Ehigiator: The Ali-Anenih Story: Oshiomhole As A Modern-day Revisionist
READING through a syndicated story without a by-line in the dailies last week, I marveled at the ridiculous attempt by the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, to revise history. For those who are not conversant with the history that Oshiomhole tried to rewrite for despicable political gains, the tendency would be for them to swallow his skewed narrative, hook, line and sinker.
I have always known Oshiomhole to be a public space man, who enjoys playing to the gallery. He did that with the labour platform while he was president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). He is at his best now reenacting that pastime as governor. One thing that rankles about the comrade governor is that he is conceited: he is always interested in listening to himself speak; and, he is consumed by a sense of self-delusion, the kind that assures him that he is endowed with some measure of oratorical prowess.
Sincerely, I find it difficult to relate with that. Rather, I see Oshiomhole as a rabble-rouser, who seizes the centre stage to inundate the rest of us with perspectives that are designed to suit his predeterminations. Other perspectives do not always matter to him. Ask those who have had the opportunity to work with him, especially as governor. So, when he speaks, he does so, as matter of fact, to superimpose his worldview either on those with whom he is having discussions or his listeners.
Well, that is an issue that will be fully interrogated in the nearest future. However, the mission of this writer at the moment is to revisit Oshiomhole’s squalid attempt, at a rally of his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekpoma, to revise the political events that happened in the old Bendel State in the defunct Second Republic. I guess, he decided to do that after assessing the potential and actual damage the PDP had done earlier on at a rally in Edo Central where the daughter of the late former governor of the State, Professor Ambrose Ali had, in an emotion-laden voice, called on the people to reject the APC’s presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, at the poll.
Her argument was clear: Buhari clamped her father in detention, following his military coup that terminated the Second Republic and Ali was denied medical treatment, which eventually led to his demise. It is a documented fact of history that Buhari clamped all the civilian governors at the time in detention, tried and jailed them, both the corrupt and incorrupt ones, for donkey’s years. Buhari came on board with a macabre sense of vengeance to settle scores with the politicians whom he saw as corrupt; even though his regime too had his shortcomings, otherwise, General Ibrahim Babangida would not have toppled him.
But it was disingenuous for Oshiomhole to now posit that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, played a role in Ali’s incarceration. I can understand that desperation had motivated the governor’s barefaced adventure because he wanted to minimise the collateral damage that the support Ali’s daughter gave to Jonathan has done to Buhari’s candidature in the state. Pray, was that the reason he wove the Ekpoma falsehood? Does Oshiomhole not know that many Nigerians are on top of the events that shaped that era?
Now, how on earth could the comrade governor say that Anenih, who was then Chairman of the NPN in the old Bendel State, played a role in the incarceration of Ali? He must have been extremely desperate to tar Anenih with a brush of malfeasance just to counter the PDP masterstroke pulled by the prominence given to the narrative of Ali’s daughter. And, perhaps, in a bid to hide the doubt that his narrative might evoke in his listeners, he had cleverly made up a nexus in a bogus claim of a contract awarded by Ali to an unnamed leader (a top notch member of the PDP today) who did not do the job.
If anyone, apart from Oshiomhole, believes this story, he or she would believe anything. I know that Oshiomhole himself does not believe his story because he knows in his heart of hearts that he was being dishonest. Ali was governor on the platform of United Party of Nigeria while those who ensured his defeat were in NPN. Is Oshiomhole saying that Ali gave contracts to his political opponents? Can Oshiomhole do that?
I sincerely believe that at the time the people of old Bendel State voted out Professor Ali, he (Ali) was not in a position to give out contracts to any NPN leader. It was the people of Bendel State, as it then was, that rejected Ali and his minority party, the UPN, at the poll; and voted massively for NPN and its governorship candidate, General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia. And when that civilian administration under President Shehu Shagari was overthrown by Buhari who threw wide his dragnet for political actors, Ali, Anenih and Ogbemudia were all caught and detained. I understand that Anenih and Ali were both detained at Kirikiri Prison. So, if Anenih played role in Ali’s detention, what was Anenih himself doing in detention?
The comrade governor should not take our people for fools. A majority of us are educated and can reason logically. He cannot rewrite this history because even if many of our people do not know or cannot remember the events of the time, this narrative of his simply beggars description. I expect that our governor will attempt more revisionism as electioneering intensifies in the days ahead because desperation is in the air and he is indeed consumed by it; which is understandable but not excusable.
• Mr Ehigiator contributed this piece from Benin City via firstname.lastname@example.org