He Just Called the Edo Voters Stupid! By Olawale Olaleye

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I spent some good 10 minutes of my precious time listening to a ‘passionate submission’ by the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole on the 2016 governorship election in Edo State in a video, where he gave convincing explanations why then candidate of the PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu must not be elected governor of the state.

Oshiomhole was unequivocal about Ize-Iyamu’s ineligibility for the office. He didn’t as much mealymouth around his facts. He was poignant, in fact, as he listed them off-the-top-of-his-head. He said Ize-Iyamu was a thief. That he was a good for nothing. That he never had a tangible job all his life, aside working for a former governor, Lucky Igbinedion, who too was convicted for corruption after eight years as governor of the state.

That the reason he did not appoint him into any office was because of his penchant for stealing. That he was only good for propagating lies through his nocturnal meetings, which was the only assignment he handed him as the chief executive of the state then. He said more and even worse. It was an irreparable damage.

On the contrary, he spoke glowingly about Governor Godwin Obaseki, such that in the spur of the moment, he named the new Government House after him – Godwin Obaseki Building. Godwin, he posited, wasn’t just competent and qualified; there was no debating the fact that Ize-Iyamu was no match for him in all considerations. He wrapped up his speech with a beautiful worship cum political song. And that knelt the death sentence on Ize-Iyamu’s aspiration in 2016.

Interestingly, ahead of that election, I’d met with both candidates then as Group Politics Editor at THISDAY and after listening to them, whilst I agreed they were both brilliant and had a fair idea about the challenge at hand, my take was that Ize-Iyamu appeared a better choice.

His understanding of the state and her people was second to none. He had a great idea what the issues were and was armed with the solutions to them at the same time. He was damn too ready for governance like the Atiku Aabubakar of PDP. Like they say, he came prepared. This was my personal assessment from an outsider’s point of view.

But when Oshiomhole spilled the milk, more so, having worked with both of them at different capacities, it would be sheer stupidity to pray for an Ize-Iyamu, a thief as Oshiomhole said, to become the governor of Edo State. That was where my sentimental support for Ize-Iyamu ended. Enough of parading the thieves amongst us, I’d thought.

Well, I don’t know if you’d not seen the 10 minutes video I’m talking about, but if you’d seen it, then, you are in a better place to tag along in this discussion.

At the level things are now, the state of play in Edo is currently beyond the personal animosity between Oshiomhole and Obaseki. If you ever thought their fight was about the development of the state or good governance ab initio, it goes without saying you are easily one of those available to be tossed around, whether you’re a voter or party supporter. No doubt, one of the fools they often deploy as their expendables. It’s been about them – their personal interests.

Someone close to them once told me there was something about their feud that neither of both was willing to share and that it was on the basis of this that some of their common friends gave a reluctant consent to the activation of MAD to their rift. But I don’t think that should be at the expense of the undiscerning voters in the state.

If four years ago, Oshiomhole stood before the Edo people, spoke passionately and gave a very damning verdict on why Ize-Iyamu was not fit and could not be trusted with public office, the debate about his recent endorsement cannot even begin without first resolving that huge choker dangling around his neck. Yes, Oshiomhole has a right to change his mind but not without addressing the elephant in the room and with facts. We want to know what changed in four years.

However, if this is allowed to slide, because of stomach infrastructure, then, he has not only called the Edo voters stupid, Ize-Iyamu would definitely turn out Oshiomhole’s biggest nemesis in his fast vanishing political career. In fact, Obaseki’s chase would be a child’s play.

This also speaks to the growing culture of not rewarding loyal party members, which at the end of the day, underscores why party supremacy is a fluke, and ideology, an impossible desire.

So, of all the APC members, who stood back come rain and shine, Oshiomhole found none worthy to displace a recalcitrant Obaseki, who went out of line but someone he literally led to the gutters in 2016, then, he hasn’t just called you stupid as a voter in the state, he has also shown to you in very plain language that it is both a personal and economic battle by asking ‘the thief’ to come back.

It is also important that APC members at all levels – from the president to the governors and down – take an interest in Edo’s developing situation. How about rewarding party loyalty? Or is there nothing called loyalty in your party? What is happening today is simply glorifying and encouraging the entitlement mentality, which is only a time bomb. You can never grow a herd of loyal followers this way.

Some of my concerns about the peculiar nature of Nigeria’s politics include a misguided leadership recruitment process, which cannot pass any rational or just test. It’s too poor and self-serving! Another is my discovery in recent years that contrary to the assumption that Nigeria’s problem is mainly leadership, it is actually followership and it’s a no-brainer.

If followers do not change, leadership will remain the same, because the so-called leaders are also products of the same system. How you intend for leaders to be better than the system that produced them is simply asking for the impossible or at best, a miracle. Perhaps, a way out, is recruiting Nigerians in the Diaspora.

If you do not think this addresses the issue at hand, then, tell me how Oshiomhole is going to come back, stand before the unassuming Edo voters again in 2020 and unsay all that he said about Ize-Iyamu four years ago and you would still trust him with your votes?

Take it to the bank, you are your own problem and you deserve no pity with whatever is thrown at you for as long as you continue to misuse your votes for momentary gratification. That one vote could make all the difference if deployed to good use.

You are a cheap pawn in their hands and shall remain so, because they call you stupid right in your presence and all you do is clap and cheer at your very nuisance value. You’re nothing but what they call you: a stupid voter! Continue to wait for change; it’s coming right behind you, Mr. Disposable.

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