By Festus Iyayi
It is not every battle a leader should engage in to prove his mastering of the art of war.
The rift between Oshiomhole and his ward chairman Mr. Stephen Oshawo, which eventually culminated in the sack of the former APC national chairman, can be likened to the biblical story of David and Goliath.
In all fairness, if anyone had whispered to Oshiomhole that the man he bossed was also powerful enough to wield his staff of office against him and vacate him from his ivy office in Abuja, he (Oshiomhole) would have frawned at it and called itbeer parlor talk.
Perhaps, kings have still not learnt from the classical Latin quote, Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat; those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. The feelings of overconfidence coming from too many victories or successes recorded in the past can ruin a lifetime legacy.
This sense of overconfidence sometimes beclouded their judgement and leads them to their doom.
Countless leaders had in the past ruined what they had worked for all their lives due to decisions poorly made or sometime as a result of ego. It was not because the experience was lacking; it has always been hubris and the consequential tragic fall from Olympian heights to the abyss of shame.
Often it is called the “victory disease”.
One of the earliest and maybe the worst cases was recorded thousands of years ago during the ancient Greek and Persian empires.
In 480 BC, during the battle of Salamis, Greece had been in a long war against the Persian army led by King Xerxes who descended on them with a very large and powerful army.
King Xerxes was sure of winning the war. The Persian Empire had expanded west to a large part of Greece, and King Xerxes was determined to conquer the entire Greece. Xerxes’ army navigated Macedonia and Thessaly as they made their way south to Athens.
When they approached Salamis, Xerxes, with his 1,207 ships against Greeks’ 301, was so confident of victory that he even set up a throne on the shore before the start of the battle.
The Greek ships were aligned along one side of the strait. The Persian fleet, which relied on the sheer force of numbers to win, had moved forward to attack.
The Greek navy, on the other hand, relied on strategic location that would minimize direct confrontation. As the Persians advanced, the Greeks stayed in their position and waited.
Unfortunately, the Persians had a problem with their fleet; there were just too many ships moving into such a narrow space at once.
The ships began to ram into one another as waves of them moved towards their ships in front, leading to broken ships and difficulties in navigating.
The Greek ships had more space to maneuver, so they could easily attack the Persian ships. The Persians were unable to retreat. The Greeks formed a line and easily took on the larger army by slowly picking them off one after another.
Xerxes, who was horrified at what he saw, promptly retreated from Greece. He suffered a disgraceful defeat.
The Greeco-Persian war is a classical example of the rift between Obaseki-Oshawa on the one hand and Oshiomhole on the other.
Obaseki’s ability and deft move to have tactical deployed Oshawo to expell Oshiomhole from the APC after months of irreconcilable rift between the duo is a lesson for people in position of power. Beware of your feet of clay!
It also proves that emotions can as well get the best of the most intelligent and successful leaders.
Adams Oshiomhole, a former leader of Nigeria Labour Congress, former Governor of Edo State (2008-2016), and now former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party, was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth.
Born in a harmlet, one of the smallest communities in Edo North, Oshiomhole had toyed his way from a village boy who later turned a tailor and later rose to be one of the most respected labour union leaders in the country.
A prize fighter who never gives up or knows when he is beaten. Some have decribed him as a “rebel without a permanent cause, he leads, joins, supports, encourages, fights for the oppressed, and wretched of the earth anywhere, almost as a hobby’.
These attributes are true of Oshiomhole and also contradicts his true persona some would say, because on attaining the apogee of power he forgot the ladder that took him up.
For a man who had attained such feat in life and looking back from where he was coming from in his early age, the Edo born activist cum politician has failed to realise the essence of leadership.
Oshiomhole, a man with good intentions imprisoned by illusion and pride. His undoing is his inability to sense dangers that he often mistook himself as being fearless. Truly those the gods choses to destroy they first make deaf.
He refused to quit, he rejected entreaties for reconciliation even when the ovation was loudest and of course he paid the price with his office.
When Oshiomhole was Governor of Edo State from 2008 to 2016, he ran the state as his personal estate. He was the executive, legislative and the judiciary.
Even party leaders who were old enough to be his father, had had cause to cry out in some instances after party meetings. Oshiomhole presided over party matters and took decisions like a dictator. No one dare spoke against his position. His decision on party affairs were the law and final.
When Oshiomhole was to leave office in 2016, he had prepared Obaseki to take over from him and planted his most trusted friend Philip Shaibu to deputise him.
Less than two years down the line, crisis ensued on how to run the party in the state. In other words, Oshiomhole wanted to remain in charge. Thus, things fell apart between him and his predecessor, Governor Godwin Obaseki and Philip Shaibu had to take side with Obaseki.
Persistent efforts by Obaseki to reconcile with him were shelved aside as Oshiomhole was under pressure from his supporters not to shift ground.
No true leader who have the interest of his state at heart would have acted that way or influenced by drum beats of war mongers and sycophants far away.
He had taken a stand, his mind was made and he was not going to retreat. They told him he was a good fighter; he never lost a battle until the ‘victory disease’ finally caught up with him.
To make things worse, he sanctioned the formation of a faction of APC (Edo Peoples Movement) to ensure that the state becames ungovernable for Obaseki. This was the highlight of the crisis as the party was further polarized.
While he was doing this and carried away by the power of his office, Obaseki had his own mission. He had to unseat Oshiomhole with a constitutional tool. So, he deployed the grassroots tactics, wooed major stakeholders from Oshiomhole’s ward and local government where he got the nod from majority of ward exco members.
In November 2019, 15 chairmen of the APC chapters in the local councils and 23 out of the 35 members of the State Executive Committee had Mr Stephen Oshawo, the Ward 10 APC Chairman,(Oshiomhole’s ward in Etsako East of Edo state) to announced the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole from the APC. They passed a vote of no confidence on the former national chairman for what they described anti party activities.
Ratified by his local government executives, the state chapter of the party declared him suspended. In his usual manner, rather than going back home to put his house together, Oshiomhole misled by his army of frustrated youths and cheer singers, declared a war against Obaseki.
He bamboozled every courts in Benin and Abuja securing injunctions after injunctions as lifeline to keep himself afloat till his mission to sack Obaseki is fully accomplished.
In one occasion, he boasted that no man born of a woman can sack him from office. But this was not true; his days in office were already numbered.
On 17th of June, Oshiomhole fate was sealed. An Appeal Court in Abuja confirmed his suspension and he was asked to vacate office.
Oshawo the local politician is not a professor but is the first Nigerian who lectured every adult politicians that there is no National, State or Local Government party register that contain names of party members. Rather all political parties have ward registers that contain names of members. This is what Oshiomhole and his legion of supporters and legal team failed to realise.
You can only be a member of a political party by being a registered member through your ward.
If you are suspended or expelled by your ward executive committee headed by that ward chairman you looked down on as a local politician, you are doomed.
That is the value attached to that position constitutionally.
Mr Oshawo, Ward 10 Chairman, Etsako West LGA, Edo State just taught all politicians the power of local politics.