IMO GUBER: WHAT OKOROCHA NEVER KNEW ABOUT OSHIOMHOLE
By Collins Opurozor
When Rochas Okorocha was fighting to unseat Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in order to enthrone Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the APC, some of us who have closely associated with Oshiomhole immediately knew that the fall of Okorocha was near.
Okorocha vigorously mobilised and lobbied against a tenure extension for the APC NWC members. Vowing never to allow his party’s constitution violated which would have been the implication of a tenure elongation for Oyegun and co, Okorocha made himself an emergency advocate for rule of law and constitutionalism. At last, Oyegun left and Oshiomhole came in.
But how much of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole did Okorocha know? Did he ever know that it is embedded in the character of Oshiomhole never to be grateful to anyone? In other words, did Okorocha know that gratitude is one feeling which Oshiomhole so much hates to have? I believe Okorocha never knew this, for if he did and being a smart person, he should have known that it could have only take a reliable ally and grateful National Chairman to support the transfer of power from father-in-law to son-in-law.
When the government of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State was about to end, the most influential person in that government who had served both as Secretary to the State Government and Chief of Staff, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, wanted to be governor. But he felt constrained by the fact that governor Igbinedion, a Benin man, would not support him who also is a Benin man even when other parts, particularly Edo North, were crying over political marginalisation.
At this point, Oshiomhole, who hails from Edo North, wanted to be governor. He had no experience in party politics. He had no meaningful source of income. He had no money to prosecute an election. He was just in Labour Party singing “Solidarity Forever”.
Meanwhile, the terribly influential Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who furiously wanted to be governor but could not get the support of governor Lucky Igbinedion, decided to adopt Oshiomhole after Oshiomhole had gone to beg him for support for the sixth time. The first thing he asked Oshiomhole was, “Have you not heard that I also want to be governor?” Oshiomhole said yes but assured him that he wanted just one term. Pastor then decided on what to do.
Having discovered that Igbinedion had endorsed a Benin man, Prof. Osunbor, to take over from him, the first thing Pastor Ize-Iyamu did was to turn around and start making a very strong case against a Benin man taking over immediately from Governor Igbinedion. He said it was unjust for Benin people who had produced about two governors to still produce another one when the whole of Edo North had not produced any. Ambrose Alli came from Edo Central and had been governor.
Secondly, Pastor Ize-Iyamu went further to create the Grace Group within the government of Igbinedion so as to fight from the inside to stop Prof. Osunbor and to make Oshiomhole governor on the condition that after four years Oshiomhole would support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to take over. The Grace Group preached power rotation and got the sympathy of the vast majority of Edo people.
Again, Pastor Ize-Iyamu asked Oshiomhole to move out of the Labour Party and secured him the governorship ticket of the ACN. Eventually, Pastor Ize-Iyamu moved into ACN with very many key functionaries of the Igbinedion administration. He became the Director General of Oshiomhole’s campaign organisation. He brought Captain Nosa, who donated over seventy percent of the money that made Oshiomhole governor.
On the day of the election, Oshiomhole noticed a lot of irregularities and decided to withdraw from the exercise. He did not tell Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Rather he convened a brief briefing in Benin City and was on his way already to address the press on his withdrawal. Pastor Ize-Iyamu, who then was very busy with the election in his own area, Orhiomwon, heard about the development and phoned Oshiomhole and asked him never to try it. He, in fact, instructed Oshiomhole to go back to his village and continue with the election. Oshiomhole accepted and said he was going to do a U-turn at Auchi Polytechnic.
After the results were collated and declared, Oshiomhole lost the election. He called Pastor and was totally confused. Pastor asked him to join them at the residence of Betty Igbinedion in Benin City. Oshiomhole got there looking totally dejected.
Immediately, Pastor Ize-Iyamu (of course a lawyer) set up a team that gathered the results, spotted the discrepancies and irregularities, and went to court to challenge the victory of the PDP candidate, Prof. Osunbor, and within a few months the court removed Osunbor and Oshiomhole became governor.
After four years, Oshiomhole pleaded for another four years in violation of the pact that brought him to power. Pastor still allowed him but requested that he should drop the Deputy Governor, Pius Odubu, who also hails from Orhiomwon as Pastor Ize-Iyamu. The reason was clear: If Odubu should be given another four years he would become very influential and wealthy that he would pose a threat to Pastor Ize-Iyamu becoming governor after Oshiomhole. To this again, Oshiomhole agreed.
But immediately he got the ticket for a second term Oshiomhole became deaf, insisted on Odubu, and when he was returned elected as governor, Oshiomhole declared war on Pastor Ize-Iyamu. He said Pastor was a notorious cultist back in the days, that Pastor committed all the evils in Igbinedion’s time, that he would never allowed a well-known non-performer like Pastor to govern Edo State.
He succeeded in chasing Pastor Ize-Iyamu away from ACN (which had become APC) , and made sure Pastor, then the PDP guber candidate, was clearly rigged out in the last Edo governorship election which brought in Oshiomhole henchman, Godwin Obaseki.
If Oshiomhole could do all of these to the man that made him, why do you think he should be grateful to Rochas Okorocha?