By Nosa Omorodion
Just over twenty four hours ago, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, an Edo State APC governorship hopeful, in continuation of his humanitarian contribution to tackling the Coronavirus pandemic in Edo State, rolled out the second phase in his series of programme. Prior to this time, he had been involved in an elaborate media public sensitization campaign. At a press conference in his office in Benin City, Pastor Ize-Iyamu with his amiable wife, Prof. (Dr.) Idia Ize-Iyamu, a Professor of Orthodontics at the University of Benin, unveiled tens of thousands of hand sanitizers, masks and a variety of foodstuffs to be distributed among the most vulnerable members of the society at this critical period, across Edo State.
In his speech, the Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God emphasized that the sanitizers were in the first instance to be given to those, who in spite of the stay at home order invoked by government, would find themselves moving about to provide essential services. In this category of persons are the commercial bus drivers, health care providers, security personnel, journalists, sellers in the markets, and et cetera. Similarly, the food items were to be given to the vulnerable, including low wage earners, orphanages and other less privileged.
The most striking thing about Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s humanitarian gift is the fact that he would be the first donor in Edo State to include food supplies among protective gears. Another remarkable thing about this gesture is that it was done against the backdrop of Ize-Iyamu’s understanding that the war against the Coronavirus would be difficult to win if the people, who had been forced into confinement, are not provided for by the more fortunate in the society. In recognition of the fact that his singular gesture could not provide the ultimate solution to feeding the people, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu called on other privileged Edo people, who are in the thousands, to rise up to the occasion of making their contributions towards making food available for all at this difficult period. Also, he especially called on the Edo State Government to with a sense of obligation use the resources at its disposal to establish food banks around the state, from where the needy could be taken care of.
However, some persons have misinterpreted Ize-Iyamu’s rather laudable call on the state government to establish food banks as an attempt to put the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in a difficult spot. Some have called it an electioneering gimmick, given that Pastor Ize-Iyamu is seen as the major threat to the reelection of Godwin Obaseki. Ize-Iyamu among other aspirants, is challenging Governor Godwin Obaseki to the APC Governorship Ticket at the primary which comes up in June. What they may not know is that the situation on ground only naturally stimulated Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to express a fragment of his vison of Edo State. The mention of food banks, patronizing local farmers and traders and keeping government funds in circulation within the Edo economy are principles already articulated in Ize-Iyamu’s written manifesto, THE SIMPLE AGENDA, which was first presented to the Edo public in the run up to the 2016 Governorship Election. Therefore, it was not just an idea he plucked from the blues to challenge the governor. It is rather a reflection of how Ize-Iyamu would have responded to the situation on ground if he were the governor at this material time.
Let me emphasize that Ize-Iyamu is a man that has always made the difference when faced with the challenge of governance. He has proved this time and time again. He did so in his respective capacities as the Chief of Staff to Edo State Governor and Secretary to Edo State Government between 1999 and 2007. He made the difference when he was the DG of the Governor Adams Oshiomhole Reelection Campaign Organization in 2012. He also distinguished himself as Vice Chairman, South South of the ACN, now APC, and as a member of the APC Constitution Draft Committee in 2014. It is for this his exceptional quality that Ize-Iyamu has always been a victim of envy and adversarial campaigns of calumny instigated and sponsored by persons who want to see him obliterated from the political firmament of Edo State where he has remained constant like the Northern Star, unbowed and undiminished.
In conclusion, it would be correct to say that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a man in whose DNA is the penchant for making a difference. Therefore, one cannot but be confident in the belief that if he became the governor of Edo State, he would definitely make a difference. And at a time like this, Edo people would have been rest assured that with Ize-Iyamu’s foresightedness, empathetic nature and capacity to mobilize men and materials, they would have weathered the storm of this Coronavirus restrictions, if not with very full stomachs but definitely not with empty ones.
Nosa Omorodion writes from Benin in Nigeria