Orbih: The Sage’s 61th Birthday Tribute
By Elempe Dele.
If you sit me on a comfortable chair and ask me one of the greatest politicians I have ever sat with, I won’t be able to tell you anyone else apart from him. We generally call this Sage the Leader while some call him Kulukulu, yet some call him Iron Bender, Iron Melter or just Chief. He knows how to take his time to analyze politics, put people in places, describe intentions, repair damages and even destroy what can possibly injure his followers – all for the right reasons. Chief, as I personally like to call him often when we talk with rapt attention from my side, taught me not to take any political situation for granted, how to think ahead of your political opponents, how to think piercingly like bullet entering the marrow. He taught me how to think and play participatory politics of the very profound version. He taught me to look deeply and understand people and their political motives and their political beliefs. All these he is teaching me now and more are without so much words spoken. I like the lessons, I relish them, and they have since led me to my political freedom and independence. I can criticize any political office holder who does not honour his social contract with the people without being afraid of any consequence. I am learning from this sage, this icon, this political elephant…I am still learning.
Go back to political history of Nigeria, Chief Daniel Osi Orbih perhaps was one of the most profuse chairmen ever known, a task which he carried out for about 11 years and giving the opposition party, APC, nightmares until it was toppled as the ruling party in 2020 in Edo State.
It was a task he was prepared for: as a student of politics under the tutelage of his late father, Chief MCK Orbih, and Late Anthony Anenih, Chief Dan Orbih quickly excelled in politics. Although before this times, in 1998, he had on his own cut his teeth in politics; he contested for the position of Deputy Governorship candidate in Edo State. Then in 2006, he was made a member of the PDP Presidential Electoral Panel, and the chairman, Edo State PDP Finance Committee between 2006-2007. He became a member of the PDP Edo State Campaign Committee for the 2007 elections.
In 2008, he became the PDP Chairman, Edo State until 2019. This was the period the Edo State ruling party, APC, had it’s most challenging years. He was a thorn in the flesh of the then governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, based on political differences without personal bitterness. And it was this period he got the accolade of being the most prolific opposition leader ever in the history of political parties in the country. The ruling party shivered then at the thought of Orbih or the mention of his name. The Ogbona man from Etsako Central LGA was really a horror to the ruling party as at then.
During his tenure, PDP in Edo State was one big family; united and homogeneous. In spite of the fact that the state was under the iron-fist of Comrade Oshiomhole, PDP won the 2015 presidential election in Edo State. The likes of Late Captain Hosa Okunbor, Late Chief Anthony Anenih, Dr. (Arc) Mike Onolememen CON, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other stakeholders all took active positions to see to the victory of the election in Edo State then. However, other aggrieved PDP stalwarts in other states sold out and President Goodluck Jonathan eventually lost the election.
It was in this general election under the chairmanship of Orbih that PDP won 2 Senatorial seats in the state and 5 out of the 9 House of Representives seats. This feat was an assertion of his chairmanship.
In the 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih was appointed the Chairman of the Campaign Council for the Edo State gubernatorial election in 2020, he visited all the 192 wards in the 18 LGAs campaigning for Governor Godwin Obaseki. And with this task he took with all vigour he could muster, PDP dislodged, so to say, the APC led administration in the state.
On March 9th, 2021, after his rare feat of winning the Edo State election for PDP, he was returned unopposed as the South-South PDP National Vice Chairman in a zonal congress that was held in Port Harcourt. On assuming office, Chief Dan Orbih toured the South-South zone by visiting Cross Rivers, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States.
Chief Dan Orbih is an enigma, a Christian and a humanist of uncommon virtue. It will be repetitive to add that he is a political guru and strategist because this fact is not in doubt.
He has been an advocate of unity in the South-South zone of the country and has called for a collective security outfit by the governors and stakeholders of the zone over the growing insecurity in the country. He has also been in the forefront for rational equity, justice and fairplay in all political endeavours, which will engender inclusiveness, especially on the issue of resource allocation and power sharing between the North and South.
Elempe Dele, a journalist, wrote from Abuja, and coincidentally, a political mentee of Chief Dan Orbih.