Edo and the Almajiri politicians

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“A rolling stone gathers no moss” —Publilius Syrus

IT’S another season for serious politicking, horse-trading and carpet-crossing as the 2015 general elections draw near. Already, in Edo State, even when the gubernatorial election in the state is not due until sometime in the year of our Lord 2016, the political gladiators have sharpened and brought out their long knives to, as they say, share the loot!

In Year 2007, some politicians in Edo State, citing alleged disenfranchisement from their party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, formed an association of like-minds, which they called the Grace Group, with the motto “No Man is God”.

Their motto was carefully chosen to reflect what they perceived as the choking influence of Chief Tony Anenih, then Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, also a “son of the soil” who was ‘lord’ and ‘master’ and whose word was law. In fact, the fear of Anenih was the beginning of wisdom such that, even though he himself has never faced the electorate to test his popularity at the polls, elected Governors, Senators, Reps members and others deferred to him and he was fondly referred to as either the ‘Leader’ or the ‘godfather!’

The Grace Group   was led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at different times Chief of Staff and Secretary to State Government to Chief Lucky Igbinedion’s government which is regarded as having failed woefully to live up to expectation. Even Lucky Igbinedion’s father, the Esama of Bini Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion begged the people of the state to allow his son repeat as Governor having failed in his first tenure. He said at the time: “If a child fails in a class, you ask him to repeat”! Lucky was known as an absentee Governor and Ize-Iyamu as SSG was effectively in charge, leaving crumbs for the then Deputy Governor, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe. If Lucky’s government failed, Ize-Iyamu was a major contributor to that failure.

Always a political schemer, Ize-Iyamu plotted and turned Lucky and his political godfather, Tony Anenih, against each other, such that neither wanted to see the other. That was in 2007. Fast- forward to May 2014, in an interview he granted the media and which was widely published, Lucky Igbinedion just woke up to realise how he was used and kicked around like a football by his own appointee, Ize-Iyamu when he said “the quarrel was not between Anenih and myself, it was those that were playing the intrigue of 2007 elections. We were both used as pawns (by Ize-Iyamu). We (Anenih and I) never quarreled.” (emphasis mine)

It is now on record that Ize-Iyamu dumped the PDP, Lucky Igbinedion and Anenih and joined the Action Congress of Democrats, ACD, which later metamorphosed into Action Congress, AC, then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and then All Progressives Congress, APC.

Now the question: What is the truth behind the dumping of the PDP by Ize-Iyamu and his group? The answer is not far-fetched: naked, inordinate, unbridled ambition to become the GOVERNOR. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I can’t stand a man who lacks ambition, but I also detest a man whose ambition is as open as a naked live wire. Just as the naked wire can be deadly, the overambitious man can also do anything to fulfill his dream.

Ize-Iyamu dumped the PDP because the godfather, the Leader of the PDP wanted his kinsman, Odion Ugbesia, now a Senator as Governor and Ize-Iyamu would have none of that. To him, it is either his way or the highway. He chose the highway.

The rest is now history, neither him nor Ugbesia became Governor as the then President, Chief Aremu Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo had another card up his sleeve, throwing up Professor Oserheimen Osunbor as the Governor, although his election was eventually upturned by a court of law and Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole has been in the saddle in the state since November 12, 2008.

Now the Almajiri politicians who dumped the PDP yesterday, abused everyone therein and joined the ACD which has over the years transformed to APC now want to go back to their vomit, the PDP today. Of course, Nigerians are familiar with the way an almijiri works. An almajiri, like the the Fulani nomad, in tending his cattle, moves from place to place, never staying in one place permanently all in his search for greener pastures.

The almajiri are ubiquitous in the North, bowl-in-hand, seeking the next target for the next meal. It is no wonder the almajiri never builds permanent structures for himself and his family as he is always on the move. Same scenario is playing out in Edo politics now as the almajiri politicians who moved from the PDP yesterday to the APC are quickly dancing to the PDP when they realised that their dreams of grabbing the governor’s seat will not be fulfilled in the APC.

During a meeting with the President on April 29, 2014, Ize-Iyamu and 20 others who were with him gave their conditions to re-join the PDP, which among others include: that doors must be open to them when they eventually join the PDP; that they get a blanket waiver, get special considerations for themselves and their members; that the zoning formula of the PDP as regards Edo governorship be made known to them and that the governorship slot be given to them in the 2016 gubernatorial election. They promised to use this bargaining chip as a means of helping the President in getting a second tenure in 2015. They got a positive response from the President.

Well, 2016 is by the corner and the people of Edo State are waiting to see how Ize-Iyamu and his group, the rolling stone which gathers no moss, will get the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP when others who kept faith with the party in their dark days when they were trampled underfoot by the galloping APC stallion are also eyeing the same ticket.

It will be interesting to see Ize-Iyamu upstage the likes of Charles Airhiavbere, Matthew Iduorikemwen, Mike Onolemenmen, Oserheimen Osunbor, Odion Ugbesia and Kenneth Imasuagbon who stayed with the party and did not jump ship into the APC when things were rough and who are also eyeing the gubernatorial ticket.

What will be most interesting to see, however, is how Ize-Iyamu who had for seven years poured invectives on Chief Anenih as a godfather playing God, leading to his coinage of the motto “no man is God” relate with the man who is known to have his anointed candidate for Osadebey Avenue. It’s when all these scenarios play out that we will know that man can truly play God and the almajiri politicians may then be forced again to move to another platform, bowl-in-hand in search of the next meal ticket!

NOSAKHARE OSARODION, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Benin City,  Edo State.

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