Edo politics and tale of the three Tonys

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EDO STATE is unique in many ways, one of which is that it is the only state in the country whose governor is addressed as the Comrade Governor, drawing from his past as the number one Labour leader in the country.


The Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, as President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, led many strikes against bad policies of the Federal Government and was in the forefront to picket many employers of labour, including banks, who were out to make life unbearable for their employees. Oshiomhole is clearly a man who has attacked and of course is used to being attacked.

Since becoming Governor of Edo State, Oshiomhole has demystified one Chief Tony Anenih, an old war-horse, a man who in his eighties should be basking in retirement in his country home at Uromi; a man who is better known among his acolytes and hangers-on as Mr. Fix-it; a man who keeps recycling his political life like a bad coin, thereby keeping younger, fitter and more intelligent people on the sidelines; a man who in retirement, closer to 100 than 40 years is Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority; a man who has been demystified in his domain, Uromi in several elections held in the state and only depends on political oxygen from Abuja for his survival.

The interesting thing, however, is that since the demystification of Tony Anenih, two other Tonys, one Tonnie Iredia, the other Tony Afejuku have found space in the media to defend their namesake, hurl unbridled, and most times senseless, attacks on Oshiomhole to the consternation of many.

Many know that while Tony Anenih lives on political oxygen in Abuja and has lost his political value in Edo State and in his Uromi backyard, the other Tonys: Tonnie Iredia, a Benin man who was Director-General of the NTA not because of his ethnicity and who was unable to make effective changes to reposition that medium, and Tony Afejuku, a Delta man and classroom teacher with no political clout.

The reason for the defence of Anenih by Afejuku and Iredia is not far-fetched: both are ‘wanna-be’ politicians who think coming to the defence of their namesake will give them the advantage in the political shenanigans and scheming for which their more illustrious Tony is known.

In an article entitled: “One man, One vote: Edo’s futile slogan” published in his “Nigeria Today” column in the Vanguard on Sunday, February 23, 2014, Iredia tried his best to lampoon the “One man, One Vote campaign”, an internationally-accepted democratic principle for free and fair elections which has now been accepted as the model for elections in Edo State.

It is worrisome that a man who has been Director-General of such a television network as the NTA will call the “One man, One vote campaign” which the President and Vice-President bought into and always preached “a scheme”. He wrote: “To start with, even the opposition party adopted it, making it a suspicious device.

For example, although Governors always chorused the slogan, President Goodluck Jonathan gave a solemn assurance at a political rally in Benin City on Saturday June 25, 2012 that the Edo State governorship election would be a ‘one man, one vote affair’. Some two weeks earlier, Vice President Namadi Sambo in a similar rally at the same venue had made same pledge.”

Now, what is Tonnie Iredia’s problem with One man, One Vote? The answer is not far-fetched. He belongs to the old school led by his patron and namesake, Tony Anenih, which believes that things must be done the old way, the way of fixing things whether you vote or not. Now in Edo, one man, one vote has taken its root and he is clearly unhappy about that.

The governorship election in the state held on July 14, 2012 was used to the might of the ballot, and that election which has been adjudged the freest in the history of elections in that state and the best in the country since the June 12, 1993 saw Comrade Oshiomhole winning across the 18 local government areas in the state, in all the wards in Edo North and Edo South and almost all the wards in Edo Central, including the ward of Tony Anenih.

It is understandable that a man who would not give voice to the opposition and the voiceless as NTA DG would be most unhappy to see the ordinary people rub shoulders with him on election day as equals with the same power of one vote.

Tony Afejuku, English teacher, now professes more in hack writing. He has taken it upon himself, like his brother Tony does in Vanguard, to dedicate the back page of Nigerian Tribune of Mondays to Oshiomhole bashing. His recent article published in the Nigerian Tribune of Monday, February 24, 2014 at the back page in his “In & Out” column with the title “Benin Bullies” leaves so much to be desired.

When a man writes fiction as the fact, descending to the level of agberoism and bole-kaja writing because he wants to captivate his audience with the fluidity of his pen, he deserves nothing but pity! Calling properly constituted traffic managers vagabonds and bullies because they enforce the law shows that this classroom teacher still has a lot to learn!

However, he surreptitiously let the cat out of the bag when he wrote: “I requested the driver of my rented car to buy me a carton of Gordon Gin along the famous Mission Road.” He may have been hallucinating in doing the write-up or as they say, under the influence.

For Tony Afejuku and Tonnie Iredia, the people of Edo are not taken-in by their disjointed and incoherent writings which are meant to feather their nests and make them get the ears of their namesake. While they are free to write and publish whatever they want, they should know that the people are not taken-in by their writings meant to launder the faded image of their man as the people of Edo are wiser after the PDP’s 10 years of the locust.

Mr. SAMUEL EGUAIKHIDE, a political analyst, wrote from Ekpoma, Edo Stat

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