By Wole Olujobi
“Call me Banchioc, only Banchioc can save me now,” yelled Honore de Balzac, the impossible French novelist and playwright, who in one moment of desperation for survival on his deathbed, sought salvation in a certain physician. But Banchioc was never a doctor: he was a fictional character in one of Balzac’s great books, who sought physical salvation in the world of illusion.
But there is a sense in which actual reality can also be found in the world of illusion, and so unreality becomes a reality, and this is where Franz Kafka triumphed as the grand prince of modernist technique in literary production.
In his book ‘Metamorphosis’, Kafka presents his ordeals in a society in the cusp of class consciousness of material acquisitiveness. Cloaking himself in his fictional character Gregor, Kafka woke up one morning to find himself transformed to an insect for belonging to a low social scale, which another realist writer, a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary historian and critic, György Lukács, dismissed as a heresy. But Lukacs himself was later jailed for the offence he never committed, thus validating the truism that reality could be unrealistic. Lukacs later owned up, hailing Kafka as a hero of critical realism in the world of illusion.
Years afterwards, the world of illusion as actual reality crept into Ekiti State after what was thought to be an unrealistic proposition became an event to be celebrated with pomp and drums.
Like Balzac in his quest for Banchioc for salvation, a huge cross-section of Ekiti people in their strident calls said in 2021 that it was Mr Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO) (the then Secretary to the State Government (SSG)), that they had found worthy to wear the succession crown to save Ekiti State from sliding back to the hopeless and derelict past. They proved it on June 18, 2022 governorship poll.
But also like Lukacs, before the poll, not a few voiced impossibility to that prospect, dismissing such a contemplation and suggestion as a dream in the realm of a nightmare.
Months later, the reality of the “unrealistic” calls for BAO to lead had seized the state in high velocity, as Oyebanji’s ubiquitous campaign banners and posters became the most conspicuous all over the state after the state’s population itself. As it turned out, before the election, Ekiti people had already voted the All Progressives Congress (APC) to provide leadership in the state and BAO had been listed to bear the banner of the party.
But these clarion calls were not without the distractions fueled by internal civil insurrection of varying colours expected at every election cycle, as cyber insurgents and their political pharisees counterparts, in ambush, launched vicious proxy battles in the media, to abort Ekiti people’s collective dream.
Of course other patriotic and decent aspirants with fervent belief in the Ekiti dream were also in the field seeking a fair contest. The climax of the contestation was Oyebanji’s emergence as governor in the June 18, 2022 governorship poll, culminating in his inauguration on October 16, 2022.
Oyebanji’s ascension in October last year (2022) coincided with the birth anniversary of the state that the new governor had helped to berth 26 years earlier: a voyage of destiny in the crust of dream until its realisation became unmistakable on June 18, 2022.
The journey to the beginning of his glorious leadership of the state began on September 8, 2021 when Oyebanji obtained nomination forms at the Abuja headquarters of APC to contest June 18, 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State.
Afterwards, Oyebanji’s campaign convoys curled through the maze of Erinjiyan-Ikogosi-Efon luscious hills and lusty slopes in Ekiti Central; rolled into the cold, semi-savannah North; slithered through other parts of Ekiti South senatorial district; and finally berthed in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, to sell his six-point agenda to Ekiti people.
At the June 18, 2022 governorship poll, Oyebanji coasted home to victory and began his duties in earnest to add pep to the job begone by his predecessor, Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Combining the brilliance and statesmanship of Otto Von Bismarck with the benevolence of Cyrus the Great, Oyebanji in no time demonstrated competence and generosity of the heart in his interventions in the lives of Ekiti residents in terms of personal comfort and collective enjoyment of his campaign promises.
However, he had a soulmate helping to lead the field: the Legislative arm controlled by his party (APC) was also at the ready to give Ekiti people good governance.
At the headship of the legislative flank of the burgeoning administration is another dashing young man from the corps of the Ekiti State intelligentsia, Rt Hon Stephen Adeoye Aribasoye, the House of Assembly Speaker, who is also a learned counsel at the Bar and a veteran of the protest culture in the civil society and students union movement, who since assumption of office has been wielding the morality and authority of the civil rights advocacy and potency of the law to guide him in his official conducts.
