The Ikimi Phenomenon

Despite attempts to play down the political stature of Tom Ikimi, former leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, the moves and political consultations by leaders of the party indicate that the politician may not be a complete pushover after all



Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo State, visited Ugueben, home of Tom Ikimi, a former leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, Monday last week. But his mission was not to meet with his former leader. Rather, the governor was there to depopulate the new political kingdom of the former APC leader who lost out in the bid to run for the national chairman of the party. Apparently, the move by Oshiomhole was a preemptive attempt to prevent Ikimi from attracting more people to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

That day the Edo State governor received over 2,000 former members of PDP into the fold of APC. As if showing gratitude for the demonstration of confidence in his party, Oshiomhole announced the upgrade of the College of Education in Ugueben to a campus of the University of Education, Ekiadolor. He also told the people of Igueben, “Don’t listen to them when they tell you to decamp to a torn umbrella that has failed to produce any meaningful development in years. Did the umbrella build schools, roads and water? So, ask before you act.” That was an oblique reference to the belief that the PDP has not performed creditably in education, infrastructure and provision of social amenities. But Ikimi appears to have an answer for that when he said that the developments in Igueben came from the federal government.

However, the action of the governor and his party became necessary because Ikimi hitherto controlled the party structure in his area, producing the leadership of the party at the council area and the chairman of the local government area. Oshiomhole and APC leaders in the state must have thought that if they failed to act fast enough, the man would influence the shift of allegiance to the PDP, his newfound love.



A few days before the Ugueben episode, the governor had met with party members in Edo Central senatorial district, during which he was said to have discussed matters relating to the exit of Ikimi. The man who returned to the state announcing that he wanted to consult with people in his constituency before responding to invitation from the PDP said those who express fear that he would clash with Anthony Anenih, chairman of Board of Trustees, BoT, of the PDP missed the point. According to him, the two of them are elders but he respects Anenih because the latter is a super-elder. He said, “Chief Anenih is several years older than me. I am an elder now; he is even a super-elder. I respect him because he’s super-elder. I have had long discussions with him and I am satisfied that I should make peace with my own kinsman and brother. So, all that talk should be put to rest. I have no time for that anymore…”



Since the exit of Ikimi from APC last August, there have been exchanges between him and his former party, particularly with Bola Tinubu, national leader of APC. The estranged party leader had accused Tinubu of hijacking the party. The general attitude within the party was to dismiss Ikimi’s exit as some good riddance to bad rubbish. Perhaps the reception accorded him on his arrival to Benin from Abuja may have sent some signals that the issue should not be handled with levity. By implication therefore, the debate and the political activities following the decision of the politician to change camp give the impression that Ikimi, despite the dismissal by APC of his political weight, appears to be an issue. Definitely the last has not been heard of the post-Ikimi movement from APC. People are likely to show interest in the result of the consultations he claims to want to make with his supporters. Do those supporters include the 2,000 that changed camp last week or he has many more, outside of the ‘decampees’?

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