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Death of innocence

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The toxic political atmosphere in Edo State in view of the forth-coming gubernatorial election between the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), is reverberating and dangerously so, in many European countries where our compatriots dwell, chief amongst which is Spain and Italy. Some weeks ago, Friday Omoruyi, a 35-year-old Nigerian was cut down in the prime of his life for supporting a ‘wrong’ party candidate and singing his praises before his fellow compatriots drinking in a night bar in the city of Malaga, Southern Spain. Now, the young man is dead, leaving behind a lovely four-year-old daughter who will never see dad again.

The deceased Mr Omoruyi had boasted that his chosen candidate, Ize-Iyamu of the APC, was “better and more honest than Obaseki of the opposing PDP.”But to the other fellow, it was the height of insults – and before one could say “Vbosunu?” he had pulled out a knife concealed in his jacket and struck his brother dead. This gory scene is also played out in Italy where most of us cannot raise a logical discussion that would stimulate the intellect nor are we able to disagree without resorting to fisticuffs or brandishing of knives. In addition to this, our membership of these parties – be it the PDP or APC – is not based on ideology, objectives, philosophy, party programmes, or vision. Rather, it is blind hero-worshipping taken to extremes. This, really, is the crux of the matter, and that’s why we engage in noisy wishy-washy arguments, making a mockery of ourselves to the consternation of passers-by: “PDP: Share the money!” “Four plus Four: Togba!” “Ize-Iyamu: The messiah!” “Obaseki: Enemy of the People!” and other preposterous mantras not ideologically held, but blurted out to foment trouble and induce havoc. Now, our madness has claimed its first victim.

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Edo State is presently awash with politically-motivated death threats so much so that the traditional ruler: the Oba of Benin recently warned the warring parties not to turn the state into a warzone. Billionaire-businessman, Captain Hosa Okunbo, was alleged to have been recruiting thugs for the purpose of disrupting government, a claim he vigorously denied. There is also the illegal abduction of Mrs Hassana Garuba, the wife of the late Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly. Even Mr Toni-Kabaka, the millionaire tax-collecting garage-boy who once worked with the government has cried out that some assassins are planning “seriously” to snuff life out of him. In fact, the embers of hatred and acrimony in the state appear to be stoked in every nook and cranny, and even in unfamiliar quarters.

Hear this: A certain man of God, Apostle Godstime Oshodin of the Voice of Grace Ministry (Benin City), warned – in a YouTube clip gone viral – that any member of his church who votes for APC will have his fingers “inflicted with whitlow.”He also berated Ize-Iyamu’s “Simple Agenda” programme, saying “it will never manifest in my life time.” In short, he made other incendiary statements too shocking to be mentioned. Taking this further, I do not think former governor and party chairman; Mr Adams Oshiomhole can entirely exculpate himself from the aforesaid political tornado rippling Edo State apart. Here was a man who only a few years back attacked the present All Progressives Congress (APC’s) governorship candidate – Pastor Ize-Iyamu – with a stream of vitriol: “Iyamu is a misfit,” “He’s a thief,” “You aren’t needed for your stealing,” “Ize-Iyamu can’t be trusted to rule,” etcetera. But today, with this same Ize-Iyamu, having crossed to his party, he has suddenly become “a liberator,” “a trusted pastor” and “a go-getter who can rule this state successfully!” In fact, the sugar-coated encomium he continues to heap on Pastor Ize-Iyamu has given me so much sugar boost that I am now diabetic.

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In his desire to be seen as “the lion of Edo politics,” Oshiomhole must remember that honours are earned and not arrogated superciliously to self. Admittedly, he remains a local hero to some primarily because of his fame when he was President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, but with his present apostasy, double-speak, lies, and prevarications, these people – many of whom are gullible members of the public – have been led astray resulting in them having diabolical thoughts and taking blood-curdling action: the killing of Omoruyi above, refers. Worse still, his unguarded utterances are capable of influencing those lunatic fringe elements within his party to go on the rampage because “Oshiomhole says…”

This man must stand for the high nobility of truth, but presently, I cannot see anything in his bearing except a degree of hubris and arrogance. Where he was a trusted comrade in trade unionism many years ago, Oshiomhole has today, become Ize-Iyamu’s comrade-in-chameleonism and amis-guided flip-flopper who had only a few years ago rooted ad nauseam for Governor Obaseki, presently demonised.

I think it is high time we told ourselves some home truths even if it means opening closed wounds, ruffling feathers, or consuming sacred cows. The battle is really ours to wage. Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Godwin Obaseki, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and those useful idiots claiming to be role-models in Edo State must rise to the challenge and show – not by pontification – but by deeds, that they can be trusted. How long must we continue to tolerate the bastardisation of our democracy by evil men and women moving about with God’s wrath and curses on their heads? Now, Friday Omoruyi is gone and my heart bleeds, but many more innocent lives – both at home and in the Diaspora – will unfortunately go the same way as Friday’s unless our warring politicians sheathe their swords, stop this cult of personality being built around them and discontinue the current campaign of calumny and crass defamation.
Agbonlahor, a lawyer, journalist and author, wrote from Manchester, the United Kingdom.

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