by Zebulon Agomuo
When the word ‘tekel’ appeared among three other words on the wall in the old Babylonian Empire, written by a hand, the owner of which was not visible, the knees of a sitting king, Belshazzar, knocked together for fear.
The story goes that King Belshazzar holds a great feast and drinks from the vessels that had been looted in the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem. He had blasphemed God and so, God sent the hand to write. The four words that summarised Belshazzar’s activities and judgment were, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Urphasin’.
Whereas ‘Mene’ was interpreted to mean, “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end”, ‘Tekel’ meant, “You have been weighed …and found wanting”, and ‘Peres’, “Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That very night, something happened to Belshazzar, and Darius the Mede received the Kingdom. It is all about politics and the use of power!
Last Monday, June 15, 2020, was a unique day in the life of Adams Oshiomhole. He had received the report of the screening committee that disqualified the governor of his home state, Godwin Obaseki from taking part in the gubernatorial primary election ahead of the election proper slated for September 16.
Oshiomhole was basking in the euphoria of a job well done, and toasting to the removal of a stumbling block, as it were. He had set the ball rolling on how he would personally supervise the all-important primary election and, wham, a hand began to write. The next morning, there was the word ‘Peres’ boldly written on the wall of his office at the national headquarters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)- an Appeal Court spoke, upholding his suspension!
Those who have watched Oshiomhole critically since he assumed the chairmanship position of the ruling party, say that the same set of “sins” that were found in King Belshazzar, were the undoing of the suspended party chairman. Like Belshazzar, Oshiomhole has been serially accused of pride and arrogance. Moreover, Belshazzar’s disregard for or failure to honour God was legendary.
Unlike his father, Nebuchadnezzar, who repented and humbled himself before God and was restored to his kingdom, Belshazzar lost his glory for his obstinacy. These were the iniquities that were neither found in the lives of two former chairmen of the party, Bisi Akande and John Oyegun-Odigie.
Oshiomhole came to limelight in Nigeria riding on the vehicle of labour activism/unionism. He became the national president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), a platform that exposed him to wealth and fame. He climbed on the back of hapless workers to become wealthy and a power broker.
He was said to be a former local tailor before his stint with labour movement. Those who have followed his trajectory in life accuse him of pomposity and inability to remember his yesterday. He courts controversy and regales in it. He talks and grandstands as though the whole world were under his feet. In his elements, he is uncouth and boasts of many things. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will not forget in a hurry some of the adjectives he has employed to describe the umbrella association.
Oshiomhole’s true colour was seen during the last general election. His boastful words and arrogant prancing on the soap box during the electioneering campaign across the country rankled many. Every opportunity he got was used to verbally insult and denigrate opponents of his party.
The initial loss of Imo State to PDP at the election was attributed to his lack of tact. His lack of finesse was also said to have cost the party Zamfara State. He was also partly blamed for the APC’s ordeals in Rivers and Bayelsa states. Those who hold these against him say, instead of him sitting down to get his acts together concerning the legal issues in those states, he chose the part of filibustering and braggadocio while the opponents were more calculating.
One of those that will not forget Oshiomhole in a hurry or forgive him so soon is Aisha Al-Hassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba, a former minister of Women Affairs, who was literally forced out of the party by denying her the gubernatorial ticket.
Rochas Okorocha, a former governor of Imo State, would have seen Oshiomhole as a perpetual enemy were it not that after the acrimonious gubernatorial and senatorial elections in Imo, he (Okorocha) managed to get to the Senate. For the Owelle, the joy of being in the Senate overrides Oshiomhole’s antagonism.
Oshiomhole’s current travails seem to indicate that those that have an axe to grind with him are more than his friends, even in a party he claims to be a tin-god.
In a video that is making the rounds on social media, the former Edo governor was seen campaigning vigorously for Obaseki and dressing him in flowery apparel. He swore on camera that anything about Obaseki was beautiful. Today, the same man is swearing to an oath that what he said nearly four years ago, were all false. And many people are wondering where he dropped his cloak of integrity. Making a 360 degrees’ volte-face on an issue questions his integrity.
In a space of two years in the saddle, Oshiomhole has arrogated to himself more power than his party’s constitution allocated to him. He has become more powerful than any known party chairman in Nigeria since 1999. On several occasions, he had bragged that the APC would rule Nigeria for as long as it wished. He neither cared to seek the views of the Nigerian voting masses nor crosschecked with Vincent Ogbulafor, a former PDP chairman, who once boasted that the umbrella party was going to hold the mantle of leadership beyond 60 years.
It is telling that when Oshiomhole thought he had got the APC under his feet, he was shoved aside, temporarily. His return may be predicated upon the decision of the court. And contrary to his desire to supervise the gubernatorial primary elections in Ondo and Edo states, and to personally enthrone those he wanted to fly the party’ flag, and also oversee the complete humiliation of his perceived enemies, he would now be watching the game from the sidelines. Like the barber’s chair, the game of politics is never stationary.
The question on the lips of those who have followed the leadership style of Oshiomhole is, will he learn any lesson from what is happening to him and the Babel that APC seems to have become today? Time will tell.
On the marble: Oshiomhle’s flowery words about Obaseki in 2016
.God knows that Godwin comes from a large family in Benin Kingdom, he went to school, he finished his secondary school, he went to University of Ibadan, he finished, there were no issues, he finished in flying colours.
.He went to the U.S., he did his Masters, he came back home, started helping people to set up businesses, he helped to manage businesses, he helped to set up many banks including several second-generation banks.
.I don’t care if Obaseki betrays me at the end of the day, Obaseki’s allegiance should be to the people and not me.
.The oath of office he is going to subscribe to says that he will defend the constitution of Nigeria; he will do everything to uplift the quality of life of Edo people. Nothing in his oath of office will include ‘I shall not betray my predecessor’ because I have no interest to be betrayed.
.Obaseki had been part of the tradition, he knows the vision, he knows the mission, he knows the target, he knows where we are, he knows the challenges, and he knows how to overcome them.
.He sits in the office of the economic team which he built using his network of friends inside the heart of government house without demanding one naira.
.I know my limit. He knows his limit. Godwin Obaseki has worked for seven and half years for the people of Edo State, using his brain, creativity, quietly, not making noise.
.A man like Obaseki, who will not ask me to give him contracts, but will promise me, comrade, you just do the thinking; we will create the means to actualise your thoughts.
.And to his credit today, check the books of Edo State, we did not build new structures in government house with government money. That economic team office was built through Godwin’s network. Today, it remains a permanent asset of the state government.
.I want us to be calling that building Godwin Obaseki building. I don’t see your opponent Ize-Iyamu being able to say that.
.In 2007, check the records, Ize-Iyamu was hiding from EFCC. He did not vote. How can somebody who didn’t vote claim that he made me.
.If you have to look at Godwin and his credentials and you look at a man (Ize-Iyamu) whose only work, by his CV, was a student and rusticated for two years, he read law but he is not a barrister.