By Dele Sobowale
“The climax of every tragedy lies in the deafness of its heroes” – Albert Camus, 1903-1960, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 90.
Edo State election of Saturday, September 19, 2020 ended predictably. Comrade Adams Oshiomole, ex-NLC President, ex-governor and ex-National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, suffered a self-inflicted and unnecessary political humiliation which might be impossible to reverse – given his character, his age and the situation within the APC.
The election was in reality not a contest between Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki as such. Eventually, it became a referendum on whether or not the people of Edo wanted Oshiomhole to continue to influence or control the activities of government.
“The battle that counts is the last.”
Oshiomhole had fought several battles; and he had won almost all of them. He, therefore, had every reason to consider himself a winner. Unfortunately, complacency, that eternal destroyer of Goliaths, quickly set in when he achieved his greatest triumph after he was elected the Chairman of the APC. In that role, he could influence the destinies of politicians and others all over Nigeria. He was consulted by the President and other transient holders of great power. Little did he realise that great power is always a two-way sword. It cuts the adversaries as well as the wielder with equal ferocity when deployed without discretion.
In a way, Adams was a victim of his own legacy. He had spent nearly the last ten years fighting political ‘godfatherism’ in Edo. He had taken on the late Chief Anenih, the powerful Chief Igbinedion, Chief Tom Ikimi, etc and had won a lot of the battles and there was no reason to doubt that he would succeed in the quest to demolish a governor he had personally installed four years earlier.
“Beware! When Fortune would elect to trick a man, she plots his overthrow/By such a means as he would least expect” – Geoffrey Chaucer, 1342-1400, VBQ p 64.
When Oshiomole, as APC Chairman, rose against Governor Obaseki, he expected total support from the state’s APC chieftains.
The first signs that victory was not assured came when, in an unprecedented counter offensive, the National Chairman was suspended by the APC in his own ward. This paved the way for Oshiomhole’s suspension as National Chairman, according to the party’s constitution. That deft strategic move handed the party’s National Headquarters to factions within the party which had for long sought to remove Oshiomhole. Like a wounded lion, Adams fought back to regain his position. He secured a court ruling which restored his power as APC National Chairman and forced the governor to decamp to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – in full confidence that he could use his power to secure victory for his second imposed candidate.
“A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies” – Oscar Wilde, 1856-1900.
By going outside the party to recruit Ize-Iyamu from the PDP, Oshiomhole committed another blunder. APC members who supported Oshiomhole expecting to benefit from Obaseki’s ouster either decamped with Obaseki to PDP or worked against the APC – which had become synonymous with Adams Oshiomhole. Moreover, Oshiomhole, in 2016, had allegedly described Ize-Iyamu as a person totally unfit for public office. His unsuccessful efforts to eat his words contributed largely to APC’s defeat at the polls. Only Oshiomhole could have thought he could deodorise what he had described as human waste and get the people of Edo to swallow it as the most nutritious food available.
“Character is destiny.”
Maximum leaders brook no opposition or suggestions once they have made up their minds on any issue.
“In every community, there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean the criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power” – Saul Bellow, VBQ p 124.
Leadership, to Oshiomhole, was personal; it is for self-aggrandisement. It was a mere coincidence if it was in tandem with what his followers wanted. The working class, on whose shoulders and sometimes broken heads he climbed to great power, were jettisoned in 2012 when, as governor of Edo, he endorsed the January 1, 2012 fuel price increase by then President Jonathan which raised pump price from N97 to N141. It was a most unkind betrayal of the masses.
The latest fall might be his worst self-inflicted injury.
“Truth is constant.” Most long-enduring leaders avoid being caught uttering barefaced falsehood. Oshiomhole deploys truths, half-truths and absolute untruths in all his battles. Consequently, most of his listeners tend to swallow his words with many spoonfuls of salt.
You just never know whether to accept his statements at face value or not. A person known or perceived to be capable of doing anything to win a contest generally receives no benefit of doubt when accused of wrong-doing. Many Edo voters, when unsure of the person to trust, simply voted against Oshiomhole. One traditional ruler and friend, who had felt the sting of ex-Governor Oshiomhole’s tongue when he was the state’s number one citizen, told me of his dilemma, “When the man walked into my palace with Ize-Iyamu asking for prayers and support. I felt sorry for the candidate because I knew that if Ize-Iyamu should win, the man pretending to be humble will show his true colours again.
“I uttered some non-committal prayers with my mouth; then retired to the inner sanctuary and prayed to God that it will not happen.”
A TRAGEDY FORETOLD
“To know that which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom” – John Milton, VBQ p 275.
Readers will excuse me for pointing to another prediction made on the pages of VANGUARD which had turned out to be true. Indeed, I challenge any ‘man-of-God’ to publish specific prophecies he has made about individuals, the economy etc which had turned out to be as prophetic as my series – VISION 20:2020, famine, recession, etc. And now we have Oshiomhole’s tragedy foretold in unmistakable words in March 2019. Please read on.
‘ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE: ELEPHANT IN APC’S CHINA SHOP’
“A manager may have more influence and control over subordinates if they are competing with each other than if they are united against him” – VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 152
Adams Oshiomhole, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is not my friend, neither is he my enemy! But, I always feel sorry for any individual who, through years of brutal struggle, sweat and tears, finally reaches the top where fame and fortune await him but loses a lot on account of a basic character flaw.
Oshiomhole might not realise it, he is an endangered person in Nigerian politics generally. Like a man who had strapped on a belt of explosives in a crowded room, he now constitutes a safety risk to himself and others around him. There is probably no other political figure who daily multiplies the number of his political adversaries as the Chair of the APC. He seems to have forgotten the warning made repeatedly on this page that in the political game: “A man alone hasn’t got a chance” (Ernest Hemingway, 1898-1961).
Increasingly, the man who should be the second most important rallying point of the APC, after Buhari, has now acquired the image of its uncontrollable destroyer sowing discord everywhere, attracting maledictions from members who should be subservient and uniting the rank and file against himself. He most probably will not last until 2023 unless there is a revolutionary change in his approach to leadership”.
That was not all, Oshiomhole was warned against confrontation with Obaseki.
‘Oshiomhole Creating More Problems for APC’ – DAILY INDEPENDENT, October 28, 2019
One of the leaders of the APC as well as one of its most powerful voices made that assertion. He is from the Niger Delta. Everybody is now aware of the ‘fight to the finish’ raging in Edo between Adams on one side and the governor as well as the State Commissioner of Police on the other side.