By Akanimo Sampson
In West African cuisine, there is a common ingredient that imparts both pungency and a spicy aroma to soups and stews. It is alligator pepper, also known as mbongo spice or hepper pepper. In Yoruba culture, when babies are born, according to Wikipedia, they are given a small taste of alligator pepper, atare, shortly after birth as part of the routine baby-welcoming process, and it is also used as an ingredient at traditional meet-and-greets.
In Igboland, alligator pepper, ósè ọ́jị́ with kola nuts are used in naming ceremonies, as presentation to visiting guests, and for other social events with the kola nut rite. The Igbo present and eat the alligator pepper together with kola nuts. In virtually every Igbo ceremony, alligator peppers and kola nuts are presented to guests at the top of the agenda and prior to any other food or entertainment. Prayers and libations are made together with kola nuts and alligator pepper.
Like in every Igbo ceremony, the name of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has been featuring very prominently in virtually any branch of the party with a crisis. Like in the Yoruba routine baby-welcoming process, Oshiomhole appears to be the atare used in welcoming the current Legislative arms of the governments of Edo and Bauchi states. Party chieftains enjoy dropping the name of the veteran labour leader in their messy affairs just as the comrade enjoys being on the spotlight.
Pioneer APC National Chairman and former Edo State Governor, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had in a veiled reference to his successor said that anyone who wants to remove Governor Godwin Obaseki and destabilise the state, is on the wrong side of history. According to him, ‘’the governor is delivering good governance to the people. They should wait until the party primary. I call on everyone to continue to support the governor.’’
The Obaseki/Ogbeide-Oyo dynasty in Edo had also debunked a wild smear campaign that there was disharmony between the family and their son, Governor Obaseki.
The smear came on the heel of reports that Obaseki had not only shut the door against politicians in the state but also against his extended family members. But, the Family Head, Pa Igbinokpogie Amadasun, in company of the Assistant Secretary of the family, Jackson Obaseki, said in Benin City, the state capital, that the governor did not close the door against his family and that members of the family were proud of the governor’s developmental strides.
‘’That members of the Obaseki family do not flock or hang around the Government House does not mean that they are in disharmony with the governor. We want to put the record straight that there is no rancour or conflicts between the governor and any section of the Obaseki/Ogbeide-Oyo family’’, he said as he described it as ‘’fallacious, baseless and untrue.’’
For the Obaseki/Ogbeide-Oyo dynasty, their son deserves the support of the people of Edo for a second term and not removal by any powerful individual.
From Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed, is blaming the Oshiomhole, for the crisis in the state House of Assembly, insisting that the APC chairman, not the APC in Bauchi nor the state’s lawmakers, is to blame. Governor Mohammed who is currently on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia stated this on Thursday in a statement by his Spokesperson, Ladan Salihu.
The state House of Assembly in June plunged into a leadership crisis following the election of the Speaker by 11 of the 31 members in the House. The House of Representative set up a panel to look into the crisis, which recommended that the present leadership of the assembly should be voided and the state governor should issue a fresh proclamation for the re-inauguration of the assembly.
Few weeks after the Reps’ resolution, 17 other lawmakers appeared at the chambers of the state Assembly where they eventually agreed to be sworn in by the speaker at a ceremony attended by the governor. But less than one week after presenting themselves for the inauguration, the lawmakers renounced their inauguration after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. The meeting was reportedly facilitated by Oshiomhole who has allegedly been calling for a fresh inauguration of the assembly.
The lawmakers were also accompanied by the immediate past governor, Mohammed Abubakar. They reportedly told President Buhari that the crisis was yet to be resolved. Though the lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Abubakar, the president said he will ensure the matter was looked into for a peaceful resolution after the Sallahholidays.
On his part, Governor Mohammed is insisting that the state House of Assembly remains one united family, claiming further that only eight of the 17 lawmakers visited the president, a seeming indication that he has the support of a majority of the legislators.
While the governor said ‘’the eight members led by the APC National Chairman were part of the 17 who were sworn in last week on the floor of the Assembly. All the 31 legislators are now members of one state Assembly’’, Salihu added that his principal appreciated the pronouncement of President Buhari to deal with the issue in line with the constitution because he is a president for all.
‘’What is clear is that our president was shortchanged with the relevant information by those who led the group for their personal interests and primordial dispositions. As far as the government and the people of Bauchi are concerned, the enforced disharmony is now history. Bauchi Legislature is one united family. The issue of another proclamation Is ludicrous. It is clear that our legislators are not the problem, neither is the APC. Oshiomhole is the problem. He is (a) clear and present danger to political stability in Bauchi. This explains why he excluded members of Edo State Assembly from the visit to the villa’’, the spokesperson said.
In the mean time, Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke in Benin as part of the preparation for his 80th birthday said removing the governor by whatever means will destabilise the state and make a mockery of her sovereignty as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. ‘’What is happening is a mystery to me and for funny reasons, we have been unable to get the story behind the story. All I know is that we have a government and the voice of the people says Obaseki deserves all the support that he can get’’, he said and called on all residents of the state to be law-abiding and allow the nation’s constitution prevail irrespective of the interests of some powerful persons in the corridors of power.
Continuing, he said ‘’the issue in contention is before a competent court of law. Thank God we have a constitution that binds everybody. I am amazed that the National Assembly or anybody would issue instructions to a sovereign governor. I am shocked and amazed but I believe that in the coming weeks and months, the law will prevail. I have never interfered in the running of the state but strangely, same is not the case and it is sad as people fail to realise we have two sovereignties: that of the president which reflects the nation and also the governor’s that reflects the state. Anyone that fights the governor undermines the sovereignty of the people of the state.’’
Akanimo Sampson is a veteran editor and columnist.