Oyebanji thus enjoys a fitting companionship and comradeship in Aribasoye and other noble Assembly members in the Ekiti State dialectic of history at a time when men of goodwill, integrity, duty, verity, bounty, benevolence, devotion, temperance and other leadership graces, are needed to weather the web of malicious and harsh physical and mental tortures unleashed by the inclement economic climate that stings the world into numbness.
Born into a proximate wheel of fortune in their zodiac pantheons in a marriage sealed in heaven, Aribasoye’s fierce natural loyalty of the November moon turned to be a fitting adjunct to Oyebanji’s December’s lunar graces of fair-mindedness, honesty and intellectual verve that thrive in the life of a conversationalist like Oyebanji, which also invariably defines his personal life as an astute administrator that thrives in scholarship, communal ethos and community solidarity.
Like an archer that embraces challenges as thrilling opportunities for success, Oyebanji’s adventurous spirit also teaches him to embrace both change and uncertainty, reminding him that every journey is a chance to become stronger. His will power, energy of the spirit, loyalty and commitment to his principle are the very source and fountain of his vision and mission to tread rough terrains and emerge victorious.
With both Oyebanji and Arisaboye hoisting the banner for Ekiti growth, the story so far a year after BAO mounted the sail is largely fair to the ear and warm to the heart, for soon after he took over power, a bitterly fractious state fuelled by a deadly adversarial politicking was re-united.
The drums of war have been silenced for the creative energies of the people to enhance productivity. No more capital loss in integrity and fortunes, as Ekiti State is now enjoying the innocence of her character that defines the Ekiti genius as towering in value and lofty in integrity.
Locals are no longer stranded in their own land like a solitary community of outcasts fated to a sedentary living. A state once notoriously renowned for the beatification of genteel poverty is now thriving through APC’s leadership that takes human capital development as a strategic index for the people’s economic, sociological and psychological well-being.
For the people’s governor, his integrity finds eloquence in the potency of the thesis of his vision and mission and his ideals are unmistakable. One year after, Oyebanji did not betray the trust of Ekiti people in their calls for his service, for in the sinews of the archer, Oyebanji took his aim, and the Banchioc in him raced across the state, posting quixotic accomplishments. And thus far, he has demonstrated that integrity by his several impactful interventions in various aspects of the lives of Ekiti people as promised during campaigns. The list is inexhaustible:
In his power supply initiative, Oyebanji facilitated the installation of a 3.5MW Independent Power Plant to boost power generation. He posted good records in the construction and rehabilitation of roads, such as, Ado/Ilawe Road, Idofin/Odo Ado Road, Okeila/ Okeyinmi Road, Agric Olope/Matthew/ Odo Ado Road, Okebola/Baptist Road, Omisanjana/Sije/Ajebamdele Road, NTA /GRA 3rd Extension road, asphalt overlay of the entire Ado township roads, among others, including installation of streetlights in major parts of Ado to reduce crimes.
He also rehabilitated electricity projects and connected Ayekire/Gbonyin and Ekiti East local governments that have been in darkness for over 10 years to the national grid.
He rehabilitated 43.4km farm roads in six local governments while also dredging all flood-prone areas, including de-siltation of waterways across the state capital and has empowered farmers with farming tools, seedlings and other intervention initiatives to ease farming activities for bumper yields.
In his Ekiti State Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), the engineering designs for 12 roads totalling 77km roads had been received and would be launched by the end of October for construction work to begin.
Oyebanji also provided 50 percent subsidy on seeds to rice, maize, cassava, cocoa and cashew farmers, while also distributing farm inputs to 2,279 farmers and supporting 1,566 farmers with both production assets and small-scale processing equipment, including provision of 25 percent subsidy on tractorization to farmers and funding for Livestock Productivity and Resilience and Support (L-PRES) to counterparts.
Other agricultural production initiatives include establishment of a two-hectare model polyclonal cashew farm/scion garden and overhauling of the poultry pens at Livestock Development Centre (LCD).
