Troublesome Ize-Iyamu  versus labour warlord Oshiomhole, who wins Edo State! / Pastor Osagie Ize-iyame

Would Pastor Ize-Iyamu indeed win the Edo gubernatorial elections at the expense of iron man Oshiomhole? Are there really the prospects of the APC being unseated in Edo State? Amazing, so soon, the APC is becoming the butt of criticisms over postponement of elections. Guess who in the immediate past, would have been deploying media machinery to cry foul! These are really interesting times. 

It’s battle on many fronts for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State. The mission is to replace restive labour warlord, Comrade Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole whose times in the governance of Edo State, Nigeria are elapsing.

The odds against Pastor Osagie Ize – Iyamu are enormous. The greatest of his challenges is the fact that National leaders of the PDP on whose platform he is contesting are embroiled in a destruct battle over the control of its leadership.

How suddenly the times have changed for the PDP! Ordinarily, this is an election for which it would have deployed sufficient arsenal to win. Where are the “Ghana Must Go” bags from the Presidency? Where is the back up of Federal might requisite for shutting up that “noisome festering sore” called Adamu Oshiomhole? What would have been a better opportunity other than this election to cut him to size?

These indeed are really odd and unusual times in Nigeria. Things are indeed slipping from the political norm. Who is that moneybag that would now openly bankroll campaigns without due fear and caution against the prying eyes of those troublesome nosy men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission?

Power is transient and interestingly so. Before our eyes, it is the turn of Africa’s acclaimed largest political party to eat the humble pie of being in opposition. The money bags in the All Progressives Congress  (APC) can afford to take their turn in all familiar operation spend the money positive to a reasonable extent of receiving some protection from the centre. They can buy as much of the people’s consciences as possible. And for most of the impoverished electorate, it is pay time. Time to again, mortgage the conscience at least to have a fair slice of the national cake. After all, no bi our money?

Ordinarily, Osagie’s tall frame which has him towering above fellow contestants should give him an edge. But then, humanity long realized that these types of battles aren’t won by brawn.  Pray, what then is the basis for Osagie Ize- Iyamu nursing such grandiose optimism that he could outfox Adams Oshiomhole?

Couldn’t Pastor Ize Iyamu have read between the lines and simply given up?   How come, he is so confident, expecting a skillful glide over the odds? Did the man of God receive an encouraging nod from God?

Ize- Iyamu’s keenest fellow contestant, Oshiomhole’s protégé , Mr Godwin Obaseki should be all toothy now. All things working according to norms, the fact that he is the anointed successor to the Governor should be enough reason for him to expect to be the next to govern Edo State. Does he really need be perturbed?

I wish to volunteer a few explanations as to what could belie the ambition of Pastor Osagie Ize – Iyamu - my dear colleague of that great alma mater, Edo College, Benin City. These may have him upset the apple cart.

I have a priviledge of knowledge Pastor Osagie Ize – Iyamu who for whatever reasons, was simply nicknamed Pelebe at Edo College in the mid/late 1970s. Make no mistake about it, Pastor Ize- Iyamu would give Oshiomhole and his companions in the APC a run for their money. I was with Pelebe  for five years in Ozolua House, a house named after the Benin warrior King Ozolua n'Ibaromi (Ozolua the Conqueror). Oba Ozolua reigned as the Oba of Benin Kingdom from 1483-1514.  A true son of his father, Ewuare the Great ( reigned 1440 -1473), Ozolua is said to have extended the frontiers of the Benin kingdom from the Niger River in the east  to Lagos in the west. Ozoluans never give up, ditto Pelebe! The Osagie Ize – Iyamu we knew, was tough and yet simple. He had every fun that the school afforded. He was a typical Benin who had sufficient confidence and spine to take on challenges. He was strategic and was known to win his combats. The APC need be advised not to sleep with their eyes shut.

Pastor Ize – Iyamu has also seen it all in the political leadership of Edo State. He is at home with the political machinery of the two prominent political parties - the PDP and APC.  He has at different times helped candidates of either party win elections. Never have the illusion that he will not now be availing himself of those killer strategies.

Here are verifiable facts. Ize – Iyamu was part of the PDP led government of Edo state, serving as Chief of Staff and later Secretary to the Edo State Government under the leadership of Dr. Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion, Executive Governor of Edo State (1999 – 2007).  He was also the Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation.

He later switched camp to the opposition and became National Vice Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) one of the precursors of the APC. Here, he served as Director General of Oshiomhole’s 2nd term Campaign Organisation. These are no mean achievements.  He has learnt the ropes and should be capable of springing surprises.

