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LOOKING FOR EDO POLITICAL TRIUMVIRS AND IDENTIFYING THE PRIMUS INTER PARES OF THE TRIUMVIRATE.



In recent political history,The Edo Nation has always operated a political triumvirate with a triumvir each from the three Senatorial districts. The recent known triumvirate is the one that saw Alhaji Inu-Umoru as the Triumvir from Edo North,Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih as the Triumvir from Edo
Central and Chief Sam Oisagbovo Ogbemudia as the Triumvir from Edo South. Like every Triumvirate,there must be a coordinating Triumvir who is the ‘first amongst equals’ in the set up. Chief Anthony Anenih occupied this position. He was the undisputed leader and Edo State witnessed an unprecedented political harmony and success for a very long period of time during this triumvirate. We had 5 ministers,1 Chief of Staff to the President,many ambassadors,Ruling Party National Leader,1 First Lady and many Chairmen and members of lucrative federal boards and agencies.

Let us get one thing straight here. In choosing the Edo Triumvirs,Political party is not a fundamental factor that is considered and this is because of two reasons. First,Edo is a family state where every body is actually related to the other and as such,wherever the leader comes from is least material. Secondly,The political configuration of Nigeria is not one that put political parties alongside ideological lines. It is interests driven arrangement and that is why,Mr A can be elected under Party B and finished his tenure in office as a member of Party C.

Alhaji Inu-Umoru transited about 7 years ago,Chief Ogbemudia about 3 years Ago. With the recent Passing of Chief Anenih,their triumvirate clearly comes to an end. This has created a vacuum that must quickly be filled. I say quickly because,Edo cannot afford to be politically rudderless in a country where the biggest business is politics. The search for and identifying the likely leaders is the substance of this treatise. Join me as we journeyed to the 3 Senatorial Districts together to get our various Triumvirs.

EDO NORTH.
The most conspicuous names that come up here are; Chief Mike Oghiadome,Comrade Adams Oshiomhole,Chief Tony Momoh,Chief Joshua Ogene,Chief Dan Osih Orbih,Professor Julius Ihonvbere and Alhaji Kassim Ozeto( not in particular order of preference though).

Chief Mike Oghiadome who is from Fugar in Etsako Central will be quickly discarded from the list by me. This is a man who was Deputy Governor for 8 years,Chief of Staff to a President for 5 years and has struggled to be a shot-caller even in his ward. His other shortcoming is that,instead of mobilizing followership for himself,he enjoys sowing political discords within and scattering the followers of other leaders. He also lacks political loyalty. A master at anti-party activities. Nobody can ever designate this a political leader in a politically sophisticated environment like Edo or any part of Edo State. He owed all his political fortunes to Mike Akhigbe,Chief Anenih,Lucky Igbinedion,Inu-Umoru and never to his personal political industry. No! Oghiadome is not it.

Chief Tony Momoh has the qualities of a leader but lacks the political acumen to enhance and develop these qualities. He has been one of the oldest Associates of the current Nigerian President,Buhari and was in fact the National Chairman of his defunct CPC before the merger that birthed APC. He is also a Prince of the most Prominent Royal Dynasty in Edo North,the Momoh Dynasty of Auchi,Etsako West where his brother is the current monarch.Despite these vantage positions,Tony Momoh has remained an ostrich leader,struggling from behind instead of from the vanguard to access the political plays. Nothing to show that he is the president’s bosom friend. He does not have what it takes to be a triumvir. Let’s continue our search.

Chief Joshua Ogene is from Okpilla,Etsako East. He is one of Alhaji Inu Umoru’s lieutenants. Chief Ogene is a leader but he belongs to Bob Izua’s kind of leaders. He has street credibility but such leader according to my little brother Ekundayo Omoniyi Bright has  a master he reports to. He is not our Triumvir here.

Chief Dan Orbih is from Ogbonna,Etsako Central.He has all the qualities of a good leader and would have done better but for a little snag I have personally discovered. He prefers followers to reach out to him instead of him reaching out to followers.You cannot build political structures that way. Though he is not the triumvir we are looking for,but he is somebody you wouldn’t want to have in an opposite camp to you. He makes his opponents always losing sleep and super alert.

