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The Primacy of Truth (Part 14)

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The Primacy of Truth (Part 14)
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Like many young men of Edo origin, Osamudiamen was smart, aspirational and daring.

He reminds me of a statement by a United States national who worked in the Nigerian oil and gas industry for many years.

This expatriate, enthused by the indomitable Nigerian spirit, said Nigeria is the only country he had been to in the world where every young man is certain that he will make it in life, no matter how squalid his present condition.

In his twenties, Osamudiamen had tried varied ventures and was not satisfied with the prospects that seemed to lie ahead. This was between 2015 and 2016 just after Governor Godwin Obaseki took over as Edo State Governor.

Edo State had been hijacked by non-state actors and if you asked a primary school kid who his role model was at the time, he would most likely identify a hoodlum who drew relevance from the government of the day.

In those days, there were many of them. They called themselves ‘Lions and Tigers.’

Osamudiamen could not see a flicker of hope in the ominous gangland which Edo State had become in those days. He soon succumbed to the prodding from traffickers who told him his energies and ingenuity will be better rewarded in Europe.

Osamudiamen’s disappointment with the hopelessness at home and his persuasion to make it just anywhere else were equal in intensity, so he set out for Europe on foot.

The last call from Osamudiamen was from some detention facility in Libya. Osamudiamen who reeked of the courage and fearlessness of the average Benin man, sounded a bit flustered in that last call which ended abruptly. We never heard from him again. It is now almost eight years.

Osamudiamen is not a character of fiction. He is my first cousin, born to my father’s immediate older brother.

You may have noticed in this piece that I sometimes use ‘is’ and other times ‘was,’ in reference to Osamudiamen. It is not that I am not conversant with the use of present and past tenses in a sentence. It is just that no one knows if Osamudiamen is alive or dead. No closure.

There is a certain emptiness I sense each time I run into Osamudiamen’s mother at family events. A mother’s undying love and optimism. After sharing pleasantries with me, she never fails to remind me to continue the search for my long-lost cousin.

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The request breaks my heart in pieces each time but I always let out a bright smile of hope to conceal my despair about Osamudiamen’s situation.

When Obaseki took office, Edo State was an endemic zone for human trafficking and irregular migration. Edo was number one on the list of hotspots globally.

Obaseki came in and declared irregular migration and human trafficking a crisis and an existential threat. As usual, all the Lions and Tigers who benefited from the malady were up in arms against Obaseki. They fought him hard. They maligned him.

Political strategists told Obaseki to beat a retreat on the matter in the interest of his reelection for a second term in office.

Obaseki damned the political consequences of his fight against the powers fueling human trafficking in Edo State and believe me, they were fierce lions and tigers indeed.

Today, Edo is no longer on the list of regions endemic with human trafficking problems. We used to be number one, but now we don’t even make the inglorious list anymore.

Obaseki fought this among many battles for the good of our people at the risk of his political future. But in the end, ‘NA GOD WIN.’

So, permit me to ask my recurring question again: Will the people whose children have been saved by the battle that has dealt a blow on human trafficking, their children, brothers, sisters, and friends sit idly and allow the Lions and Tigers return and haul our children back to slavery?

The jury is out and the battleground is the gubernatorial election on September 21, 2024.

Sadly, not many will read this. Our people are inundated by a deluge of tall tales and they can hardly find space to accommodate the Primacy of Truth.

Watch out for Part 15. *Osagie, a journalist, is the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media Projects

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