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By Emman Dania
In the words of Friedrich W. Nietzsche, a German philosopher, poet, philologist and a vowed cultural critic, “A politician divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies”. Nietzsche did not reckon with a latter and more deadly one in the Nigerian political space who, over the decades, has introduced a third genre called “frenemies (friends but enemies). This is a class that truly exemplifies the local adage that “it is always difficult to identify a lizard that is suffering from stomach ache, because all lizards crawl on their stomachs.”
This shadowy group of people (frenemies) is deeply exconsced in the uppermost pantheon of political organisations or like groups comprising of people from diverse backgrounds, callings and ethnocentric pedigrees. The “dog-eat-dog” mentality and operational mode of this segment of the party apparatchik, has, over the years, controlled and milked political parties without any regard for the good of the commonwealth, who they pretend to represent or act on behalf of.
They proffer all the “workable” solutions to perceived problems of the party or members of the party, even though they work underground to asphyxiate reason while demolishing logic that will threaten their position or rating within the party’s power matrix. To make matters worse, many members of this cadre of politicians, like the cuckoo, will lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and thereafter ascribe blames to them, if their adventures go awry.
The sages tell us that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, which in the case of the strident PDP-bashing that a supposed champion of the party’s corporate interest, has unleashed via the media, to rubbish its chances in the September 19, 2020 Governorship Election.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has survived myriads of internal crises of tsunamic proportions due to the deft political engineering of those party aficionados, who form the resilient inner core of the power matrix of the party that is touted, and rightly too, as the largest of its peers on the African continent. These committed party men and women do not look at the party’s trying times through the distorted prism of those with commercial and other selfish considerations and not what the party will gain on the long haul.
These visible commercial and garrulous politicians are always at the epicenter of the party’s activities and decision making. They, adeptly, initiate crises within the party and recruit collaborators to enhance their own visibility and relevance even though many of them lack electoral weight that can be deployed during local, state and national elections in the interest of their parties.
“Prince” Kassim Afegbua, erstwhile Special Adviser (Media) and Commissioner for Information and Orientation in the Adams Oshiomhole’s regime as Governor of Edo State, belongs to that coy conclave within political parties that tends to exploit the internal ideological divide built on selfish motives and aggrandisement.
He is well-known as one of the so-called party “chieftains” who deliberately festered disharmony, disunity and rank disloyalty from the sidelines, in his decades –old attachment to more than five political parties; while pretending to have state and national relevance. In the present and unfolding scenario of putting out vacuous social media posts, his well-known behavioural pattern of vilifying any political party, that says he is a member of, has enhanced his acclaimed rating as an “attack dog” who is known for biting its owner, even while on a leash.
Kassim’s tenure as Oshiomhole’s media appointee, was Goebbelian in conception and “Area Boyish” in serial execution. It was epitomized by unbridled innate rascality, bombast, trademark garrulity, combativeness and calculated insolence to Edo people and even to PDP or APC, depending on the side he was at any given period.
In many instances (as at now), Kassim’s chameleonic posturing put APC/PDP, in the penumbra of neo-negative propaganda spotlight through, either a deliberate but concealed anti-party motive or lack of professional savvy or both.
If an official of government, then, contributed most to the misunderstanding of its intention, that person was Kassim Afegbua, who usurped the job profiles of other media appointees of the Oshiomhole administration and reeled out half-truths or misinformation that further painted the Oshiomhole government with black tar.
Rather than help to reduce or eliminate collateral damage, occasioned by negative public opinion on either government’s actions or services, Kassim was reputed for displaying his well-known “attack dog” posturing’s and pronouncements which worsened matters and cast aspersions on the government he was serving. If anyone thinks that Kassim has grown up from his usual ways, then his current insolent binges like the one he tags “Obaseki’s” Politics of “Odoriferous” Saga” a ribald post that he has targeted at the current Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, has brought out his old ways.