Ize-Iyamu is back in the opposition party after falling out of the favour of Governor Adams Oshiomhole. The Comrade Governor’s anointed man is Godwin Obaseki, the Chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team that was inaugurated in March 2009.

As expected, there have been bitter exchanges. Oshiomhole has gone great lengths attempting to cripple the PDP machinery. Despite having played a critical roll in his own election, Oshiomhole would refer to Ize-Iyamu’s troubled past and central role in the governance of Edo State during the times of Dr. Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion.

On his part, Pastor Ize- Iyamu readily accuses the government of Oshiomhole of giving the people of Edo State less relative to huge spend. Painfully so, as some of the projects had to be sourced through external loans. The Ize - Iyamu campaign organization has often requested the people of Edo state to look beyond Oshiomhole’s cheap talks and demagoguery. They give incisive analyses of decayed infrastructure and mindless leadership.

These stinging attacks have of course drawn the ire from Oshiomhole. It’s been spates of attacks, requesting the Edo electorate not to trust his former aid. For obvious reasons, Oshiomhole is desparate to have his anointed Godwin Obaseki win the race. He is letting nothing to chance. He upped the ante in having President Buhari and the APC machinery literarily shut down Benin in the mother of all rallies!

Would Governor Oshiomhole have his way? However much his spend, he cannot be too sure of the outcome of this election. Ordinarily, his selling point should be proof that there is relatively better infrastructural development of the state during his administration. His waterloo would be disagreement by the citizenry. Edo State people are well travelled, educated and sharp minded. Should they feel shortchanged, then the Oshiomhole – Godwin Obaseki camp have reasons to be worried.

Not a few Edo people accuse Oshiomhole of unfair deal. He is said to be so archaic. Rather than have development go round, he would deny some communities their due because they didn’t vote for him. In some cases, he is unto cosmetic projects just to buy votes.  They accuse him of being callous - readily pointing to his volte face in the handling of a poor widow whom he had asked to “go and die”. He is also accused of nepotism. Ize- Iyamu would querry why the governor would be establishing Edo University in his hometown, Iyamho when the existing Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma is underfunded.

Also, this election is taking place in a most uncomforting period for Nigerians. Inflation is all time high. The fight against corruption has for the moment not translated to placing food on the tables of Nigerians. There is palpable discontent and rumbling in the land as most promises of the APC have hardly been delivered. The excuse of the APC has always been corruption, the squandering of resources during the administration of the immediate past regime of President Goodluck Jonathan. Of course too, the plummeting oil prices and restiveness in the North East and the Niger Delta. However, when a man is hungry, you can’t expect sustained interest in explanations. No bi so?

There are further reasons why the APC need fear. There is a chapter of Benin history that deems Godwin Obaseki’s forefather, Chief Agho Obaseki, a betrayal of the kingdom. Agho Obaseki was Prime Minister to Oba Ovonramwen N’gbaisi who suffered defeat in the hands of the British in 1914. Chief Agho Obaseki it is claimed, attempted scuttling the primogeniture tradition of the Benin Kingdom in wanting to be crowned Oba of Benin. Even in this age, quite a sizeable number of Binis recall this history – a great discomfort for Godwin Obaseki! Fortunate for the APC, quite a number of Edo people wouldn’t buy that. Not many would want the sins of fathers visited on innocent offsprings. Besides, Edo state is not in the exclusive preserve of the Binis, the state is made up of several ethnic groups.

Edos are a politically conscious and enlightened people. They monitored with keen interest, the recently Enough is Enough Nigeria  and Channels Television organized debate among the Edo State Gubernatorial aspirants. The outcome has been quite unsettling for the APC. It was evident that Ize- Iyamu was a relatively better prepared and confident candidate. The Pastor seized the opportunity to score more points.

Then, there is rumble of discontent over the recent postponement of the elections. People are now quite angered by the eventual decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, to bow down to pressure to postpone the elections by a further two weeks - till September 28, 2016. How could a state that in the space of a week played host to President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC political machinery become unsafe in barely a week? They see this as an attempt to buy time and scuttle the success of Pastor Ize- Iyamu. This is another failing of the APC. The party hasn’t quite achieved successful elections beyond the Goodluck Jonathan era. Besides, it was much hue and cry from the APC when elections were postponed during PDP administration.

Ceteris paribus the outcome of this election would be too close to call. It will take a miracle to unseat the APC in Edo state.  Like Lagos, Edo people may be opting to stay off opposition. Should Ize- Iyamu lose, he will go down in Edo and national politics as a man of great courage. Should he win, our democracy would be earning much more respect and reckoning.

God help my good Edo state!

Niyi Egbe, an Agriculturist and Media Practitioner lives in Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.