Two good citizens
have asked us to worry less about the fact that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. They say it is not every time that the elephants must fight. Elephants also play and when they do, the people rejoice.
By any physical measurement, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, the incumbent Governor of Edo State and Prof. Oseriemen Osunbor, the immediate predecessor, cannot fit into the category of elephants. But in action, broadmindedness, progressive thoughts and in the development agenda for Edo State, they are more than elephants.
By their historic meeting at Iruekpen, the penultimate week, precisely on Thursday, 8 March 2012, they have introduced a total innovation to the politics of Edo State, nay, Nigeria. The duo has demonstrated that there was life before politics; there is life during politics and there will be life after politics.
The situation was electrifying. Apparently, the people had been bottled up all along. The Okada riders and taxi drivers made brisk business. In split seconds, the people of Iruekpen had gathered in their thousands at the premises of the Professor. They rolled out the drums. We should have known that it was so easy to assemble the “Igbabonerimwin” dance troupe. Shouts of “Oshiomhole oye … oye; Osunbor oye… oye” charged the air.
When Comrade and the Prof emerged from inside the house, they were visibly overwhelmed with what they saw. For the first time, perhaps, Osunbor was seeing a genuine crowd, a crowd that was not rented the PDP style, hence he quickly informed Comrade, “Our people love you as you can see them coming to welcome you….”
How else could we have known that our Comrade Governor had such a robust sense of history coupled with a perfect sense of legal interpretation, even more than many Supreme Court Justices could have offered? See how he quickly conferred legitimacy on our Professor, “Whatever anybody thinks, during the period 28 May 2007 – 12 November 2008, Edo State had a Governor and that was Prof. Oseriemen Osunbor… I have always insisted that we are both united by a shared commitment that this State must be developed.”
Then came the insinuation that by this action, Osunbor had decamped to the ACN. Not only is this naïve and simplistic, it also totally ignores the personality of our Prof – a lawyer of many years standing, a sound Professor of law, a ranking Senator, one time Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, an Ex-Governor, etc. Surely, nothing would prevent Osunbor from belonging to one party in the morning and another party in the evening of the same day, if he so desires.
But if a man with such tall credentials must change camp, would he rather do so in the solitude of his sitting room or in the open? Would Oshiomhole who willingly yielded the Ogbemudia Stadium to a party that denied him the same facility when it was in power, not throw the gates of the Stadium open to this man? All those waiting to see Prof Osunbor at the next ACN meeting may have to wait much longer.
Adherents to the view that the party is always sacrosanct are perhaps ignorant of the emerging trend in world politics. So soon, they have forgotten the number of reputable Republicans who openly played major roles in the emergence of Barack Obama, a Democrat, as the President of America. The shared commitment of Oshiomhole and Osunbor to the development of Edo State can be actualized even where both men are in different parties.
Surely, Osunbor entered the gubernatorial race, thinking he could achieve via the PDP, the feat that Oshiomhole is performing via the ACN. Now that he failed to clinch the PDP ticket, should his dream be buried? The Iruekpen meeting was an opportunity for Osunbor to openly avow, “If we have a governor who is developing the State, why should we complain?
The reason I am in politics is to touch the people. My interest is service to the people….” Osunbor’s stand portrays him as the genuine politician that he really is. To do otherwise would have been hypocritical.
Opposition politics can be interesting if played without bitterness. Politics of confrontation can make an individual popular (or notorious, depending on where you stand) but the gains thereof are minimal. The defunct Bendel State would have gained more from the Federal Government but for its hard stance against the Shehu Shagari NPN administration. If Bendel State had the power, it would have closed the Benin Airport when Shagari was visiting the State.
Shagari visited reluctantly and he was received reluctantly.
Contrariwise, the old Oyo State, under the governorship of late Bola Ige, understood opposition politics better. Even where the then Oyo State was the headquarters of the defunct UPN, so to say, when President Shagari visited the State, they rolled out the drums, closed all markets and Ibadan was at a standstill, right from the toll gate to Mapo Hall. Shagari visited enthusiastically and he was enthusiastically received. At the end of the visit, Shagari left a lot of largesse for the State. The Iruekpen meeting was a re-enactment of the old Oyo situation – politics without bitterness.
Opposition does not mean closing your eyes to what is good about the government. In fact, it is only when you point to the good side of government that you can constructively criticize it when it errs.
Oshiomhole and Osunbor are peace lovers. They share a common animus against non-development and the politics of share-the-money. This Column’s Award of Excellence for 2012 is, accordingly, hereby conferred on Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and Professor Oseriemen Osunbor, with all the honours, privileges and immunities thereto appertaining.