By Ehichioya Ezomon
IF the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) carries the day in September, it will have the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, to thank for it. How will the APC market its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu?
If politics were mathematics, where two plus two is equals to four, it would have been game over for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.
But in politics, two plus two can produce a different result. That’s why barely nine weeks to the polls, and the seeming groundswell of support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), pundits are hesitant to call the vote for the new ruling party.
Ize-Iyamu, a foundation member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that merged with three political parties to form the APC in 2013, was a major player in Oshiomhole’s election in 2007. He became the director-general of his second term bid in 2012, and delivered on the assignment successfully.
But in 2016, while campaigning for his successor, Godwin Obaseki, Oshiomhole turned against his twice electoral facilitator, Ize-Iyamu, who had decamped to the PDP, which he flew its flag at the polls.
In the presumption that all is fair in politics, as in war, Oshiomhole, at every stop in the campaign to install Obaseki, leveled damaging, and mostly unsubstantiated allegations against Ize-Iyamu.
The thrust of the allegations, which became Internet hits at the 2016 election cycle, is that Ize-Iyamu was unworthy of any public office where he would oversee the finances of government.
And ahead of the September 2020 poll, those allegations have resurfaced at campaign gatherings, and particularly on social media. They’re the rave of the moment!
It’s such that the PDP and its members have virtually abandoned the real issues about what Obaseki has done for Edo people in the past three years and seven months, and what to expect from him in next four years if given a second chance.
Rather, the joint campaign of Obaseki and Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu, and the PDP and its supporters are laser-focused on using Oshiomhole’s words against the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu.
And who wouldn’t? Why belabour yourself when Oshiomhole, who’s the major promoter of Ize-Iyamu, has done a good job of demarketing his own candidate? Simply replay those allegations and allow the voters to make up their minds!
Oshiomhole said so many “bad things” about Ize-Iyamu that need no repeating, but let’s sample some of his unrestrained characterization in an undated video of Channels TV’s live coverage of a 2016 APC rally in Benin City.
His words: “It is true we (Ize-Iyamu and I) found ourselves in the region of politics working together, but I never gave him government job. I kept him busy. Let him be holding midnight meetings, which he is used to.
“Ask him, since he was the DG (of my campaign), why did I not appoint him into government? We kept him away, nothing near government circle; no access to public fund.”
Oshiomhole pigeonholed Ize-Iyamu as fit only for the “dirty job” of politicking, strategizing, mobilising and campaigning for him to assume the office of governor twice. But in his reckoning, Ize-Iyamu wasn’t even qualified to be in the corridors of power, not to mention tasting the ultimate power as a governor.
It’s Oshiomhole’s “use-and-dump” that prompted Ize-Iyamu to decamp to the PDP in 2016 for the governorship contest against Obaseki, and the reason Oshiomhole unconscionably bad-mouthed, and ran Ize-Iyamu down.
But surprisingly, at the rally (in the Channels TV video, reported by PREMIUM TIMES.online), as in other campaign stops, Oshiomhole gave testimonials about Obaseki’s stellar qualities for governor.
Oshiomhole was to come around two years later, in 2018, to revalidate his choice of Obaseki, as a “talk-na-do” governor. On January 19, 2018, he commended his successor for achieving a lot in a harsh economic environment.
At the inauguration in Benin City of 75 intra-city buses purchased by the Obaseki administration, Oshiomhole said he’s proud of the governor for building on his legacy. Take a look:
“I am humbled by your accomplishments, and I am proud that we made promises on your behalf during the 2016 electioneering period and you have accomplished a lot of the promises. You are working tirelessly to industrialize the state and make life easy for the people.
“Many governors are complaining that there is no money, and unable to pay salaries, but you have developed your own creativity to attract resources to the state. This reflects your competence and financial ability to develop the economy of the state.”
But in the heat of the crisis in the Edo chapter of the APC that pitted them against each other, Oshiomhole has turned praises of Obaseki into recrimination, and his demagoguing of Ize-Iyamu into recommendation for governor in the September poll.
Instructively, what Oshiomhole said in December 2019 when Ize-Iyamu returned to the APC may partially answer the PDP and its supporters’ poser for the APC and its supporters to show “any good thing that Oshiomhole has ever said about Ize-Iyamu.”
Oshiomhole said: “If you remember, Pastor Ize-Iyamu was my DG (campaign organisation) in 2012 (for my) second term. I won in all the 18 local government areas. I won all the wards in Edo South. I scored 74.6 per cent in the total votes cast.
“In 2016, the man left us and stood against us. We only managed to defeat him with about 50,000 votes. So, if he is bringing on board, as he has done, that his goodwill, his energy, his resourcefulness, and his own electoral base to join the APC, I am much more confident now about APC continuous hold on the governance of this state than ever before.”
It’s like a dog coming back to its vomit, for Oshiomhole to project Ize-Iyamu’s ability to produce electoral victories, which wasn’t lost on Obaseki, and perhaps the reason he didn’t want Ize-Iyamu in the APC to battle the September poll ticket with him.
But that’s history now, as Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki have switched positions in the APC and PDP. But the question is: Can Oshiomhole whitewash Ize-Iyamu and blacken Obaseki in the run-up to the polls? What about his past condemnation of one and commendation for the other that’s shaping the campaigns?
Well, in politics, which is not mathematics, what goes around doesn’t really come around. Karma may appear to have caught up with Oshiomhole, but he could turn things around in the two months before the election, and shame his vilifiers.
One week, even 24 hours, is a long time in politics. Any eventuality could muddy the waters for the PDP and Obaseki, who’s already measuring the new drapes at the Osadebey Avenue Government House in Benin City. So, it isn’t ‘Uhuru’ yet!
Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Twitter: @EhichioyaEzomon. WhatsApp: 08033078357