I returned from Benin City yesterday with a huge feeling of nostalgia, reminiscencing on the fond memories of events that dominated my engagements in 2016, after a fulfilling service as Commissioner for Information in the state.
I looked back with nostalgia, reflecting on the time when Senator Adams Oshiomhole was in the saddle in the state. Recalled his fierce quest to see a new Edo, his vehement fear of failure, and his deep level of commitment to ensure that he left footprints of achievements across the state. His red roof revolution in the schools then was cheering news to many Edolites, his health sector reforms was another template of achievements coupled with the huge infrastructure ramp up in roads, and effective flood control. Adams Oshiomhole’s well-intentioned administration was the denouement of recovering the state from inherited rots that dominated the state. In 2008, Adams Oshiomhole was in a hurry to rewrite the ugly state of affairs in the state, by the time he would be leaving. Indeed he was satisfied as he bade farewell to the number one seat, that he had made considerable impact to lift the state from its infrastructural doldrums to olympian celebration of lofty achievements, which the people have not forgotten till date. On Saturday, 4 November, was another rehash of those good years: Adams Oshiomhole sauntered into the arena for the celebration of life of the mother- In-law of the sports maestro, Mike Itemuagbor, in Benin City. As Oshiomhole entered the arena, the shout of “Oshio” rented the air as he made triumphant gestures to the audience. Edo people have a way of appreciating those who led them well, and Adams Oshiomhole is one former Governor the people cannot forget in a hurry. His huge achievements during his eight-years stint renew themselves everyday.
Edo State is presently in a state of quandary, enabled by a government that has paid little attention to important details. Edo state is flustered by a concatenation of developmental issues begging for attention. The intra-city roads wear the soreful eyeglasses of rotten underbelly. Potholes dot the streets in Benin like oasis of water in the desert. Benin City GRA is an embarrassment to any rational mind. With many big houses, many roads have been washed off by agents of denudation. The rain had just stopped when I arrived Benin City, and I saw the drugerous effort of my driver as he tried to navigate the pools of water and run-offs that make the roads almost impassable. The once beautiful GRA is a far cry of its old self. As we chatted on our way , I couldn’t help asking questions, in a bid to reconcile what I have read on paper from Obaseki’s media rottweilers and the reality I saw on ground. I was completely nonplussed. When I see the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Television trying to undercut the Federal Government for neglecting Federal Givernment roads, I see the height of hypocrisy at play, using Federal roads to take the people’s attention away from the mess that his township roads have become. Such administrative rot, wickedness and deliberate complacency and neglect of critical infrastructure has been the normative order in a government that is high on profligacy and low on performance. In Edo state, it has become a game of altercation between the government and the people; and the ugly sights of the township roads are quite discomforting.
Obaseki’s government continues its tales by moonlight; tales of backward integration and under-performance, tales of crass abandonment of critical infrastructure, and tales of hypocrisy promoted to the pinnacle of greed and avarice, and functionally fueled by gossip, hate, suspicion and subterfuge. I took time out to travel round the state and I saw how deplorable some of Oshiomhole’s projects have become for lack of maintenance by Obaseki, his successor. Each time I watch Governor Obaseki talk about the Federal Government’s deplorable roads around the state, I laugh at the folly of a man whose polluted sense of hypocrisy and selective amnesia has doubled in recent times. He needs to be referred to the Bible passage that addresses his malady. Whatever is in his own eyes cannot be smaller than tree trunks. Aside from turn-key projects which were meant to paint existing buildings of government offices, I didn’t see any tangible, legacy projects to speak of in relation to the huge revenue of the state; and federal allocations have increased far beyond what obtained during Adams Oshiomhole’s time. Bail-out funds have also been poured into the coffers of the state in recent times: palliatives from the Federal Government have been encouraging, refunds for federal roads that were built and renovated by Adams Oshiomhole also came into the state in billions since Obaseki took over. With all these inflows, the quantum of work done is alarmingly low and not commensurate. Even those with established low IQ ask questions. The main question is, where is Governor Obaseki putting the money?
