We are told that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, otherwise known as POI, is a good man. He is a Christian cleric of the Pentecostal variety. Those who know him say that he tries to live up to his calling as a man of God. He is unobtrusive, gentle and genteel. His politics is devoid of harshness and brashness.
When he stepped forward in 2016 for Edo State governorship election of that year, he was the toast of many. He had goodwill. He had panache. Bookmakers tipped him as the winner of that year’s election. Indeed, when the election took place, the received impression was that he won the majority votes. But he was believed to have been schemed out on account of his belonging to a political party that was highly demonised at that time on account of the fact that it had, not too long before then, lost power at the centre in circumstances that were strange to our politics.
Besides, POI was not favoured to win because the then outgoing governor, Adams Oshiomhole, had staked everything possible to ensure that he produced his successor. Part of his arsenal lay in the merciless demolition of POI. Oshiomhole and his goons feasted on him. They called him names, ranging from cultist to liar and the likes. In the end, POI fell by the wayside. Even though the man lost, he had candour and dignity behind him. He was a respected underdog. But there was an unfortunate turning point.
The tide of indecent politics was to sweep through POI’s comfort zone soon afterwards, leaving in its wake dislocation and dismemberment. When the storm was over, POI, for curious reasons, jumped ship. He threw overboard the party that launched him into prominence and joined the camp of those who did him in. But POI was not lured into the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the sake of it.
Those who consider themselves the lords of Edo politics had fallen out of favour with Governor Godwin Obaseki. They did not want to seek too far for his replacement. They decided to unleash his arch-rival on him so that his ouster would be truly humiliating and disgraceful. They recruited POI for the odd job and he fell for it. Then the plot began.
Governor Obaseki who, in 2016, was cleared by the APC to stand election as governor was, four years after, declared unfit for the same position. They said he had a certificate issue. An issue that was once non-existent had become a source of disability to the governor. The party wilfully threw him out of the race for its governorship ticket. The scheme to undo Obaseki was there for all to see. Oshiomhole, the self-acclaimed godfather of Edo politics, had his way. Obaseki licked his wounds.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to the rescue. Since it had no POI to grapple with, it adopted Obaseki without a whimper. That set the stage for the battle to come. POI had been absorbed by APC at the expense of Obaseki. But that was the problem. That was the toxic element that polluted POI’s ticket and candidature.
With his adoption, Oshiomhole, who had a few years earlier packaged and sold him as a poisonous substance, began to remould him. He began to repackage POI in a new cloak. In doing that, Oshiomhole ate his words and freely contradicted himself. He said he did not mean to say what he said about the PDP candidate of the 2016 election. His recantation was total.
But the Edo voting publics were not taken in by the unconscionable antics of their former governor. They were disappointed in him. They just could not come to terms with the man’s flippancy and inconsistency. They wondered why he thought that the people of Edo State were mindless proles to be manipulated at will. They laughed at the man’s folly. But because delusion had taken the better part of the former governor, he cruised along on the illusory highway. Like a dancer before the mirror, Oshiomhole enjoyed his antics all alone.
However, the burden of pretensious recantation did not rest with Oshiomhole alone. The lie that was the new Ize-Iyamu as painted by his chief promoter also got on the wrong side of the public. They could not flow with the bare-faced deception. They wondered why POI allowed himself to be dressed in borrowed robes. It was most unpalatable. The people recoiled at the whited sepulchre, which Oshiomhole had made Ize-Iyamu to become. A once credible candidate had become a joke, a toy in the hands of political buccaneers.
Ize-Iyamu was fully taken in by Oshiomhole’s drama because, while it played out, the former governor was everything in the act. He was the author and finisher of the scheme to oust Obaseki and instal Ize-Iyamu. As the national chairman of the APC at that time, he deployed all the instruments of oppression and suppression at his disposal against Obaseki. Strangely, nobody within the party’s hierarchy and leadership called him to order.
Then, when it was time for the election, Oshiomhole had to fish further afield for allies who would help him to nail Obaseki to the cross. He remembered that a certain wonder had taken place in Imo State not too long ago. A poorly rehearsed judicial sleight of hand had made Hope Uzodinma the governor of Imo State. The way it all went, Uzodinma, rightly or wrongly, is being seen as the master strategist in election matters. Consequently, Oshiomhole reached for him. The expectation was that what Oshiomhole could not do, Uzodinma would deploy his magical prowess to ensure that it was done. Whereas this plot looked good to Ize-Iyamu and his gang, the people of Edo State resented the Uzodinma connection. The impression they had was that certain elements wanted to reenact the Imo magic in Edo. The people were decidedly against that plot.
The way it all turned out, it is evident that neither Oshiomhole nor Uzodinma was helpful to Ize-Iyamu. If anything, they were a burden to him. They polluted his candidature and made him look suspicious before Edo people. Oshiomhole particularly set the APC backwards. In his pursuit of hate and vendetta, he threw caution to the wind. Now the gale induced by him has blown through Edo State. It did not just leave Oshiomhole castrated, it has thrown APC into a state of anomie. A party that was once strong in Edo has lost power owing to the inordinate pursuit of one man. What a pity! What a setback!
But in all this, the APC has itself to blame. While the destructive plot to undo Obaseki lasted, the party’s leadership went to sleep. Oshiomhole was everything. He was given a free rein and he deployed the enormous powers at his disposal to destroy the party in Edo State. Perhaps, the party realised its mistakes too late in the day. When it woke up to Oshiomhole’s destructive tendencies, so much damage had been done. Regardless of that, the party stepped forward to assert its supremacy. Oshiomhole’s leadership was sacked in the circumstance.
To demonstrate further that the party had begun to see clearly, it has accepted the verdict of Edo people at the polls and has congratulated Governor Obaseki. The APC has done well here. It has, by this action, begun to redeem its battered image in Edo State. If only the entire turn of events would teach the Oshiomholes of Nigeria a lesson in how not to play politics, we would, as a people, have succeeded in partly rescuing our politics from the vice grip of political adventurers.