By Davidson Momoh
A few years a man bathed himself in Lemon juice and robbed two banks in Pittsburgh, USA. He did not wear a hood or a face mark. He thought with a bath in lemon juice all the scanners and CCTV cameras in the banking hall would not capture him. He was successful or so he thought, in robbing the banks and went home happy with lots of money stuffed in his backpack, enough to last a life time.
But he was wrong as that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. He was identified as the bank robber. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. “But I wore the juice,” he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler thought that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would render him invisible to videotape cameras. After all, lemon juice is used as invisible ink so, as long as he didn’t come near a heat source, he should have been completely invisible.
From praising the National chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to eulogising him for giving him a lifetime opportunity to serve, at his swearing in as Edo state governor in 2016, Mr Godwin Obaseki in 3-years, has come a long way, from being a humble person into a near tyrant. With his words to his actions within a short span of three years, this is one man who has demonstrated that the heart of man is desperately wicked as in Jeremiah 17:9. Here the Prophet Jeremiah in the New International version says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”.
To be deceitful according to a dictionary means an act of keeping the truth hidden, especially to get an advantage. The story is told of how Obaseki played dumb, hardly uttering a word as Head of Economic Team in the State government from 2008-2016. Wickedness on the other hand is conduct that is morally bad or wrong. The very act of being deceitful is itself a wicked thing. Hear Obaseki when he assumed office: “I am humbled by the profound honour and pride of succeeding a Governor who in the last eight years provided dedicated, inspired, fearless and indefatigable leadership and transformed our Great State in ways most people, considered impossible”.
Mr Godwin Obaseki added, “Taking the reigns of office from our one and only Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, my leader and mentor, who is also leader and mentor of many of us is an honour that I will always treasure. I will always respect and hold very dear his love, trust, confidence, counsel and inspiration. Comrade Governor, I want to thank you, here in the presence of all the people and before the whole world for being the leader you have been for the people of Edo State, for the wisdom with which you have pursued our common interests and well-being, for being all that you have been to me. I want to assure you that as we take over today from where you stopped, I have resolved to build on your legacy”.
A year into office, Obaseki addressing APC party leaders and supporters across the state said, “I am here as governor today because of your support and I will never forget it. As an administration, we will work directly with the people and ensure that everybody is carried along in the running of government. We will fulfil our campaign promises because the era of executing projects just because of elections are over”.
Mr Godwin Obaseki added, “That is the difference between APC and PDP, we don’t deceive people but they deceive people. APC government believes in fulfilling its promises and that is what Oshiomhole did and that is what we are doing today. This government is a continuation of that of Oshiomhole who laid the foundation which we are building on today. We will do our best to serve our people; we will never be intimidated from doing the right thing. Our dream is to have an Edo that will surpass the successes we have witnessed in Lagos State”.
Mr Godwin Obaseki even had a luncheon for his cabinet and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state after the Thanksgiving Service to celebrate his two-year anniversary as governor of the state and even acknowledged the achievements of his predecessor, which he said his government was building on. He explained that “two years on, Edo people are celebrating the progress we have made in all sectors of the state as he tanked Edo people and residents for their support and encouragement, adding that the input from the people helped the administration to perform better. God has endowed the state and placed her in a unique location. We all should be patient and trust God to help us make more progress”.
Progress came as the APC had won the Presidential and State assembly elections in Edo with a landslide. By June 2019, the 24- member APC house of assembly was due for inauguration. But this is a news report of what happened: “According to a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Strategy to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, and released to journalists at exactly 1.39am on Tuesday, the inauguration took place with nine of the 24 members-elect present. The statement claimed that the inauguration took place at the Chamber of the Assembly complex at about 3pm on Monday. Sources close to the Assembly who did not want to be named, however said the inauguration actually took place at about 9.30 pm, presided over by the Clerk of the House, Alhaji Audu Yahaya Omogbai.
A picture of the inauguration showed one of the lawmakers wearing a black vest and jacket on a pair of short knickers. According to the statement, “members present at the inauguration included Hon. Nosa Okunbor; Hon. Henry Okuarobo; Hon. Uyi Ekhosuehi; Hon. Marcus Onobun; Hon. Ephraim Anehbosele; Hon. Roland Asoro; Hon. Eric Okaka; Hon Frank Okiye and Hon Yekini Idiaye”.
The much-anticipated inauguration of the Edo state House of Assembly took place in Benin City at around 3pm, on Monday, June 17, 2019. The Clerk of the Edo House of Assembly, Alhaji Audu Yahaya Omogbai, ushered the members-elect into the chamber and read out the letter of proclamation transmitted to the office of the clerk by the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. After reading the letter, the Clerk proclaimed the House and the 9:members-elect present began the process of electing the House leadership, with Rt. Hon. Frank Okiye of Esan North East Constituency I, emerging the Speaker, while Hon. Yekini Idiaye of Akoko Edo Constituency I, was elected Deputy Speaker”.
