I have, in recent times, skimmed through some stories and commentaries on what some people consider to be “imagined senatorial ambition” of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. In making this intervention, I would like to state from the outset that these people suffer from two afflictions: one, they do not think Oshiomhole should go to the Senate; and, two, if Oshiomhole thinks of going to the Senate, they do not want him, as a matter of fact, to realise that goal. They have their personal animus, which they are feeding, on daily basis, to sustain their anti-Oshiomhole hysteria.
But the earlier they back down on this outlandish hysteria, which derives from an unimaginable lack of a sense of appreciation of the benefits of the past received from the same man they gleefully question, either directly or through proxies, as to his moral locus to offer himself for the Edo North Senatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2023, the better. I shudder at the extent people could summersault when some simple events and developments put their loyalty to the test of integrity.
The loyalty that the vast majority of the “new anti-Oshiomhole gang from among his foot soldiers of yore” proclaimed when Oshiomhole was in the saddle as Edo governor, ministering to the needs of a large clan of loyalists and followers, has vaporized. This, of course, is understandable, but fewer things are understandable. It is, for instance, hard to understand how household members would be the ones shooting the arrows and the darts to abridge Oshiomhole’s political voyage. You want to remind me of the story of Jesus and Judas Iscariot? I know it all well. Methinks the Oshiomhole saga, presently in Edo North, beats the Jesus-Judas story in the construct of a classicus.
It is indeed sardonic that the attitude of many of these people, who are now so enamored by lucre to question their leader such that it (lucre) has become the common denominator in determining their continued loyalty, has left much to be desired. They have forgotten Oshiomhole’s past political large-heartedness, the unifying spirit and ideals that circumscribed their interactions and relationship. They now deride and question his leadership. They never did when Oshiomhole was there for them when they needed him.
From my little knowledge of how Oshiomhole ran his administration in Edo and some independent checks and corroborations, the inimitable labour activist cum political leader was very largely loyal to his followers. Without a doubt, Oshiomhole has, as it were, come to an intersection where he needs to draw from and ride on his bank of political capital or goodwill. Of course, there should be no offence in that. But if Oshiomhole had been told a few years back that opposition would come from his own political camp or fortress to take offence at a mere suggestion that he should be supported for an elective office after the excellent outing in Edo, he might have found it difficult to come to terms with the prognosis. But it has now completely unravelled, after the Godwin Obaseki/Philip Shaibu saga, and even now when he has yet to declare interest in Edo North senatorial seat, and some elements with a supposed “Oshio Baba’s political DNA” are kicking, asking him: Quo Vadis?
With a sense of responsibility, I hereby seek to answer the poser on behalf of Oshiomhole and provide necessary justifications for assertions made herein. I realise that there is a rash of anti-Oshiomhole elements whose attitude towards his continued relevance in politics verges and converges on the underpinning that nothing about Oshiomhole’s political vocation should gain traction let alone resonate well with the people of Edo State and Edo North Senatorial zone ahead of 2023 and beyond. The elements have decided to pitch tents elsewhere where they believe they can harvest political largesse now and hereafter. By their skewed calculations, Oshiomhole is very well fast approaching his political departure lounge and may not be in a good stead to influence and dish out patronages as he was wont to do.
Flowing from the scenario supra, they would rather want the incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena, an Etsako man who was politically empowered by Oshiomhole to continue in the Senate for a record third term in a zone that sits on a tripod of Estako, Owan and Akoko-Edo ethnic nationalities. Indeed, the Edo North Senatorial seat, which is the prize in contention, is significant in all its ramifications. It provides the legislative locus on which to pontificate, gladiate, intervene and weigh in on issues pertaining to the zone. The question of whether or not Alimikhena has acquitted himself on this score is not the issue here. In fact, the resolution of that question is a topical issue to interrogate in the nearest future. The Edo North Senatorial seat is circumscribed in the larger Afenmai socio-political and cultural contexts. It is because of the socio-political and cultural nuances, anchored on extant complexities that the race for the Senate position by these ethnic nationalities has always been reduced to rotation somewhat between the majority Etsako and minority Owan and Akoko-Edo ethnic nationalities.
For instance, from 1999 to 2007, Victor Kassim Oyofo (PDP) from Etsako West represented Edo North in the Senate. He was replaced by another PDP Senator, Yisa Braimoh, (2007-2011) from Owan East. Braimoh spent only one term and was replaced by Senator Domingo Obende from Akoko Edo, who was the candidate of the defunct ACN, from 2011 to 2015. Alimikhena from Etsako East succeeded Obende in 2015. He is about rounding off his second term and seeking a third term against the run of play. There is an unwritten agreement that the seat should rotate among the three ethnic nationalities and for a maximum of two terms. Whereas Owan and Akoko Edo were denied a second term in the cases of Braimoh and Obende, it is against rationality, morality, and equity for Alimikhena from Etsako ethnic nationality to jostle for a third term in the Senate. The mischief of the irrational, immoral, and inequitable third term bid by Alimikhena is what has prompted well-meaning members and leaders of the APC in Edo North Senatorial zone to contemplate a cure that could oust Alimikhena who is said to have a war-chest that could secure him a third term if he gets the APC ticket.
Knowing full well that he would naturally enjoy the goodwill of Oshiomhole as APC’s candidate, some members and leaders across the senatorial zone, having come to the conclusion that there might not be anyone else to give Alimikhena a run for his money, have decided to draft Oshiomhole into the race to, like a salvation soldier, dislodge Alimikhena from the scene. This creative approach does not contemplate the issues of rationality, morality and equity. It is largely about political pragmatism. The argument is also valid that the three ethnic nationalities can collectively resolve to consider the magnitude of Oshiomhole’s contribution to the development of the zone as governor and waive off every other significant consideration to gift him not only the APC ticket but also more important victory in the general election. He does not have to spend megabucks.
I think this reasoning is in apple-pie order and it is not in doubt that apart from the pre-election issues, Oshiomhole will not disappoint Edo North people post-election in the Senate. His pedigree of excellent public service as a former Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) president and two-term governor of Edo State is writ large. I expect that the ex-national chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), who has yet to express his interest in going to the Senate in 2023, will sooner than later be able to answer the question about where he is going with emphatic clarity in confirmation: Senate, of course. So, stop prevaricating. Dismiss the antagonistic element’s gobbledygook. Take up the gauntlet and run. Oshiomhole, please, run for Edo North Senatorial Seat!
▪︎ Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org