By Davis Omo-Izevbare
OUR late father used to advise us not to judge our friends by what they say but what they do. I have, all my life, tried to keep to this advice, not only in choosing my friends but also in deciding whom to relate to or do business with. And, I have never been disappointed in my assessment of people.
This golden rule is even more applicable in politics than anything else. Politicians generally have a credibility problem arising from the inclination to make pledges and promises, sometimes fully aware that they cannot, or are unwilling to honour such promises.
The good thing is that once a politician is found to be without credibility or known to be a person who does not match his words with action, that politician loses the support (if he ever had any) of the people. That may well be the problem most likely to confront Governor Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who sees every occasion as an opportunity for lengthy speeches.
First, the Governor tells his audience how he has been sent as a political messiah to rescue the State from the evils of the past; he then goes on to list the numerous failures of previous political leaders, both at the state and national levels â€“ including those who brought glory and development to Edoland ever before he became anything.
In his usual lengthy speeches, Oshiomhole would never forget to reel out volumes and volumes of projects which he has mapped out for Edo State, premising his success on the condition that he is not disturbed by the menace of â€œgodfatherismâ€ and the numerous enemies of the Government lurking around in the guise of PDP members.
Indeed, Oshiomhole was once quoted as boasting that he didnâ€™t need any political tutelage, meaning that he was born with political experience â€“ a mini god of some sort! He even claimed recently to be â€œthe owner of Edoland.â€™â€™
It is public knowledge that Oshiomhole loves to talk, talk and talk, maybe because he was on the field for a very long time as President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) before the transformation to governorship. Perhaps, it was Comrade Oshiomholeâ€™s knack for talking without stop that brought him to the limelight in trade unionism. What is not clear is whether loquaciousness of his kind is also a virtue in political governance.
Indeed, it was the factual difference between trade unionism and political governance that our elder statesman and nationally respected politician, Chief Tony Anenih, tried to make at a recent PDP rally that earned him (Anenih) the wrath of Oshiomhole who has since persistently mounted a series of attacks on his person, calling him all sorts of unprintable names in violation of the culture and tradition of Edoland.
For the enlightenment of Nigerians, the difference between trade unionism and political governance is worth making, whether or not Oshiomhole likes it. In trade unionism, the methods, tactics and style adopted by the leadership are usually crude and unrefined. Blackmail, intimidation and threats are treated as legitimate weapons of negotiation insofar as they win benefits to the workers.
What a union leader needs is average intelligence and a lot of raw courage, sometimes bordering on foolhardiness. In trade unionism, a leader can still be regarded as accomplished, whether or not he is successful at negotiations. In fact, it is management that is always perceived as theÂ exploiter and hence the target of blame rather than theÂ union leader.
In political governance, the relationship is directly between the political leader (Governor Oshiomhole) and the electorate (the people of Edo State). Although he was foisted on the people by a court judgment,Â Oshiomhole has taken an oath to serve the people of Edo State to the best of his abilities. The situation is unlike that of a trade union which has management to blame for its failures.
Oshiomhole is confusing his role in political governance with that of a trade union leader by talking about some â€œgodfathersâ€ or imaginary enemies that are threatening his administration. He should talk less, grant fewer interviews, attend less seminars and other speech-making occasions and concentrate his efforts on the governance of Edo State.
Another important difference between trade unionism and political governance is that the crude methods and style of the former are unacceptable in the latter.
A traditional adage has it that it is only a mad child who invites his father to the village square for a wrestling match. Whether in politics or trade unionism, the culture of Edo people has not degenerated to that level of sacrilege being displayed by Oshiomhole in publicly abusing the person of Chief Tony Anenih. The Governorâ€™s gutter language may be okay in trade union circles, but it is totally unacceptable in decent political discourse.
Knowing politics for what it is, and realising that some people go into politics purely for material gains, I was not surprised that a number of local government council chairmen elected on the platform of the PDP, decided to defect from the party to the ruling Action Congress (AC) in Edo State. However, what one may find perplexing is the role of some eminent Edo personalities in encouraging or even prompting Oshiomhole in these offensive attacks on people who have served the State, and, indeed, the entire nation meritoriously.
I was, to say the least, flabbergasted to see the two-time former Governor of the defunct Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, not only praise-singing Oshiomhole for what he called his great achievements but also calling on the people of Edo State to ensure the election of a friendly State Assembly,Â come 2011. This is nothing short of canvassing votes for the Action Congress.
Being a member of the PDP and knowing that Dr. Ogbemudia is a member of both the partyâ€™s NEC and BOT, I felt highly offended by what, in my view, constitutes a punishable anti-party activity. However, when I was later informed as to why the retired General is prone to that kind of conduct, the offence immediately changed to pity for him.
The other shock I had was reading an opinion article with the title, â€œThe Fixing of Mr. Fix Itâ€, in Prince Tony Momohâ€™s column, Point of Order in the Sunday Vanguard of November 8, 2009. The article was a celebration of â€œthe death and burial of the godfatherâ€. In Momohâ€™s own words: â€œIf you do not know, I shall tell you that the godfather under reference is Chief Tony Anenihâ€.
Momoh claimed to have watched the AC rally of October 31, 2009 on Channel Television and was able to get an accurate figure of many PDP leaders from the â€œ18 local government areas of Edo State moving into AC!â€.
Mr. Omo-Izevbare, a political analyst, writes from Lagos