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The Adams Oshiomhole I Know (PART 1), By Momodu V. Momodu

THE social Identity we carry is a basis for determining who may ultimately have power and privilege and who may be marginalized and oppressed. Thus, social identity is the way others see us and it affects how we are treated and what expectations are placed on us. Generally, having an identity can give you a sense of belonging which is important to your well-being and confidence. This self-identity which is basically the way we see ourselves influences the decisions we make and goals that we set for ourselves.

Therefore, the importance of identity in politics and the niche you have carved out for yourself cannot be overemphasized or underestimated because identity is used to frame political claims, promote political ideologies or stimulate and orient social and political actions, usually in a larger context of inequality or injustice and with the aim of asserting group distinctiveness and belonging as well as gaining power and recognition.

It will amaze or interest you to know, that both the terrestrial and extra-terrestrial bodies understand and respect the power of identity. Thus, in Acts of Apostles 19:15, which reads in parts: Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you?, lays credence to the fact that authority exudes from a positive identity source that carries power as rightly acknowledge by the demon in the possessed man. This also goes to show that the authority or power inherent in identity is recognized both in the physical and spiritual realm.


Adams Oshiomhole (aka, Oshio-Baba), a man with a humble background and who hails from Iyamho near Auchi, from Edo-North extraction of Edo State and a man who has gone through crucibles in life, yet he fought against all odds, carved a niche and identity for himself and ultimately rose to the pinnacle of his chosen career in life.

As a Labour Leader per excellence, he was the cynosure of all eyes as he fought gallantly against all forms of oppressive policies from the government of the day. He was always at the forefront of the struggle. He actually came into prominence in 1999 when he became the President of NLC, he headed and led a campaign of industrial action against high oil prices in Nigeria.

Early in the administration of President Olusegun Obansanjo, he negotiated a 25% wage increase for public sector workers. As an astute labour leader who believed that Nigerians, and the Nigerian workers deserve a better life and working conditions, he led series of strike and demonstrations against fuel increases. He faced several arrest, tear gas, threat to his life and temporary blockage to his union offices, yet he stood firm and resolute.

Despite the legislation introduced by the then government of the day to make it more difficult for NLC to strike, like a Trojan Horse, he fought gallantly and overcame the “Draconian” policies of the day. His driving force was the love he had for Nigerians and the people. To many, he was a freedom fighter who could go to any length to ensure justice, equity and fairness in all spheres of our existence as he had zero tolerance for any form of oppression and oppressive government.

To many Nigerians and to all Nigerian workers he was a beacon of hope. His fearless approach to government and unwavering dedication to the service of the people have also made him a beacon of hope and a role model to aspiring politicians. As a labour leader, he got both national and international accolades and awards for his resilience, determination and tireless effort to bring sanity to the oppressive government of the day. He patiently and painfully swallowed the bitter pill that comes with the fight for justice. His ability to effectively negotiate with various stakeholders including the government and employers showcased his exceptional leadership skills and unwavering commitment to justice.

Clearly, everyone will agree that Adams Oshiomhole remains the best labour leader the country has ever had. Back then in the 1990s, during my undergraduate days in Obafemi Awolowo University (O.A.U) Ile-Ife, I was always telling my roommates then, that looking at his antecedents, it was only a matter of time before he will be entrusted with an even more tasking responsibility, as such it was no surprise when the people of Edo State bestowed upon him their trust for him to lead them. This is the Oshiomhole I know.

The point being made so far is that before Oshiomhole finally delved into polities, he had already build trust and elicited good will among Nigerians. So to a very large extent, Nigerians could trust him, specifically, the Edo people and Etsako people have no doubt in his abilities to lead them to the promise land based on his antecedents. But can you say the same thing for most or some of the flag bearers in the current quest for the number one position in Edo State?, the answer is an emphatic NO!

However, the beauty of democracy is such that it gives room for participation, irrespective of the social, religious, ethnic or tribal backgrounds of the participants. Those with diverse experiences or expertise in the corporate, financial and industrial sectors are not also left out in this context. But the bitter truth is that the tribal politics been played in Edo State could cast serious aspersions in the ambition of some very key contestants in this governorship race, their pedigree in their various fields or career notwithstanding. This ultimately brings us to the biblical question which when put in proper perspective or more succinctly, one might be tempted to ask again: Jesus I know, Adams Oshiomhole I know, but who are you Monday Okpevbolo?, and who do your people (the Esan people) and the Edo people say you are?. Who are you Asue Ighodalo?, and who do your people (the Esan people) and the Edo people say you are? This same question also applies to other contestants.

Consummately, as we move into the main stream of the election campaign proper, the extent to which they are able to answer these questions and proffer solutions to the various intrigues inherent in Edo State tribal politics, will go a long way to giving them the level of acceptability and recognition they need to excel in the forthcoming gubernatorial election which comes up in September.

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