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Oshiomhole and the politics of Edo State 

By Sunny Ikhioya

  • Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, the present governor of Edo state is one person I have tremendous respect and admiration for;a great orator, cerebral analyst, brilliant administrator and very effective grass roots mobilizer. He is one who rides the opportunities as they come; as a local unionist at the Kaduna textile factory to becoming the head of the Nigerian Labour Congress as President.
  • Whether by chance/destiny or through his brilliance, or a combination of all, he has managed to come out as one of the symbols of our present democracy experience. But for his and team, it’s a wonder what President Olusegun Obasanjo would have done with this nation. Their confrontation stories are now legendary and not once did Oshiomhole avoid the set up trap. He brought respect and dignity to the labour union within and outside our shores through his quality contributions to labour matters. You can always count on Oshiomhole’s perfect delivery on any matter that he is handling. He was so good that the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi considered the governorship position too little for him, urging him to go for the ultimate prize of President. When the APC party was shopping for a presidential candidate, not a few of us expected Oshiomhole to throw his hat in the ring but the sociological implications of our nation’s politics –ethnic and religious- ensured that he remained in the background. Oshiomhole is wise enough to identify the battle that he can win, not the presidential ticket of the APC party in the year 2015.

  • Oshiomhole
  • Incidentally, this was the period that a different side of Oshiomhole’s personality began to manifest. Oshiomhole had not been too strong on religion prior to this time and the general impression was that he tilted towards Islam. In fact, at a time the Aliyu in his name was more pronounced than Adams. Suddenly, in the heat of the activities to pick a Vice Presidential candidate for Muhammadu Buhari, Oshiomhole came out with an official statement for the general public to know that his religion is Christianity and not Islam. Then the Muslim-Muslim ticket for the APC was totally ruled out, not a few of us wondered why Oshiomhole will come up with such declaration at that time.
  • After his successful re-election and with the victory of the APC and Buhari as President, Oshiomhole became a different man, emboldened, eager to be heard, eager for confrontation with anybody, over enthusiastic on Federal matters- even though we have paid hands to perform such assignments- and ready to damn any consequence. People of Edo and Delta states began asking the question; what does Oshiomhole want? A good General knows the risk of exposing his troop to many flanks during a war, but not so for Oshiomhole, he was firing from all cylinders, never caring whose ox is gored. As a result, at this point in time, we are unable to determine what will be the political consequences of his actions in the forthcoming governorship elections; both within his party and without there are disgruntled persons. Is Oshiomhole not planning to leave on a high note like he did at the NLC? We wait and see.
  • But, a very close study of his performance since his second coming has shown that , all of these political distractions have made his performance to fall below expectations when compared with his first term tenure. For a man that has ridden to victory on the back of one man one vote mantra, it is ironic that Oshiomhole now wears the tag of a godfather, of course he defended his action by saying that it is incumbent on him to play a part in the emergence of his successor but he compounded the whole issue by citing the example of Bola Tinubu and Fashola. As a self confessed democrat, is that the kind of example, of imposition that he wants to set for Edo state? Is he angling to become the Tinubu of Edo state politics? Has he bothered to find out how Tinubu has managed it? Does he think that Edo state will accept it like majority of the Yoruba states did? Has he forgotten the rejection of Tinubu by the Ekiti and Ondo people, next door neighbours to Edo? It will be a very big dent to Oshiomhole’s record if he fails to conduct a very transparent and successful transition in the governorship race of Edo state both within his party and without.
  • Another point to ponder here is; does it mean we cannot get a credible candidate to take over from Oshiomhole in a free and fair contest without his open endorsement of anybody? The democratic process is simple and straight forward, if our politicians do not come with their selfish interest; conduct free ward elections and pick representatives, then go to local government levels and choose amongst the ward representatives, then to the Senatorial  levels and the state. If the people pick their leaders transparently, there will be no confusion.
  • Is Oshiomhole fighting for the politics of after service as an ex governor? That is the question people are asking, it is worthy of note that he acknowledged the helplessness of the godfather once the new man is sworn in, therefore the solution is not in imposition or openly backing a particular candidate. The solution is in conducting a peaceful,credible and bias free primaries to choose the leaders. It is not every time that the best leader comes out through a democratic process but more often than not, they get a leader that is generally accepted and this reduces tension, which creates an avenue for peace and under a peaceful atmosphere the people thrive.
  • The other beauty of democracy is that if the people are wrong in their choice(s), they have another chance in just four years to correct their mistakes through another election. Oshiomhole must leave a legacy of true democracy in Edo state, if not, posterity will not judge him favourably, despite all that he has been gifted with.

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