Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Honourable Josef Omorotionmwan, writes on the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state with a firm proclamation that the Peoples Democratic Party will not emerge winner in the contest.
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Apparently, this writer is the only independent candidate around, occupying a position of neutrality or, shall we say, an escape from partisanship? It is a position of peace, which recognizes that the writer has to spend the rest of his life with himself. He must, therefore, be in a position to see and say, things as they really are, irrespective of the political party and no matter whose ox is gored.
Sadly, elections in Nigeria have taken on the toga of war. The commanders are many but General Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole has been at the centre of the theatre of war. Besides the carry-overs from the 2016 war, he is the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. As we speak, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is parading two expired but totally contradictory videotapes on him, waiting to entrap him in self-reversal and portray him as an unsteady character.
The two videotapes are from the 2016 campaigns. In the first, Oshiomhole is seen condemning Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu (POI) who was the candidate of the opposition PDP to the pit of hell. In the second, he is seen praising Godwin Enogheghase Obaseki, GEO, who was the candidate of the APC to the high heavens.
Today, the two combatants have switched positions. The PDP thinks Oshiomhole must possess a lot of points to repaint the new combatants. The task before Oshiomhole is simple. It is only a nitwit that will refuse to reverse himself in the face of new superior information.
From our profound knowledge of Oshiomhole, he is a humane human. He is one man who is allergic to oppression. He could also be an extremist – he either likes you too much or he hates you too much – no midway!
Contemporary history is replete with men with Oshiomhole’s character trait – men who will either like you too much or hate you too much. When they like you, they will carry you on their head; and if you even kill their dog, they will not be annoyed. But if they hate you, they hurt you.
We have also found that such men go very high in their chosen career but they hardly attain the highest level of their desired career. The reason is simple: Relationships are like the chickens – they come home to roost. In turn, people also either like them too much or hate them too much. At the beginning of the contest, they are seen as slightly ahead of their opponents. But they end up loosing. They don’t get the swing votes. The swing votes are from the undecided voters.
Our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was in this category. He spent a good part of his adult life, trying to become the president of Nigeria but all he attained was what Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu aptly described as “the best president Nigeria never had.”
For instance, a man like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe knew from the very beginning, “it is a principal error in politics to trust a reconciled enemy,” but when he fell out with Dr Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, he didn’t lock the door tight against him. Rather, he kept the door ajar.
The same could not be said about Chief Awolowo during his disagreement with Chief S. L. Akintola. It was over and out!
That was how Chief Awolowo lost a cream of fine politicians – Professor Opeyemi Ola, Olaiya Fagbamigbe, the renowned Akure publisher, etc., to the NPN in 1983. Baba was not tolerant and would not give anyone a second chance.
Across the atlantic, Senator Edward Kennedy spent a bulk of his adult life trying to clinch the Democratic Party ticket for the US presidential race, particularly after the death of his elder brother, John Fitzgerald Kennedy; but he was always beaten to the second position at the primaries. The book he probably wanted to write had earlier been written by Adlai Stevenson.
Adlai Stevenson secured the Democratic Party ticket for the US presidency in 1948 and 1952 but on each occasion, he was beaten by his Republican Party opponent. He gave up the race and wrote a book, “How to come second,” which was an instant bestseller.
We can imagine that at the opening of the 2016 campaigns, Oshiomhole was ready for battle, fully equipped with what he thought he knew about GEO but totally bereft of ideas about POI until someone whispered to him that some time ago, POI gave somebody an acid bath. He was not given time to ask the supplementary question – how, what, why and when. The new information was enough for him and that was what he took to war.
On the contrary, Oshiomhole did not require any background check on GEO – a man who was with him virtually every day until bedtime; a man who followed him to every meeting with an empty file jacket, with his two hands tied to the back in the manner of absolute obeisance; and one man who was going to take over from him and start from where Oshiomhole was going to stop. Evidently, those fake information were what Oshiomhole had in his war chest.
