Not given to size and with no comely face, Oshiomhole makes up any seeming shortcomings with uncommon courage and a rare strength of the mind.
Igwe Oscar Obasi
Never far from controversies, never shy or afraid of controversies, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole’s story line is laced with lots of pluralities: many conflicts, many fights and wars, many confrontations with the attendant bouquet of joy and sorrow in its trail. However, in most occasions, like a cat with nine lives, the man turns out tops.
Not given to size and with no comely face (though he has a beautiful wife), Oshiomhole makes up any seeming shortcomings with uncommon courage and a rare strength of the mind. After all, it is not the size of a dog in a fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Relatively, Oshiomhole came to national limelight as the then President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). His tenure was epically characterized by very fierce confrontations with the Government on sundry labour issues. In all modesty, his time as the labour numero uno, will always be remembered by history as one of the few fearless, brash but result-oriented episodes in the Nigeria Labour Movement.
The Comrade-politician after his time as an 8-year Governor of Edo State, found himself once again at the threshold of power as the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), replacing Chief John Oyegun with the tacit support of President Muhammadu Buhari.
His coming was not a very sweet pie on the taste bud of many governors of the APC enclave. He was already known as a variable of some difficult proportions, strong-willed and sometimes jumping and erratic. True-to-type, he wasted no time in firing a salvo to some ministers and swiftly brandished a reform agenda. With the support of the party powers, he threw up the idea of direct primaries to select candidates for 2019 elections. This again was offensive and unsavory to some of the governors, who were used to indirect primaries which places more leverage on their powers to anoint candidates. Eventually, almost half of the APC states settled for direct primaries after the early brouhaha. With every sense of responsibility, Oshiomhole, by this singular feat, unknowingly galvanized his name in the annals of history with respect to Nigeria’s political development. Direct primaries which divulges power and relevance to party members was relatively unheard of since the return to democracy from 1999 till date.
A detailed analysis of the chemistry of the mind of Oshiomhole succinctly reveals the desire for internal democracy, greater involvement and a sense of belonging to all concerned. That is strangely rare in our current selfish experiment in many climes of the society. The “winner-takes-it-all” and the “wild is the lions’ and the lions’ alone” mentality is potently inimical to political development of any nation. Subsequently, Oshiomhole found himself in the political cross-fire of the primaries in some of the APC controlled states, notably Imo, Ogun and Zamfara.
He did not come out completely unscathed as these Governors, with brimming interest in certain guber candidates in their states, took the war with Oshiomhole to some unholy grounds. President Buhari was dragged into the quagmire, but he always has a way of silently making his decisions known. On many occasions, he stood with Oshiomhole on “the larger, the merrier” philosophy.
Thus, these governors having seemingly lost out on some of their major interests, mounted a heavy sordid attack on the person, personality and position of Oshiomhole, with all manner of oddities thrown into the mix. However, in some of these states, the people solemnly celebrated the dismantling of the hitherto “power pillars” and hoped for new order. This is a testimony yet again to the fact that power is actually transient and ephemeral in nature. Some of these Governors who loudly and noisily supported Oshiomhole as a replacement to Oyegun, hoping he will be a willing pawn, are now perspiring. But not for Oshiomhole, a man constantly at war with his conscience to do what he deems decent, elegant and proper especially to the vast majority.
Additionally, the sheer dimension and colouration of some of the desires of these Governors is unimaginable and most annoying, to say the least.
In the midst of it all, Oshiomhole in his exuberant fashion has just a short summative response to his traducers: “I can’t help you build political empires and dynasties at variance with our collective desire for service to the people and humanity at large”.
To the discerning, Oshiomhole comes across as a man who is not only interested in the present but also on what posterity and history will say of him in the very long-run. He is not “an everyday man” and such variables do not come in their numbers in every generation. Not a saint, but he is a believer in the fact that character is as important as life itself. Life most times is worthless if one’s actions cannot be purified by fire.
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Dr. Obasi writes from Department of Agricultural Economics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike