THE Edo widow controversy is a poignant illustration of the power of
the media in a democracy. The Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams
Oshiomhole, had gone out on a routine inspection and stumbled upon a
woman who was selling her articles of trade on an unauthorised spot on
the road, thus blocking the traffic.
He ordered his officials to confiscate the woman's goods. When the
woman went on her knees to beg and informed the governor that she was
a widow, apparently to try and touch the human chord in his heart,
Governor Oshiomhole told her: "go and die"!
It was filmed and posted to the Internet where it immediately spread
like virus. The picture was so vivid and the voices so clear that it
was pointless for anyone to attempt denying it took place. The
governor made the second mistake of vaguely apologising for the ugly
event when a Muslim women interest group paid him a courtesy call,
restating that being a widow was no excuse to break the law.
The Edo State chapter of the People's Democratic Party (PDP)
immediately cashed in, donated the sum of N250,000 to the widow, Mrs
Joy Ifije, and issued a statement accusing the governor of
The governor refused to be outdone. On Monday, December 2nd, 2013, he
invited Mrs Ifije to the Government House, apologised very effusively
to her in the front of cameras, had tea with her, offered her
"automatic employment" and gave her a gift of two million Naira! Thus,
from an obscure widow, Mrs Ifije not only became rich overnight but
also a celebrity of sorts.
Aside from the politically-driven drama that turned Mrs Ifije's story
from sour to sweet, this event has its lessons, especially for persons
occupying high offices. Being in high office imposes a great burden of
personal restraint, especially in the public, on such persons. Coveted
high offices are supposed to recondition people to become very careful
and mindful of what they say and do, because they are expected to be
models of society whom everyone looks up to for good example. One must
learn to choose words very carefully and consult widely before saying
or doing things in order to avoid the kind of unnecessary
embarrassment Governor Oshiomhole exposed himself to.
We are living in a sensitive political atmosphere, where the opposite
camp is waiting for slip-ups, such as the deportation saga in Lagos
and the widow controversy in Edo State to make hay politically. We
hope others will learn from this and ensure that they carry themselves
well in the public and always give the people whom they serve reason
to believe that those they elect into high offices will always respect
their feelings and interests, even in the execution of public interest