THE RETURN OF OSAGIE IZE-IYAMU to the troubled All Progressive Congress, APC, politics in Edo State, was not entirely surprising. He was a chieftain of APC in Edo State before the love-lost between him and Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of the state, now national chairman of APC. Ize-Iyamu pitched tent with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, when the going became tortuously rough between him and Oshiomhole.
Taking advantage of Ize-Iyamu’s seeming popularity in the State, PDP fielded him as its governorship candidate against Godwin Obaseki on APC’s ticket in 2016. On the platform of PDP, Ize-Iyamu breathed fire and brimstone on Oshiomhole and Obaseki during the electioneering campaign. He vowed to probe Oshiomhole for mismanaging the state’s public funds. His campaign, intensely, subdued APC’s Obaseki and Oshiomhole’s campaign.
Political analysts predicted that Ize-Iyau would overrun Obaseki, who is on APC’s ticket, for the governorship election in the State, given mass support he enjoyed during the campaign. Ize-Iymu’s dream did not come true. Oshiomhole and Obaseki were, politically, smarter. Using repressive state power and influence at his disposal, Oshiomhole planted Obaseki as governor of Edo State. Ize-Iyamu lost out in the power game.
While in office as governor, Oshiomhole restated that he had smashed godfatherism in Edo State. He predicated this on what seemed his success in demobilising PDP’s chieftains and godfathers in Edo State, which was then the bane of Edo State politics. On the other hand, Oshiomhole was grooming himself as a godfather. He braved and defied all political odds to install Obaseki as his successor. How else would Oshiomhole describe godfather?
Obaseki took charge as governor of Edo State, while Oshiomhole dictated the pace of governance – both in appointments into public office and in projects execution. To appease his godfather, Obaseki swallowed Oshiomhole’s highhandedness in the affairs of his administration. The point came when Obaseki could take it no more from Oshiomhole. He cried out, and things fell apart. And the centre could no longer hold.
Understanding the game of power, Obaseki began a subtle takeover of Oshiomhole’s firm grip of APC structure in the state. Oshiomhole, in Abuja, was battling with APC’s national crisis, as its national chairman. APC’s national crisis, few times, almost consumed him. At the national level, he was accused of highhandedness, mismanagement of party affairs, that caused the party some electoral misfortunes, during the 2019, general elections.
At home, in Edo State APC, and at the national level, Oshiomhole’s hands were full of political crisis. While grappling with these crises, Obaseki had field day re-aligning APC’s structure in Edo State in his favour. In utter shock, surprise and disappointment to Oshiomhole, Obaseki was already in charge. He now has commanding voice and control of what goes on in the party in the state.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, presently, has constructively, outsmarted Oshiomhole in APC politics in Edo State. He seemed to have consolidated, and the political odds are now against Oshiomhole. Obaseki’s popularity and influence in Edo State, APC, are rising; while the popularity and influence of Oshiomhole are diminishing fast. He needs to shore up his influence and popularity, if he will, in future, become relevant in Edo politics.
Oshiomhole’s renewed quest for political relevant in Edo State APC is founded in Ize-Iyamu, his former political adversary and averred enemy. Though, in politics, it is said that there is no permanent friend, and no permanent enemy. To Oshiomhole, he has found willing tool in Ize-Iyamu to realise his further ambition, to launch himself back into Edo APC politics.
Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philp Shaibu, said Oshiomhole fought godfatherism in the state. Obaseki’s government was continuing with the fight against godfather – the foundation laid by Oshiomhole. There is no room for godfather in the state, and the struggle for emancipating Edo people from godfather was ongoing and had come to stay, according to Shaibu. Known facts about APC’s crisis in Edo State is godfatherism, which Oshiomhole is at the centre.
Shaibu said: “As the deputy governor, I thought I was just to hide behind the governor, but I found out that the struggle for the emancipation of Edo people from the godfather continues. The joy I have is that ‘no to godfathers’ has come to stay in Edo.
“We thank Oshiomhole for leading that struggle. We are helping him to sustain it. Like he said, you need to fight these people till you succeed for you to be able to free resources for the state to deliver dividends of democracy to the people. That is what we are doing.
“He’s my father and nothing has changed. What has changed now is that people are now able to read my role as a son and my role as a politician. We have political differences, no doubt about that, but it has not changed that relationship of father and son,” Shaibu further stated.
Oshiomhole had accused the Deputy Governor of betraying him. But Shaibu disagreed. He said: “Even when he made some statements that suggest what I am not, I refused to reply because when the chips are down, it is me that will still say I am sorry, whether he is right or wrong. I don’t want to say those things for people to say I said this or that.
“He is the one talking and I am not talking. I am comfortable with him talking. That shows I was properly brought up by my father and by him (Oshiomhole) not to respond to elders. The other one he taught me that I refused to use is that he told us that a godfather does not have age. We must kill them. As a good son, I will choose certain things.
“Father and son will definitely come back together. Politically, now we might be on different sides. I am not the first son that will disagree with his father politically and I will not be the last. The good news is that it has not changed relationship of father and son. We are on recess politically,” Shaibu added.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on his way back to APC, indulged in hide-and-seek game. His Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the platform on which he ran as governorship candidate in 2016, engaged him, and sought clarification about reports in the print and social media about his planned defection to APC. Ize-Iyamu, the PDP said, failed to respond to inquiries about reports of his planned defection. He was expelled from the party over his silence.
Chris Nehikhare, PDP Edo State Publicity Secretary’s statement said: “In the last few days, the Edo PDP has been inundated with calls and enquiries regarding the stories trending both in print and social media as it concerns one of our leaders, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“The party leadership has patiently waited to hear or read his reaction to confirm or deny the stories, but to no avail. We boast of being a party of men and women of integrity and high moral standing. It is a brand we have earned and wish to maintain.
“As a result of the “uneasy quiet” from our dear pastor and the impression our silence will send to our teeming supporters and followers, Edo PDP is left with no option but to announce the EXCLUSION of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from all PDP related activities with immediate effect, until he Acknowledges, Accepts and Addresses the issue of his decamping to APC. This decision has been taken without prejudice!” The statement added.
Soon after his suspension from the PDP, Ize-Iyamu, formally, resigned from the party, through a letter dated November 21, 2019, which he addressed to the state’s party leadership. He and his supporters, said, they were re-joining the APC to fulfil their ambition of making life more meaningful for Edo people, and “without malice or bitterness.” His decision, along with several PDP leaders across the state “was unanimous (and) was not an easy one considering the warm relationship we have enjoyed with many members of the party.”
“We are going into the APC with good intentions, we are not going there to join factions. We are going to join the APC, we are going there to help strengthen the party and we intend to give our full allegiance to those in charge, those in authority. We will not undermine the powers that be; we will not join in any fight or name calling but we have come with the best of intentions,” Ize-Iyamu stated.
APC faction backed by Oshiomhole, fixed December 13, at Garrick Memorial Secondary School to receive Ize-Iyamu back to its fold. Obaseki’s government responded that no official APC rally would take place in the State without the knowledge of the State’s leadership, which he the governor represent. Obaseki, therefore, banned political rally in the state to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, also ordered that no political rally should take place in Edo State. This fall out necessitated Ize-Iyamu to relocate the rally to his private residence. Oshiomhole was absent at the rally for Ize-Iyamu. He said he stayed a from the reception to sustain the peace of the party. The decampees and their supporters were present at the reception.
Nigerian politics is replete with power play. It has become legendary, injurious and the game of the fittest. What becomes of the present power tussle between Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of the state and national chairman of APC, and decampee Osagie Ize-Iyamu, remains anybody’s guess.