Obaseki: The Peoples’ Choice

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Godwin Obaseki

Ikponmwosa Kingsley Osamede

One would be mistaken to think that courteousness, finesse and stellar performance in governance cannot all be imbued in one man, especially one from Nigeria. It smacks of a seared brute mind therefore to declare that civility and thoughtful calmness has no place in Nigeria’s polity.

That line of thought has severe fault lines that has been pared open and made unmeaning in the performance of Governor Godwin Obaseki in just three years as he didn’t fail to deliver the much-needed dividends of democracy so rapidly and more so with a levelheadedness bereft of any air of pride or overconfidence.

The good people of Edo State have stated unambiguously that the good things taking place in the state today deserve continuity and wish to see the polity tend towards the interest of the entire people of the state and not the interest and bellies of few individuals in the political scene. Such a paradigm shift, the good people of Edo reckon, is the way great economies are grown.

It wasn’t that her daughter had just arrived from Italy that made Mrs. Janet Omorogbe , a senior citizen in her 80s, to leap for joy while almost discarding her wrappers in front of her house to testify to all who cared to listen that the road leading to her house was being tarred almost in the nick of time. The road to her house was never motorable whenever it rained. It was fast becoming impassable even by foot when she heard that the road was one of the many to be tarred by Mr. Wake and See, a sobriquet for Governor Godwin Obaseki. She expressed sheer incredulity, as she thought she wasn’t that lucky. Well, not that day. She woke up to hear the vibrations of the massive earth movers and proceeded to see for herself. Mr. Wake and See had come to the rescue.

It is not unusual for great leaders to be nicknamed. For such monikers are the ways their people connect with them. John Adams, one of America’s greatest Presidents was nicknamed ‘Old Sink or Swim’ for his famous patriotic speech: “Sink or swim, survive or perish with my country, is my unalterable determination.” Nelson Mandela was nicknamed ‘Khulu’ because of his fatherly disposition to the people of South Africa. Abraham Lincoln’s nickname was ‘The Great Liberator’ for he saw to the emancipation of slaves in America.

Governor Obaseki’s case wasn’t different. He was nicknamed the “Wake and See Governor” only months after being inaugurated for the fact that he pleasantly surprises people every day with developmental projects.

With the construction of over 300 roads in the state, one can attest to the fact that the government of Godwin Obaseki is truly one that God has used to bless the good people of Edo State.

The lips of the market women never cease to sing the praise of Mr. Wake and See. These women had had their fair share of the malady of ‘agberos’ who had taken the city hostage. Some had been physically assaulted by young lads whose mouths reeked of early morning ogogoro, all in a bid to collect money for tickets. The hardworking mothers of our lands have Governor Obaseki to thank for the reform and sanity now seen in the market places today.

Was it that the people had no modicum of hope in the people that led them that made them subservient to indolent feudal lords branded as community youths? So, it was until the ‘Wake and See Governor’ came to the rescue. Not many were lucky to purchase a landed property and still be able to lay legitimate claim to such asset weeks after because of the so-called Community Development Association (CDA) leaders. Our Governor who truly hears our pains have since proscribed them.

When we say that sanity has returned to our state, words are not been minced. It would amount to being economical with the truth to state the diametrical.

Workers in the state civil service have never had it this good. They have seen building contractors returning to site in their famed institutional edifices. It wasn’t uneasy for them to join in Governor Obaseki’s exultation.

The thinking faculty of Mr. Governor is light years ahead of his time. He foresees and envisages the future. This quality of his is one of his strengths. He foresaw that there was a need to recreate what is obtainable in other cities in our dear state by creating an estate replete with modern housing layout and architecture. This he has done with the Emotan Gardens Estate, built in collaboration with MIXTA Africa, renowned property developers.