Those who read minds said it was with the Edo assembly tragedy that Obaseki began to think he is invincible and fulfil the Jeremiah prophesy because the assembly crisis dovetailed into the inaugural convocation of the Edo University at Iyamho, where the Chancellor and Oba of Lagos were attacked on their way to Lunch at Comrade Oshiomhole’s villa. Though Oshiomhole apologized for the episode, the Edo state government led by Obaseki knowing what happened, gave the incident different interpretations.
Then photos of Obaseki sleeping at the UN Office in New York went viral as the Edo State Government reacted and rationalized the pictures of the governor sleeping while President Muhammadu Buhari was delivering his speech at the United Nation’s conference. In a statement signed by Crusoe Osagie, the special adviser to the governor on media and communication strategy, the government rather than apologise to Edo people, Nigerians and Africans said, ” Mr Obaseki can also experience fatigue and exhaustion, an indisputable fact of life, to which all humans are susceptible”.
There is no doubt that, “illusion of confidence” permeates our everyday life. If you watch any talent show on television today, you will see the shock on the faces of contestants who don’t make it past auditions and are rejected by the judges. While it is almost comical to us, these people are genuinely unaware of how much they have been misled by their illusory superiority. No one knows what Obaseki saw while asleep on that UN Hall but it was after the nap in New York that the man came to Benin City to mark his third year in office.
At his annual Alaghodaro jamboree in 2019, days after sleeping in New York, Mr Godwin Obaseki said, “In spite of the very difficult and uncertain political environment in which we have operated in the last one year, we are grateful to God that we are able to achieve all these successes recorded, particularly engendering hope in the youths and people of Edo State by showing them pathways to fulfilling and successful lives”.
He said, “Next year is an election year in Edo State. Despite the anxieties associated with the forthcoming elections, I want to assure you, the chances of continuity of these policies and programmes are very high. We therefore encourage you to continue with your various investment programs. In the last three years, we have been guided and governed by certain key values and tenets such as accountability, transparency, and probity in the conduct of state matters. This may not have gone well with few actors in our society”.
By December 2019, the Mr Godwin Obaseki became something else. He had assumed new abilities including one to insult, abuse and pulldown his political mentor, by labelling him a godfather! At a time, Oshiomhole was attacked near his house in Benin City as the Governor banned rallies where former APC members like Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu and his supporters were to be received home to the party, and even threatened property owners with revocation of imaginary certificates of occupancy. He ordered that the National chairman of his party, APC get his permission to visit Edo though the Comrade is a full-blooded son of Edo, who served two terms as governor and was succeeded by Obaseki.
The offices and houses of Edo APC leaders were either fired at with guns or bombed without the governor as much as visiting victims or condemning the dastardly acts. Obaseki also orchestrated events at the ward where the National chairman of the party hail from to illegally suspend him even when they have no powers to do so. The peak was the blockade of the roads leading to the residence of Oshiomhole in Benin with state government lorries and holding of a street carnival when a court ordered Oshiomhole suspended as National chairman. The rest is history as Obaseki betrayed the trust of the man who gave him sight and has been seeking to destroy the party which helped him climb to the top with his newly acquired vision.
When McArthur Wheeler robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight, he didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Obaseki has not worn a mask either. The robbery saga caught the eye of a psychologist who reasoned that, while almost everyone holds favorable views of their abilities in various social and intellectual domains, some people mistakenly assess their abilities as being much higher than they actually are. This “illusion of confidence” is now called the “Dunning-Kruger effect,” and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.
And therein lies the key to not ending up like the witless bank robber. Sometimes we try things that lead to favorable outcomes, but other times—like the lemon juice idea—our approaches are imperfect, irrational, inept or just plain stupid. The trick is to not be fooled by illusions of superiority and to learn to accurately reevaluate our competence. After all, as Confucius reportedly said, real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance. For some they may never know. That’s the story of Obaseki, a man who has bathed himself in Lemon juice and now thinks he is invincible!
Experts say it’s typical for people to overestimate their abilities. The problem is that when people are incompetent, as aptly demonstrated by Mr Obaseki, not only do they reach wrong conclusions and make unfortunate choices but, also, they rob themselves of the ability to realize their mistakes by hurting everyone around them. As Charles Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man (1871): “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” interestingly, really smart people also fail to accurately self-assess their abilities. The difference is that competent people can and do adjust their self-assessment given appropriate feedback, while incompetent individuals like Obaseki cannot. But all that will soon end because Edo APC must remove this very incompetent Mr Godwin Obaseki !