The feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, appears to have worsened with the governor allegedly denying the deputy governor access to his office.
The gate leading to Mr Shaibu’s office inside the Government House was reportedly locked with chains and heavy padlocks when he arrived there on Monday morning.
There were reports recently that the deputy governor’s office had been relocated outside the Government House, amid the feud between him and Mr Obaseki.
But the deputy governor said he had yet to be informed that his office had been relocated outside the Government House.
An aide to the deputy governor, who asked not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Shaibu made unsuccessful efforts to phone the governor before leaving with his aides after waiting for about an hour at the gate.
He said Mr Shaibu enquired from the Government House Commandant, Ibrahim Babatunde, who told him that the directive was from the “above,” apparently referring to the governor.
When the Chief Security Officer at the Government House, Wabba Williams, was contacted by the deputy governor, he promised but failed to show up at the gate before the deputy governor left, he said.
“All that the deputy governor is asking is an official communication to move (to a new office). The movement is not a verbal thing because the office is a creation of law,” the aide told this newspaper.
“The governor has insisted that he does not want the deputy governor around him anymore. But he should do the right thing. We are still expecting his letter,” he added.
‘Access your new office instead’
When contacted on Monday afternoon, an aide to the governor, who asked not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES that the deputy governor’s office had since been relocated outside the Government House.
The aide said the deputy governor was free to access his new office and not the old office at the Government House.
When asked if the deputy governor was officially informed about the relocation of his office outside the Government House, the aide claimed it was “announced” through the deputy governor’s media team.
“The governor can’t lock him out because the governor has allocated a new office to him outside the Government House,” he said.
There has been a face-off between Messrs Obaseki and Shaibu after the deputy governor asked a court to stop an alleged plot by the governor to remove him from office.
Mr Obaseki has since denied the allegation and, subsequently accused Mr Shaibu of manipulating the youth council election in Edo State because of his (Shaibu’s) interest to contest for the 2024 governorship election in the state.
The feud between the duo appeared to have gotten messier in August when the governor sacked Mr Shaibu’s aides after the deputy governor staged a walk-out during a colloquium in the state
The deputy governor had staged the walkout after his media aides and security details were denied entry at the colloquium organised by the state government to mark the 60th anniversary of the Midwest Referendum in the state.
The governor and his deputy had been political allies for several years.
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.
But following the worsening feud between them, Governor Obaseki, earlier this month, told Mr Shaibu, that the “emilokan spirit” was unacceptable in the state’s politics and would not work in the 2024 governorship election in the state.
Emilokan, a Yoruba word that means “it is my turn,” was made popular by President Bola Tinubu during his campaign for the 2023 election.
The ideology behind the expression 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.
By bringing up the emilokan, Governor Obaseki was apparently telling Mr Shaibu not to feel that he was entitled to succeed him because he (Shaibu) had worked and supported him (Obaseki) during his political battles.
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