By SUFUYAN OJEIFO
AT the twilight of the sixth session of the National Assembly, Patrick Obahiagbon (who represented Oredo Federal Constituency on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) switched platform in a bid to ensure his political survival.
He moved over to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Edo State. It would appear, overall, a good move, but within the ACN enclave, he lost the bid for party nomination to a combination and conspiracy of factors.
The import of this “short-circuiting” was that Obahiagbon, the master of bombast, the sartorially elegant ambassador of the Bini culture (the royal Bini regalia), which was why he was always dressed in the attire, bowed out of the House of Representatives when his followers were just beginning to enjoy his interventions on the floor during debates. That marked the terminus of the verbal razzmatazz of the profoundly eventful gladiator. The House has since been missing Obahiagbon and his Obahiagbonese (his own peculiar coinages).
His defeat at the primaries of his party was not enough to stymie the flow of his usual bombasts in times of deep emotional outbursts. When asked to react to the development and the rejoicing in the camp of his opponent, he said: “This has made me suffused with emotional narcolepsy that the homo-sapiens in the metro-political geographical enclave of Edo have opted for owambe-ing over legislative quo modo dicis. Such a reckless display of narcissistic and flamboyant hedonism is capable of encumbering our nascent democracy with insidious, repercussive and cataclysmic exigencies.”
But while he was in the Lower Chamber, Obahiagbon defined a unique character for himself, using the instrumentality of his swanky outfits as well as esoteric grammar (his peculiar manner of speaking). This is the uniqueness of Obahiagbon, the self-styled “son of Igodomigodo”, a sobriquet he has adopted since 1999, when he was elected into the Edo State House of Assembly.
A lawyer and holder of two Master’s degrees once said: “I have deployed the nomenclature of Igodomigodo as a political sobriquet for ten years now, particularly as a vehicular nexus with my culturico-spiritual fons et origo and this emanated from an advertent primus mobilus to cosmopolitanise my genealogical matrix since it was not by accident that I originated from the land of Igodomigodo.”
According to him: “Igodomigodo was the original, first ever, and pristine name of the Binis. From Igodomigodo, we were known as Ile-Ubini before the transmogrification into modern day Bini or Benin. So, you can now see that when I togarise my identity with the Igodomigodo aura, I am invoking the visible and invisible gods of my progenitors and at the same time luxuriating in an ancestral aqua of pristine Risorgimento.”
Obahiagbon had become a phenomenon in the House of Representatives. He could titillate to no end with his fecundity, coupled with the razzmatazz that accompanied his submissions. Answering a question on his forceful contributions on the floor, he had said: “…You cannot succeed as a parliamentarian if you are not cosmopolitan. You must be prepared to immerse yourself in societal dialectics for you to be able to contribute efficaciously in a utilitarian modus. So, if you are a parliamentarian and you don’t go through the ritual of even reading newspapers, you don’t bathe yourself in the aqua of the political cross currents, then you are going to be deuced, you are going to be paralytic in your contributions…”.
His mode of dressing (traditional Bini attires) was also very unique. He was once asked why he was always clad in his traditional Benin dress with beads round his neck and wrists. His response: “I have dressed like this from 1999 without any hiatus. As a student of mysticism, I believe nothing happens in the life of a mystic by chance and I know it was not by accident that I was born a Bini man. I entered into a covenant with myself when I was seeking political visibility that if God gave me the visibility, I was going to propagate the Bini heritage and culture. When it pleased God to give that to me in 1999, I had to keep faith with that covenant and I have dressed in full panoply of the royal Bini regalia.”
Obahiagbon never ran short of big dictions or coinages that defined his peculiar style. Answering question on the need for his colleagues to up the ante of contributions on the floor, he had advised: “They must avoid regular big stouting, suyaing, and pepper-souping. Those are not the real issues. They must be prepared to immerse themselves in societal dialectics. They must put their nose to the grind stone. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Ikene philosopher, once said ‘the difference between my other colleagues and I, is that when my other colleagues are cavorting in the dark alleys, I am in my library working myself nineteen to the dozen’. You cannot succeed in life if you are not disciplined. You must be puritanical in your predisposition; you must engage in an exercise of self-purification and mortification; you must engage in an exercise of self-abnegation; you must engage in an exercise of spiritual emulation. You must discipline the flesh. You must conquer the flesh. You must allow the spiritual aspect of you preponderate the material aspect, especially when you have been chosen to represent the people, so that at the end of the day, you can really say: Vendi, vidi, vicki (I came; I saw; I conquered).”
On the achievement of the House of Representatives, Obahiagbon had once said: “…The House of Representatives has not fallen short of its vivacious commitment in acting as the moral policeman over agencies of government. We have taken our oversight functions very responsively and responsibly. The emotional, visceral commitments, the messianic zeal and the quixotic temper with which we have taken our oversight responsibilities had, to a large extent, assisted in cleansing the Augean Stable while a number of structural deficiencies have, through this parliamentary metamorphosis, been brought under focus…”.
Yes, there are so many other instances when this self-acclaimed verbal contortionist mesmerized his audience, which space cannot permit me to recall; even as the current Chief of Staff to the Governor of Edo State, Obahiagbon has, within the scope of his mandate, been speaking in his trademark “language” and dazzling all and sundry as usual, including yours sincerely. Is there, therefore, any other way that is better than this tribute to celebrate Obahiagbon, one of those who were born in 1960, on his birthday (April 12), the day (April 12) I married my heart-throb, Pat, in 1997? Happy birthday, my brother, and many happy returns!