Oshiomhole’s Fading Tricks -By Erasmus Ikhide

Filed under: Life And People,Political Issues |

Former Edo State Governor Oshiomhole


The name Adams Oshiomhole invokes the good, the bad and the ugly. The good in it is his ability to showcase himself relentlessly as a labor leader of note behind the facade of deceit, self-righteousness and his minimal dent on Edo State governorship for 8 years. The bad in it has always been his actual self – a creature of mere surfaces; shallow, hollowness, dictatorial grandstanding, banality, impunity, primitive acquisition and devilment.

The ugliness in the name Oshiomhole is the falseness and fickleness that goes with it. His lack of ethical depth, political and philosophical dryness is legendary. Like a dictator, Oshiomhole is a depressive psychopath, paranoid narcissist, antisocial, sadistic, schizoid, and self-defeating.

The likes of Mr. Oshiomhole’s aberration in nation building is a perfect match for a castrated and belligerent state like Nigeria, where crass opportunism and primitivism reign supreme. First, as a labor activist, Oshiomhole wears the toga of a benign and passionate leader in search of the people’s salvation. In the eyes of many, he was a thoroughbred precursor of egalitarianism acumen, needed for revitalization of a vanquished nation.

At the NLC, as a wheeler-dealer and propagandist, he successfully used the media to turn all the failed and pretentious fuel subsidy protests into perceived successes. But the inherent deceit that goes with it was unknown to unsuspecting Nigerians.

Mr. Oshiomhole’s emergence as the governor of Edo State could be hinged on two factors. Hard work on one hand and cunningness on the other. Oshiomhole, like a hunting lion, understands the virtue of patience. He knows how to wait for and scheme around his set out goals.

Oshiomhole’s easy ride to political prominence dates back to his days as the NLC President.

He was famous for stirring workers against the government, mostly over increases in petrol prices. While facts have emerged that Oshiomhole was mostly on the side of government during these strikes, Nigerian workers fell for his cunningness by being on the streets to demonstrate whenever the Oshiomhole-led NLC called for demonstration and industrial actions.

There were stories then that the government allegedly informed Oshiomhole of the impending increment and that negotiations would lead to an eventual acceptable pump price. The implication of this story is that Oshiomhole and the government delegates would have worked from the answer to the question. When this agreed price is eventually announced, expectedly labor would go on national strike. A series of meetings and negotiations would ensue.

Deliberations and counter deliberations would follow. Government would stick to its gun, while Oshiomohole-led labor would stick to its own gun. Workers would besiege the streets for weeks, and when eventually the workers get tired of staying at home, they would begin to agitate for peaceful resolution of the matter.

Government would be seen to be making certain concessions by reducing a little lower than the announced price. Labor would insist that government returns to the status quo. Time would lag, workers would become helpless, the economy would be in a brink then both parties would continue to consult, or pretend to be consulting. At the end of the rigmarole, government would reduce to the negotiated price with Oshiomhole and every stakeholder would believe a fair deal has been struck. Labor takes the glory for pushing down the price from N150 to N100, government raked in its revenue from the hike, and Oshiomhole would allegedly smile to the bank.

How this has managed to slip away from the consciousness of the Nigerian masses or its total concealment from the people that Mr. Oshiomhole is a profile in forensic fraud is part of the socioeconomic and sociopolitical development question on whether or not a people get the type of leadership they deserved. That was why when Mr. Oshiomhole, as governor of Edo State, summoned the courage to tell a widow who was waiting for a commercial bus on the street of Benin to go and die. As Oshiomhole dragged the penury pack made up of items for her dinner, Joy Ifijeh, the widow woman, pleaded: “Please sir, I am a widow!} With rave of anger, Oshiomhole replied, “If you’re a window, go and die,” and shamefully, some onlookers applauded him as a ‘talk-and-do governor’.

Oshiomhole’s anticlimax as a tragic hero also manifested at an event held in Lagos where the platform was yielded to him to deliberate on fuel subsidy removal during the mid reign of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Because of his lust for power and the approach of his second term re-election bid, Oshiomhole abandoned his age long support for fuel subsidy retention, and opted instead for its removal to the chagrin of the suffering masses. Oshiomhole’s rationalization of that class suicide revisionism was enough to ignite climatic revolt if Nigerians were a thinking people. Shockingly, he ran away with it and became further embodied to try some more deceptive tricks.