In his usual “Notice Me” posturing, Kassim Afegbua is quarreling with the Edo State chapter of the PDP for not informing him or seeking his imprimatur and going ahead to “gift” Governor Obaseki with the PDP Governorship election ticket, inspite of the fact that he (Obaseki) just defected to the party. The question is: Does the Edo State chapter of the PDP need to seek for permission from Kassim Afegbua before select or elect anyone as candidate for any election from councillorship to the presidential?
In concept and deployment, the vile and bileous anti-Obaseki (and by extension, the PDP), tonality of Kassim’s aforementioned article, is calculated to weaken the PDP/Obaseki tag-team and partially upgrade the APC/Ize-Iyamu’s political market value and relevance – a ploy that will not translate to electoral gain or advantage.
The end-product of Kassim’s litany of actions, activities and anti-party pronouncements is to convey the false impression that the PDP made a fatal mistake in the choice of Governor Obaseki to run for a second term under the banner of the party, while he (Kassim), a self-proclaimed “conscience of the people” and a “functioning barometer” of the life-graph of his so-called “people”, would have been consulted for his approval or he will herald the nunc dimit’s of the party by refusing to cast his vote for Obaseki. In doing this, Kassim has suddenly assailed our collective sensibility by calling on Edolites (especially his Okpella people) to vote for the opposition, APC, because it will sate his ego to see Obaseki lose.
To those who know Kassim Afegbua, it is for his grandiloquence and grandstanding, his operating ploy of making people believe that he is a champion or purveyor of his people’s (Okpella) aspirations and yearnings. Kassim’s strident cacophony of pro-Okpella acapella of trumpeting an assumed but fairy-tale abandonment by the Obaseki administration, is self-serving, as he (Kassim is trying to atone for the banal living he exhibited while he was Special Adviser (Media) and Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Oshiomhole’sgovernment. It is street knowledge that Kassim, in spite of his being a ranking member of that government, did not attract or mentor any government’s human and infrastructure development to his Okpella homestead. He concentrated on his own personal economic reparation and not Okpella’s. Rather than pursue the interest of his ancestral homestead, Kassim wasted his many years in government or at its periphery and gained some renown, doing so. A “concealed key” role he played was in the negotiation to bring BUA Cement Factory to set up base in Okpellaconferred pecuniary advantage on him, in the process. Kassim did not trumpet his “Okpellaness” as he was more interested in wasting the state’s resources on “women and wine” than on the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the moribund state’s human and infrastructure development utilising his net worth or network in helping himself and his cronies while Oshiomhole was building a university and a mega city in Iyamho, his ancestral home.
One question that should be addressed by Kassim Afegbua is: What manner or magnitude of development by or progress has he been able to influence or attract to Okpella, from his attachment to retired General Ibrahim Babangida for more than a decade and a half, as the former military president’s town crier and later the human leech he became during Oshiomhole’s eight-year government? Okpella was not in his calculations.
If not, can Kassim Afegbua point to or verify any project, policy or programme he “fathered” during his many years in national or state politics? If Kassim Afegbuaso loved the youth of Okpella, why did he encroach on and later colonised a large portion of the land belonging to Ikpomaza Grammar School, Okpella, like a 15th century Lord of the manor, on the prowl? His gargantuan private housing development, has cut out a large swath of the school’s land and deprived it of space for future expansion.
This bare-faced forceful acquisition of the common patrimony of the Okpella youth has greatly exposed a small portion of how Kassim has defoliated the youth of Okpella, stridently.
Unfazed and undeterred, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its 2020 governorship candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, are determined and poised to provide those pristine qualities of good leadership that will engender a veritable platform of service, ensure good governance and the provision of those projects, programmes and policies that has endeared it to the good people of Edo State and Nigeria at large. Wet blankets like Kassim cannot key in.
Those who take delight in throwing stones into the village market will be offloaded like flotsams and jetsam’s from the new PDP that has evolved. Kassim may be one of those to be quarantined.
Emman Dania is a political analyst based in Benin City, Edo State.