The truth is constant, and the truth crushed to death shall rise again. It did not take long for Oshiomhole to know he had been deceived all along. It soon became clear that the acid bath could have been in self-defence. He would be a moral idiot that would be attacked by armed robbers and if he had a fill doze of COVID-19, he fails to pour it on them.
Even at that, the offence in question had expired. The framers of our constitution were wiser. They realized that like dru*gs and medications, offences must have expiry dates. Ten years in the life of a man is a long time. That explains why they provided in Section 66(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that an offence has a life span of 10 years. This runs across the entire constitution as a qualification for any political office. Oshiomhole soon realized that he was unfair to POI for canvassing an offence that he might have committed more than 30 years before 2016.
How did this devoted Catholic feel in the face of all this? He confessed and prayed for an opportunity to do it all over again, particularly as GEO has disappointed him full circle. The man Oshiomhole thought was coming to start from where he stopped had not lifted a finger in performance after three and a half years. Evidently, 2020 is answered prayer and pay-back time.
Now, the die is cast. Why should Oshiomhole not freely tell the new truths, even where it means self – reversal! Self-reversal in good conscience is not a vice but a virtue.
In all this, one thing is clear: The PDP is taking a bad risk and it needs deliverance. In the face of stainless, eminently qualified aspirants, they are adopting heavy baggage that was dumped by another party as their candidate – all because of the power of the purse. As they say in the colloquial, when money talks, nobody walks. The people who rejected this man are still around, and the reasons for his rejection are in the market place!
Again, the PDP should have known that this candidate is not running to win. Rather than engage in the serious business of campaign, this man will rather squander the precious time as the last chance for pursuing perceived enemies!
Since our return to democratic experiment in 1999, PDP was in power in Edo state until 2008, with virtually nothing to show for it. After its fall in 2008, it is over and out! PDP can never return to power in Edo state. The only exception here could come in the form of an occasional accident such as that which GEO now foists on them by default. Again, this four and a half months punctuation can only be a coma – neither a semicolon nor a full stop. Elementary English grammar teaches us that the semi-colon is stronger than a comma but not as strong as a full stop.
Ask GEO and his men what their chances of defeating POI are in this contest; they will tell you that they have beaten him before and they will do it again. But do they realize that the configuration has changed? Although sociologically, no man sees himself as dead, GEO and his men are engaged in an exercise in self-delusion.
Sadly, we are in once more for a very dull campaign period – call it a monologue, if you wish! We see one side that is heavily loaded, loaded with vibrant young men – eloquent in delivery, adepts in political engineering; and political craftsmanship. Above all, they are men who have something to point to as past achievements in the service of the people.
Yet, there is a second side that is totally vacuous filled with men of “where the belly points.” True, who the gods would kill, they first make mad. GEO has done again what he knows how to do best. In not wanting intelligent people around him, he left his few first eleven behind on some mission impossible. Some of these men were to prevent APC from using the direct primaries to pick their gubernatorial candidate. Others were to sustain the suspension order on Oshiomhole.
Almost simultaneously, a few hours after GEO and his crew departed to PDP, the APC held the most successful primaries ever, using the direct primaries mode of election. And the same executive of ward 10, Etsako west lifted the suspension earlier slammed on Oshiomhole. The legal implication of this is that the yoke of suspension on Oshiomhole had been removed from him before the National Working Committee, NWC, of the APC was dissolved.
Anything that is lightly got is little valued. In 2016, GEO rode to power on the back of Oshiomhole. But today, the tide has changed. He now has to work twice as hard to be half as good as he was in 2016!
Will the result still be the same? Will it be wake and see or wait and see? William Shakespeare has a superior answer here, “Oh time, thou must untangle this, not I, It is too hard a knot for me to untie.”
For all we know, never again shall we campaign like there is no tomorrow. Rather, we must campaign as if tomorrow is around the corner. And, indeed, it is. Our campaigns must be issues-based; and devoid of mudslinging character assassination, insinuations and innuendos. It’s goodbye to the smear tactics of yesteryears and welcome to a new dawn!
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