So, Twitter Nigeria is on fire, and the one name consistently trending is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, or POI as he is more widely known. Both parties in a growing schism seem to be waxing more virulent as the days go by. But who is POI, and why the sudden contention in the Social Media space about him?
#PastorOsagieIzeIyamu is currently trending on Nigerian Twitter. Why?
Why the media rage?
The why is a tad more simple to answer than the who. The matter at hand, of course, is the coming contentious APC primaries and subsequent state elections for the Edo State Gubernatorial elections. With the present occupant of Osadebay House, Governor Godwin Obaseki, still at loggerheads with the former Edo Governor, now APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, it appears the coming elections have been fixed by both parties as the venue for the ultimate political showdown in the state.
Adams Oshiomole, one of Nigeria's richest and most powerful politicians, appears determined to, once and for all, stamp his claim as the supreme godfather of Edo State politics in the face of all contenders, beginning with his erstwhile protégé, present governor, Godwin Obaseki.
To do that, however, Obaseki would need to be off-staged at the June 22nd Edo State APC governorship primaries. The man, who it appears Oshiomole is backing to do this? Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
A campaign poster of POI, sporting the APC broom
Who is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu?
A brief appraisal of the man, POI, may be of help here.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was born to a prominent Benin Family in June of 1962. So, he will be facing the acid test of the governorship primaries just a day after his birthday next month. That would be a great birthday present if he did win, don’t you think?
Apart from his father being a prominent Benin Kingdom chief, his great grandfather was the Prime Minister of Benin Kingdom.
A lawyer by training and practice, POI has held a number of sensitive and powerful positions in Edo politics:
- Peoples Democratic Party candidate in 2016 Edo State gubernatorial elections.
- In 2012, the South-South Vice-Chairman of ACN.
- Secretary to Edo State Government under Lucky Igbinedion
- DG of Adams Oshiomhole Governorship Campaign Organization
What makes POI so controversial of course is that he has worn many hats in many organizations, apart from being a pastor in the RCCG. He is currently the Assistant Pastor in Charge of Province, APICP, in Edo Province 2 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Benin.
Many are asking what a pastor is doing in Nigeria’s messy politics. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has responded to that by suggesting that politics is dirty in Nigeria because all the good people, such as Christians, have left the game for nefarious characters to handle. He joins other notable pastors such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the nation's political sphere.
Recently Nigeria's millionaire pastors have consistently come under fire for their lavish lifestyles and flamboyance. There is some fears thatvPOI may be lining up to be the latest in this group.
But POI was not always a saint. In 1995, an accident and a near-death experience transformed him fro a chronic womanizer and party boy to a cleric.
The accident that changed POI
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu recounts that in 1995, he traveled to Lagos from Benin with a friend. He recalls that he was minded to pray at the start of the journey but later forgot it, since for him, as at then, Christianity was more of a social endeavor.
Anyway, at about the area of Ijebu-ode, the car in which he was in (he was driving) went out of control and somersaulted. At one point, his leg was going to be amputated with an ax to rescue him from the wreckage of the car. POI suffered a dislocated hip and was scheduled for serious surgery.
The doctors gave the procedure only a 50-50 chance of success. The downside was that he would never walk again.
In the 6 weeks he spent pre-surgery in Igbogbo Orthopaedic Hospital, Yaba, he began to pray, read the Bible, and ask GOD to spare his limbs. According to POI, on the very day of the surgery, with him already on the operating table, a second x-ray confirmed that his hip had miraculously slotted seamlessly back into place.
This was confirmed by him as a call to godly service and an answer to prayers. He thereafter became a member of the RCCG and thereafter a renowned pastor in Benin.
POI believes an accident like this changed his life
Osagie Ize-Iyamu is husband to a fellow Pastor and medical professional, Prof/Mrs. Idia Ize-Iyamu. She is a Consultant Orthodontist attached to UBTH or the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. She is also a Professor at the University of Benin. Pastor and Pastor (prof) Ize-Iyamu have four children from the union.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his wife, who is a staunch supporter of his ambition
Some Social Media attacks on Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu pertain to his family life
Not so long ago, Osagie Ize-Iyamu received a prestigious Honorary Doctorate from the Benson Idahosa University, Benin. Also, in recognition of his work toward the development of the Edo State democratic process and rule of law, on the 1st of July, 2019, he was awarded the distinction of a Life Time Achievers Award given by the NBA (Nigerian Bar Association), Benin (Lion) Branch.
Ize-Iyamu, Edo ex-Speaker, others dump PDP for AP
Most of the current criticism about Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu's politics stems from his penchant for cross-carpeting. He used to be in the ACN, then became the flag bearer of the PDP in 2016, and has now left the latter party for the APC. Many look at this as a sign of instability or a weakness of character in the man. Could that be true, or it's just politics as usual?
While Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu may not be as famous as pastors like Pastor Chris Oyakhilome who has a huge international following, in the weeks ahead, his name will continue to figure much in the nation's blogosphere as the battle for the Edo State governor house heats up.