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Adams Oshiomhole: Leadership And The Kakhi Spirit By Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi

June 16, 2020

Oshiomole has become a ragging fire under the APC roof. "Eniyan ki si fi ina si ori orule sun," meaning no one goes to bed with fire kindled under his roof. For how long APC will leave this inferno to consume without it being extinguished is left to the party.

One memory I hold of my days at ICC Aremo Ode- Aje Primary School is my brown kakhi uniform, which was a general identity of all pupils in public primary school then. 

Children"s day and Independence Day match past was a part of the colourful nostalgia difficult for any primary school pupil in the early '70s to get over. That was days the kakhi was given its best touch: Washed, neatly starched and well ironed and adorned by all public school pupils. Schools were differentiated by their banners bearing their names. 

The adoration that khakhi enjoyed as an insignia of pupillage in those primary school days was brought to a national prominence by an adult who is barely taller than an average primary school pupil and portrays the outlook.

He simply cuts the picture of  primary school khakhi reminiscences.
 

Uniform and height are not just similar identities he shares with school pupils, his antics and tantrums would blend any day with a group of primary school pupils.

That is our vintage amiable, articulate and aluta continua 
Labour leader, erstwhile governor of Edo State and current APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole! 

He held on to office and its pecks like a stingy child who would never like to share his toy even with his best friends. 

From his trade union days till his days as Edo governor, this has remauned his style. His child-like stubbornness spanned his unionisim leadership days as one of the most active. He held his ground and opposed the Obasanjo-led democratic government to the amazement of Nigerians, but didn't count for productive engagement for Nigerians workers. However, it did rub off on his leadership as Edo governor. His party ACN was in opposition and Oshiomole provided the much needed political swag that stood his party and the people up against the Federal Government of the day. Oshiomole, it seems, is fashioned for opposition. There were pockets of exuberance exhibited in protest against his very mandate as governor to protect the vulnerable and the less privileged. An example was a jive against a harmless widow who, while hustling to feed her fatherless children, took to street trading.  One sunny afternoon her path and that of the governor crossed. On that day, Oshiomole was in his best belligerent mood. His vituperation to the poor widow who was pleading to be forgiven was "go and die."  The public outrage that followed compelled him to tender  an unreserved apology. Somehow the frayed nerves became calm and Oshiomole moved on. 

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The import of this piece is not to demean Oshiomole or paint him black, but to reflect on some of his personality traits as a opposition in whose veins blood of opposition and controversy flows. 

As the chairman of the APC  and saddled with the responsibility of providing inspiration and direction for the party, Adams has brought the best of opposition views in the direction of his party and their members.

He successfully shook the powers that be in Edo State politics. The Grace Group was founded principally by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and a few other personality in a bid to fight the political status quo of godfatherism in the state. This was to pave way for Osagie Ize-Iyamu's ambition to succeed his Principal Mr Lucky Igbinedion whom he was eminently qualified to succeed. The insistence of Edo political trio, who were godfathers of that era prompted the Grace Group to come up with their popular "No Man is God" mantra and it worked well!

Arm twisted by the political dynamics of that time, Osagie intelligently pulled back, reflecting the counsel of the legendary reggae maestro, the late Bob Nester Marley: "he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day." Osagie is back again for a fight of destiny he would never give up.

Back in the time, the Grace Group brought the Oshiomhole card into the game through the ACN. Osagie's role on the emergence of Adams Oshiomole is an indelible record of history. From the moment he became the governor, the future of his benefactor hung in the balance. Oshiomhole was his usual self and gave the best of it to Osagie Ize-Iyamu. He opposed his every move. 

Political contest that pitched Adams Oshiomole against Osagie Ize-Iyamu was fought like fierce battles. Oshiomole wants to take the glory of his days in government without the allure of his SSG, but he wants Lucky's "failures" alluded to his SSG. What a way to come to equity and an unjust political measure! Adams' words were without candour and public demeanour without finesse. 

No sound minded individual would watch the recordings of Oshiomhole's damaging words against Ize-Iyamu and the encomiums  poured on Obaseki during the 2016 campaigns against the background of what is happening now and not put an integrity question mark on Oshiomole and ask if he has  conscience. 

He threw decorum to the wind and spoke of Osagie as if tomorrow will never come. Tomorrow's is here and Oshiomhole is once again at his opposition and belligerent best. This time Obaseki is at the receiving end. Oshiomhole is back with Ize- Iyamu. What has changed? Did Oshiomhole lie in 2016 either about Ize-Iyamu or Obaseki to advance his personal interest against the interest of the state? As the saying goes, "the dog has gone back to his vomit." Which is the vomit between the two? Only time will tell!

Indeed, there are no permanent enemies in politics, only permanent interests. But must we sacrifice integrity and honour on the altar of political interest? The ball is now in the court of the good people of Edo. As the elections draw near, they must learn and apply their collective interests over that of individuals and make sure they vote the right candidate. Ambitions of aspirants must be proven and endorsed for their passion for vision of a peaceful and prosperous state.

APC has had three chairmen, starting from his excellency, the sagacious and mature Baba Bisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, who held the party together with little or no discrimination and led it to its first political conquest. John Odigie-Oyegun, an administrator par excellence, a gentleman and career civil servant and former governor of Edo state took over from Pa Akande and did his best to steady the ship of the APC, though without some rancorous episodes in some states where the party held sway, he sacrificed his chairmanship of the party and paved waywhich for Oshiomole's leadership. To his credit Oshiomhole did well to handle those hiccups when he came in as chairman. Thus, ensuring the party reelection. But after then, the party ship of state has since sailed into troubled waters. How long the ship can withstand avoidable storms under Oshiomhole's captaincy is only left to time.

