Will Shaibu go into obscurity after 2024 governorship election?

By Izobo M.

Next year is a defining time in the political career of deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon Phillip Shaibu. By next year, Shaibu would have spent 17 years in the corridors of power.

2024 might, perhaps, be the last lap of Shaibu’s political career since he got elected in 2007. What is clear is that Shaibu will not get the support of his boss. Governor Godwin Obasek, if he (Shaibu) goes ahead to contest the primary of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2024 governorship election.

Shaibu, a former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) was once detained when he led student’s protest against military rule. He was first elected to the Edo State House of Assembly in 2007 under the defunct Action Congress at a time the Peoples Democratic Party held sway in the state.

When Comrade Adams Oshiomhole emerged Governor in 2008 through court pronouncement, Shaibu rose to prominence as he led the lawmakers that forced leadership change in the Assembly. The PDP had majority lawmakers in the Assembly as at the time Oshiomhole was sworn-in as Governor.

The PDP-led Assembly under late Zakawanu Garuba performed its role of an opposition as it refused to approve Oshiomhole’s nominees for the State Universal Basic Education Board. Its refusal stalled the new administration’s move to pay its counterpart fund to access N4.4bn.

The Assembly refused to clear some Commissioner’s nominees and also delayed passage of the 2009 budget. It was at the resident of late Chief Tony Anenih that the budget was passed after several projects were struck out.

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Oshiomhole had to get rid of PDP’s dominance of the Assembly and Shaibu led other lawmakers in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to support Oshiomhole.

Several re-run elections were won by the ANC and its members grew to 12. The ACN lawmakers forcefully chase out the PDP leadership in a fracas in which Shaibu was wounded and taken abroad for treatment.

Shaibu became the Majority Leader of theq Assembly and de facto Deputy Governor of Edo State. Having Oshiomhole as a political father, Shaibu used his influence to attract several projects to his constituency.

He was the first lawmaker to disclose to the public that N36m was given annually to Edo lawmakers to execute projects in their constituencies. Shaibu, as Oshiomhole’s ‘man-friday’ and confidant, saw him waged so much power and influence that it was easy for him to win election to the House of Representatives in 2015.

In 2016, Shaibu resigned from the House of Representatives to become Deputy Governor. As Deputy Governor, Shaibu enjoyed power and influence as Governor Obaseki gave him key roles.

He was tagged the most popular Deputy Governor in the country. Governor Obaseki also transmitted power to him when he went on vacation. This was unlike Oshiomhole that never transmitted power to his then Deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu.

Among the many duties Obaseki placed under Shaibu’s was revenue generation, youths empowerment and sports. This bonded Shaibu and Obaseki that Shaibu sided with Obaseki in 2020 against his political benefactor, Oshiomhole.

However, ahead of next year’s governorship election in Edo State, Shaibu’s political influence seemed to be waning. Shaibu wanted to succeed his boss but Obaseki is not ready to give blessings to Shaibu’s ambition. The man Obaseki has reportedly unveiled to key loyalist as his preferred successor is Asue Ighodalo.

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The political downturn of Shaibu began in the 2020 governorship election as Oshiomhole and the opposition APC won in Edo North. In the 2023 general election, Shaibu failed again to secure victory for the PDP as the APC won the senatorial seat, some House of Assembly seats and the House of Representatives seats in Edo North senatorial district where both Shaibu and Oshiomhole hail from.

Sources said the failure of the PDP to win the House of Assembly election in Edo North alerted Obaseki that Shaibu was no longer strong politically. Moreover, as stated by Obaseki, Shaibu plotted to work with the opposition APC to ensure a Speaker not loyal to Obaseki emerged. Obaseki, then, moved to cut Shaibu.

He locked him out a meeting with the elected lawmakers where Blessing Agbebaku was ticked to emerge Speaker. The Governor also stopped picking Shaibu’s call.

To avoid being cut unawares due to being shut out of the administrative activities by Obaseki, Shaibu filed a suit at the Federal High Court seeking protection from possible impeachment. This action by Shaibu provided Obseki the impetus to go all out against his Deputy. Obaseki said Shaibu’s ambition would distract his administration from finishing strong.

He further alienated Shaibu, sacked some of his loyalists and kicked him out of his office located within the Government House. It was intervention from religious, traditional and political leaders that saw Shaibu’s tendered a public apology.

Governor Obaseki has since forgiven Shaibu but many political analysts believed Shaibu has been a dealt a fatal political blow.

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Many persons have declared intention to run for Governor in the PDP. It is not clear if Shaibu will still contest. Shaibu has no grip on the PDP in Edo North.

Obaseki has made it clear to his political appointees that they should be loyal to him alone. How Shaibu planned to pull victory off Obaseki at the primary remained a mystery. If Shaibu fails at the primary, then his journey to political obscurity will begin.

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