by Sam Osasogie
On November 11, 2008, when the Appeal Court finally ruled that Adams Aliyu Eric Oshiomole was the rightful winner of the April 2007 election, we the people of Edo State rejoiced thinking we had won the lottery.
Here was a man coming in with the credentials of being the most influential labour leader in the country since Pa Michael Imoudu – another great son of Edo – and standing against the existing architecture, pulling down strongholds of godfatherism in the state.
As we waited with baited breath for the dividends of democracy to get to different ends of the state, we realized that not all that glitters is gold.
Several years ago, governor Oshiomole declared that godfatherism, an evident obstacle to unfettered governance for many years in Nigeria was dead in Edo state and that Anthony Anenih had been demystified.
Since 2015, the signs have been evident of a plan to install a stooge as his successor in Government House. Even before that, his hand was visible in the October 2013 council elections for Esan North East local government area. While polling agents, party agents and election observers were waiting for the results back at the council headquarters, results were announced in faraway Benin City.
The writing on the wall was so evident that in January 2016, the Benin Leaders of Thought led by the respected Prince Edun Akenzua, the Enogie of Obazuwa issued a warning to the governor not to reintroduce godfatherism under any guise saying while like every other citizen, he had the right to support a candidate but this should be done while respecting the right of others.
But having tasted the forbidden fruit, Oshiomole has elected to close his ears to the voice of reason and has said he has the constitutional right as the governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) leader to anoint a candidate. This is exactly the same thing he accused Tony Anenih of.
He intends to turn Edo state into Lagos where Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has the final say and has converted the state treasury into his private coffers, dipping hands into the cookie jar whenever he pleases. The Amala and Gbegiri politics of Lamidi Adedibu in Oyo state began like this and Oshiomole is looking to entrench a system of nepotism all over again in Edo state.
In the campaign for Godwin Obaseki, he has assumed the mantle of campaign chief, needlessly abusing his opponents. What Edo state needs now is a fair and level playing field for Obaseki and his challenger in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to campaign for governorship, without acrimony.
Oshiomole campaigned for a second term on the basis of fixing roads and repairing critical infrastructure across Edo state but the masses have been short-changed. Oshiomole’s dividends of democracy are a few roads here and there, a university in his hometown and streetlights.
Is there any single pedestrian bridge in all of the great Benin City? Why was the Ambrose Alli University not revamped rather than Edo University built in Iyamho? Before building a new university, it would have been logical to build a teaching hospital at AAU first to save medical students the stress of going to the FG-owned Irrua Teaching Hospiral for clinical practice. The former College of Education was upgraded to Tayo Akpata University at the same time as EUI, but has not received even one-tenth of the funding allocated to the latter. The much-touted Shoprite has a huge signpost but the mall is still only in the early stages of construction, more than a year after.
When asked why he did not fix the bad roads in GRA, Benin, Oshiomole is reported to have said that the ‘big men’ resident in the area should take it upon themselves to fix the roads. Private citizens ought not to do the government’s job, especially after paying taxes and for a democratically elected governor to suggest that is irresponsibility of the highest order.
Edo people need a government of inclusion, not a divisive governor and in the last few months of his administration, it would be more helpful to the citizens and residents of the state if he focused on completing the many abandoned projects
Every other day, there is a protest in Benin about the state of the state and it would do Oshiomhole a lot of good if he focused on fixing infrastructure, rather than being a godfather.
Article written by Sam Osasogie
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