…Edo 2024 gubernatorial election augury

Barrister (Dr.) Asue Igbodalo was officially given the PDP ticket for the Edo State 2024 governorship election at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja on Tuesday, 27th February 2024. The presentation of the certificate of return marked the official closure of the primaries held at the Ogbemudia Stadium on 22nd February 2024. His nearest ‘rival’ polled 1 vote. It would have been 2 had he not left to run his own primary in his own yard and declare himself winner!

He defeated, rather as he would love to humbly put it, came first, among a galaxy of aspirants many of whom would make a good governor too. Edo is not looking for a good governor. They want, and justifiably deserve, an Excellent Governor who will deliver superlative performance and put Edo as primus inter pares in the comity of states of the federation the way then Brigadier Osaigbovo Ogbemudia did in the ‘70s. Asue fitted the bill and they delivered a verdict by giving him 577 out of 578 valid votes cast. The mandate was clear and unequivocal.

Before Barrister Osarodion Ogie joined the PDP gubernatorial ticket on the 27th March 2024 as running mate to the brilliant technocrat, suave and streetwise homey, empathetic people’s man, debonair marketer and corporate legal luminary, all we saw in huge billboards, banners and posters was ‘MAN WEY SABI’. After the current super-efficient grassroots mobilizer and Secretary to Edo State Government was announced as running mate, people began to see AiO2 and ‘MEN WEY SABI’ or “PEOPLE WEY SABI”. Edo is one of the South-South states where pidgin English is the oil with which conversations are eaten! That’s what drives this apt Sabi narrative (or is it ‘narration’?).

Wetin be this SABI sef? Why would such an intellectually loaded ticket hinge their marketing, branding if you like, on a phenomenon of Sabiness? As our Waffi (Warri) folks like to yarn, ‘These Asue Ogie guymen wan use pidgin gbege opponents o!’ Some diehard Edo voters will add, ‘Who no sabi no go sabi’ or ‘Asue and Ogie sabi die!’ They do not mean death at all, literally or figuratively. What they are saying in this flowery language, in which Asue is an adept, is that the Asue-Ogie team’s capacity, capability and integrity are unassailable. Some will even add, ‘Their sabiness no get part two!’ in the lingo of Upper Iweka film producers and marketers.

Sabiness is capacity, capability, fitness for purpose and an uncanny arrival at the right time in the right place with just what is needed! It is a situation where adequate preparation meets opportunity. Round pegs in round holes. A team with enough chutzpa that even their opponents longingly, secretly, but forlornly, wish they were playing on their side! A team that keeps saying the right things the right way at the right time to the right audiences across the world while first attempts at imitation by their main opponent has created a bumbling foot-in-the-mouth scenario! The Asue-Ogie team is Sabiness personified.

Asue had the best education at the best schools at the right age and had outstanding, verifiable results. He went on to co-found Banwo & Ighodalo, a legal firm with more than a hundred lawyers in its employ partnering professionally with the very best law firms across the globe. The records of achievements of this firm are as long as Mission Road with Upper Mission combined! To become Chairman of Nigerian Breweries and successfully run that behemoth to deliver best-in-class profitability and corporate image in line with stringent Heineken code of business conduct is no mean feat!

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Asue Ighodalo simultaneously chaired, or was a member of, the Boards of several companies involved in varied businesses from manufacturing, banking, foods and beverage, legal, nonprofit foundations and technology. This is proof positive of his ability to lead and multitask. He has resigned from all these profitable ventures to serve our people. Has any of the others resigned from anything, made such sacrifice? Sabiness writ large!

Ogie, a barrister-at-law, on the other hand, has been a steady hand in guiding and advising governments in Edo State over the years. A very experienced bureaucrat and State Executive Council player that works quietly, seamlessly and without the uncouth abrasiveness of some power wielders that sometimes harm their principal. Not for Ogie the vaulting ambition of some which has led to their fall from grace in a self-inflicted unravelling and demystification! Ogie is loyal and that is why he can never “l’oya” in the inimitable Esan words of the great Chief Tony Akhakon Aneni.

Before the badly-managed palliatives became a buzzword in Nigeria, Ogie has quietly been giving palliatives to citizens by way of sharing live chickens and rice at festive periods at his home to whoever can get there. The selfless giving has no political, ethnic nor party affiliation requirement. Just stay on the long queue and when it gets to your turn, you get your live chicken and rice and take the joy of the season to your family no matter how poor you are! He has been doing this for many years without knowing that one day he will be a running mate to a governorship aspirant. He will bring stability, continuity and empathetic flavour to the government to be sworn in by November this year. Ask me to show you a man with demonstrated sabiness over eight years without it getting to his head and I will take you to Osarodion Ogie!

So, folks, that is the sabiness you see on the billboards that adorn strategic junctions, across highways and alleyways of Benin City at this time. That’s the sabiness that’s going to be put on show starting 24th April 2024 in a campaign whose indicative signs are already visible to the blind and audible to the deaf! A campaign that will sieve the chaff from the grain, and show who Edo will be proud to have work for them for the next four or eight years and represent them at the Council of State meetings with the President. A man who will not be asking for interpretation of what was said and agreed there in English. A man whose voice will be heard and respected.

Lastly, Sabiness also include the ability to network with the right people at the right places to help get things done or to leave you alone unencumbered to deliver your best effort in the interest of your people. On this score, Asue sabi the President and the President and his crew sabi Asue’s sabiness and will not rig him out as democrats do not do that to one that will make one of the 36 states a shining star and give a sense of pride to the Tinubu era, not minding party affiliation. Asue and Ogie will build bridges across divides. If you still need further clarifications on the sabiness phenomenon, talk to Asue or Ogie. They listen a lot and understand questions whether you ask in English or pidgin, and will provide answers.

*Isikhuemen can be reached via [email protected].