2016: Edo people must decide Adams Oshiomhole’s successor
NECESSITY, according to an English proverb, is the mother of invention. It indeed finds expression in the dictum that “when the need for something becomes essential, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.” Erudite scholar, the late Chinua Achebe further justified this popular assertion via a captivating illustration in that spectacular novel – Things Fall Apart- wherein he wrote: “Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching.” These two positions capture my thoughts on the prevailing political issues in Edo State.
The people of this great state have been taken for granted since the inception of democratic governance in 1999; deceived and hoodwinked with outright lies, rhetoric and propaganda by their successive political leaderships. They came with sweet promises, dangled carrots before them, but unfortunately reneged on the promises once in the saddle of political governance.
The truth is that in the history of Edo State, no governorship candidate has inspired more hope in the people before an election as Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole did. His labour background and pro-masses posture endeared him to them. And when he retrieved his mandate through the courts, the comrade governor enjoyed popular support. He was also able to secure a second term mandate for several reasons, but largely not because his performances were outstanding. This is an issue for examination at another time.
However, seven years down the line, the manifest quandary with its attendant hopelessness that has permeated every part of the state is gradually spilling over. With different revelations springing up, possibilities abound that the political curtain of deception has fallen off the face of the people and they can now see what some of us had seen and foreseen from the outset. Of course, some of us knew, ab-initio, that propaganda is always a disservice to good governance and has been greatly and unfortunately exploited as part of governance in Edo State. But in the long run, propaganda will always fizzle out like we are experiencing now. Some of us knew very well that the end would definitely expose the management and/or otherwise of Edo resources.
It is indeed gratifying that the people are gradually showing remarkable readiness to take their destiny in their hands and liberate the state. “Once bitten, twice shy,” they say, and by implication, Edolites are no longer ready to be caught napping again; hence, they have commenced serious stock-taking ahead of another election year. This is apt and wise, since in Nigeria, most public officials have found ways of circumventing the process of rendering public account of their stewardship to the people. But, as the people of Edo, especially some individuals who served in the government of Oshiomhole, have started giving accounts of their experiences, the revelations across the state are scary and worrisome.
Almost every day on different media platforms, tales of woes are shared concerning the terrible state of affairs in Edo. The one that recently caught my attention was an interview granted by Mr. Orobosa Omo-Ojo, a two-time commissioner and a close ally of the comrade governor, in a national newspaper on September 29, 2015. He revealed the feeling of emptiness that is now likely to be the lot of other public officials in Edo State, including those still in the cabinet of Oshiomhole. According to Omo-Ojo, “But on a general note I can’t be bold enough, in all honesty, to say we have delivered on our promises, except we do so in the next 12 or 13 months.”
The pertinent question here is: Can 13 months achieve the things that were not done in 83 months? Definitely in this case, it may suffice to say that a camel will be able to find its way through the eye of a needle than for any meaningful development to come by in the next one year. Unfortunately, this is not the best of times for economic growth in Nigeria. Almost all the states in Nigeria are on life-support of bailout funds. Today, Benin, the state capital is in a serious mess, threatened by flood. So, also, some other parts of the state are ravaged by flood due to weak and/or lack of supporting infrastructure.
Only recently, some youths from Egor Local Government Area of the state, pelted members of the State House of Assembly with water sachets in protest over the dilapidated state of roads in their areas. If Oshiomhole can feel the pulse of the people, he will realise that the frustration is real; it is growing and the people are indeed very hysterical. What happened in Egor is just one among other unreported cases in the state. The reactions we are seeing all over the state today, are as a result of years of neglect. The people are becoming increasingly agitated, especially now that his government is in its last lap, yes home stretch.
The unemployment situation in Edo is alarming and contrary to the promise of 10,000 jobs Oshiomhole made at the inception of his administration, his erstwhile commissioner, Omo-Ojo, contended that he has failed to meet up this expectation.
According to him, “the number one thing I have today is the issue of the youth empowerment. We came up with this theme ‘Bye-Bye to poverty’ and we equally said ‘Let the People Lead.’ Those two things were very attractive because they fell within my own belief about leadership. And in fact, I am not too happy at all, after seven years, I can’t honestly, face any of our young boy or girl and tell them we have provided for this number of people. We promised them we will provide 10,000 jobs during our administration.”
What is now even more disturbing is the second tranche of the foreign (World Bank) loan that was recently acquired by Oshiomhole. The people are worried that a good part of the money may be used for political and election purposes. Although some concerned Nigerians tried to prevail on the State House of Assembly and the Senate not to approve the loan, however, the protests that greeted the process of approval, will definitely make more people to increase their searchlights on how the loan is utilised. It is noteworthy that many people are now more alive to their responsibilities, coming out to ask questions.
Edo people did not make a mistake when they conceded to and embraced the democratic form of government like every other part of the country in 1999, as the best alternative to military rule. They did so believing that they would be best served by their own representatives. The people should not despair; they should in their good consciences make the best choice on who will better serve them ahead of the next gubernatorial election and ensure that person succeeds Oshiomhole. While they must insist that Oshiomhole gives account of how the state resources were used, on no condition should they allow the comrade governor to dictate who will succeed him. That will amount to meting out a raw deal and an unfair treatment to Edo people.
• Ehigiator wrote this piece from Benin City firstname.lastname@example.org