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Oshiomole: Demystifying Governors’ Olympian Image

By Tope Adaramola

Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole has not ceased to attract the fancy of many people since his hey days as an iconoclastic labour leader. As an activist, Oshiomole projected the picture of a gadfly, especially to the ruling class, but that of a savior of some sort to suppressed masses or the downtrodden. Expectations were that the erstwhile labour leader will turn coat 360 degrees on becoming a state governor, with all the enthralling pecks and allure of office, like many of his ilks. Surprisingly, this has been proved wrong as the Comrade Governor still carries on as his normal self, despite the surrounding protocol of statecraft.

Edo state governor Adam Oshiomhole

Edo state governor Adam Oshiomhole

Aside from his outward adherence to austere khaki attire of jackets and trousers, his public demeanour is reflective of a man who had made up his mind to change the perspectives about conduct in public office, rather than allow the office to change him. He daily demonstrates or personifies a leader that touches base with the people whom he swore to govern. There had been several reported cases of the Governor hobnobbing with plantain sellers, hawkers or even artisans, an action that many of his colleagues in such positions would regard as a “desecration” of the exalted office of a governor. Ideally, Oshiomole’s conduct should not appear strange; but not in our clime where top politicians and government functionaries that were sworn to office to protect the “commoners” ultimately turn to become their predators; where ordinary citizens on the roads are scarred off from their tracks, sometimes losing their lives in the process, due to menacing convoys of the mighty or those of their spouses’.

The most recently reported encounter between Oshiomole and citizen Joy Ifeje drives home my point about the relational skill of the governor and the expectations of people in power. Oshiomole had earlier reportedly upbraided the widow for displaying her wares beside the roadside, and by so doing constituting environmental nuisance. One thing after the other, the Governor made a volte face by making peace with the citizen and personally apologized to her in the glare of the public. The woman was also  further succoured with a donation of N2million by Oshiomole,  to allow her enrich her trade. This is in addition to the offer of an instant employment. As human being, it is natural that whatever may have been the depth of personal grudge Ifije had with the governor would have completely vapourised, considering the rare show of love and penitence from the first man of the state to a common citizen like herself. This belief is reflected in the profuse apologies tendered by the woman herself to the governor for her “sins” against the state, promising to turn a new leaf.

Oshiomole’s action, particularly in the case of Ifije underscores the fact that governance becomes easier when leaders first see themselves not as super humans, but like the led, with flesh, blood and emotions. The positive response on the part of Ifije underscores the fact that a good leader will only succeed in moving the led to action only when they first move them with emotion. The heart, they say, comes before the head! With this act, it is hoped that fellow travellers of Oshiomole in the corridors of power will take a cue from the action of the Comrade Governor who, to a great extent, has continued to demystify leadership and made lilliputian the Olympian image conjectured for such political office. This realization will definitely lead to better performance on the part of the office holders and on the other hand project them as true leaders, rather than monstrous rulers of the people as we have today!

Tope Adaramola is a PR practitioner based in Abeokuta

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