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On Governor Oshiomhole's metamorphosis

11 February 2016, 12:51 Isaac Asabor

If there is any leader that has always held me spellbound each time he mounts the soap box to speak, he is the Governor of Edo state, Governor Adams Oshiomhole. No doubt, he has an oratorical prowess that is capable of arresting the attention of any of his listeners. What about his dress sense? I usually see him as one that impresses it upon his admirers that he is a dyed-in-the-wool labor activist as he was wont to adorn shirts that is made with khaki fabric. Without being funny, he has stylishly resorted to adorning English suit thereby impressing it upon his admirers that the days of labor struggle and Aluta continua are over. This goes to show that he is a leader that is capable of metamorphosing from one personality to another with unequalled ease.  For instance, he can behave as an activist like he was wont to do in his hey days as an iconoclastic labor leader; even as a sitting governor.   

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not ceased to attract the fancy of many people since his hey days as an iconoclastic labor leader. In the recent times, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Coordinating minister of the economy, has come under his scathing treatise as he accused her of gross mismanagement of the nation’s economy in the last four years and feeding Nigerians with half-truths. The governor has seemingly not discarded his skills of throwing tantrums, which he acquired as a labor leader as he had also in the recent past dragged the former minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe to the battlefield by telling him that he was afraid of President Muhammadu Buhari’s planned probe of several billions of naira squandered on the East-West road and on the Amnesty programme under his watch as Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs. The governor added by saying  that the  fear of an impending probe was what triggered Mr. Orubebe’s latest outburst in the media. As both leaders exchange trantrums, Orubebe on his part described the governor as a “Villa Sycophant”.

No doubt, many Edolites apparently looked up to him. But as it is today, favourable perception about him is fast eroding. No thanks to his metamorphosis into a political godfather. His apocalypses  was so unexpected as many paradoxically never knew that beneath his feat of destroying the myth of  ‘godfatherism' that himself is a godfather and has a godson in the person of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the Chairman of the Economic Team of the Edo state government. Recall that before Oshiomhole threw his political weight behind Obaseki that  the political turf in the forthcoming primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo state was opened for the incumbent Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu, a former governor of the state, Prof. Osarhiemen Osunbor, the commissioner of Works, Barrister Osarodion Ogie, the governorship candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party , PDP,  in 2012, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, a former minister of state, Works, Dr. Chris Ogienmwonyi and educationist, Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon. It is sad to say that the political calculation earlier arrived at by political pundits ahead of the gubernatorial election scheduled for the month of November 2016 has changed with the widely rumored and reported support of the governor for  Mr. Obaseki.

To this writer, the undemocratic move of the governor is diametrically opposed to the tenets of an ideal democracy and the political principle which he believes in and espouses. It would be recalled in this context that the then Comrade Adams Oshiomhole rode to power on the wings of ‘anti-godfatherism’.

The governor who is not denying his support for a candidate towards the party’s primary election that is scheduled for the month of March 2016, in a meeting held in Benin-city with members of the APC drawn from the three senatorial districts of the state on January 14, 2016 assured all governorship aspirants within the party that a level playing field would be provided but that all aspirants should be ready to slug it out at the party’s primary where his successor would emerge. At the meeting, he disclosed to all the attendees that he will exercise his right to support a candidate of his choice, and that he would be indifferent to the choice of his successor from the lot that are jostling for party’s gubernatorial ticket.

The governor at the meeting told APC members that the insinuation that he was scheming to impose an inexperienced candidate on Edolites cannot be justifiable. The governor at the meeting reassured the members that there would be primaries but that as enshrined in the constitution he would not be neutral or aloof in matters that affects his environment. This sounds very convincing, but it appears that the governor has completely jettisoned the political principles of  “one-man-one-vote” and “war-against-godfatherism” which he stood for, particularly in 2012.  

