*PASTOR OSAGIE IZE-IYAMU: KNOWING THE MAN BEYOND POLITICS*
_By Tinyan Otuomagie_
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu (AKA POI) is a household name in Nigeria’s political space, specifically Edo State. Whether you like it or not, for a man who has not occupied a government position for over 16 years, his name has continued to recur in the conversation of mainstream politics. Such a man is worth knowing.
A people’s man and a great mobilizer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has somehow earned his place in the hearts of the Edo people. He often declares his Benin heritage proudly and emphasizes that he was born, raised, educated, and has always lived in Edo State, which is why he usually refers to himself as a local boy. However, I believe there is more to the love people have for him, extending beyond the fact that he has consistently been among his people.
*Why do people enjoy being around POI?*
Have you ever noticed that he never attends a social gathering alone? When he arrives at an event, the number of people standing up to warmly welcome him is amazing. While seated, the endless handshakes from those who want to identify with him speak volumes. Observing him, I’ve noticed a crucial quality in Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu — his ability to make everyone feel inclusive, appreciated, and valuable. In a society with a vast gap between the rich and the poor, where so-called ‘big men and women’ often treat the have-nots with disdain, POI has a way of making everyone feel important, regardless of their background. Simply put, this man has a large heart. Yes, as humans, we all have our shortcomings, but POI’s exceptional ability to interact with, gather, and manage both the young and the old is truly exemplary.
The pastor side of POI is something many have often wondered about. Some question if he is a real pastor or if the title ‘pastor’ preceding his name is just a nickname. And, of course, some call him a fake pastor simply because they don’t know the man POI. Yes, yes, and yes, he is a pastor. He holds the position of Pastor in Charge of Province (PICP) Soul Winners Assembly at The Redeemed Christian Church of God Edo Province 16. Many seek his advice and counsel because the Godly values he shares are very soothing. For those who have never had the opportunity to hear him preach, I strongly encourage you to do so; you will be truly blessed.
Another reason I believe the name Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has persisted in the politics of Edo State is his very thick skin and ability to forgive. I have often said that his door swings both ways. You can walk out in anger, and that same door will swing open for you to come back whenever you want, and no one will stop you. When you explain to him why you are upset, he is quick to apologize when he is at fault. In the past, some have withdrawn their support for him for various reasons, and whenever they trace their steps back, he gladly welcomes them with open arms. This ability to keep the doors of friendship open is currently causing waves within the political space in Edo State. I am sure that you have heard or might even be one of those asking the question now on the lips of many: ‘How can he forgive those who betrayed/worked against him’? I am sure that as you read this question out loud to yourself, you will agree that it is only a person with a large heart who can do such. Maybe you can’t even forgive someone who called you a fool, am I right? And yet, POI gets insults and stones thrown at him daily, but he chooses to forgive. He epitomizes the saying that ‘only a tree with ripe fruits gets stones thrown at it.’
POI is truly a ripe fruit. He is a talented and gifted man whom many are proud to associate with and admire, even in secret. Some secretly admire him, especially those driven by mob mentality, who regurgitate negative words they’ve heard just to maintain access to free beer. Yet, privately, they would genuinely appreciate an opportunity to get to know this man. Of course, I must not forget to acknowledge those with crab mentality, you know, the ‘why must it be him’ people. Unfortunately, we still have them in our midst. Those who have never been able to set and work hard toward achieving a goal larger than life are pained when they see another person stepping out to be counted. Even this last group secretly admires POI because when they spew out negativity about him and are asked to explain further, they draw a blank. When they manage to gather the words to articulate themselves, you’ll find out that the information they have is an accumulation from listening to ‘bush radio.’ I’m sure you get my point.
With a height that towers over many, POI has never gone into hibernation. Even if he wanted to, I’m sure those around him would not allow it. Political season or not, he is a man who is always visible and available for the people. His relationship with the Edo people is not restricted to politics. Whenever they want him to attend their special occasion or put in a good word on their behalf, POI is accessible to his people.
Now, to the crux of the matter – yes, you got it – the game of draught. His passion for the game is unbelievable. When he is together with ‘his tribes’ men,’ that’s what I call them, it’s a different world. When he is with the old and young men that play draught with him, they speak a different language, but, on a serious note, it’s fun to watch them. A few years ago, POI gathered all the draught champions from across Nigeria and helped them set up the Draught Federation of Nigeria, as well as organized and hosted draught tournaments in Benin City between Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. His passion for the game has attracted onlookers and opened their eyes to how it is played.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is not a man that you can simply wish away. He is a man with great capacity and wisdom beyond his years. He loves Edo people, and Edo people love him. Oh, by the way, I can’t forget this – you can never walk in on POI while he is eating and not join him. Even if you have a full stomach, you must sit and eat with him, so beware.
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