September 8, 2020

Edo 2020: Mabel Oboh, the gateway to Osadebeh House?

Mabel Oboh

Mabel Oboh

By Tony Oga

In 1969, late Prime Minister of Great Britain, Dame Margaret Thatcher, speaking in the House of Commons had declared: “No woman in my time will be Prime Minister or Chancellor or Foreign Secretary.”

She was wrong! 10 years later in 1979, following her party’s defeat of James Callaghan’s government, she was swept into power and set a new record as the first woman to rule Great Britain as Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative Party.

Thatcher would go on to emerge one of Britain’s most successful prime ministers, ruling for over a decade and by the time she left office, she had established Thatcherism, a philosophy that has influenced British governments to this day, thus proving that what a man can do, a woman can do and even better.

As the countdown to Edo 2020 governorship elections gathers momentum and gladiators unsheathe their swords in the race for Osadebeh House, one unlikely candidate in the fight is a woman of Esan descent, Mabel Oboh— the only woman among the last three men standing.

A woman that has shown that hard work, passion, honesty, and determination can swing things around. And last week, through sheer dint of hard work and tenacity of purpose, the palace, the traditional seat of power in the state finally noticed her exploits.

The Oba of Benin, Oba Eware II hosted her and officials of her party, African Democratic Congress, ADC,  at the palace in a move that left political pundits stunned! In his statement, the Oba had paid glowing tribute to her, commending and congratulating her for her courage for daring to challenge Governor Obaseki and Ize Iyamu to a public policy debate.

The royal father also used the medium to pray for her that God and the ancestors bless and grant her heart’s desire.

And Mabel Oboh is indeed a rare breed. A humble woman, armed with a degree in Criminology, she is also a philanthropist, broadcaster and Nollywood practitioner, who has worked with multi-nationals including the UN, British Embassy amassing a broad wealth of expertise and experience which she will bring to bear in office if elected.

Indeed, Mabel Oboh is prepared and qualified to slug it out with her rivals and take on the reins of government and transform the fortunes of the Heartbeat of the Nation which has been ‘bleeding’ since the return to democracy in 1999 and which took a new turn when the power tussle between former governor, Adams Oshiomhole and incumbent Governor Obaseki erupted.

ALSO READ: Edo ADC guber candidate, Mabel Oboh, commiserates with APC over auto crash

A mother’s manifesto

Mabel Oboh, always calling for peace and a move away from violence in politics, has consistently stated that the coming elections should be more about policies and not warring.

Outlining her manifesto, Oboh had unveiled a positive template that she believes will transform the fortunes of Edo State based on service to the people and driven by massive investment in agriculture, women and youth, tourism, IT and the health sector among others.

However, when she emerged the flag bearer for ADC a couple of months back, she was the only women among 14 men. Little wonder she had been dismissed by political commentators and the reasons were not far-fetched: Edo society and by extension, Nigerian society is patriarchal and often women have to work much more times harder than their male counterparts in order to be heard.

But with her entrance into the race and recent developments in the state, political pundits are beginning to do a rethink as it would seem that Mabel Oboh is a moving train that cannot be stopped as she has hit the ground running.

And talking about ‘wahala,’ the people’s woman, Mabel Oboh has passed through the ‘baptism of fire.’ A while ago, a faction of the party in Edo State had made attempts to blackmail her for selfish gains, insisting that she collapsed the structures of the party and merge with either PDP or APC.

To their chagrin, she had resisted the move and this culminated in an attack on her personality amid death threats and blackmail. And her only crime was her desire to see through to the very end and uphold the ideals of the ADC DNA.

However, reports soon emerged in the media exposing those determined to unseat her and how in a spectacular move, the National Executive Council, NEC, of the party, led by its chairman, Ralph Nwosu, had swung into action and sacked all those involved. At the party’s campaign flag off recently, Nwosu had poured encomiums on her, restating the reasons the party chose her to bear its flag on September 19.

History beckons Mable Oboh: philanthropist, showbiz maestro

Mabel Oboh has made her mark as a philanthropist. Long before the call to serve arose, she had been involved in community work and was the inspiration behind the rise of Ajegunle music in the early 1990s, a move that brought the genre to national and global consciousness and made the likes of Daddy Showkey and African China household name,  aside producing “Victims”, a popular NTA series from the 80s, and also working as a broadcaster.

In a move to assert the potency of female power, Margaret Thatcher while in office once famously boasted: “The cocks may crow, but it’s the hen that lays the egg.”

Edo history is replete with tails of women who fought gallantly to save, rescue and united the Edo people. They include Princess Idia and Princess Emotan, among others.

And recently, her running-mate, Dr. Edokpayi, while enumerating why Edo State needs the golden touch of a woman, especially at this time of its evolution, had asserted the fighting spirit of the Edo woman when he famously declared: “A mother’s love and the power to walk the extra mile in good faith for family and the strength to feed and nurture her children and family against the odds are naturally vested in every woman and that is what Mabel Oboh is bringing to Edo State House.

“Though the time in history is different, the issues we face are similar. But the strong spirit in the woman will lead Mabel Oboh to success as Edo State governor.  I am not in doubt that Mabel Oboh will change the Edo story from what we have now.”

It is not yet Uhuru; there are still hurdles ahead for the Esan woman and it is obvious that both the incumbent and his foremost challenger must be looking over their shoulders and wondering who Mabel Oboh is.

Again, Nigerian politics is an unpredictable terrain and as the countdown gathers momentum, anything could happen and the emergence of Edo State’s first female governor is not an exception and maybe, just maybe, we could be on the verge of telling Nigeria’s own Thatcher story.

Only time will tell.

Oga wrote in from Lagos.