By Davidson Momoh
There is no doubt that the home coming of former PDP governorship candidate in the 2016 Edo state governorship elections, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to the APC, a party, he helped to nurture, as a member of the National Merger Committee, is good news for the party in Edo. Add this to the various calls and appeals by all and sundry groups within and outside the party, for him to run for Governor at a time there is growing confidence in the camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the party would retain Edo state this year. I think this in itself is a very good omen, as for the first time, leaders and members of the ruling party have high hopes and appear largely united that ending the tyrannical rule of the outgoing governor is a task that must be done, this year.Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is an asset who did not come back home to the APC, alone. He came with a large and powerful network of supporters and loyalists across the 192 wards and the three senatorial districts of the state, many of whom have a pedigree of strategic-thinking, and are positively aggressive as top-level political operators,; these are brilliant, tested and calculating, united and determined, men , women and youths who are faithful to the cause of taking Edo state back from the likes of Mr Obasekill.
To take the state back by winning the Edo 2020 governorship election, fair and square, is not now, the issue, before the party; it is the party primaries where all party members must have a say in a direct selection process to pick the flagbearer for the party. Now that it is certain that INEC has no plans to shift grounds on the timing of events relative to the primaries and the elections, the party has all the time it needs in the world right now to get it right, avoid unnecessary intrigues and reignite its bold winning strategies that are easily acceptable to the electorate in Edo.To do this, APC must do some form of selfexamination, selfappraisal and selfevaluation, by first looking at itself in the mirror and answer some tough questions. These are questions that are germane to the task ahead. First, which party member can beat the outgoing governor hands down and without a shadow of doubt? Who is that party member with convincing acceptability at the grassroots across the 192 wards of Edo state? Which party member enjoys a track record of performance while serving in public office and enjoys overwhelming goodwill, both at state and national levels, even at this time?Some members of the party have been quick to give several reasons, many of which to me are quite valid as to why, it will be in its overall best interest of the party in 2020 to have Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu fly the party flag this time around, because the cap evidently fits him. He is one politician whose readiness to serve the party and the State as governor is a statement of fact. And some of his recent strides are testimonies.As a proactive leader, long before the State government came to terms with the reality of the danger posed to Edo people by the Coronavirus, Pastor Ize-Iyamu had embarked on the production of thousands of Awareness materials which he freely shared to citizens across the state.These awareness materials in flyers and leaflets reminded citizens of the need to observe the approved Health regulations to avoid contracting the Coronovirus such as:*Staying at Home in line with extant government orders and the advise of Health authorities
*Regular washing of hands with soap and water and as often as possible
*Use of hand sanitizers at regular intervals
*Wearing of face masks
*Maintaining Social distance or avoiding of crowded places.
*Sneezing or coughing on the elbow where necessary or using a tissue or handkerchief for the purpose.
Not long after, Pastor Ize-Iyamu realizing that many Edo people would not be able to afford them, and at a time that the vital material had become a scarce commodity, along with his wife, Prof. Idia Ize-Iyamu, he embarked on the massive production of Sanitizers which they also freely distributed across Edo state.It was the feedback from this Statewide sanitizers distribution exercise that saw the couple and their friends uniting to procure millions of Naira worth of food items such as Rice, Beans, Onions, Noodles etc, which they distributed to the poor and the vulnerable, the very set of persons who will be most affected by the combative measure of isolation employed to beat the virus. This was because of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s understanding that with the structural order of his society, the disruption that will be done on the economy and the hard impact it will have for this vulnerable class of the society will be more.With an initial target of 4,000 families, Pastor Ize-Iyamu soon realized that he needed to do more and especially to reach the physically challenged persons and many others with other disabilities, who would most certainly find it difficult to go to designated centres where he was distributing free food. So he created two helplines which these people could call, so that food can be taken to them at their locations. And to the glory of the party, not a few Nigerians have commended this noble gesture of a loyal and dedicated, Godfearing party stalwart in Pastor Ize-Iyamu.A civil society activist, Barrister Abraham Oviawe certainly spoke the mind of many when he wrote to Pastor saying, ” I can’t stop thanking you for being the bastion of hope for Edo people in this critical time when the masses are confronted with both disease and hunger”. He added, “As an advocate of the people and beyond politics, I can confirm that you truly deserve a place in our state and country since leadership is about conscience”.According to Oviawe, though Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s “…effort cannot fully cover the field owing to the mass of the people, the penury and pains caused by the economic reality and more importantly your limited resources being privately driven, but be assured that your effort is acknowledged and will accordingly be rewarded by God and the people who have benefitted directly and those who appreciate your gesture to humanity”.For the party to move Edo forwardl, efforts should be made to get the right person for the task at hand. Pastor Ize-Iyamu has demonstrated that leadership is doing great work by taking responsibility and being accountable for the wellbeing of others. By directly impacting Edo people’s health and wellbeing, he has been able to nurture the spark of the party, or unintentionally exhibited that he has the stuff which can avail the APC in Edo a sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and happiness.People like Pastor Ize-Iyamu have a unique grassroots electoral pedigree, sagacity and popularity which the party must harness at this time for necessary victory. For many in Edo APC, they will prefer a credible direct primaries where party members would freely choose a candidate from among the aspirants, based on faith in their choice. That choice is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu!#Edomustmoveforward