 Before now, I erroneously perceived the governor to be a leader that is strictly principled having been his follower and have seen him to be a dogged fighter for the masses. At various times, he fought for the improvement of the lot of the workers and the masses  and consequently fought  all godfathers in Edo state to a standstill. Today, with Oshiomhole’s apostasy or metamorphosis, I must confess that I am highly disappointed of his sudden transformation into a godfather.  I tried so much to disbelieve the news each time flip through the newspapers but the hush-hush tone with which it is being discussed in Benin-city and surrounding villages is compelling enough for one to belief the story.

I am even more disappointed when I read Steve Ikelebe’s piece titled “Oshiomhole, Godfather And The Godson” published in the Leadership newspaper of February 6, 2016. Mr. Ikelebe, who wrote from Auchi in Edo state opinionated in one of the paragraphs thus:

“The second most visible example of godfatherism gone awry is the current fight between Lucky Igbinedion, his father, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and Governor Adams Oshiomhole himself whose 2007 election was allegedly bankrolled by the Igbinedion’s family. Even though the Igbinedion’s family didn’t pill pressure on Governor Oshiomhole for patronage, their understanding, perhaps may be to protect former governor Lucky Igbinedion from prosecution who is now an ex-convict. Governor Oshiomhole honoured that pact until Pastor Ize-Iyamu strong showing in the build up to the 2016 election.”

In the same piece Ikelebe expressed his views by saying that “In 2007, without mincing words, Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s governorship mandate was achieved on the ethos of eliminating “The Godfather” in our body politics; a feat vigorously executed with pump and fanfare. Fliers and billboards were abound across the state at the time loudly proclaiming the Death of “The Godfather”. The leaflets and billboards glowingly painted the drawbacks of endorsement and godfatherism to it submit as the darkest devilement that milks and arrests development to enrich the godfather; godson and their cronies with all their smug morality.”

Permit me to opine at this juncture that whatever compelled the “comrade governor”, as he is popularly called to metamorphosed to a ‘godfather’ has surely become his undoing. In my view, it is not late for him to retrace his steps. He ought to have heeded to the advice of Benin Leaders of Thought, BLT, who warned him last month to eschew the politics of godfatherism.

The need for him to retrace his step cannot be mistaken when seen from the perspective of the fact that it would save his name from been documented in the bad book of Edo’s politics.

Suffice it to say that the speech of the former chairman of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) at the Retreat on Capacity Building for Zonal/State Publicity and Organizing Secretaries, organized by the PDP national Secretariat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on December 13, 2012 should be scary enough for Oshiomhole to retrace his steps from the dangerous game of godfatherism.

At the memorable event in the country’s political history, Nwodo blamed godfathers for non performance of some state governors. He said the governors were tied to the apron strings of godfathers with whom they shared state’s monthly allocation.  As an Edolite, I will not hesitate to use this medium to advise Governor Oshiomhole that Edo state treasury should not be managed the way Dasuki and his “friends” managed the fund that was meant for the procurement of ammunitions to fight the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency.

At the occasion, Nwodo further said that the sharing of monies between godfathers and godsons negatively impacted on the development of the states. Dr. Nwodo  condemned   the overbearing nature of godfathers who were wont to influence almost all the decisions of their godsons. 

He noted then that the verdict of the people must be allowed to prevail in the selection of candidates for election. He said the people’s decision was very important as they knew the aspirants. Hear his words that  is still reverberating and relevant: “Those who are elected as party officials or as the party’s candidates are given certificates of return, a copy of code of ethics for party officials and in the case of candidates, a copy of party’s constitution and a copy of our manifesto.” Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient that Oshiomhole follow the right path of an ideal democracy and let Edolites that are affiliated to the APC choose the candidate they want for the people.

As I conclude this piece, it is expedient to let the governor realize that supporting any candidate for the APC forthcoming governorship primaries in the state would be dangerous for the democratic development of the state. Once again, he is through this medium advised to refrain from supporting any candidate in order to pave the way for a level playing field at the primary and by extension a free and fair election at the gubernatorial election.

- MyNews24

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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