The greatest test case will be the forthcoming elections in Edo State, which fortunately happens to be his home state. Unfortunately, party primaries of the APC in Edo State has been reduced to a contest between himself and Obaseki. Of course, as an individual, he has the right to his choice of candidate, but not as the party chairman, whose responsibility it is to provide a level playing ground for all who are aspiring without showing preference. Oshiomhole didn't only show preference, he also provided the best opposition to an aspirant with his party. He promoted his disapproval of Obaseki till he was disqualified from the APC primaries.

A Yoruba adage says, "ti aja ba ni eni leyin, a pa obo," meaning that if a dog has a human backing it will successfully kill a monkey. Godfatherism as an institution was fought in Edo State by Adams  but not without the backing of Osagie Ize-Iyamu and co. And Ize-Iyamu was stopped in 2016 by Obaseki with the backing of Oshiomhole. But the hunter today is being hunted by the bush meat.

Obaseki was a green horn in politics. He was therefore underestimated, never expected to absorb  political pressure the way he had. But brutal Kama seems to have found a David in lanky Obaseki and Goliath in small framed Adams. Will Kama measure back with the mete of Adams? Will his sowed wind translate into an harvest of whirlwind? 

Truth is bitter but must be told. Godfatherism has proven to be a failure in our political landscape: From Orji Uzor Kalu to Theodore Orji, Peter Obi to Willy Obiano, followed by those whose experimentation of installing their stooges as successors failed. Ajumobi lost Oyo and Amosun, Ogun both in the laboratory of power.

To whom much is given much is expected. The pedigree of Oshiomhole raised the expectations for much more, given his antecedent as a former labour leader. But his chairmanship of the party has  made him look like a pearl thrown to the pigs.

His kakhi wearing class captain attitude, made a mess of the critically needed leadership for his party. He was expected to lead a consolidation era of their second time in power to convince Nigerians that theirs is a party of peace and prosperity for our nation to bring direction to our collective dream land. His high handedness led to the loss of Bauchi. Inordinate brute and arrogance of power ended up with no governorship candidate in Rivers State. It was the distrust that became APC debacle in Zamfara and his penchant for party family war that gave Adamawa away. He had enough lessons to enrich his statesmanship but he obviously has chosen to stick to his kakhi mentality to relish in "classmanship."

Edo is in need of intervention on good governance from  Leaders After God's Own Spirit. This is of course beyond APC and PDP to deliver. Edo spirit must rise against the manipulation by the forces of Lagos. "Oshioipulation" of Edo must not see the light of the day. Forces of Lagos must be stopped by the Spirit of LAGOS!

Edo Decides 2020 must not be limited to a two-sided coin: Head I win, tail we win manipulation of our political class. All person and party presenting themselves for stewardship must be duly considered. 

Ize-Iyamu was PDP but now APC, Obaseki was APC and now? Edo contest should be decided by a force beyond party politics. A third force must come to the rescue. Candidates that will emerge from the party primaries must be placed head to head and on a level playing ground. We have held talks with fathers in the state across senatorial districts, local government areas and down to the ward levels.
 One thing is clear, the people know what they want and are ready to go for it. There is therefore an urgent need for a platform to aggregate the people to effectively pursue their expectations away from the flip that APC and PDP has become. I was told by somone that Ogbemudia is their yardstick for infrastructural development. Another said Ambrose Ali is the benchmark for the provision of qualitative education. The duo of Ogbemudia and Ali are the state's all time best governors. We can only wish the people of Edo State that both Ogbemudia and Ali will be found in their next governor. 

Who that person is, the Edo resilient spirit that abhors injustice, but harbours fairness, equity and freedom, as demonstrated by Oba Ovonramwem who stood up against the British enslavement plan of a better government will decide.

Through his "One man, one vote" slogan, Adams Oshiomhole had once wished that the people alone would decide their governor. That's exactly the feeling of the state. The fate of the state is set to be decided by the people, not individuals.

Take a cue from Ambode whose involvement with Edo politics in that "night of decision," that night between the day when election is conducted and the next morning when winners are announced. The management of that night is far more important than the millions who cast their votes in the hope of "one man one vote" but who will wake up to the reality of the need to be afraid of the terror by night when votes are upturned by political demons? INEC must enshrine his mandate to administer purely a people's process without parties of government interference.

Lack of appreciation for Obaseki is not new by politicians, the likes for whose sake Ambode lost out in Lagos. The dynamics of the godfather of Lagos is however not the same with Oshiomhole. While Lagos landlord is very generous to party structure and members, and held Ambode accountable to the party by asking him to face a primary that decided his fate, he proved that he is indeed the commander of the political foot soldiers and the infantry battalion for the control of Lagos. Oshiomole seems to be a general without troops, who is afraid of political war with his lieutenant.

Oshiomole has become a ragging fire under the APC roof. "Eniyan ki si fi ina si ori orule sun," meaning no one goes to bed with fire kindled under his roof. For how long APC will leave this inferno to consume without it being extinguished is left to the party. 

May I wish all aspirants the very best and the Edo people who are my in-laws the emergence of the best candidates from every political party as franchises of PARTY MEMBERS are excised to decide who will fly their flags; a line up for the ultimate, of the best from every party to make possible the election of "
A LAGOS "Leaders After God's Own Spirit" in the September governorship election our prayers. May the best man win!