‘A politician is like quicksilver: if you try to put your finger on him, you find nothing under it.”
With the emergence of Osagie Ize-Iyamu on Tuesday May 26, as the consensus aspirant of Edo factional All Progressives Congress (APC) for the June 22 primary election, the stage is set for the big fight with incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated the governorship election in the state for September 19, 2020.
Thus the battle line in the governorship race has been drawn between the two main contenders from the ruling party’s factions: the Mandate Forum led by Obaseki and the Edo Movement led by Adams Oshiomhole. The two gladiators, Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, have picked nomination forms to run for the primary election.
The duo were also the chief combatants in the 2016 governorship election in the state, when Ize-Iyamu who then ran under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform lost to Obaseki.
The indication from the foregoing is that the fight between Oshiomhole and his godson, Obaseki, has continued unabated as they are set for the final showdown in the battle for the soul of Edo APC.
After several weeks of horse-trading and negotiations that nearly broke down, the other six governorship aspirants finally stepped down for the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RGGC) pastor, Ize-Iyamu, as their consensus governorship aspirant.
Before then, political talks, consultations, and horse-trading almost broke down when Dr Pius Odubu, one of the contenders, complained of maltreatment, lamenting that he had been in the party without break since inception, but was side-stepped for Ize-Iyamu, who just returned to the party after running as PDP governorship candidate in 2016.
But he was persuaded to step down eventually in the interest of the APC and in support of efforts to stop Obaseki at all costs for a second term bid.
APC in Edo State has been enmeshed in endless crises since last year, which have defied all efforts made by the party leadership and that of other well-wishers to resolve.
The crisis resulted in the factionalisation of the ruling party in the state, with one faction pitching tent with the APC National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, and the other backing Governor Obaseki.
There have been accusations and counter-accusations of dangerous political underpinnings between Oshiomhole and Obaseki as observers have wondered why reconciliation has defied possible solutions.
It would be recalled that it was Oshiomhole, then governor, who praised to the high heavens the reliability of Obaseki as a trusted leader with no iota of scruples during the 2016 election campaigns while castigating Ize-Iyamu who at some points he described as a “thief and unreliable fellow,” which made many to wonder the sudden 360 degree change by the godfather.
But, as it is said, “when facts change you change with the facts”, perhaps what he saw before endorsing him may have evaporated and the picture is now clearer.
Ize-Iyamu has explained his grievances against Obaseki, contending that it would be politically suicidal for the party to present the incumbent for a second term.
Conceding that the governor has a right to seek a second term, he argued that such ambition was negotiable, as other APC members have the right to seek to displace him.
He said he had done his best trying to counsel the governor on the way forward, but he refused to heed to advice, assuring that the time had come to reposition the state, adding that as he has set his hands on the plow there is no going back.
Said Ize-Iyamu: “We are not looking for positions simply because we need to look for something to occupy us. Even though what we have now is an APC administration, we are not too happy with the pace of development.
“We are not happy with the rancor. We are not happy with the divisions. We are not happy with the insecurity, and that cannot augur well for development. That was why we said our party cannot be changed; that it is better to change the incumbent and ensure that our party remains in office”.
But Obaseki has bellowed that no man can stop him from returning as governor, just as he expressed confidence of returning to power.
Going philosophical during a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, during the week, he said that he was confident that the way he got into power is the same way he will return.
“God gave me power. If He wants me to return I will continue. No man can stop me. Power comes from God. I am not in a contest with anyone. I am confident of victory. It does not matter whether it is direct or indirect (primary), I will win,” he said.
Obaseki said the responsibility for selecting the governorship candidate for the party resides with the Edo State chapter of the APC while liaising with relevant national structures of the party, and as such, a consensus candidate to fly the party’s flag in the election cannot emerge in Abuja.
Analysts believe that the upcoming Edo governorship election would be characterized by rancour, bad blood, and betrayals.
Ize-Iyamu was born on June 21, 1962 into the upper-middle-class family of the late Chief Robert Osayande Ize-Iyamu, the highly respected Benin chief with the reverend title of Esogban of Benin Kingdom
He had his primary education at Ebenezer Nursery and Primary School, Benin City, and attended Edo College where he obtained the best result in the 1979 West Africa Certificate Examination (WAEC), art class.
He studied law at the University of Benin. Ize-Iyamu was a former chief of staff and secretary to the Edo State government under the Lucky Igbinedion administration.
The pastor-cum-politician holds an honorary doctorate degree in Public Administration of the Benson Idahosa University .
He served as Director-General of Adams Oshiomhole’s 2nd term Campaign Organisation and later decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he was a candidate of the party during the 2016 governorship race in Edo State.
The astute politician defected to the APC in December 2019.