PHOTO Ize-Iyamu (in white attire) with co-defendants coming out of the Benin High Court on charges of corruption
I do not know Osagie Ize-Iyamu but he has invaded my space with his political aspiration to govern Edo state.
I first became aware of Osagie Ize-Iyamu when he participated in the 2015 governorship election debate with the others and current governor, Godwin Obaseki. On the basis of the debate and only on the basis of the debate, I thought Osagie Ize-Iyamu carried the day. He was eloquent, appeared to master the political facts and his delivery was professional. Unlike the eventual winner of the election, Godwin Obaseki who was halting, unsure and uncomfortable both with himself and the forum. He got lost in the details of his presentation.
There was a question on the claim that the government of Oshiomhole was owning worker’s salaries. Godwin Obaseki sought to draw a distinction between the various layers of government and that while local governments were delinquent on payment of salaries not so the state government. The audience were not having it as they saw the government as a unitary organisation.
The election campaign proper was between Ize-Iyamu and Oshiomhole, the governor of the state at the time of the election. Oshiomhole with a barrage of half-truths, outright lies and comical effects devasted Ize-Iyamu’s political fight against a political novice like Godwin Obaseki who was largely absent in the course of the campaign.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a Pentecostal Pastor. From 1987 to 1989 he was a political assistant to Lucky Igbinedion while the latter was chairman of Oredo Local authority, he became the Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Edo state government of Lucky Igbinedion from 1999 to 2007.
In 2012, Ize-Iyamu served as Director General of Adams Oshiomhole’s 2nd term Campaign Organisation. In 2015, he was also a Coordinator of Goodluck/Sambo Campaign Organisation. His political allegiance is subject to his own political ambition. He has found himself, not unlike the vast majority of Nigeria political class, in either sphere of the political divide in Nigeria.
The above political career history of Osagie Ize-Iyamu shows a man with considerable political experience and knowledge. He has been involved in the political fights and its method of operation. His reputation as a political insider who is connected to the political actors and knows the terrain. He must have a sense of the political temperature of Edo state. While other political actors have been occasional Edo state residents, Osagie Ize-Iyamu has remained in Benin both in his educational, political and business pursuits. Both Godwin Obaseki and Adams Oshiomhole were long term residents of Lagos and Kaduna states respectively. Osagie Ize-Iyamu knowns Edo state and I suspect Edo state knows him.
It’s a surprise that on this occasion of the 2020 governorship election for Edo state, Osagie Ize-Iyamu has allowed Adams Oshiomhole to take over the public face of his campaign. He ought to know that Oshiomhole being the principle demarketing agent who draw a deadly picture of Osagie Ize-Iyamu could not with a straight face seek to sell the same Osagie Iye-Iyamu to the people of Edo state. He could and should have relegated Oshiomhole to the back office of his campaign instead he has by own decision to grant Oshiomhole a front role in his campaign damaged his chances of fulfilling his ambition of directly governing the state.
Adams Oshiomhole ran a third term as governor by proxy. He nominated and effected appointment of all principle officers of state usurping the power of patronage of Godwin Obaseki. The current political impasse of the current government is largely due to the attempt of the government to end that political arrangement and Adams Oshiomhole fighting back using those whose political and business careers he has advanced.
If Ize-Iyamu were to against the grain win his election, Oshiomhole will true to his character seek to run his fourth term as governor by proxy. There lies the possibility of the continuation of the current political impasse.
Ize-Iyamu has failed his first test as a governorship candidate, if he is unable to manage his campaign, the million-naira question will legitimately be, how can he run a government with an embodied Adams Oshiohmole seeking to assert his undue influence and power in the state.