I write this Article because I want Governor Godwin Obaseki to succeed tremendously. He is the Governor of Edo State, and his executive decisions can help the State move forward. So, we must advice him. I may not be able to sit with him at a personal level to advice him. But I believe that he will read this Article, as I believe he has read my previous two articles on the subject of the illegal and ill advised acquisition of Ize Iyamu’s Farm.
Let me be clear: I am not writing this article because of any love for Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu (hereafter called Ize-Iyamu for ease. I hope he doesn’t mind). No. I do not have any special love for Ize Iyamu, as I am sure he has no particular love for me either. But Ize Iyamu is an honest and hardworking man. Just like any of us. He purchased a large farm for valuable consideration. Just like anyone else.
By the way, I have sued Ize-Iyamu to Court once because of Amagba people. Yes, the same Amagba people who, it now seems, Governor Godwin Obaseki acted to favour when he acquired Ize Iyamu’s farmland purportedly in exercise of powers under the Land Use Act.
How did I sue Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu? Well, Amagba village had always been a rural settlement with no access to electricity. Many years ago, a client of mine was awarded the contract by the Edo State Government owned Rural Electrification Board (REB) to extend electricity supply from Benin City to Amagba village. The agreement was that he would work, after which the work would be assessed, a Certificate would be issued by Government Engineers based on the work he had done and the Government would then pay him the assessed sum, to enable him commence with the next phase of the contract. Seemed straightforward enough.
My client spent a fortune performing his side of the contract. He planted poles and strung electric wires from Benin City up to a point along the Amagba village road. Then asked for assessment and payment to enable him continue.
An Engineer from the Ministry of Works assessed the level of work which my Client had done, quantified it in Naira terms and issued the relevant Certificate. But despite repeated requests, pleadings meetinge and efforts, no payment was forthcoming or made to my Client by the Edo StateGovernment.
Several years passed. My Client was unable to continue the contract due to lack of funds, and the Government failed to make the payment. Eventually, the State Government lost interest in the Amagba village electricity project. The village remained in thick darkness due to the stalemate, with no solution in sight.
Then entered Ize Iyamu. He established his farm at Amagba village on the presently embattled 18 hectare farmland, and he desperately needed electricity to power his farm and equipments. So, Ize Iyamu approached the then National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and got the contract re awarded, the remaining part of the electrification contract was performed and light was connected to Ize Iyamu’s farm and to Amagba village. Ize Iyamu was celebrated, feted and eulogised by the Amagba village people. The people were ecstatic with Ize-Iyamu’s help.
But my Client was not happy. His grouse was that he had not been paid for the work which he did. Notwithstanding the debt owed him by the Edo State Government, Ize Iyamu and Amagba village people, including Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, a former Majority Leader in the Edo State House of Assembly, worked in concert and ensured that the new Contractor used his equipment, laid electric poles from where our Client stopped and extended light to Amagba village.
So it was that we sued Ize-Iyamu along with NEPA, Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, the then Head of Amagba village and others to a Court. Many meetings were held in an attempt to settle the case. Amagba representatives attended. Their position was that they were in dire need of electricity. Ize-Iyamu made it happen. They didn’t care how he did it. As far as they were concerned, he was their hero, and they were very loud, even brash, about it. They praised Ize-Iyamu to high heavens.
Ize iyamu did not even attend any of the meetings, nor did he need to. The Amagba village people spoke for him calling him their illistrious “son” or such similar words. Not one person had any unkind thing to say about Ize-Iyamu.
Such was the state of affairs until one day I received a telephone call from someone who introduced himself as a son to my Client. He informed me that my Client had, unfortunately, died. Without my Client or any substitute child, I could not continue with the case.
You can imagine my surprise therefore, Your Excellency, to read the Press Statement by the same Amagba Village people practically accusing the same Ize-Iyamu of dominating them over the years in relation to the land, and even suggesting that it was not the entire 18 hectres land that had been allocated to Ize-Iyamu by Amagba village.
The same Ize-Iyamu who was Amagba ‘s celebrated son just a few years ago, is now their dominator?. I was flabbergasted. So, I had to write to Governor Obaseki to beware of this Amagba village people.
The way Amagba village people are praising you, my respected Governor Obaseki, is similar to how they praised and sang for Ize-Iyamu not too long ago. One could even say that they praised Ize-Iyamu, their “son” louder than they are praising you now.
So, by necessary corollary, and even without exercising the gift of prophecy, one can predict that in a few years time, when you would have left office, the same Amagba village people who are singing and dancing to your praise now, will also sing a melodious song calling for your crucifixion. Maybe over this or similar issues.
Your Excellency, it is common knowledge that Amagba village people, like most communities in the Benin City area, have sold off all their lands. The dockets of most Courts are littered with land related litigation from there and otjer places. Hungry for more land to sell, they are predictably eyeing the 18 hectares of land which Ize-Iyamu has preserved for agricultural use. They now reason that Ize-Iyamu has never used the land but that it is now a den of thieves and bad people. Well, I do not believe them, and neither should you sir.
Power is transient. Just last week Abba Kyari was Nigeria’s super Policeman. But today, we understand that he had been suspended by the Nigeria Police Authorities pending investigation. He is now wanted by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for helping to facilitate fraud. His prognosis is not very bright. Who could have foreseen this? Even Jacob Zuma is presently in jail in South Africa. So, I repeat, power is transient. This is why it should be used with discretion.
I rest my case.
(Dele Uche IGBINEDION Esq. is a lawyer and Public Affairs Commentator. For comments, suggestions or enquiries about this or any of his Articles, please WhatsApp +234 (0) 805 9863558)