Though she has worked tirelessly in the background to uplift and empower underprivileged Nigerians, she eventually shot to national consciousness on July 13 after the African Democratic Congress (ADC) appointed her as its candidate in the race for Osadebeh House in the just-concluded Edo 2020 elections which swept the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to power in a landslide victory on September 19 assuring incumbent Governor Obaseki of a second term in office.
While Edo 2020 with its twist and turns have come and gone, one name that will resonate for a long time to come is Mabel Oboh, the Amazon and only woman among the ‘last four men standing’ who redefined the role of women in Edo politics by her giant strides in a conservative society.
Oboh is a woman who understands the art of statecraft as a means of service to the people rather than a means to wealth, and that was a recurring mantra throughout her campaign. As violence and uncertainty loomed over the Heartbeat of Nigeria as the countdown to the election gathered momentum, she had declared that it was immoral that political power is realised at the expense of the blood of innocent Edo citizens.
Call her the ‘Iron Lady of Edo politics’ and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. On the campaign trail she stood her ground and slugged it out with gladiators of all shapes and stripes. She received numerous death threats, was attacked, narrowly escaped being beaten and of course, attempts to blackmail here were rife.
However, she stuck by her guns and fought the good battle by standing by the people and her beliefs till the very end, holding unto the ‘ADC DNA’ and refusing to be intimidated by political thugs and rabble-rousers by resisting attempts to pressure her into collapsing her political structures for financial gains.
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And because of her doggedness and dedication, she could not escape the discerning eyes of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II who hosted her at the palace in appreciation of her drive and courage.
Commending the Nollywood practitioner, criminologist, businesswoman and philanthropist, the Oba appreciated her for challenging other candidates in the Edo 2020 race for a 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.
A woman without any controversies about her credentials, her decision to join politics was not scripted as she has always said. Rather, it was a consequence of destiny and accidents that happened in her life. However, she has always towed the path of leadership and humanitarianism through public service.
Oboh made her mark as a philanthropist long before the call to serve arose. Ironically, when she launched her NGO, Mabel Oboh Centre for Save Our Star (MOCSO), with the sole aim of catering for the health needs of Nigerian entertainers, little did she realise that the effort would land her in politics.
Today her impact on health issues among Ajegunle musicians is on record as she has launched several health interventions like her health insurance scheme, which was the basis for one of the cardinal points of her Edo 2020 manifesto on heath aside agriculture, another cardinal point she had designed to make Edo State achieve food sufficiency.
Recall that her affordable and accessible national health insurance scheme is one of herself professed achievements in her humanitarian work after her involvement in #savesadiqdaba, a veteran broadcaster and #saveyellowbanton, a personal project she took on to save an Ajegunle musician, Yellow Banton from dying from skin cancer.
It is pertinent to note that her efforts to empower youths 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 names. She was also the producer of Victims, a popular NTA series from the 80s, and has also working as a broadcaster.
Having fought gallantly to the very end and lost, the question on everyone’s lips is what is next for the Amazon? Will she return quietly to her private life running her NGO? Will she continue with politics and take ADC to the next level? Or would she start something new entirely?
Said a close source: “Mabel is a humble woman whose looks undermine her strength, until you experience her first hand. She is the people’s woman whose courage and determination speaks in everything she does and is always determined to break the norm.
“She is passionate and always strives for the best. She has made history and her name is written in the sands of time as far as Edo politics is concerned because she has given women of not only Edo State but Nigeria at large, hope. She has proven to all that women can also be successful politicians like their male counterparts. As she is known to say often enough, ‘gender has got nothing to do with it but hard work and determination.’
“However, what is obvious is the fact that Edo and Nigeria at large needs the likes of Oboh who can play a role in our society, a role that a lot see as impossible. Oboh brought a stream of fresh air that is full of morality, strength, truth and a true passion to serve the people as far as Edo 2020 is concerned. You only need to look at history to understand the role of Edo women in nation-building.
“Edo women are known for their strength and resilience and history is replete with their tales of heroism and sacrifice. Princess Idia and Princess Emotan are examples and Mabel Oboh is not an exception. The need for the touch of a woman achiever like Oboh in the corridors of power in Edo State cannot be over-emphasised,” the source concluded.
Oga lives in Lagos.