BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
Edo state stood still last Saturday May 12, 2013 for Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state, when his people in Edo North senatorial district, known as the Afemai people conferred a traditional title of Oshiosimua (Divine Redeemer) on the governor.
The Auchi Sports Complex where the grand reception held was filled to the brim. It was a very remarkable and joyous occasion as the entire traditional rulers from the five local government councils from Edo North throng out to honour their son. And indeed, they have cause to celebrate for many obvious reasons.
This is the first time the senatorial district will be producing a governor despite the fact that the area is blessed with very influential personalities in the persons of the Oshiomhole; the current Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadohme; former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Oghiadohme; Rev.Peter Obadan; Prof.Julius Ihonvbere; Chief Dan Orbih; Inu Umoru; Johnson Arumeme (Arik Air); Raymond Dokpesi; Dr Simon Imuekheme and a host of others. Infact, the people of the area were marginalized under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The only time they tested power was during the military regime, when the late George Agbazika Innih was appointed military administrator but he rarely served up to a year before he was removed following his battle with the Binis of the Edo South senatorial district.
The only time the people of Edo North were close to producing a civilian governor was in 1999, when the then military Head of State, Gen.Abdulsalami Abubakar decided to hand over powers to the civilians. The people of the area led by Admiral Akhigbe who was the Chief of General Staff then and late Alhaji Inu Umoru backed the candidature of their son, Ambassor Aziz Garuba, for governorship.
Though admiral Akhigbe was powerful at the Federal level then but the politics of the state then was under the grip of Chief Tony Anenih (Edo
Central), Dr Samuel Ogbemudia (Edo South), Chief Gabriel Igbinedion (Edo South) and late Alhaji Inu Umoru (Edo North). But prior to the governorship primaries of the PDP, Anenih formed an alliance with Ogbemudia and Chief Igbinedion and they backed the candidature of the junior Igbinedion, Lucky for governorship. Even though Aziz Garuba was the popular candidate for the governorship, the primary was allegedly manipulated to favour Lucky Igbinedion who is from Edo South. As if that was not enough, Anenih wanted late Samson Ekhabafe as running mate to Lucky Igbinedion, while Ogbemudia wanted George Izobo a former National President of the NUJ.
The incident infuriated Admiral Akhigbe who immediately ordered his loyalists then, such as Paschal Ugbome, Jarret Tenebe and others to move to the then APP. But sensing the danger that may pose to the PDP, Anenih, Igbinedion and Ogbemudia retreated on the issue of running mate and immediately backed the current Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadohme, who is a core loyalists of Admiral Akhigbe for Deputy Governor, a move made to stop Admiral Akhigbe from working against their interest.
At the end, Lucky Igbinedion won as governor, defeating the APP candidate, Lucky Imasuen.
After the eight years reign of Governor Igbinedion, the people of Edo North supported one of their sons, Prof.Julius Ihonvbere, who was the Special Adviser on Project Monitoring to then President Olusegun Obasanjo. Again, the PDP leadership led by Anenih backed Prof Osarhiemen Osunbor who is from Edo Central district like Anenih. As expected, the primaries which held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium was manipulated to favour Osunbor.
That was how Edo North lost it again under the PDP. But as it seems, God answered their prayers when the AC as it was known then, became stronger in the state following the crisis that engulfed the PDP in the state and the leadership of the party. Luckily for the ACN leadership in the state, Comrade Oshiomhole had just concluded his tenure at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and was ready to join hands in confronting the PDP cabal. After the elections, Prof.Osunbor who is from Edo Central was
declared winner but the Court of Appeal later reversed the decision declaring Oshiomhole as the authentic winner of the election. That was how the people of Edo North was able to produce a governor today.
Apart from the infrastructural development Oshiomhole has put in place in his area, he uprooted Anenih’s political empire both in Edo North and other parts of the state and told his people to rely on God and not Uromi for political powers. In terms of projects, there was no meaningful project executed in Edo North before the advent of Oshiomhole but today, his administration has connected all the abandoned communities with beautiful roads.
Many of their people are now in government. He has ensured that Akoko Edo which is the largest Local Government in the area but most marginalized in terms of political position under thePDP now produced a senator. Consequently, it did not come as a surprise when the entire traditional rulers in Edo North led by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Haliru Momoh, Ikelebe 111, gathered people last Saturday to honour Oshiomhole. At the occasion which was chaired by the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom and Ediaken of Uselu, Ambassador Ehenede Erediauwa, the Benin Prince described Oshiomhole as the Messiah of Edo politics. Looking at what Oshiomhole has achieved in the entire states so far, that assertion made sense to the people but it made more sense to the people of Edo North who suffered marginalization in the politics of the state before the coming of Oshiomhole.
While addressing the mammoth crowd, the Crown Prince noted that the conferment of the traditional title of Oshiosimua (Divine Redeemer) on Oshiomhole is an indication that his people in Edo North, and indeed all people of Edo State appreciate him for his achievements and say they are solidly behind him to do more for the state. “we must commend His Excellency Adams Oshiomhole for demonstrating that a free and fair
election can hold in Nigeria without the attendant violence. Oshiomhole has become a shining touch bearer and flagship of democratic practice in Nigeria, showing that Nigeria can get to the promise land of a desired level of democracy.
“When I was serving as an Ambassador in Rome I heard that the Comrade had introduced taxes. I spoke to some of his critics on phone that the governor was only implementing existing tax laws, that the payment of tax was a sine qua non in developed countries. I said payment of tax was a necessity for development and that I had confidence the governor will use the tax money judiciously”. The Crown prince who was apparently responding to the criticisms against the governor from the PDP, advice that “when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his team showed up, a little bird whispered to me that God has finally answered our prayers in Edo State. At this juncture it was apparent that the much awaited messiah has arrived.We must commend the governor for his relentless effort for combating the godfatherism syndrome in Edo politics which I hope other parts of Nigeria has drawn a lesson from.
” To those people who in spite of these achievements doggedly want to continue to criticize the governor of this and that should remember that he is just human like every one of us. Jesus Christ himself, reputed by Christians to be son of God who has done so much for mankind was still heavily criticized and crucified. We must please therefore commend the governor for his bold, resolute, resilient, and principled approach in his handling of the many issues that have undermined the political, economic and social development
of the state.” our people in Edo state”.