Professor Julius Ihonvbere is from Owan West. He is a tenacious and dynamic political leader. He knows how to relates to both his leaders and followers and would have made a very good Triumvir. Ihonvbere is still looking for a launchpad to express himself fully but alas,this quest has exposed his inadequacies at identifying the right political advantages and making use of them or disadvantages and maneuvering beyond them. He jumps into political rings without weighing the consequences. He still has time to evolve and overcome his limitations. Age is on his side but for now,he is not our triumvir.

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. I think he needs no introduction. From where he has come from and the achievements he has made,no one can begrudge him of his political sagacity and leadership acumen. He seems the right man for any political job and he has the charisma,stamina and verbiage to occupy. This is how most non-Edo people see Oshiomhole and I must say,Edo people see him that way too. However,Oshiomhole has the most unpardonable faults that the Edo people do not want in a leader. He is an ingrate,he is a hypocrite,he is dishonest,he is parochial,he is a megalomaniac and above all,he is pathologically garrulous. “A talkative has no counsel” goes an Edo proverb. A leader who talks from every corner of his mouth cannot lead Edo people. Ogbemudia,Anenih,Inu-Umoru were all known for their stinginess with words. Definitely,Oshiomhole cannot measure up to these 3. He is not our man.

Alhaji Kassimu Ozeto is from Owan East. Throughout the subsistence of the last Triumvirate,Ozeto,Ogbesia and Chief Sunny Uyigue were perceived as natural successors. In Edo North,Chief Inu-Umoru made it clear to his political associates and followers that Chief Ozeto is his successor. Yes,Ozeto inherited Inu-Umoru’s political structures in Edo north. Has he been able to sustain it? Chief Anenih answered that question in very unequivocal terms. When Inu Umoru died,Anenih immediately endorsed Ozeto and incorporated him as a successive triumvir from Edo North. This means,That position is technically not vacant in Edo north. Ozeto is taciturn,a great political strategist but his greatest political assets are his honesty,party loyalty and accessibility. He has reach to all the clans in Edo north. Yes,Ozeto is a true leader with experience and here I can say we are Lucky to have him as the Triumvir from Edo North.

EDO CENTRAL

The Choices here are limited. Edo Central has a very conservative political setting. The Late Chief Anenih has organized them into a very compact political family so much so that,they only need a driver with little or no experience. Chief Tom Ikimi,Most Dist.Senator Odion Ugbesia, Chief Mike Inegbiniki, Prof Osariemhen Osunbor and Chief Mike Onolomemen are the ones that need serious considerations.

Chief Tom Ikimi is from Igueben and is somewhat a political contemporary of Chief Anenih. Both have always toed different political paths. While Anenih was the National Chairman of SDP in the 3rd republic,Ikimi was his NRC counterpart. It is not until about 3 years ago that Ikimi finally brought himself under the all encompassing political family of Anenih. Ikimi has experience and understands the murky turf of Nigerian politics. He is going to be struck off our list because,age is not on his side and to be frank,Chief Ikimi has never really synced with the Edo political climate. He has been more of an imposed leader than an achiever in his political sojourns. Let us look for a younger man here.

Senator Odion Ugbesia from Ubiaja was the man Chief Anenih had his designs on to succeed him in Edo Central. Nobody receives the kind of training Ugbesia receives from the best and be found wanting. Anenih pushed him into many choice political positions to further position him but Alas,Ugbesia never really cultivated the leadership qualities that Anenih imbued in him. He was more interested in the political strategies than leadership. Today,Odion Ugbesia ranks as one of the most strategic politicians in Edo State. He has not been able to translate this into effective leadership. Anenih discovered this later in his life and decided to look elsewhere. Ugbesia was not the successor he was planning for.

Chief Mike Inegbiniki is another leader from Esan that needs our focus. Truth be told,it was only recently this philanthropist dabbled into politics. It appears his only interest in the game is to be a Senator without more. Because of this,he has been jumping from one political camp to the other in an infantile manner. No,Inegbiniki does not have what it takes to be our triumvir from Esan.

Professor Osariemhen Osunbor from Iruekpen was the PDP Governor of Edo State that though his own political naivety allowed Oshiomhole to oust him from office through court. Since then,he has become a political amoeba. You cannot for certainty say which party you will find him next month or the next. He relishes occupying ceremonial positions for political parties. Committee chairman this,Committee Chairman that. No,’no be this guy,!

