HISTORY plays a role and shapes our
future. Today, I share with you my
interactions with the two leading
candidates for the Edo State
gubernatorial election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu
and Godwin Obaseki. Firstly, it was
around 2001-2002 that I first met Pastor
Osagie Ize-Iyamu. We had gone to appeal
to him concerning the closure of Ambrose
Alli University (AAU). For those of you
who cannot remember, AAU was closed
down after students legitimately protested
against management’s high-handedness
and, in the process, cornered a Coca Cola
truck.
We asked for his intervention to support
the re-opening of our school. He told us
that AAU students were bad; that we were
thieves, cultists and never-do-well. Based
on that flawed generalisation, he said he
supported the decision of the Governor on
the closure of AAU as a punishment for
our misconduct and “sins”.
While the government of the day was
using the conduct of the students as an
excuse, the real reason for the closure
was lack of funds to pay staff of AAU. As
you all know – and as a direct
consequence of this action – we, the
students, at that time lost over two years
of our lives to this unnecessary and
unwarranted closure. That memory never
left me!
Again in 2004, after I was elected as
President of the Law Students
Association, I embarked on an audacious
and daring task to Honor our First and
Foremost Dean of the Faculty of Law, the
Late Professor D.O. Aihie. The Late Aihie
– as Dean and, later, Vice Chancellor of
the then Bendel State University (now
AAU), saw to the formation and growth of
the Faculty of Law.
His legacies and achievements are
overwhelming. As at that time, it was 10
years post death, so we thought about
hosting a lecture and dinner in his honor.
We wanted to do this so that the labor of
our heroes past will not be in vain. We
wanted to show others – his family, the
school community and so on that we
were proud of his time as Dean and, later,
Vice Chancellor.
Several Speakers were selected for this
event and Osagie Ize-Iyamu was one of
them. He was selected because of his
profession as a lawyer and then a
possible role model for would-be
lawyers. As President, I personally went
to his office with an invitation letter, and
also asking for his support towards the
program.
After waiting for several hours, he came
out, reviewed the letter, asked questions
and then told me that he didn’t think the
Late Aihie achieved anything worth
celebrating. I explained to him that the
very foundation of excellence at the Law
Faculty was laid by this same Aihie, and
that – in any case – this was worth
celebrating. In fact, our theme was “For
Our Today, He Gave Us His Yesterday”. At
that point he lost his temper and asked
me to leave his office.
As far as he was concerned, who was I to
argue with an SSG? He made me sadder
than I came in. Not only did he demonize
my school, he shattered the legacies of
our hero, Aihie. Mind you, the same
document I gave to him was the same
that I gave to Prof. Sagay, the Ugbesias
(who overwhelmingly supported the
event), Tony Anenih, etc. They were,
indeed, very delighted; at last, someone
had found the courage to honor an author
of excellence.
Now fast-forward to 2007, I graduated
from the Law School and emerged as the
Law School All-Time Best, breaking all
records previously held before me. I
graduated with a First Class Honor, the
first student from AAU and Edo State to
make that history at the Nigerian Law
School. Yes, I was from AAU, a school
that Ize-Iyamu and his government
characterized as a school for thieves,
thugs, prostitutes and the never-do-well.
That year, my set at the Law School will
never forget the standard set by AAU
students at the Nigeria Law School. Even
Lucky Igbinedion, the then Governor who
claimed AAU was no good, shut down our
school, made us lose two years of our
school lives, praised my success as part
of his achievements in Office.
In November 2007 the Late President of
EGHOSA OLD BOYS ASSOCIATION
(EGHOBA), Dr. Ekhator of Blessed
Memory, invited me to receive an award.
At the award ceremony, I was honored
alongside Godwin Obaseki. That was the
first time I met Godwin Obaseki in person
although I had heard about him,
particularly because I was working in a
leading law and had the opportunity to be
the lawyer advising the buyers of some
assets where AFRINVEST, a company
founded by Obaseki, was the financial
adviser.
In fact, at that time, the major Financial
Advisers on big-ticket transactions were
either Afrinvest or Vetiva Capital. After I
received my award, Obaseki, in spite of
his wealth and standing, walked over to
where I was with humility, congratulated
me and gave me his card and personal
email address.
In his words, “would you like to join my
team? Send me your resume before
Wednesday so I can get an interview
scheduled for you”. He didn’t bother
himself about the school I attended or
who I was or where I came from. Rather,
he saw excellence and wanted to reward
excellence. I was invited for the interview,
hired and then I turned it down after I
spoke with my mentor about my plans for
my future.
The offer was mouth-watering, and even
higher than the pay I was receiving then,
with perks that would drive you crazy.
Obaseki called me some days later when
he heard that I turned down the offer. He
asked me if I wanted more pay so that I
will join his team, then I explained to him
about my plans and he welcomed the
idea then wished me good luck. After that
time, I saw him several times at meetings
and public functions.
Please, I put before you two candidates;
one Ize-Iyamu who had the opportunity to
reward excellence but rather chose to
demonize AAU in order to appease his
pay masters and destroyed every fabric of
our hero, Prof. Aihie, and the other
Obaseki, who had the opportunity and
took it to reward excellence. I want to
leave you to your choices.

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