The government also partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pro-CASHEW programme to establish the first government-owned scion garden and polyclonal cashew demonstration farm in Nigeria, among several other agricultural production initiatives for socio-economic development of the state.
His social service initiatives include recruitment of teachers to both secondary and primary schools, recruitment of sign language interpreters into special schools and public institutions, palliatives to vulnerable citizens and payment of salary arrears to both state and local government workers. He also upgraded wet markets across seven local governments, including the disbursement of housing loan worth N126,495,000 to 1,084 beneficiaries across the MDAS and completed Emergency Command Centre (ECC) to provide a central point for incident reporting.
Oyebanji completed Ekiti State Civic Centre renovation, and subsequently handed over the ground floor to anchor tenants, Jara/Shoprite, while embarking on the ongoing construction of model schools in Ikere and Ikole local governments and gave bursary awards to 167 Ekiti indigenes in the Nigerian Law School and paid N117,000,000.00 to 1,950 beneficiaries under the Ekiti State Social Transfer Component of Ekiti State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU), including payment of N96,000,000.00 to 600 beneficiaries under Ekiti State Livelihood Grant Component of Ekiti State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU).
After long years of agitations, Oyebanji implemented salary parity for clinical staff of the Hospitals’ Management Board and also
Implemented 90% CONHESS and 100% hazard allowance for health workers in the local governments while he also installed medical equipment in the 13 secondary health facilities across the state and expanded ‘Ulera Wa’ Health Insurance Intervention from five local governments to 10 local governments for 50,000 beneficiaries.
He also established 17 Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) across the local governments to improve discovery and response to health emergencies and established two Cholera Reference Laboratories at EKSUTH, Ado-Ekiti, and State Specialist Hospital, Ikole.
In the mix is also the ongoing reconnection of Erijiyan, Ikogosi and Ikogosi Resort back to the national grid to enhance the state’s tourism corridor while the connection of the Agricultural Processing Zone (APZ) in Ikole to the national grid is ongoing,
Also of importance is the connection of llawe 33KV line with Erijiyan-Ekiti and Ikogosi in addition to the ongoing connection of the Agricultural Processing Zone (APZ) in Ikole to the national grid, among other numerous life-lifting initiatives to enhance the living conditions of Ekiti people, so much so that
in Ekiti homes, the mention of Oyebanji’s name elicits and radiates hope, trust and sense of belonging.
Today, October 16, 2023, the bell rings to the rhythmic virtues of the man of the people. As Oyebanji has justified the strident calls by Ekiti people to lead the state, and as the starting point has been bright, it is a triumph of Oyebanji’s ideals and vision, which propelled him as a young man to join other elderly compatriots to ensure the creation of Ekiti State in 1996.
So far, Oyebanji, who has brought panache, his personality and ideals to bear in his leadership style, has demonstrated that the years ahead with “strong beginning” from today hold much promise for the accomplishments that will transform the agrarian Ekiti State to a prosperous society for the benefit of all Ekiti people.
Long live the living Banchioc in the Land of Honour!
* Olujobi, a journalist, author and former Deputy Director of Media and Publicity of the BAO Campaign Organisation, is a Commissioner in Ekiti State Local Government Service Commission
Edo 2024: Obaseki’s Ingratitude Now Seeking Laundry
By Kassim Afegbua
Experience has a tendency to haunt their victims, and even render undue hardship to others in transfered aggression. When people behave in a very unsavoury manner to their benefactors, the rebound effect rubs off on others in a most regretful way, allowing reminiscences of old to perforate the reality of the present. What Governor Obaseki did to Senator Adams Oshiomhole, has taught the latter bitter leadership lessons such that circumspection, crystal gazing and double reflections have continued to dominate Oshiomole’s thought process as regards those seeking the governorship seat of Edo state. Bad behaviour of one is like that oil that soils the fingers of life, cascadingly spreading beyond known boundaries, and leaving traces of regret and “had I known” on the lips of its victim. Even as Senator Oshiomhole, tries hard to rid himself of the tempers and ridicule that Governor Obaseki and deputy foisted on him, he continues to see the vestiges of that bad behaviour as a trap that must be avoided in the future. There is no art to see the mind’s construction in the face; so says the old rhyme, but the behaviour of man is a predatory reference when trajectories are being chronicled. This is why Senator Oshiomhole, as leader of the APC in Edo state, is morbidly cautious about who to throw his weight behind, in the current contest for Edo Government House.