Chief Mike Onolememen is from Uromi,Chief Anenih’s hometown. He is a professional and successful architect. He was not initially a politician until Late Admiral Augustine Aikhomon introduced his architectural works to Anenih some years back. He became closed to Chief Anenih who immediately saw potentials in him. It was not long that Chief Anenih decided to use him to replace his failed venture in Ugbesia. He was made Works minister under the last regime. He was a super minister whose praises were sung by most Nigerians. Further,in 2016,He was given the chieftaincy title of 'Adolor of Uromi' by the traditional ruler of Uromi, His Royal Majesty, King Aselem Eidenojie II. The title was given to the late Anthony Enahoro before his death. This title from the most prominent throne in Esanland confirmed the Esans designs about Onolememen. They want him to succeed both Chief Anenih and Chief Enahoro as Esan Leader. The only problem with Mike is his political timidity. He is naturally an introvert. Chief Anenih noticed this and decided to cure it. Just before his death,Chief Anenih gave the supervision of all elections in Esanland to Mike. It was Mike who was representing him at all National and local functions he is invited to. Mike was unambiguously nominated by the late Chief as his successor. Chief Ugbesia has since resigned himself to this reality and I must add that he is still very relevant in Esan land. Mike’s leadership qualities can always be complemented with the tactical acumen of Ugbesia. With both of them working together,Esan is in safe hands for a long time to come.

EDO SOUTH.

Chief Sunny Uyigue,Dr.Isiaih Osifo,Chief Felix Odubu,Chief John Oyegun,Chief Lucky Ogbinedion,Most Dist. Sen Ehigie Uzamere,Hon Samson Osagie,Hon Patrick Obahiagbon and Pastor( Barr.) Andrew Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the ones that come to mind here.

Chief Sunny Uyigue ought to be the Natural Successor to Chief Ogbemudia.He is a political contemporary to both Anenih and Ogbemudia. Ogbemudia succeeded because he had this great Political leader behind him. However,Sunny Uyigue has since retired from active politics due to old age and health challenges. It is even belittling on his personality to be adding him to the list of aspirants here.This is not my intention here. His mention here is more out of respect that,Edo south still has a person of his caliber in their district. One thing is clear,whoever becomes the triumvir from Edo South will be lucky to have this veteran as his advisor and mentor.

Dr Isiaih Osifo is still a diamond in the rough. This diamond needs its polishing to be finished before it can be put to proper use. Take this from me,In Dr Isiaih Osifo,Edo south will never be apprehensive of filling the position of a future and unifying political leader.

Chief Felix Odubu is the immediate past Deputy Governor Under Oshiomhole. He is an experienced politician and traditional leader. He has all it takes to lead the whole of Edo south but his albatross is his penchant for withdrawing from a fight when the fight gets tougher. He lacks the political stamina to take it all the way and a leader must be one who gets tougher when the fight gets tougher. We need to look elsewhere.

Chief John Oyegun is a former Federal Super permanent Secretary,former Edo State Governor,Former Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum and Former APC National Chairman. Very intimidating leadership credentials you would say and I agree. However,Oyegun is a very indecisive person. He may be a decent person but not being decisive when it matters most is the undoing of many great a leader. It was about 3 years ago that Oyegun was reliably informed that Oshiomhole is scheming to oust and replace him. He was not able for 3 years to douse,neutralize and surmount the coup until he was actually removed and replaced by Oshiomhole some months ago. Edo leaders are warriors not shameless pacifiers. Oyegun is not it.

Chief Lucky Igbinedion is Edo former Governor. As an owanbe party leader,he has no equal but as a political leader,he will tell you himself to count him out. He prefers his cousin Pastor Ize Iyamu to answer that title.

Most Dist Senator Ehigie Uzamere. Another great leader from Edo south. One of the best qualities Uzamere has is his ability to stay connected to his followers no matter their political preferences. He is very generous,humble,witty and intelligent. His limitations as a leader has much to do with his inability to take political risks. He prefers the the comfort Zones and greatly criticized for jumping parties.

