By Emmanuel Aziken
The conspicuous absence of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s name in Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s thank you list of stakeholders within and outside the All Progressives Congress, APC was on Tuesday stirring controversy.
Oshiomhole by almost all accounts facilitated the emergence of Ize-Iyamu as the candidate of the APC. He did that despite the availability of other rugged contestants who had supported his political cause in his face off with Godwin Obaseki.
Before word of Ize-Iyamu crossing over to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP started filtering out about a year ago, Oshiomhole had focused on about five aspirants who fought the battle against Obaseki in Edo and in Abuja with him. One of them also provided his Abuja hotel for the feeding and accommodation of the 14 legislators who did not take up their seats in the Edo State House of Assembly.
Giving Ize-Iyamu the ticket was seen as a quid pro quo for the two men. With his towering political stature in Edo State, Oshiomhole saw in Ize-Iyamu a person who could easily demolish the advantage of incumbency that Obaseki could bring to any contest.
For Ize-Iyamu, the offer for a ticket was also seen as a win-win for him as it would give him the platform to realise his long dream of becoming governor. Even more, the expectation of the incumbent government in Abuja providing security cover as they did four years ago for the APC was also much in the air.
However, between the two men there was a difficult history. Oshiomhole had four years ago led the assault against Ize-Iyamu when he ran on the platform of the PDP. There are several insinuations from APC and PDP stakeholders that despite the severe negative words used by Oshiomhole on Ize-Iyamu in 2016 that the majority of the electorate still voted for pastor as he is fondly called.
Many remember that the decision to close down the collation centre on that election night was what changed the against Ize-Iyamu and led to his defeat. How Oshiomhole contributed to that has been much a matter of guess among political pundits.
So when four years later Oshiomhole pulled Ize-Iyamu from the PDP to the APC to seek the same office, the thin thread of mutual hostility or suspicion that was manifest between both men during the 2016 race was not far from manifesting.
When the two men visited the Esan monarchs in Igueben during the 2020 campaign there were insinuations of bad words exchanging between both men.
Even more, is the claim in several sectors that Oshiomhole was the principal reason that APC governors and many other stakeholders did not back the Ize-Iyamu campaign. It would be recalled that the grand finale of the APC rally was unceremoniously cancelled before the election.
Indeed, pundits have noted that Ize-Iyamu did better with Oshiomhole and the instruments of the state against him in 2016 than he did with the support of the former national chairman of the party.
Whatever, Oshiomhole was not the only conspicuous name missing in the thank you list.
Also conspicuously missing was Capt. Hosa Okunbo who openly backed him and was alleged to have funded the campaign.
Also missing in the thank you list was Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State who was physically present for the poll. Some would also say that Ize-Iyamu thought Uzodinma was in Benin more to support Oshiomhole who helped him become governor than for any other thing.
In his thank you, Ize-Iyamu said:
“Let me once again wholeheartedly thank the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mohammadu Buhari GCFR, for his statesmanship and support throughout the election campaign. We thank the National leadership of our party led by HE Mai Mala Buni, GovernOor of Yobe state, our National Campaign Council led by HE Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, APC Governors, leaders and members of the National Assembly and other leaders of our party at both national and state levels for their immense contributions.
“We also sincerely thank His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, and all our other Royal Fathers, for their unceasing prayers for the peace of the state before, during and after the elections.”
Before making this thank you in a statement on Monday, Ize-Iyamu had understandably in the company of his family thanked God at a Thanksgiving Service in his church parish. The thank you to God was devoid of any loss and showed his gratitude to God for a peaceful election.
However, in not mentioning Oshiomhole in the roll of thanks published on Monday the excuse could be that Oshiomhole is presently an ordinary citizen just like Capt. Hosa. Same excuse could also have been given for the failure in mentioning Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is a long time political associate just as Mr. Boss Mustapha.
However, for many the interpretation would be that pastor is holding Oshiomhole culpable for his loss. But that suspicion was completely absent when he did the church thanksgiving.