How do we classify Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s declaration that “I’m not down” concerning how the outcome of the September 19, 2020, governorship election in Edo State affected him?
Is it a parody, also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on (something), a caricature, a joke, a satire or an irony? Or a metaphor, that’s comparing two things that aren’t alike but do have something in common: “stating something is something else”?
A combination of both words reflects Oshiomhole’s current station in life, in a very canny way. He’s fighting for his political life at Edo 2020, and achieving that goal was for him to come tops.
But he came short, courtesy of the declaration of incumbent Godwin Obaseki and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State as the winners of the contentious poll.
Had the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, prevailed, Oshiomhole could have had a breather, and whatever he said would carry a punch.
But having his candidate and platform humiliated by his undisputed nemesis, Governor Obaseki, Oshiomhole ought to be genuinely sober, and not grandstand with “I’m not down” pontificating.
Let’s look at his remarks for context. In a video reminiscent of the one he posted to social media 48 hours before the poll, Oshiomhole took refuge in God, as the ultimate disposer of human proposals.
His words: “A lot of people will be thinking now, ‘Oh, Comrade is down.’ But I am not down. When God says you are not down, you are not down, and I am not down.
“You work hard and leave God for the outcome. You do your best and trust God to bless your effort. I feel good, thank God. I feel healthy, thank God. I feel strong. Thank God. In life, you win some, you lose some, but life goes on.
“On Election Day, I saw women of 70, 75 sitting down because the Card Reader is not working; and they are not frustrated. It inspired me that, if at their age you don’t give up, why should I give up?
“We must strengthen democracy; we must improve on it, no matter the outcome of an election or a particular edition of a process. Have faith in God and have faith in our country.”
Truly, man proposes and God disposes! But man’s action must be tailored to align with God’s expectation, before man can take refuge under the canopy of the Almighty.
Were Oshiomhole’s actions a manifestation of God’s expectation of him during his governance of Edo from 2008 to 2016, and in the lead-up to the 2020 poll? Certainly not, in several respects!
Consider his unbridled fight against “godfathers.” Labeling of Ize-Iyamu. Failure to resolve crises in APC’s chapters, particularly in Edo. Alleged “one man show” at the National Working Committee (NWC). Blind-siding higher party authorities: National Executive Committee (NEC) and President Muhammadu Buhari. Alienation of his colleague-governors, past and present. Spearheading of the disqualification of Obaseki from the APC primaries.
Some explanation will suffice. Oshiomhole, as governor of Edo State, was the architect of “One man, one vote,” “One woman, one vote” that has gained currency in the political lexicon of Nigeria.
The basics of this mantra is that in any election, every vote must count, devoid of behind-the-scenes manipulation of the processes by political “godfathers,” to advantage their choice candidates.
While Oshiomhole deserves kudos for this noble cause, he rather took the fight to the extreme by defying the time-honoured respect for Edo elders, widely regarded as the “godfathers.
It became Oshiomhole’s pastime to denigrate these elders publicly at every stop – both at campaigns and at official engagements in his eight-year governance, from 2008 to 2016.
It might be a stretch, but it won’t be out of place to suggest that Oshiomhole may’ve contributed to the “untimely demise” of Chief Anthony Anenih, a political enigma, code-named ‘Mr Fix It’.
Politics was Anenih’s life, but Oshiomhole, as he often boasted, “retired” him from the vocation, and rendered him vincible in Edo politics he had bestrode for decades.
For destroying his image and integrity in 2016, which impacted on Edo 2020, Ize-Iyamu could’ve claimed, and can claim, damages against Oshiomhole.
It’s no surprise that at the campaigns, Obaseki didn’t showcase his achievements, but focused on what Oshiomhole said about Ize-Iyamu in 2016 when Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu swapped platforms, as in 2020.
As APC’s chair, Oshiomhole had a price to pay for not sounding Buhari out before taking decisive actions, and for “antagonizing” his colleague-governors, who then plotted his downfall.
