Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu
By Isaac Asabor
If there is any Edolite that has the optimism to face the challenges Edo State is faced with, and the candor to see Edo as truly the “The Heartbeat of the Nation”, and that the most important democratic dividend a politician can deliver is good governance, then Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu can unarguably be said to fit into that description. Yet despite the collective Holier-Than-Thou” disposition of his critics who erroneously think that governance had become overly rigid and ossified, and that he lacks the focus and character that are needed to resolve contentious moral issues while in power, they should wait for him at the poll on September 19, 2020 as he is poised to loom as a titanic success story.
Described from another perspective, if tolerating those Holier-Than-Thou critics that has chosen to become traducers in the field of politics, Ize-Iyamu deserves fusillade of kudos for being a tolerant leader. As an African proverb goes, “The mouth that speaks ills of a person will one day praise him”, Ize-Iyamu’s traducers will, sooner or later, begin to praise him and ask him for forgiveness. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched when seen from the perspective of the emphasis and his adherence to the vision of his SIMPLE Agenda. Again, Ize-Iyamu has no doubt developed thick skin over destructive criticism. He seems to have imbibed the advice offered to humanity by Jeff Dezos who said “If you absolutely can’t tolerate critics, then don’t do anything new”.
Like Ize-Iyamu or hate him, as one of his dyed-in-the-wool supporter, I am not moved by all the falsehoods that are been woven around his character in order to pull him down ahead of the upcoming election in the State on September 19, 2020. At this juncture, it suffices to say that Edolites must not just look out for candidates with personal charm and charisma, but should look for the one that burns for Edo on the inside. A candidate that if elected, will bring about a State of shared opportunities and shared responsibility and one committed to constructive cooperation among the different spheres of the society.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not hyperbolical to say that never on any page of Edo political history can one read about any politician; dead or alive, that has being so maligned, calumniated against and castigated more than Ize Iyamu, and still holds his head high, and remain forgiving.
Anyone that has been following the trend of campaign politics in the last few weeks in the State will agree with this writer that Ize-Iyamu has become a victim of campaign of calumny; even from so-called online riff-raffs that will spontaneously become panicky and stammering when asked to spell the word, “Politics.” People that can barely write their own names legibly on sheet of paper are now all over on social media posting whatever allegation they stumble on against Ize-Iyamu who is undeniably familiar with Edo grassroots political terrain. Not only is he reputed to be a seasoned politician, an egghead and an intellectual, he is throughout the 18 local government areas in the State regarded as “A man of the people”. What has been endearing his followers to him, no doubt, is the philosophy he indisputably shares with Marianne Williamson who said, “I know politics is emotionally brutal; I’ve already had experience with the reality of smear campaigns, so I understand there will not be a path of roses laid before me.”
Without doubt, the foregoing explains the philosophy behind Ize-Iyamu’s stoical disposition to those who has unashamedly taken the mischievous past time of calumniating him as a source of livelihood.
Despite all the unsubstantiated and unprintable allegations which Holier-Than-Thou opponents of Ize-Iyamu have been leveraging on in their campaign of calumny against him since the past few months when the upcoming election in Edo began to beckon, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has denied being the chairman of the committee set up by the University of Benin (UNIBEN) to investigate the matter involving him.
It will be recalled that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman of APC in a viral video had alleged that Ize- Iyamu, who was a student in UNIBEN and a cultist had poured acid on a student’s private part. He further said the University raised a panel to investigate the incident and it was chaired by Sagay.
Despite the continued spate of false narrative that is being woven around the personality and candidacy of Ize-Iyamu, rebuttals and denials have continued to pour in and in that light exculpate him by each passing day. For instance, a statement that was recently orchestrated from the office of the Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Crusoe Osagie alleging a purported attack on the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Grace Alele Williams has been flayed and debunked by Chief (Dr.) Richard Oma Ahonaruogho, a past president of the University of Benin Alumni Association. He described the narrative as a complete falsehood that should be disregarded in its entirety. Not only that, he condemned the malicious story even as he advised the public to be wary of such dirty propaganda from government quarters, and described the narrative as a complete falsehood that should be disregarded in its entirety.
In the same vein, the ethnic nationalities group in Delta State which Professor Alele-Williams is affiliated to has urged the governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State to be cautious with the names they drop when spreading their usual falsehood. The group says on no account should their highly revered daughter be subjected to any ridicule in whatever guise.
The spokesman of the group, Mr. Frank Awani said he had the mandate of the Itsekiris, the Ijaws and Urhobos in Delta State to condemn the brazen lie concocted by the campaign team of Obaseki and his media aides.
Amid the rattle and hum of clashing misconception been woven around Ize-Iyamu’s character, is there anything that has been said or written against him that is truly objective? Nothing! It is against the foregoing backdrop that anyone that has the wellbeing of Edo State at heart should support this grassroots mobilizer at the poll as he is undeniably the real McCoy in Edo politics.
Without any scintilla of hyperbole, Ize-Iyamu is politically relevant in a surprising diversity of places across the 18 local governments in the State, where his hopeful style and speech, combined with his message of tolerance and maturity, have continued to draw wide attention and commentary. Even when embattled and under fire, Ize-Iyamu remains a lodestone for the media.
Ize-Iyamu is also culturally relevant, with traditional elders across the nooks and crannies of the State tracking his priorities and SIMPLE Agenda closely, and politicians of all stripes seeking to exploit his charisma for their causes, there is no denying the fact that Ize-Iyamu remains the real McCoy in Edo State politics, particularly at the grassroots. Every major political debate in the State today, no matter where one stands, comes down to what someone makes of the Ize Iyamu’s leadership prospect.
Those measures don’t automatically tell you whether Ize-Iyamu is capable of taking governance to the level it should be when given the opportunity, or if he will set the right priorities in terms of its engagement with the people. Suffice it to say that the political stuff he is made of can only be seen when Edolites rally round to ensure that he leads from Osadebey Avenue.
Yet what these indices of relevance do suggest is that whichever way and manner his traducers have chosen to portray him before the people, it does not subtract anything from him. Calumniate him, if you like; it does not shrink his estimation in the eyes of the people. Like Ize-Iyamu or hate him, he remains the real McCoy in Edo politics.