturday at a plebiscite that holds much significance to the future and destiny of Edo and her people. This is my conclusion of the whole matter: APC will win the Edo poll on Saturday. Sancta simplicitas.