Hon Samson Osagie. This vocal and intelligent leader from Edo south spent 8 years as a member of Edo State House of Assembly and another 8 years at the Federal House of Representatives. These are in the capacity where you are a direct representative of the grassroots. You must be the people’s man to achieve that. The people’s man is the people’s leader. Samson Osagie is a leader indeed and he will make a good triumvir of the Edo south people. The only problem I have with him is that,he likes submitting his structures to others to use. At the end of the day,his followers will be confused as to whether he is their leader or the user of the structure is their leader. He has had that experience with both Odubu and Oshiomhole. A leader should not lend leadership. You exercise it even in supporting. Hon Samson Osagie needs to work on this aspect to truly attain sublime leadership.

Hon Patrick Obahiagbon A.K.A Igodomigodo. Well,what can we say but the obvious. Igodomigodo is a gatherer of fans not of followers. He will always have a big fan base for his highfalutin dictions than having followers as a political leader. Nobody picks a man who has communication challenges as a leader.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is indisputably a model leader. He architects followership not scavenge for it. At a very young age,he understood the dynamics of leadership as a student union leader. He believes greatly in building political structures which is the most important venture of political leadership. He is very close to the Igbinedion family of Benin. The Igbinedions are touted as the richest family in Edo State and they have equally made appreciable incursions into Edo State politics by producing an Igbinedion LGA Chairman,Governor and Federal Legislator respectively. It is rumored in many circles that the brain behind the Igbinedions political success has always been Ize Iyamu. He builds the structures,devise the strategies and delivers the votes. This rumors have not been dispelled till date. Oshiomhole was said to be a product of Ize Iyamu’s structures. This is very true because Grace Group,the political group that brought AC into Edo State and made Oshiomhole Governor was a brainchild of Pastor Ize Iyamu. Oshiomhole himself calls Ize Iyamu’my leader’. Perhaps Iyamu’s ability to command so much political followers in Edo south has more to do with his octopuslike tentacles in many of the Local Government Areas in Edo North. His father is from Orhiomwon where he has his roots. Osagie himself was born and bred in Oredo where he is more politically recognized,Ovia is where his big fans the Igbinedions hold sway. PDP was almost dead in Edo State when Ize Iyamu came back to join Chief Anenih to revive it and to be honest,since then,you cannot for certain say which party in Edo State is in the majority. This is the handiwork of Ize Iyamu. Whether in APC or in PDP,Edo south knows that Ize Iyamu is the natural successor to Dr Ogbemudia. He is their Triumvir. I only want to add that,Pastor Ize Iyamu needs to work more on his relationship with the Palace. Not that he is an enemy to the palace but he needs to be closer to it as this will only guarantee his further grip on Edo south politics and Edo in general.

NOW,WHO IS OUR PRIMUS INTER PARES?

The triumvirate has been formed thus; Ize-Iyamu from Edo South,Mike Onolememen from Edo Central and Alhaji Kassimu Ozeto from Edo North. Of these three,who has the political reach to coordinate the triumvirate and become the overall Edo State natural political leader in the years ahead? Going through the adumbrated potentials of the three,the clear leader is obvious. Mike is yet to extend his political influence beyond Esan Land. He has no structure in Edo south or Edo North. Same is Ozeto. In the case of Ozeto who is from a federated Senatorial district,he seriously depends on local garrison commanders to keep Edo North together. Pastor Ize Iyamu on the other hand not only has political influence in Edo south,he also has followers in Edo Central and Edo North. He is now naturally in a position to assist the other triumvirs in their areas if they encounter any problems. Right now,it is only Ize Iyamu and Oshiomhole that has this clout and reach but we have already adduced reasons why Oshiomhole is not it. He cannot survive the political stage without political office unlike Ize Iyamu who has been without a known position for over a decade now but still waxing stronger.

PASTOR ( BARR.) ANDREW OSAGIE IZE - IYAMU IS THE NEW EDO STATE GENERAL POLITICAL LEADER.

NB:
* All the opinions expressed in this piece are entirely that of the author and cannot be used as final statements on who becomes Edo State Leader.

* I also want to apologize for any unguarded comment,insult or disrespect I may have unwittingly shown to some persons in this write up. I hold every person I mentioned in high esteem. Excuse my infractions to my attempt at objectivity.

By~~~ Elderstatesman Ojealaro Friday.