By Jethro Ibileke
Former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was overwhelmingly elected on the 25 March national assembly election to represent the good people of Edo north senatorial district. He was declared the winner the day after the election by the Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Benjamin Adesina, having polled 107,110 votes to defeat incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 55,344 votes.
Announcing the result in Auchi, the administrative headquarters of Etsako West local government area, the Returning Officer said: “Adams Oshiomhole of APC, having scored the highest number of votes, is hereby declared as the winner of the election conducted on the 25th of February for Edo north senatorial district”.
Of course, the victory of the former two-time Governor of Edo should not come as news or a surprise to anyone who had been in the state or is abreast with happenings during the past 15 years. What else could the Etsako people have done for their illustrious son than giving him overwhelming victory after all he did and is still doing for them? If we are to judge the performance of those who governed Edo, past and present, perhaps the late Samuel Ogbemudia will stand taller than the diminutive, but strong-willed labour leader-turned-astute politician.
His victory at the senatorial election is not the topic for discussion for today; why he suddenly dumped his presidential ambition for ‘mere’ senatorial interest is the focus.
It would be recalled that Adams Oshiomhole was one of the aspirants of the APC who obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms for the presidential candidate for a whopping ₦100 million in May 2022. Many people wondered if he was President Muhammadu Buhari’s secret candidate to replace him. Such reasoning could be valid for several reasons: Oshiomhole is a strong politician who can stand his own any time, any day. Being from the south-south geopolitical zone, he would easily be accepted in entire southern Nigeria. His affinity with the north and fluency in the Hausa language would have made him at home in the north.
All those and many other factors put together might have as well given Oshiomhole the ticket of his part. But, that was not to be. He made a U-turn from his presidential ambition during an event to mark his 70th birthday in his country home in Iyamho and announced his interest to represent Edo north in the upper legislative chamber. What informed the sudden change of intention and ambition?
An investigation by our correspondent revealed that as the elections were approaching, leaders of the APC and elders of Etsako people saw the need for a candidate with wide acceptance across the six local government areas in Edo north, one who could stand up against anybody in any election.
It was further gathered that not being satisfied with the role of the incumbent Senator Francis Alimikhena in the 2020 state governorship election that gave victory to Governor Godwin Obaseki, even in Edo north is a stronghold of APC, the people felt that Alimikhena was more of a PDP than an APC. Hence, they unanimously agreed to search for Alimikhena’s replacement.
Naturally, the lot fell on Oshiomhole as the only able and capable replacement to hold the Edo north for them. Besides, not forgetting the humiliation of being removed as national chairman of APC, they wanted him back in political relevance in the district, and the senatorial ambition was surest for them.
Subsequently, the elders and party leaders set up a powerful committee to go around the six local government areas to hold consultations with other stakeholders, to persuade them to project one common front.
Following successful consultations across the entire Edo north, the committee members now had the herculean task of persuading Oshiomhole to jettison his presidential ambition and settle for the red chamber of the national assembly. Of course, they visited him t his country home during one of his visits and presented their unanimous decision to him. After extensive deliberation, being the listening leader/servant that he is, Oshiomhole hearkened to the voice of reasoning of his people and shelved his presidential ambition, all for the love of his people.
Indeed, Oshiomhole is a man of the people!