The “aggrieved” didn’t only show their anger by conniving to suspend and sack Oshiomhole from his exalted political office, but also ensured he’s humbled at the poll by Obaseki of the PDP.
For instance, consider President Buhari’s message to Ondo voters during the APC final mega rally in Akure last week. It’s concise, direct, precise, unambiguous and un-ambivalent.
Buhari said: “I have no doubt that our candidate (Governor Rotimi Akeredolu) is a good brand for the APC to market. I am particularly delighted by his ingenious approach to governance.
“Having had the privilege of commissioning some of his projects, which I consider enduring legacies, I join you here today to declare that Governor Akeredolu deserves to be re-elected…
“I am not just proud of his achievements; I am confident he will enjoy the mandate of the good people of Ondo State for the second term.”
And what’s Buhari’s message to Edo voters on the September 19 poll? He charged them to “vote for the candidate of your choice,” with no direct canvassing for his party’s candidate, Ize-Iyamu.
It isn’t that Ize-Iyamu was a bad product, but advocating for him would mean endorsing Oshiomhole’s last-ditch effort to shore-up his self-inflicted political implosion.
So, the “more powerful” in the APC ensured they pulled the brakes on the final mega rally in Benin City on September 17, which Ize-Iyamu would’ve used to woo, at least, “undecided” voters.
If Oshiomhole had “his way” with godfathers and godsons in Edo politics, his magic didn’t click with Obaseki, who he had drafted into the race in 2016, and campaigned for, as if he’s on the ballot.
Oshiomhole’s alleged “crime” was his craving to reintroduce, in the Edo politics, “godfatherism” – a phenomenon he boasted often to have “killed and buried” during his tenure as governor.
Obaseki deployed gimmicks to stop Oshiomhole: Ensured he had no foothold at Edo Assembly. Abolished his political group, Edo Peoples Movement (EPM). Engineered his sacking from APC’s national chair. And frustrated all efforts to reconcile the duo.
The last straw to break “Oshiomhole’s political back” came when his NWC disqualified Obaseki at the APC primaries, prompting the governor to decamp, with the APC mandate, to the PDP.
With Obaseki, the PDP, out of power in Edo for nearly 12 years, swept the poll, which’s faulted by the local APC and Ize-Iyamu as fraudulent, and yet not keen to test their claims at the Tribunal.
Oshiomhole’s case depicts, “what goes around, comes around,” or what in local parlance is, “koni man die, koni man beri am.” His behaviour is rooted in a “loose tongue” and “playing God.”
Hence, he can’t take refuge under the canopy of God, even as he has disregarded the biblical statement: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Compelling truth.com describes that statement as a command from Jesus Christ. In Luke 6:31 Jesus says, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” And Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Did Oshiomhole do to Ize-Iyamu (in 2016) what he would have him do unto him? He tried to atone for his “sins” against Ize-Iyamu at Edo 2020 poll. But would Oshiomhole have accepted abridgment of his re-election bid in 2012, as he did to Obaseki in Edo 2020?
As Obaseki reportedly had issues with his documents, the APC tried to avoid the Beyelsa “debacle” in which the courts overturned its victory over credentials of its running mate in the 2019 poll.
Yet, the APC could’ve allowed Obaseki, as incumbent, to run the gamut of the primaries, and hoped he’s defeated by a co-contender, especially Ize-Iyamu that Oshiomhole backed to the hilt.
Thus, Oshiomhole’s “I’m not down” is a boldface to cover-up actions that culminated in his falling from the dizzy heights of the APC, and also disgraced at Edo 2020 by his “beloved” godson.
It’s a monumental political tragedy he should apologise for, and which should serve as a sober lesson to his ilk prancing the political space as kingmakers or would-be king-crowners.
▪︎Ehichioya Ezomon contributed this piece from Lagos. (+2348033078357)