Anybody who survived Governor Obaseki’s invidious game needs to thank God for remaining afloat without being mauled down by a stroke, as a consequence of its rude shock. Not only did Governor Obaseki fight for the removal of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as chairman of the ruling party, he also blackmailed Oshiomole to a crescendo of contradiction. Oshiomhole’s God is truly alive and now watching the two actors, Godwin and Phillip, who combined to ridicule the former Labour Leader, go after each other’s throat. This should be a stark reminder to everyone that life’s positions are akin to a revolving door. Obaseki is winding down now, and he’s being confronted with accusations of poor performance occasioned by indecent behaviour, needless political squabbles, intemperate anger, noisy claims of bogus statistics, selective amnesia, importation of “foreigners” to run Edo economy, and a shameless attempt to balkanise the Benin Monarchy over artefacts that he knows nothing about. Now, at the twilight of his administration which has demarketed the state for the wrong reasons, at home and abroad, he suddenly remembers Senator Oshiomhole as a citizen deserving of an award. How disingenuous! A man he had hitherto rained all manner of allegations on, and was telling Edo people that Oshiomole wanted him to be making returns from Edo State’s money, has suddenly become the attractive bride to be lauded twice within a spate of two months; to be welcome to grace State Programs, during which Governor Obaseki declared that Senator Oshiomhole made him Governor. Hellooo oooo!!. Is someone suddenly awake from slumber? I am yet to fathom the motive behind Governor Obaseki’s recent romance. I pray Senator Oshiomhole does not fall for Obaseki’s political knavery and duplicity, not a second time.
While I cannot choose Senator Oshiomhole’s friends for him, I can caution him to be wary of those who speak tongue-in-cheek, conveying the symptoms of love in the morning, only to drive poison down his throat at night; those who are known to be bad people. Senator Oshiomhole must watch his back, and very well too. Governor Obaseki’s smile and pretentious laughter shrouded in hatred, blackmail, and his pathological double-standard. What has suddenly happened to the paradigm that made him heap all those insults on Oshiomhole, that made him present Oshiomole as one who sought to feast on Edo people’s collective till, with him the Governor, bravely wrestling power from this adversary on their behalf. Was it the same mouth that Governor Obaseki used to insult Senator Oshiomhole that he now uses to praise Oshiomole, to the point of saying that the former Governor made him Governor of Edo state? Has Governor Obaseki forgotten that he once said he had no godfather, and that he would not play the role of a godfather? For that reason, I guess he only played “BigDaddy” in the last Local Government election: The real elections were concluded in the field, but the losers went to the Government House in Benin to collect Certificates of Return, while the winners were left to agonise with dismissive verbiage. The victory of the current apparent winners was forced under Obaseki’s auspices. Till today, no corrective measure has been taken. Losers are in office, while winners are helplessly and awfully left in the cold. That is coming from a man considered to be a technocrat; grinding people’s emotions with high-handedness, heartlessness and sheer wickedness. How does one reconcile such situations? When leaders double-speak, it removes the fibre of morality and makes them little things before the discerning.