As it is, Edo State is balkanised and there is an urgent need to build a state cohesion and enhance the usual spirit of camaraderie that formerly bound the Edos together. We are a people of shared commitment and values, with our cultural heritage that defines our identity. Governor Obaseki has blighted that and the state is now in disarray from different perspectives. The Benin Royalty, which used to be the strength of our communal linkages, is “suffering” in the hands of Governor Obaseki; no thanks to the Governor’s deliberate effort to hurt its historical ingenuity, by trying to create other Kingdoms in a most abominable manner. When a Governor doesn’t connect with the people, the effect is the development of inferior complexes in form of conquistadorial mentality, that assesses every esteemed personality as a threat. The state has lost Chief Anenih, General Ogbemudia, Alhaji Inu-Umoru, Chief Uyigue, and quite a number of political bigwigs who made Edo’s politics thick, and have rallying points in each Senatorial District. The vacuums created by the demise of these political heavy weights have not been filled and attempts by Senator Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Lucky Igbinedion to patch up those vacuums have been quashed by a Governor that wants to be the singular and ultimate rallying point. For that reason, Edo is always in the news for the wrong reasons. News of boiling point political temperature, news of supplanting Local Governments with halleluyah boys; instead of the right persons that were voted for, news of poor development and news of insecurity across the state. For how long are we going to be rotating around the same axis and expect different results? The need for a fresh thinking is apposite.
Driven by the urge to offer a new paradigm from what obtains and further buoyed by the desire to ameliorate the pain caused my people by the failure of the present occupants of the Osadebe Avenue, and the despair that now dictates to my people because of the crass hypocrisy that has become the second nature of government in Edo state, I have elected to join the race for the governorship position of the state. Let it be known that unlike some of those being promoted by the incumbent Governor, I have a rich knowledge of the state in terms of demographics and geography, and can help to harness the potentials that the state can boast of. Plus, I have the capacity, courage and boldness and grit to take objective decisions that would add value to the wellbeing of citizens of the state and meet the peoples needs. Also, I have been a champion of good governance in the state, so, when given the opportunity to serve, it will offer me platform to translate my vision and mission for the totality of our people and will have to practice what I preach. I am confident that my understanding of the potentials across the state will help me tap into and explore the opportunities within and even outside of our state, for the overall good of our people. I am known for having the capacity to unite all the forces and factors in the state to create the nexus that would galvanise the people to promote a sense of homogeneity in our dealings and engagements. I want to bring back our lost glory in the past seven years in a manner that would elicit citizens participation in governance and enhance our productivity. We will revive and sustain previous effort of Red Roof Revolution to reclaim our schools, and boost our education sector in a most progressive way in line with modern global benchmarks.
Our present infrastructural decay brought on us by a tactless government with no discernible roadmap was headed for the poor service delivery that we presently witness ab- initio. Bringing on board “strangers” who do not have a grasp of the state to succeed the present government is a sine qua non for another round of ineffectual leadership and that will be most unwise. A leadership that promotes ethnic chauvinism, that promotes greed and self aggrandizement, and one that has shown a marked appetite for primitive acquisition of the most bizarre form., cannot birth anything good for the future. Briefcase business scavengers have taken over Edo state in such whimsical manner, that citizens struggle to be in the know of what transpires in the state. Beware of who is talking to you now, my dear people of Edo State; even those who can’t even successfully run a home, are already criss-crossing the state in search of endorsement. Edo state will not travel that familiar route again; a route that foisted a leadership that never cared for our wellbeing or help to grow our collective destiny. The state needs a young, vibrant, result-driven leadership that can connect to the aged and the youths, and help drive the wheel of progress to build a home where peace, love and affection radiates in our heart of hearts and prosperity is assured for all. We must insist on building our state in a manner that furthers our collective aspirations and yearnings irrespective of our political and ideological persuasions. The Edo spirit in us must be consciously nurtured to enrich our sense of oneness and unity of purpose. The task to building Edo of our dream with respect for our traditional institutions and royalties is what will help us to reposition our thought processes for a better Edo state. This is no doubt a huge assignment which I am prepared to undertake in order to reclaim Edo state, and save my fatherland; the heartbeat of the nation.