Oshiomole: The Giant With The Feet Of Clay

OPINION: Who could have predicted that the enormous, dazzling statue with feet of baked clay that Daniel prophesied to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar is indeed a sixty-eight-year-old diminutive figure from Iyamho, Edo state?

This khaki aficionado, who was the hero of organized labor in the early part of my adult life, is now the poster child of Nigeria's transactional politics.

The year 2023 is still a little farther down the road, yet the APC circus is already out in its mesmerizing glamour. This time, it came packaged with a full complement of conviviality.


One of the bullwhip crackers in the Dog and Pony show, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, is not a happy camper. The ruling party's shenanigans stopped him in his track, and a whole lot of us are not unhappy.

Oshiomhole is a celebrated labor leader, a two-term Governor, one of the longest surviving national chairman of a ruling political party in Nigeria. His country home is a mouth-watering earthly paradise, complete with Olympic size swimming pool.

Adams heralded his grand entry into the world of the Nouveau riche in May 2015 when he imported his trophy wife Lara, all the way from the island of Cabo Verde. For a man who once was going street to street, sewing torn clothes to eke out a living, life didn't turn out bad after all.

The only problem is that while reveling in his newfound status, Adams ditched the very people that cheer-leaded him to stratospheric success. He must now incur the wrath of Edo god, Osanobua.

Adams got his big break as a union leader in 1982, when he was appointed the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria. It was a 75,000-member strong workers union at the time.

Adams Oshiomhole in mock "Justice" wig, speaking out forcefully on behalf of a tribe of workers who were being short-changed by their company's chief executives. The rise of Hurricane Adams, as he was once referred to by a famous commentator, was meteoric.


To burnish his credentials, he would later leave for the UK and enrolled in Ruskin College, where he majored in both economics and industrial relations. Upon his return, Adams attended the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, and later had a brief stint at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Armed with strong credentials and a knack for effective mobilization, he was elected first deputy president of the Nigerian Labour Congress in 1988.


About a decade later, precisely on January 28th, 1919 he became the substantive labor leader. One of his landmark achievements during his tenure as NLC president was the successful negotiation of a 25% wage increase for public sector workers during the Obasanjo administration.

He also led labor to a couple of industrial actions meant to pressure the Nigerian government into improving public sector working conditions. In 2009, he was rumored to have been abducted by men of the State Security Services.


For a big part of the nineties, Adams was the darling of labor movements and became the face of the Nigerian workers' struggle. His leadership profile continued on an upward trajectory.

When on March 20th, 2008, the Edo State election tribunal nullified the election of Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor and declared Oshiomhole the Governor, the mood in the state that prides itself as the heartbeat of the nation was ecstatic. It was God's answer to a festering political problem of godfatherism in that part of the country.

It was unprecedented at the time that a candidate personally handpicked by the late Chief Tony Anenih, Mr. Fix it, and the godfather himself could suffer such a devastating blow. Mr. Oshiomhole went on to declare the concept of godfatherism dead in Edo, choosing to do so at no less a place than the palace of Oba of Benin.

But that was our good old Adams of yesteryears. The new one had undergone a complete metamorphosis and is now utterly unrecognizable.


The problem started shortly after Governor Obaseki was sworn-in, and Adams wished to continue to run the show in Edo state as the de facto ruler. He believed he placed the new governor in his position, and so Godwin Obaseki and the people of Edo state were indebted to him.

When Obaseki refused to dance to his tunes, the APC party machinery under Oshiomhole was quickly mobilized for a fight. It was such a nasty and long-drawn battle that ultimately forced the exit of a sitting Governor out of the party under whose platform he came into power.

It was undoubtedly of a pure Machiavellian politics in its most primitive form. And it seems like Adams Oshiomhole has become the very devil he fought as a candidate for governor of Edo State just a few years earlier.

He now wishes us selective amnesia into believing that the wunderkind he sold passionately to Edo people in 2016 is now a monster.


The events of the past few weeks, however, have been pretty sobering even for the Omo' kpanabiewho' (one man like a nation) of the Auchi kingdom. The same could also be said of his friend and mentor, the Jagaban himself. When you sow the wind, you sure will reap the whirlwind.

Both may have learned a lesson or two on the vanity of life and the ephemeral nature of power. Adam is now forced to heed the wise words of Confucius; "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

-Robinson Ambrose, Afamefuna