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Gov Obaseki to deputy: ‘Emilokan’ won’t work in 2024 Edo election


Emilokan, a Yoruba word which means “it is my turn”, was made popular by President Bola Tinubu during his campaign for the 2023 election.

By Cletus Ukpong  

The feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, has continued to degenerate, with the governor sending an apparent warning to Mr Shaibu that the “emilokan spirit” was unacceptable in the state’s politics.

Emilokan, a Yoruba word which means “it is my turn”, was made popular by President Bola Tinubu during his campaign for the 2023 election.

The ideology behind the word as used then by Mr Tinubu was that he had worked for President Muhammadu Buhari to become the first opposition leader to be elected Nigerian president, and therefore it was his (Tinubu’s) turn to be president after Mr Buhari.

“The ‘Emilokan’ syndrome or spirit is not a strategy for winning elections and ruling Edo people,” the governor of Edo was quoted as saying on Tuesday, according to a statement forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES by Crusoe Osagie, the special assistant on media project to the Edo State Government.

Mr Obaseki made the remarks when the leaders of the Edo South Senatorial District paid a solidarity visit to him in the Government House, Benin.

The governor said the Edo people would not accept “Emilokan” as a strategy.

“They are not known for that. For us, it is the people that will decide,” he said, apparently referring to his deputy, Mr Shaibu, who is said to be nursing the ambition to contest for the 2024 governorship election in the state.

In their days in the All Progressives Congress (APC), during the intense political fights between Mr Obaseki and his erstwhile benefactor, Adams Oshiomhole, Mr Shaibu stood solidly behind Governor Obaseki.

Mr Oshiomhole, who was the APC national chairman then, blocked Mr Obaseki from getting the APC governorship ticket for his reelection bid, forcing him to move to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Mr Shaibu moved with the governor to the PDP, and both of them got a joint ticket and defeated the APC governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu Osagie, to win the election.

By bringing up the emilokan, Governor Obaseki is probably telling Mr Shaibu not to feel that he is entitled to succeed him.

Mr Shaibu recently asked the court to stop an alleged plot by Governor Obaseki to remove him from office.

The governor, meanwhile, has accused Mr Shaibu of manipulating the youth council election in Edo because of his (Shaibu’s) political ambition.

“What has happened in the last few months is strange, and even if you have ambition, this is not the time to express it. The timetable for the election is not out. You can’t be part of a government and also be the one to destabilise the same government,” the Tuesday statement quoted Mr Obaseki as saying.

“I thought we came together and will leave together and let the people say you have done a great job, and they will now make the decision themselves. They are the ones to say that come rain or sunshine; we must continue.

“You are telling the world one thing and yet doing another. You are loyal to your principal, and yet you are in court with your principal. Everybody has the right to be ambitious but do it the right way.”

Governor Obaseki said people have been blaming him for allowing his deputy to be “visible” in the administration.

“Elevating a Deputy Governor and making him visible is not a crime. But this I did because I want to build institutions rather than individuals. To mistake that and misuse it is really unfortunate, as you have created the impression that the deputy governor should not be given responsibility.

“People are already blaming me now for giving him responsibility and visibility, and it’s my fault. How can it be my fault when you want to groom young people? I believe when young people work with you, give them opportunities and expose them, preparing them for leadership positions in life, praying they don’t abuse the privilege.

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“I have no regret for exposing my deputy to power and leadership position. I have not made any mistakes, but he is the one that made the mistake. I hope he retraces his steps. He is the one that took me to court; he should be the one to talk to, not me. We are determined and focused to finish well, and with your support, we are sure to finish well,” the governor said.

Shaibu reacts

The deputy governor has, however, denied the existence of a rift between him and the governor.

According to a recent report by the Vanguard newspaper, Mr Shaibu said he remained loyal to Mr Obaseki and that “political jobbers” were trying to create a problem between him and the governor.

“Governor Obaseki and myself are committed to the continued development of Edo State.

“We are united in our determination to build a prosperous and inclusive society. I call on all well-meaning individuals to reject these divisive narratives and join in the quest to transform Edo State into a model of sustainable development and good governance. Edo State PDP politicians should embrace peace and seek unity to fight the common enemy,” Mr Shaibu was quoted as saying.

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