Now that Edo 2024 race has begun, Governor Obaseki’s ingratitude and bad behaviour has kept Senator Oshiomhole pussilanimous, while seeking God’s face and His voice in his choice of who flies the party’s flag. There are persons who share the same characteristics as Governor Obaseki; people who pretend to love Oshiomhole more than himself, who have already positioned themselves; we know them. They speak about loyalty as though the word emanated from their cocoon. That was Godwin Obaseki’s pastime between 2008 and 2016 when he was the Economic Adviser to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He carried Oshiomole’s bag when they were traveling on several occasions, woke up in the mornings at Oshiomhole’s door-step, and was arguably the last man to shut Oshiomole’s door at night; but as soon as he won the election on 28 September, 2016, Oshiomhole was his first casualty. The heart of man is indeed deeply wicked: after the campaigns and election and results had been declared but the baton had not been handed over, they both travelled outside Nigeria for a short rest to recover. Unbeknownst to Oshiomole, Obaseki before leaving left instructions with the then Accountant General not to honour payments and approvals from Oshiomhole’s table going forward. Civil servants being respecters of the In-Coming, the Accountant General played the ostrich from then on while Oshiomhole’s approvals were pouring in but remained unattended. That was just the beginning. At Oshiomhole’s present age, his muscles won’t be able to withstand another stab in the back. He has to be circumspect and wary of the ides of March. There are a lot of Brutuses preying on him, but the thought of Godwin Obaseki’s indecent behaviour scares his innermost recesses. Obaseki’s latest olive branch compounds the scenario. It shows that it was all a plot. Nothing was inadvertent. Obaseki did all that he did deliberately. It was a tactic that fitted in his game plan. And he indeed scored a goal even at the price of being called infamous and a betrayer.
Governor Obaseki picked holes in the word “godfather” making it sound like an abominable word that he can never be associated with; but one year into the end of his tenure, just like yesterday, he has become the real godfather to his numerous footsoldiers and political gadflies. He’s even telling his deputy what the deputy can do and must not do, assuming the author of a self-made constitution that bars Phillip Shuaibu’s inalienable right. It may be said that it serves Phillip right, following his indecent behaviour like his boss’, but the fact remains that Governor Obaseki cannot take away the right of anyone as guaranteed by the constitution. Now, Phillip Shuaibu has dared his boss, and declared his ambition to run. Welcome to Edo state’s version of A Game of Thrones and Thorns. Get yourselves some popcorn, fasten your seat-belt, put a drink beside you, and off we go to the cruising altitude of comedy, tragedy and political tragi-comedy. It promises to be a blockbuster kind of drama, unveiling the protagonists and antagonists, locking horns in what promises to be an exciting drudgery. Now that Obaseki’s tenure is coming to an end, with low ratings, no legacy projects, and with his intemperate behaviour towards Senator Oshiomhole staring at him in the mirror, he’s mortally afraid of what Shuaibu’s effort will bring forth before his table of authority. And the circus continues, even as Senator Oshiomhole laughs away the beauty of the soundbites. With his seat belt fastened, the thought of his successor’s bad behaviour still hits at his mental awareness. It is a behaviour that will adversely affect others, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.
Power is an opium, an intoxicant that makes men blind to their real intention. Power and its addictive properties easily make men see their tenured positions as an endless voyages; as a sweet sail which end will never come. When they start snoring away their tenure, and the last year knocks with feverish pitch, the entire years scare them away especially when their performance cannot be fully celebrated. If Obaseki’s deputy can run down their own administration, as lacking in sounds and bites, what better interrogation can be more than this authorial verdict in a piece of essay. Rather than be Obaseki’s running mate in the shared vision to deliver on the promises made to Edo people, Shuaibu now uses his own mouth to run down their leadership. Obaseki and Phillip have taken their script to a ridiculous level, showing their cat and mouse skills. That is what happens when there is no sincerity of purpose, when mutual suspicion dominates actions, and when plans after plans are footed as stumbling blocks in the way of the actors. Are they Finishing well as their latest slogan declaims; erosion is still rife in Benin City. Finishing well, yet a library was demolished, to give way to the business of Shoprite’s buying and selling. Yes, a place for knowledge acquisition and research for the tomorrow of Edo state was demolished for Shoprite chains of business. How well is this finishing? Or is it their fight they are promising to finish well. Anyway, what do we expect when the Governor has broken our vertebrae and left us nearly sprawling on the floor unable to be erect. When you affect the psyche of the average Edo mind, the mind of an average Edo mind will get to a psychic level of hollow ritual, loud noise and no content. May we never experience another Godwin Obaseki again. A second affliction will be one too many. Oshiomhole’s taciturn approach will eventually exude much wisdom. May God bless Oshiomhole, our dear state and us all.
