Today, Senator (Engineer) Yisa Braimoh, the Seriki Musulumi of Afenmai Land in Edo State and the Osiozoikhai of Auchi Kingdom, is 75. There is excitement in the air, particularly for his immediate family members, who converge on Ihievbe, his home town, interestingly not only to celebrate the septuagenarian father and grandfather, who is aging gracefully, but also to honour the loving memory of his mother who died ten years ago on August 12-his birthday.
He has every reason to celebrate. His mother died in her full old age. And here he is, hitting the 75-year-old mark in a nation where life expectancy for men is 47. He is still strong and going about his businesses. Besides, here is a politician of a very humble beginning, who has surmounted the odds to carve a niche for himself in Nigeria’s cloak-and-dagger politics.
His beautifully designed and distinctive caps with “YB”, an acronym for Yisa Braimoh, always embroidered on them, remain his own way of constructing and defining an avuncular and/ or leadership identity for himself. That character basically feeds his charisma and panache in their vast flourish, with implications for unswerving cult-like political followership and loyalty in his home base.
YB has been able to define his eon as a resilient player on the political terrain in Edo State and on the national political scene as a member of the Senate in the sixth National Assembly. He represented Edo North Senatorial District from 2007 to 2011, during which loyalty to some extended interests pitched him against the senate leadership under the presidency of Senator David Mark. He voted for Senator George Akume at the expense of his friend, Mark, on the floor of the senate on June 5, 2007. The senate leadership ensured he paid dearly for his decision.
But his political voyage before his engagement in the senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had also been turbulent: he was a running mate to Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion in the 1991 governorship election on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). That election was won by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun on the platform of the defunct Social democratic Party (SDP). The loss did not dampen his spirit and the investment of energy, time and resources in politics, despite that the mega bucks in political sponsorship that the unsuccessful bid for the Edo State Government House cost him.
In the interval that followed the loss, he was appointed Special Adviser to the Minister of Transport and Aviation in 1993 and Special Adviser to the Minister of Power and Steel in 1994. Thereafter, he had emerged, once again, under the Abacha transition programme as one of the strategic leaders of the National Conscience Party of Nigeria (NCPN), between 1995 and 1997, collaborating with the like of Chief Don Etiebet and the late former deputy governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji, to prop up the party in support of the presidential ambition of Etiebet, which he had to drop due to a real threat to his by those working on the transmutation of Abacha to a civilian president.
With the advent of the current Fourth Republic, YB had pitched his tent with the PDP, providing leadership in his Edo North senatorial district. Before his election to the Senate in 2007, he was appointed member of the Board of Directors of the National Maritime Authority (NMA) in 2000 and Chairman of the Governing Board of NYSC in 2005. In the senate, he was deputy chairman of the Committee on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation. He was also a member of the committees on Communication as well as National Planning, Integration and Cooperation in Africa. His contributions in plenary and committee sittings were robust.
In 2014, he was appointed a member of the National Conference, where he also added perspectives to such issues as the indissolubility of Nigeria, cost of governance, fiscal federalism/resource control, devolution of powers, independent candidature, citizenship, and minority rights, among others. With the defeat of his party in the 2015 presidential election, YB has largely retreated to his home base, where he has been involved in efforts at reworking the party in Edo State.
He has also continued to deploy his vast engineering knowledge, which saw him occupy, at different intersections, top positions at the defunct Nigerian Airways, and the goodwill in politics, in the advancement of his business concerns. YB was educated as an engineer at the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1982; Cranefield Institute of Technology, Cranefield in the United Kingdom in 1981 and at the Engineering College, Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom from 1969-1970.
YB is a pragmatist in politics and business. Self-respecting, he is imbued with a great deal of sagacity. He is no doubt brilliant in his articulation of issues of governance, public administration and political engineering. He is always restless about achievement of goals once specific goals have been set. He would put himself and those who are game with him in such pursuit(s) on their toes. That is his defining nature. This is wishing the Osiozoikhai of Auchi Kingdom happy celebrations-his birthday and the tenth year remembrance of his mother.
Sufuyan Ojeifo, Editor-in-Chief of The Congresswatch magazine sent this tribute via [email protected]