By Idede Oseyandea
AS a social and political pundit, I have observed reactions from the masses and the political class towards the palliative measures Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has put in place to cushion the adverse effects of the stay-at-home order of the state government to curb the spread of the current global pandemic in the state. While the masses, who obviously are the targetted recipients of the gesture have accepted in good faith, without recourse to the intentions or where the food is coming from, the political class have reacted in a different manner. It is more worrisome, or rather interesting to see those who hitherto had publicly proclaimed that the fight to dislodge the current occupier of Osadebey Avenue is a collective responsibility, are now joining the ‘opposition’ to castigate the social intervention initiatives of their supposed political ally.
The indifference with which Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu took their rantings is another evidence that the political collusus has grown the tough skin needed by a leader in his calibre to stand with the people even if he is standing alone. He had continued to do the needful at full throttle, with his soul, spirit and body, making it look as if the castigations of his political distractors only help in fueling his desire and passion to do more.
From Edo South, to Edo Central, and down to Edo North, his social intervention, no matter how little, has reached the nook and cranny of the three senatorial zones in the state.
The reaction of the masses reminded me of the popular Edo proverb, which by interpretation means, “no one is bothered about how their enemy is killed; the crux of the matter is that the enemy is dead”.
The masses embraced the goodwill of the pastor knowing that their common enemy is ‘hunger’, which must be defeated for them to stay alive. With that in mind, they have not only welcomed the idea but have also demanded the same from Edo indigenes who by divine providence have the means and capacity to follow the example of POI.
Appreciations in various forms have since flooded the media and also in commercial vehicles. While some people who are bent on criticising everything that is related to POI tried to rubbish the kind gesture by trying vaguely to rationalise the intentions of the giver in a public bus recently in Benin City, the other occupants in the bus attacked them verbally, defending the gesture with the argument that hunger does not select where the food comes from, nor does it request to know the intention of the giver. Some even went as far as saying, if he would help them chase out the Fulani herdsmen that are ravaging their farmlands and turning our forest reserves as the hideout for their kidnapping activities, they would be extremely grateful. Be that as it may, the response of the political class is at variance with that of the masses.
But I am not surprised because our people say, “if someone has chosen you to be an enemy, even if you greet the person, they will take it as an insult”
They started at first by condemning the gestures because the distributed sanitizers were branded with the logo of the donor.
They became religious proselytes overnight quoting the scriptures on the christlike pattern of giving. When their bubble was busted as those sharing that of the state government were seen wearing campaign shirts of the incumbent governor, they changed the accusations to the fact that he was using his newly inaugurated campaign team for the coordination of the process.
They took to the streets crying foul, calling it the height of insensitivity for anyone to use political structures at such a time like this. They feign ignorance of the fact that anything a politician does, no matter how altruistic the intentions, the people will definitely perceive it as Greek gifts, simply because it is coming from a politician.
How the political class who should know better, are now crying more than the masses, shows how difficult it is for them to hide their worries of his growing support base and popularity among the electorates. Some even acknowledged the enormity of the task and instead of commending his efforts, are accusing him of running a parallel government! I had to remind myself of my home training in order to refrain from saying my mind on some ‘foolish’ post on social media.
The stench of their hypocrisy would make a dead corpse cover its nose in the grave. But then, my inlaws from southwestern Nigeria, the Yorubas had forewarned us of people like this, who will stop at nothing to make you feel bad about any decision you take. And this warning was further publicised and emphasised by the legendary music maestro, Ebenezer Obey. Let me summarise the story as I round up.
“A man and his son were riding on a donkey, and the people called him wicked and inconsiderate to have placed such a burden on the donkey. So the man came down and left his son only on the donkey, while himself walked along.
The same people called him a stupid old man for choosing to suffer by walking while his boy rode on the donkey. He then brought his son down and himself climbed the donkey, but still, they called him a wicked man. Lastly, they both came down and walked along with the donkey, still, they cursed him for choosing to walk when he had a donkey to ride on.
He even considered carrying the donkey on their head, if perhaps that would please those criticising them, but still every option that they took was faced with serious criticism.” The truth is, the battle for Osadebey avenue is on top gear, COVID-19 or not. So, there is nothing POI will do at this point in time that will please his sworn political enemies.
Even if he chose to fold his hands and keep his mouth shut in his house, they will still call him insensitive and other unprintable names as they have done in the past. The whole hullabaloo is to ensure they see him fade to political oblivion, but that is not going to happen, at least l in this era. It is an undeniable fact that if there was no coronavirus, they would all have been sharing rice and chicken this week for Easter, and it wouldn’t have mattered to them that they are using the sacred death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for politics.
Those sermonising and debating the sensibility or insensibility, the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the POI palliatives would have lost their clerical and moral voices. On this gesture of POI, I stand with the masses and I commend Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, whether it has political undertone or not.
After all, he did not collect their voters’ card, nor was the offer based on political patronage like those currently in government are doing.
Hunger is our common enemy for now. When all of this is over, the people will choose who will be their governor. Until then, don’t forget to adhere to the health instructions in preventing the spread of the virus. Stay home to stay safe! ,
Oseyandea social observer, writes from Edo State.
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