Former Edo State deputy governor and chieftain of the defunct National Democratic Coalition, (NADECO) Peter Esechie Obadan has given an insight into how Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and former secretary to the state government, emerged the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Contrary to the narrative by some anti-Oshiomhole elements that Ize-Iyamu who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2016 governorship election that brought in incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki was imposed on the APC by the former national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, Obadan, explained at a press conference in Benin on Sunday that his emergence was a restitution for the “sin” committed against him in the past.
Dismissing the notion that Oshiomhole brought Ize-Iyamu, Obadan, a reverend gentleman, said “Really, is he the one bringing Osagie? No. He’s not the one bringing Osagie. The leadership met and said we needed a change. Who then falls into that is a different issue. And this time, he (Oshiomhole) said you people should go and sort it out because I don’t want to be involved so that it will not be said that I brought X, Y, Z again. Don’t forget we have fantastic aspirants and they were all individually qualified to defeat Obaseki. But there were certain things we did put into consideration. We said the last time this man fought the election, and we were told he lost.
“But certain people claimed he won. And if that was the case, it was a sin for which you don’t only need forgiveness, you need restitution. So, it was on the strength of that that we now turned our attention to him. And you know in God’s programme, delay is no denial. And when it happens at God’s own time, it’s sweeter. So, it was only delayed but he was not denied. To us therefore, Pastor is coming at the right time and the people are going to find joy because when the righteous rule, the people rejoice. There is peace in the land; there is prosperity in the land. Look at the reign of Obaseki; it is one quarrel today, one problem tomorrow. Amongst the political class, we’ve never had peace. So, he’s become a problem; sowing seeds of discord”.
Reminded of all the negative things Oshiomhole said about Ize-Iyamu when he was campaigning for Obaseki in 2016 which remained on the minds of the people, Obadan stated that “Yes, it may not have left the minds of the people, but the good thing is that when they find Comrade in association with Pastor, then I’m sure they will be keen to understand the game of politics. It’s a game of wit and you have to do everything to defeat the opponent. So, if I can talk to you to convince you in a manner that will cause you to vote for me, and vote against my opponent, I will. Nobody sermonizes on the field of politics.
“There is this thing that is called ego; there is this thing that is called pride. You don’t want to be put down, so you do anything to defend it. Comrade, yes, made those statements. Who was Comrade actually fighting for? A man he really did not know, but who came to him as an angel of light. To him, Obaseki was a man in whom he built an absolute trust and Comrade himself got carried away. But some of us who go to God on our knees went to him and said this cannot be; and to the last, we stood on that. But when he finally won the primaries which they conducted and worked on, we said fine, since this is the candidate you people are bringing, we will work for him”.
Highlighting one of Ize-Iyamu’s selling points, Obadan noted that “He doesn’t discriminate. And he had looked at it again across the state; we have, yes, other religions. You have the Muslim settlements here and there. There is need for this cooperation so that we can have peace. To build that foundation for peaceful co-existence, he decided to pick a Muslim as his deputy. So, he’s a planner; he’s not looking at today, he’s looking at tomorrow. So, he’s building a foundation for co-existence between the Muslims and the Christians”.
Full of confidence that the APC would recover the state from the PDP, Obadan pooh-poohed the opinion that Obaseki’s defection to the PDP had strengthened it such that it threatens the victory of his party. “Strengthen the party?” he retorted. “What about when Pastor left the PDP; did that not weaken the PDP? It did! PDP became non-existent when Pastor left. So, he’s just gone into PDP to pick the remnant that Pastor left. And I can assure you that before election, the governor will look back and will not find his followers. Those who are still making noise, who are still shouting Obaseki today, it is because they know he has some three or four months to go and so the money there must be spent. The contracts awarded must be paid for. So, before the election, they are going to say wait a minute, we have nothing more to gain from this man; it’s time to take our decision,” he stated.
Amidst speculation that the people of Edo Central senatorial district had resolved to vote en masse for Obaseki based on expectation that one of their own would take over from him in 2024, Obadan believed that they would be making a grave mistake to trust Obaseki because according to him, Shaibu had positioned himself to be the next governor. He said “Yes, that is the deceit in Edo Central that when Obaseki finishes four years, an Ishan man will take over from him. What do they think Shaibu is gunning for? Obaseki has promised Shaibu that he is going to hand over to him. Let no Ishan man deceive himself. So, if Obaseki wins today and he hands over to Shaibu, Ishan is looking at 12 years before they can attempt to bring a governor. They would not even have a deputy during Shaibu’s time if it works for them because he’s going to pick a deputy from Benin here which Ogie, the secretary to government is waiting for. So, they have arranged themselves. You know, certain people are being fooled to say oh, we want to be next after Obaseki. But Pastor is a man of his words. He will be fair to the Ishans”.
Obadan did not buy into the generalisation that all members of the Obaseki family are treacherous. Drawing an analogy from the Bible, Obadan likened Obaseki to King Saul who did not know that the spirit of God had departed from him. In his words, “The Bible says Saul knew not that the spirit of God had departed from him and resided in David. Even his own son, Jonathan was against him. That is why you have the household of Obaseki today against this governor. So, I don’t want anybody to believe that all Obasekis are traitors, because I have read it in the papers that Obaseki family is like that. Not all of them; this one just inherited the spirit of the forefathers”.