By Ikhili Ebhalu, Benin City

'Make up your mind and prepare to return the stolen mandate given you in 2016', is the strong message being sent to Governor Godwin Obaseki as he strategises for re- election.

 No doubt, ghosts from the past are haunting the Edo State Governor.  Literarily swept to  to power strapped to the back of his godfather and predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki never knew the rough terrain travelled. And may still yet not be conversant with the terrain.

Gov Obaseki in fighting his erstwhile godfather, Comrade Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the ruling APC, also attracted fire from Oshiomhole's foot soldiers like Tony Adun, aka Tony Kabaka for  example.

Typical of Nigerian elections where the masses could be manipulated at will, Tony Kabaka is one of the Generals of the street army which determines the swing in Edo politics during elections. Under Oshiomhole, he was one of the government appointed revenue collectors, a position he enjoyed with other leaders of road transport employers/ workers union.

Kabaka had become wealthy and influential in Edo APC and when Obaseki fell out with Oshiomhole, he knew where his bread was buttered. His pro-Oshiomhole tendencies  forced Obaseki to move brutally against him

Call it naivety or  despotic tendency, but Obaseki began to lose it by getting into a power tussle with Oshiomhole.  Obaseki certainly forgot his roots, that he got into politics as an urbane technocrat, having  tasted  power, he appears to forget that beside Oshiomhole, he is a Lilliputian

It was therefore shock beyond measure, for  the highly cultured Edo people  to behold their once urbane governor  acting in the brash and braggadocious manner of  a street urchin, an  agbero. That was when he ordered the demolition of  T. Latifa Hotel and Suites, a hotel belonging to Tony Kabaka while the matter was yet undecided in court.

Obaseki's action sent ripples across the State, and the elders explained it  as gradual unfolding  of the proverb: "Those the gods want to destroy, they first make mad"

Like a prophecy of doom coming to pass, Gov Obaseki's lust for power may have drawn him to the deep end of the river, and his fate is anyone's guess. Indeed, he is like that fellow who leapt without looking. 

Was it paranoia? Or guilt? Whichever may be the case, extreme ambition appears to be Obaseki's major challenge, to the extent that he possibly  sees his own shadow drawing the dagger on him.

In addition, his guilty past cannot be wished away, especially as Kabaka is singing it from the rooftops   how Gov Obaseki's mandate came to be:

"When Obaseki was coming on board, we rob (sic) that mandate; We rob it and give (sic)  it to  Obaseki. Ize-Iyamu have (sic) come to take his mandate", he sang during a recent interview

It will be recalled that during that 2016 governorship election, early  but unofficial reports from some polling centers had put Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the lead with a wide margin against Obaseki.

PDP supporters were thus waiting  with high hopes for INEC's official  announcement that will usher in celebrations but what they got was a shock, a result so unexpected.

 Ize-Iyamu  outrightly rejected the election results, as did other parties who participated in the elections. Ize-Iyamu went  from the election tribunal to the courts and lost. The rest is history as Obaseki and the APC took over the seat of government in Edo State.

Countdown to Edo 2020 guber election, Ize-Iyamu has defected from PDP APC, and is  said to be favoured by Oshiomhole to fly APC's flag. Obviously Obaseki wouldn't go down without a fight.

Though Obaseki has used executive powers to stop Oshiomhole's perceived excesses, besides other moves to diminish his power-grip on Edo grassroots, it is quite obvious that he, Obaseki does not control the streets.

Observers of Edo politics know that the streets is where much of the election is won or lost,  and it is the likes of Kabaka and co that rule the streets in Edo. Expectedly, Obaseki may unwillingly return the stolen mandate given to him in 2016.