The education sector has also had a touch of the wake and see phenomenon, as several thousands of teachers have been digitally trained in the Information Technology (IT). This innovation is under the Edo – Basic Education Sector Transformation program, popularly called Edo-BEST. This program has been wholly successful to the extent that delegates from the Rwanda Ministry of Education were in Edo State recently to understudy the program for replication in their country. Also, there is currently an ongoing revamp and reconstruction in about 500 public primary and secondary schools in the State with thousands of indigenes in the employ of the contractors.

For many years, students at the University of Benin were victims of automobile accident whenever they attempted to cross the busy federal highway due to the absence of a pedestrian bridge. Governor Obaseki quickly came to their rescue and built a sturdy pedestrian bridge. The speed at which the bridge was constructed beat the imagination of the road users and pedestrians. And such pace can only be attributed to the loving nature of Mr. Governor who noted that the accidents and deaths caused by its absence had become one too many.

As if paying of Edo State workers’ salaries and building roads in Edo State were not enough dividends of democracy, Obaseki launched the State Security Trust Fund that saw him committing huge tranche of funds to ensure the security of the people who entrusted him with power. He didn’t stop at setting up of a trust fund, he went ahead to purchase scores of police patrol vehicles, motorcycles and high-end Police communication gadgets to the Police Force in an architecture called the ‘Wabazigan,’ which translates to ‘eliminating crime’ in English.

The people of Edo who were enjoying a civil and sane community now sleep with their two eyes closed at night as well.

Local Government Councils were in previous times an entity only found in books and not practicable on ground. It would take Governor Obaseki only months to realize that the third tier of government that is much closer to the people deserved a comeback. An election was conducted and the people who had not had local government chairpersons in years were seen happy to elect people they wanted to work with the Wake and See Governor to bring developments even closer to them.

Governor Obaseki has also ensured that these local government councils join in implementing his government’s master plan for the state. This has resulted in the council chairpersons delivering with steadfastness the needed succor in their council areas. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from these councils has seen an unprecedented high, and the people have Mr. Wake and See to thank for that. The self-sufficiency of these councils is fast becoming a reality with a progressive governor like Mr. Godwin Obaseki.

More than 80,000 people have been gainfully employed since Governor Obaseki was elected. The teeming population of youth has been matched with ready employers in various ministries of government as well as the private sectors. Many have also been made employers of labour themselves. This has been made possible through the learning of various crafts and professions, including photography and video production, web designing, culinary services, tiling, fashion design e.t.c. There has also been an attendant empowerment of such individuals to set up shop. The Edojobs portal is by far one of the most interactive online manpower recruitment platforms in the country. The portal is the tool for matching employees to employers. This digitalized recruitment process has since been emulated by other State governments and organizations.

With a digital governor that is in tandem with the happenings and developments in the fast-paced technological world, Edolites are rest assured that such developments would be domesticated in the state and in our time. We were not disappointed by Governor Obaseki. Digitalization has also been successfully employed in the procurement of Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O).

The ease of obtaining the C-of-O as well as the drastic reduction of its cost from more than N300, 000 to as low as N50,000 has indeed made the people of Edo the luckiest people in the country. No more would you be beaten by the fainéant and shady feudal lords masquerading as CDA leaders, and no more would you pay through your nose to obtain the certificate of occupancy.

Also, the Geographical Information Service (GIS) is a treatise of its own. Governor Obaseki is delivering on a mandate to serve the people in all spheres of life. God bless him.

It can be said that a man who respects his elders shall surely receive their blessings and live long. Godwin Obaseki indeed respects the elders in our land and wants what’s in their best interest.

Our fathers and mothers now happily receive bank alerts in their phones just before the month ends without having to protest at King Square while cursing the day they chose to work for the state government; and never has Mr. Governor defaulted in the payment of their pensions or emoluments. It would amount to spitting on their faces and all the good people of Edo if this God-sent Governor is not re-elected without much ado.

–––Ikponmwosa Kingsley Osamede, 400-level medical student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and winner of the 2017 Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Annual Oil & Gas Undergraduate Essay Competition, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.