In 2014, at the South South pre-National Conference meetings held in Benin City, Mr. Oshiomhole once again dramatized his inordinate desire of status arrogance and the dominance of his faded political logic. It took the efforts of his security aides to whisk him away from the rampaging progressive Colonel Tony Nyiam and entire surging crowd made up of academics, press, captains of industry and traditional rulers. It was a day Mr. Oshiomhole had hoped would never come. But it came, and keeps coming.

Not too long ago, on May 1, 2017, Oshiomhole tested his magic wand at the Eagles Square with the Nigerian workers to be sure he has not been on the wrong side of the bargain. He escaped being killed by the angry mob. The shouts of ‘Oshio Ole’ permeated the main bowl of the square and the street of Abuja. That ought to have sent enough notice to him to quit his Stone Age tactics, which have no place in 21st century democracy. Here was a man who pretended to be fighting the oppressive political and institutions all his labor life against contract staff in government and private establishments. Surprisingly, the only job he provided all through his eight years was about seven thousand casual staff under the phony Edo Youth Employment Scheme.

Even at that, he ended up by summarily dismissing them after six year of ruination without compensation! Nigerians and indeed President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) should note that the Oshiomhole reign in Edo State was mere window dressing, the type you see in well decorated exhibition stands.

Nothing explains Oshiomhole’s lack of emotional intelligence in recent times than his objectionable stance against the calls for restructuring.

This is the natural Oshiomhole on display. When it was politically correct for him to be re-elected for a second term as governor, it was convenient for him to support subsidy removal to gain the support of President Goodluck Jonathan. He even went ahead to say that Nigeria will collapse if fuel subsidy was not removed.

When it was good enough for him to pillage the local government treasury as governor, local government autonomy was not necessary. When the National Conference advocated for single term of six years, Oshiomhole kicked against it because he would be losing two years of the allotted eight years. When the State Creation Consultation Committee headed by the Otaru of Auchi visited him for the creation of Afe San State, Oshiomhole adumbrated and insulted the royal father for his support for state creation.

Now that he is eyeing an elective or appointive position at the center, devolution of power to states or restructuring has become abhorrent.

As long as the system favors Oshiomhole, no matter how debased and backwards a position looks, people can go and have a jump in the deep sea. It doesn’t matter to him whether the current practice, in which the Federal Government appropriates 52.68 per cent of all revenues it does not generate, leaving the states with 26.70 per cent and local government areas with 20.60 per cent subsists.

For Oshiomhole, it is normal in a federal polity that the 774 LGAs share revenues from the center when they are not federating units. In the First Republic, Section 134 of the 1960 Constitution and Section 140 of the 1963 Constitution granted the regions 50 per cent of their resources. The oil-producing states fought a bitter battle before they gained 13 per cent derivation, while Lagos State generates VAT revenue, which is being shared on an inequitable basis.

As a former Muslim, Oshiomhole is aware that alcohol and liquor and its proceeds are viewed as haram (Quran, 5:90-91), yet it’s alluring for Sharia Northern States to benefit from the over 30% allocation from VAT from the sales of alcohol from Southern States. This is the kind of grievous injustice Oshiomhole wants Nigerians to put up with.

Adams Oshiomhole is against restructuring for selfish reasons, since he is eyeing political office at the federal level after serving his maximum tenure as Governor, he wouldn’t support a weakened center and a stronger federating units which will mean less power for him to abuse. If he were still a governor, he would have strongly supported restructuring as an opportunist.

The real problem with a ‘powerholic’ like Oshiomhole is that he easily forgets that every tenure has an end. Once you get zonked in naked show of power, it is difficult to accept the reality of being out of it. That is why he gets involved in regrouping and pretending to be calling the shots before he ran foul of the real time power mongers at the NLC organized national dialogue recently, as he was booed and harassed when he questioned the rationale behind the ongoing call for restructuring.

When you listen to Mr. Oshiomhole talk, you will realize that he hasn’t read any new book or learned new tricks in the last 20 years, apart from hosting decadent feasts with rich foods, wine and women. That is why he talks often about “in good conscience.”

He should be told that modern nation states are not governed by conscience, laws govern them. His penchant for rudderless rule led him to destroy virtually all the institutions in Edo State, which his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki is presently battling to rebuild!

Erasmus writes from Lagos. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ikhideerasmus.