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Date Published: 05/06/10

Please, say it ain’t true, Oshiomole! By Jude Egbas

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Maybe I am a bit naïve and plain gullible. For this, Dear reader, I apologise. But I was one of those who held Edo State Governor, ‘Comrade’ Adams Oshiomole in high esteem until late last week, when it seemed he had his hand depressing the self destruct button placed somewhere within him. I was one of those who felt he was in line to becoming one of the brightest stars in our political firmament going by his antecedents. But it does appear, Oshiomole has chosen infamy over history and sleaze over ideology. The ability to commit hara-kiri lies dormant within us. And for Oshiomole, the detonator went off at what was supposed to be an innocuous ‘one man, one vote’ rally held in Benin City only last week. 

The story may vary depending on which source one gleaned through, but the harmonised version went something like this : Edo state Governor, Adams Oshiomole had this novel idea of how our votes could count in 2011. The best way to go about it, he concluded, was to invite the main political gladiators to ‘jaw jaw’ at a rally with a sprinkling of the electorate. So, he set about the task of drawing up a list of all those who could give his event some weight. I would have been okay if the story had ended at this point, after all, which right thinking Nigerian isn’t looking forward to a free and fair poll next year? 

But here was where Oshiomole got me and I suppose, the likes of Soyinka and Tinubu, who reportedly got plenty of migraine in Edo on arrival, when they discovered to their chagrin that sitting somewhere in the crowd, and in fact, pencilled to deliver the opening talks, would be a certain Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, fondly called IBB and the very antithesis of a free and fair poll! As the silver haired Nobel laureate and his progressive allies flew back to Lagos immediately with scowls decorating their tanned faces, news filtered in that Oshiomole had not only sold his soul to the devil for a mess of pottage, figuratively speaking, but had been in the same car with IBB enroute the event venue and had seen to ‘Maradona’s’ hotel accommodation and well- being prior to Rally Day. And then, wait for this : Comrade Adams Oshiomole, grapevine sources held, was in line to becoming IBB’s running mate come next year’s presidential elections!!!!! 

Let’s get this out of the way as soon as possible, since you asked—like ‘anyone’ else, Oshimole has the right to hobnob with whoever he wishes to hobnob with as the constitution grants ‘anyone’ those rights to associate with ‘anyone’. Freedom of association is up there among the inalienable rights of the citizen in all State constitutions, including the United Nations’. But ‘Comrade’ Adams Oshimole, was not just ‘anyone’—he was the former president of the Nigerian Labour Congress who (I had thought) was always on the side of the masses during the days when prices of petroleum products were always a point of dispute between the leadership and the led; he was the one and only Oshiomole, who stood at the barricades with his army of Labour leaders calling the government’s bluff as the minimum wage of workers sank to unbelievable levels; he it was who rode on the back of the goodwill of the ‘progressives’ and those of the good people of Edo state to make a mince meat of the Igbinedion political machine in the state, at a time it was inconceivable to do so. Dear reader, we are talking about the Adams Oshiomole whose victory in upturning the results of a rigged election led to shouts of glory and dances in major streets of Nigeria among the common folks the day news broke out that he was to become the new governor. 

That certainly wasn’t the Oshiomole who couldn’t find his voice, upon confrontation by the Progressives at Edo government house. That definitely isn’t the pint sized erstwhile labour leader who, we now hear, is on the cusp of defecting to a political party bereft of any known ideology except that of the stomach. This must be a different Oshiomole certainly—who did everything to stop Goodluck Jonathan from being bestowed with the tag of ‘acting president’, using the now infamous Governors’ forum. 

It took me a while to write this article because I wanted Mr Oshiomole to recant the stories making the rounds in most of the dailies soon after the rally, which, with the benefit of hindsight, now looks like an ‘IBB coronation get- together’. I scoured the news websites and search engines, looking for anything ‘Oshiomole’, willing him to assure me from behind my computer screen, that the reports of his Rally were wide off the mark—that the stories were baseless and unfounded, that he was still a torch bearer for the masses, that himself and IBB would never dine together—long spoon or not! If he has categorically debunked the stories, I am yet to read them. If he hasn’t, he still has some time to tell us they weren’t true. I would be waiting and Nigerians will be waiting with me….. 

As the 2011 elections draw near, I guess we should brace up for more and more of these kinds of stories. Cross carpeting in Nigerian politics is legendary—politicians are always on the lookout for where their bread will be most buttered; the political party with the reins of power; leaving the rest of us to moan about Ideology and Reputation. Oshiomole wasn’t supposed to be in that bracket because the name of the game in the country could change with the level of awareness now visible, thanks to the new media. I recall that sometime ago he was even mentioned in the same breath as America’s Barack Obama. 

I guess we may have to look for another Obama(?) Please, tell us it ain’t true, Comrade. Tell us, tell us, tell us… 

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