Rejoinder: Powerful Lagos, Powerless Osun State
By Mr Adedayo Oshodi, SAN
The article by one Lasisi Olagunju on the recent nomination of 21 justices for appointment to the Supreme Court should disturb any objective and well meaning NIgerian. It is calculated at escalating our fault lines. It is targeted at dividing the Nigerian judiciary along State lines. It is calculated at inciting Nigerians against Lagosians. It’s a hate piece. We appear not to be fed up with the damage wrecked to our nation by our perennial ethnic and religion divisions. As a corollary, we appear committed to a race to the bottom, when appointments to our apex court is reduced to the clout of the respective states of origin of the justices of the Court of Appeal without any consideration for merit and/or seniority at the bench.
Truth be told, this has nothing to do with pedigree of the two erudite and respected Honourable justices of the Court of Appeal: Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru and Justice Olubunmi Oyewole. Both of them are worthy and deserving of a seat at the Supreme Court. Just ask about them. Thus, it is bad enough that the judicial establishment appears to be heading towards one of them instead of both. We need and deserve both of them, in my opinion. On merit. It is even worse and unfair to both of them to reduce their hard work & careers to their states of origin with the despicable consequence of tainting the elevation of any of them by ascribing same to their origin as against their hard work and brilliance. It is a disservice to the erudite justices.
First, the author politically weaponized the appointments of nominees to the Supreme Court by referring to them as the “electors of our future presidents, governors and lawmakers.” Haba!! We all know how and where presidents, governors and lawmakers are elected. It is mischievous to interchange adjudication of electoral disputes to election. It is fraudulent.
Secondly, the writer totally disregarded seniority at the bar and bench, which is a fundamental consideration in the legal profession. Neither did he pay any attention or give consideration to when the two justices were appointed to the bench or the quality of their judgements.
A simple google search would have assisted Mr. Lasisi Olagunju to write a balanced article that states the criteria set out by law as well as state the facts that supports or goes against any of justice’s nomination. The fact remains that Justice Abiru was Justice Oyewole’s senior at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He was also his senior at the bar. Most importantly, Hon. Justice Abiru was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2012, whilst Hon. Justice Oyewole was appointed in 2014. Would it be fair for Justice Abiru to be skipped over because he is from Lagos State ? Or for his junior in the heir-achy to become his senior?
Yes, the extant law requires fulfillment of federal character principle so appointments into national institutions are not lopsided towards a particularly region. The balancing is based on the 6 geo-political zones(NW,NE, NC, SW, SE, SS) not based on states as suggested by Mr. Lasisi Olagunju.
The facts in the article are wrong. Based on my findings, there used to be pairs and it was Lagos and Ogun, Oyo and Osun and Ekiti and Ondo. But the pairings were jettisoned under Hon. Justice Aloma Mukhtar tenure as Chief Justice of Nigeria and it became zones. Things changed further when the Supreme Court was tasked to appoint its full complement of 21 Justices. South West got a fourth slot instead of 3, which was given to Ogunwumiju, JSC.
Assuming, without conceding, that we are even going by pairings referred to by Mr. Olagunju, the Oyo and Osun slot is occupied by the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola.
The fact is that the slot available was vacated by a Lagosian in the person of Hon. Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who retired on 22nd March, 2021 after he was appointed on 16th September, 2010. He replaced another Lagosian, Justice George Adesola Oguntade, who retired on 10th May,2010. Now, Lagos is the commercial nerve Centre of Nigeria, where 90% Nigeria’s VAT is generated. It’s a mini Nigeria that accommodates everyone. Arguably, Hon. Justice Oyewole is a Lagosian , though not an indigene, as he was not only resident in Lagos but was appointed as a judge of the Lagos High Court. Essentially, you have two Lagos jurists to a large extent. So, why this division where is there is none?
Lasisi Olagunji should do right by these two fine jurists by not diminishing their ascendance to the Supreme Court by crediting same to power play as against merit and the time honored tradition of the Nigerian judiciary of seniority.
Why I Want To Be Edo Governor
By Kassim Afegbua
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 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.
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