By Davidson Momoh
A 6-footer, Osagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu was born on 21st June 1962 to Chief Robert Osayande Ize-Iyamu, the Esogban of BeOsagie Andrew Ize-Iyamu was born on 21st June 1962 to Chief Robert Osayande Ize-Iyamu, the Esogban of Beninnin and Mrs. Magdalene Ize-Iyamu (Nee Obasohan) and grew up in the first storey building in Benin City built in 1906 by his great grandfather.
The building called Egedege Nokao in Benin still stands today at No. 30, Erie Street, Benin City and is in line to be a World Heritage site. It is here that Osagie was born and raised; a place which his father donated free of charge to serve as Secretariat when the agitation for the creation of Edo State kicked off in the 80s.
Osagie grew up in Benin City where he attended primary and secondary schools at Ebenezer Nursery and Primary and Edo College respectively. Armed with his WASC in 1979 he was admitted to read Political Science at the University of Benin, Benin City in 1980.
However as fate would have it Osagie ended up as a pioneer student when the University later created a Law faculty. Osagie’s sojourn at the University of Benin was very eventful as a youth. From UNIBEN, Osagie went to the Nigerian Law School and was finally called to Bar in 1987.
In 1994, Osagie met, fell in love and married former Miss Idia Igbinovia, a Dental Surgeon and born again Christian. His wife Dr. Mrs. Idia Ize-Iyamu, who is now a Professor at the University of Benin played a very big role in Osagie’s journey into Christianity that by 1995 he had a very personal encounter with God Almighty.
As it was, on a trip to Lagos he was involved in a car crash and was unconscious for 9 hours. When he came round, his toes were fractured while his legs were dislocated. At the National Orthopedic Hospital Igbobi in Lagos, where Good Samaritans took him, Osagie regained the full function of his body miraculously, and overwhelmed with the development gave his life to Jesus. He became a active member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG and by 1998, became Pastor of the Upper Room Parish of the Church in Benin City.
Osagie’s life as a youth, especially back as an undergraduate, when he was a member of the Pyrates Confraternity and his dramatic transformation to a man who now laces his speeches, quoting scriptures, is disarming; but he had openly renounced membership of the group when he gave his life to Jesus.
Osagie or POI as his loyalists and supporters have come to know him said the acronym, though his initials and surname represents his life motto with: P=Persistence, O=Organisation and I=Integrity. He was active as an undergraduate and engaged in political activities at Students Union level.
He was active though a student in the election of Mr. Lucky Igbinedion as Oredo Local Government Chairman in 1988; and served his administration as Special Assistant.
Later in party politics, POI served first as Assistant National Legal Adviser of the defunct Liberal Convention and later got elected as delegate to the National Convention of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC).
With Igbinedion’s election as Edo State Governor in 1999, POI became Chief of Staff (1999 – 2003) and later Secretary to the State Government (SSG) 2003 – 2007.
In 2005, worried by the contradictions to democratic principles and practices and its negative consequence on governance, POI resisted the powers that be in the PDP by instigating a pressure group, called Grace Group with the motto “No Man is God”.
Growing in leaps and bounds because of his organizational and leadership qualities the Grace Group was to be the fulcrum for the birth of the Action Congress, on which platform the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) came forth in 2007.
POI provided the direction as organizer, mobilizer and instigator as Director-general of the Oshiomhole Campaign Organization for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the party’s candidate who won Election as Edo State Governor first in 2007 and again in 2011.
That was the same year, he emerged as National Vice Chairman, South-South of the ACN. Thereafter he became one of the eggheads who teamed up with others for the coalition of the ANPP, CPC and APGA with ACN to form the All Progressives Congress, APC; a party which made history by defeating the ruling PDP which had held office for 16 years in a General Election in 2015.
POI loathes the lack of basic infrastructures in most of the rural communities in Edo State, such as Healthcare, roads, schools, water and basic educational facilities. He has bluntly counseled political leaders and elected public officials on the need to do the needful often times.
POI practice what he preaches and had made integrity his watchword, abhorring all forms of corrupt practices while holding public offices. In 2015 he was among those investigated by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) over a N700 million campaign fund for Edo State. He was never indicted for wrongdoing.
In 2016, POI ran for Governorship in the platform of the PDP but lost. He was twice Edo State Director-general of the PDP Presidential Campaign, in 2015, for former President Goodluck Jonathan and in 2019 for former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
Dissatisfied with the modus operandi of the party he recently returned home to the APC, to strengthen the party, add value in addition to growing the party at the grass roots.
Besides being a politician, a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ POI is a farmer and businessman. His I.O. Farm Training Institute, a farm settlement in Ugbor–Amagba is helping the nation to address food security and empowering youths.
Among his many accolades, POI is a holder of the Benson Idahosa University Honorary Doctorate degree. He has also received the Certificate of Honour of the Oba of Benin and has been awarded the Honorary Citizen of the US City of Nebraska among countless honours by Students Union Governments, traditional rulers and Labour Unions across the country.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a politician has never hidden his desire to be Governor of Edo State. Some have said he is desperate to be governor, others say it is his burning desire. But for him, these labels are out of place because it is all about passion: passion for service and passion for good governance.
This is what led him to recently leave the PDP and return home to APC so he can be part of a structure whose interest is to deliver on development for the greater number of Edo people. This also explains why he is aspiring to contest the 2020 Edo APC gubernatorial primaries. But he has also said he did not return home to the APC because he wants to be Governor of Edo State at all costs.
With his wife Professor (Mrs) Idia Ize-Iyamu, a dental surgeon, they are blessed with the children, Osas, Osayi, Aisosa and Osahon.
Momoh lives in Agenebode.