When Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu threw his hat into the ring in the contest for the September 28th governorship of Edo State, little did he reflect on the impact his unexplained past would have on his prospect.
The baggage from his personal and political past, largely combined to obliterate whatever imaginary whiff of a chance, he thought he had to take a shot at being the helmsman of the heart beat of the nation.
To cement his vanishing prospects was the chummy relationship he continued to enjoy with the arrowheads unproductive locust administration, which misruled the state between 1999 and 2007.
These fundamental flaws made it crystal clear that the pastor-politician would fail in the attempt to hoodwink the astute and politically savvy voters of Edo State, who turned out on September 28, to execute a decisive electoral verdict on the pastor and his party. This electoral sentence passed on Ize-Iyamu and his godfathers notwithstanding, he has continued to grandstand.
Like the typical predatory politician, Pastor Ize-Iyamu has not bothered to look inwards to examine these deep personal flaws, which made his candidacy a hard-sell to the electorate.
The pastor and his camp have forgotten so soon how he confessed to being a member of some unholy groups. In pitching his political message to the electorate, they forgot to elaborate on how this curious dimension of his CV added any substance whatsoever to his fitness for governance.
Was it on the cards that he would take policy decisions to members of his fraternity for approval before foisting such on the people? As soon as the defeated aspirant summons the courage to conduct a honest inquest, he would find that this vagueness in communicating his fuzzy brand, is partly responsible for his rejection by the electorate.
Voters could not understand the double standard inherent in a Pentecostal, who also belongs to and flirts with unholy groups which in the Christian worldview would certainly be characterised as dark and ungodly. It is apparent that many of his church members, voting on Election Day would have seen through such abominable contradictions, and would have turned their backs on him.
On the same medium where he made known the fraternal dimensions of his credentials, the pastor attempted to explain the circumstance that led to his rustication from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) for two years. Voters must have again reflected on the wisdom in putting an aspirant so cavalier about taking the laws into his own hands as the custodian of their mandate. And if the story is true that that revenge mission ended in the bizarre bathing of the target with acid, there is no way the electorate would not have been repulsed by such mindless violence.
What more, the pastor lost the opportunity of a prime-time audience to dispel worries precipitated by allegations that he was a malevolent personality. There was no way the electorate would have embraced such an unresolved dark past.
Similarly, the pastor did not deem it necessary to be transparent about his work history. The voters of Edo State, it must be said, deserved to know about the trajectory of his life, including organisations where he earned his living.
But what did the voters get in the case of the pastor? They got a muddled-up biography with gaping holes, wherein key moments before his sudden prominence where unexplained.
Befuddled voters could not fathom much about his employment history and human resource management experience outside the political offices he held. He was unable to convince the electorates on how he would manage the resources of Edo State judiciously particularly with his loyalty to the Igbinedions whose yearly birth day was proposed to become a State event.
In violation of the principle of transparency too, the pastor was not convincing in communicating what legitimate sources of income enabled him acquire all the properties said to belong to him. And when the time frames of 1999 to 2007 is considered to be the time of his sudden boom, not much would be needed in terms of calculation to reach the conclusion that those acquisitions were most likely proceeds from the wealth belonging to the people.
A cursory look at his profile and biographies revealed that he graduated from UNIBEN in 1986 and left Law School in 1987, and was ordained as a pastor in 1995. He then served in the cabinet of the convicted former governor, Lucky Igbinedion from 1999-2007. The electorate must have found it worrisome that the candidate was so silent on what he did during the years from 1987-1999 and 2007-2016. Thus, over 20 years was unaccounted for in his biography.
This PDP candidate is not known to have worked in any law office, though he claimed to be a lawyer – in addition, did he pass Law School? If yes, did he complete NYSC? What is his employment history from 1987 to 1999 when he became Chief of Staff? All these are shrouded in secrecy and these are part of his poor showing at the poll.
As things stand, the scant information available shows that Ize-Iyamu is a Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God who has inherited a popular alias called ‘pelebe’, from UNIBEN.
His sole motivation for contesting must have been the promise by the Igbinedions to produce him as the next Governor of Edo State. The fiercely determined electorate of the state have however put a lie to the false thinking that a few can override the will of the people.
Those who lied to the pastor that they would be the ones to decide who becomes the governor of the state come September 28th, have now been condemned to bite the dust. These forces alongside the unexplained realities of his past, are the factors which jeopardized the chances of the pastor.
Not many voters forgot the offensive comments of Lucky Igbinedion at his father’s 82nd birthday party in Benin City on September 11, 2016. In the minds of voters, those comments validated the concerns of those that feared that Ize-Iyamu was running for office to continue the corruption and misrule that was the hallmark of the Lucky Igbinedion era.
Perceptions were rife that the pastor had received a marching order from the Igbinedion family to revive the failed businesses of the Esama, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. The pastor’s doomed candidacy was further nailed by his refusal to address concerns that there were plans to make Chief Igbinedion’s September 11th birthday, a state sponsored carnival in addition to selling state establishments at rock-bottom prices to his adopted family.
Fears also mounted before the polls that the Pastor, if elected, would manipulate his “SIMPLE” agenda to prioritise state intervention to rescue moribund private businesses under a public private partnership (PPP).
It was feared that the initiative that would be made to appear like genuine intervention to boost economic growth would be a cover to use state funds for reviving the several businesses of the Igbinedion family.
Some of the businesses projected to be resuscitated include Okada Airlines, Canada Dry Bottling Company and the Ritz Hotel brand. The Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS) was also mentioned as one of the state companies, which could be transferred to the family under a knock off privatisation exercise. This would have seen the public service broadcaster come under the management of the Igbinedion-owned Independent Television (ITV).
The Igbinedion University, Okada was not left out in the rash of projections around how state institutions would have been stripped away from the people, and handed over to a few powerful interests.
Ize-Iyamu’s candidacy was associated with the move that would have seen the Igbinedion University receive a special grant from the Edo state government. It would then be upgraded to a full research institution to allow it become affiliated with state owned tertiary institutions, which would be directed to rely on it for their research needs.
Surprisingly, Ize-Iyamu never denied these roles; he in fact wallowed in them. When these flaws in his candidacy and campaign are put together, it becomes apparent that the pastor never really reckoned with the people. That is the kind of disposition associated with impunity.
In the end, the Edo people are convinced that Pastor Ize-Iyamu should have long apologised to the people for the ignoble role he played in the looting era of Lucky Igbinedion instead of asking for votes. When confronted on many fronts to explain how Lucky succeeded in looting the State resources he will quickly tell you that he was a mere appointee who co-signed many contracts that were never executed but monies were paid out. This is not the kind of leader the sophisticated people of Edo State need. And they spoke loudly to that effect on September 28th.