A lot of commentaries are trailing states in the country that are next in line for gubernatorial elections. Edo State is taking the lead in media attention among these states, perhaps due to its vast political scope and its numerous stakeholders with varying points of view.
Two men have dominated the discourse in the phantom battle for the soul of Edo State, which is founded more on speculation than actual facts. The two men are the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the incumbent governor of the state, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Both very strong men. One you may want to describe one as the wind, the other, fire. The fire and wind adumbration of these two men mostly point to their characteristic strength but it also speaks to the modus operandi of the two great men.
While one of them will expressively move the heaven and the earth towards achieving any objective that has won his conviction, the other will summon the same momentum to achieve what he believes is in the best interest of the ordinary people but the major difference in style is that you don’t often see Obaseki coming. He is the wind and Oshiomhole is the fire. But make no mistake, both men are tough as steel.
Many who reason critically and who have interests beyond the pecuniary will tell you without equivocation that these two men are the best things that have happened to Edo State in the last two decades.
Those who were familiar with Edo State before 2008 when it was like a pile of rubbles understand why Oshiomhole must be respected. A friend once said that in Edo State, it was Oshiomhole who returned the consciousness of the social contract between the people and government. During the years of the locust between 1999 and 2008, the people were abused to the point amnesia and the leaders of the government of those days carted away the people’s patrimony with little or no resistance from the people.
Meanwhile, Obaseki has since taken excellence in governance beyond the very high standard set by Oshiomhole, again bringing more credit to the former governor who was able to spot the gem in Obaseki and support him to be his successor.
In these days of rapid evolution in information and communication technology, all anyone needs to do to confirm a claim in a distant location is to pick up the phone and call, text or email a few people who either live in that place or visit the place frequently.
Conduct a street survey in Edo State today on the effectiveness of Obaseki’s government, provided you are speaking to the real electorate who have no selfish political interest, you are likely to get a 90 per cent approval rating.
Obaseki and Oshiomhole in truth are not the enemies of Edo State. The real enemies of the state are the commentators and purveyors of baseless conspiracy theories, who are blinded by their vested interests.
Some sworn enemies of Oshiomhole have suddenly become his best friends. A former deputy governor whose hatred for the national chairman of the ruling party is deeper than that of ancient Greece against Troy now pretends to be his most trusted ally.
Another hater of Oshiomhole who almost destroyed the former governor’s political career with a malicious legal battle over primary school certificate now also dots around him night and day pretending to be a defender of his best interest.
All these enemies of Edo State have seen the beauty of the place where the alliance between Oshiomhole and his Godsons: Obaseki, Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu and Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie is taking Edo State and they hope their lies and false allegations of conspiracy theories against Obaseki can truncate it.
They know that the death kernel of their politics of self-aggrandizement is engrained in Obaseki’s second term in office and they hope they can hoodwink Oshiomhole to work with them to tear down the glorious house he has laboured to build since 2008.
But if Oshiomhole is the same man he was when he fought for the liberation of Edo from the chains of former oppressors, then I am certain he will not condescend to the point of sending Edo back into the gallows by helping hyenas find the path to the Edo State Government House.
They have seen the vision of the greatness which Oshiomhole saw in Obaseki play out to perfection. They have watched how he has won the hearts and minds of the ordinary Edo people with development projects.
Some of the governor’s enduring projects include the establishment of the Edo Innovation Hub; revamp of the Basic Education sub-sector through the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme; regeneration of towns and cities through massive infrastructure development; reforms in civil service, comprising steady payment of salaries and gratuities and migration to the contributory pension scheme; fight against human trafficking and illegal migration and development of affordable housing, among many others.
Through the Edo-BEST programme, 8700 teachers in primary schools have been trained on the use of Teacher’s Computer in the classroom, thereby engendering the use of digital tools as teaching aid in primary schools. This is followed with the revamp of 230 primary schools across the state, ensuring that learning takes place in a conducive environment.
For reforms in civil and public service, the state government under Governor Obaseki has prioritised workers welfare, ensuring that they not only work in conducive environment assured by newly constructed, well-designed offices but also that they get their salaries – and for those that are retired – pensions as and when due.
Most of the projects, especially the road projects, dot cities and towns in Edo State and have endeared the governor to the people of the state, leading to them to bequeath him the sobriquet, ‘Wake and See Governor’ a reference to his style of working without fanfare.
The discontinuation of these legacies is the target of these enemies of Edo, who are beating the drums of war in the state and hoping that Oshiomhole and Obaseki will dance to their evil tune.
But, as Governor Obaseki has recently asserted, there is no rift between him and Oshiomhole. So, these merchants of hate are doomed to fail. As enemies of Edo’s development, they stand no chance in enthroning reign of chaos in the state. Edo people want development. That is why they will continue to stand with Obaseki come 2020 and beyond so he can consolidate on his development strides and enthroning the extremely bold vision he has for Edo State.
–––Aimurie, a journalist, writes from Benin City