A Memorable Week for Obaseki

0

Vanessa Obioha writes that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State is going through some of the most exciting and transforming events of his life

The only constant thing in life is change and for Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo state, the wind of change blowing now is bringing good tidings to his doorstep.

First, Obaseki who had been in a long and bitter battle with the suspended chairman of All Progressive Congress, (APC),Adams Oshiomhole, bade farewell to the party last week. It was a departure long overdue following the series of attacks on his personality by Oshiomhole and the party’s decision to anoint another candidate for the upcoming elections in the state.

Obaseki’s rift with Oshiomhole stemmed from his refusal to allow the former to dictate the happenings in the state. As a committed governor who is focused on bringing desirable changes to the state, Obaseki put the people first and refused to be an extractive governor and disapproved of any form of influence that would sway him from achieving his goals or renege on his campaign promises. Obaseki’s rift with Oshiomole stems from the governor’s determination to use the funds of the state for the state, his dismantling of extractive and oppressive tax systems that benefited individuals rather than the state, strong determination to perform on campaign promises.

Thus, leaving APC was a big relief to the number one citizen in the state. The governor took to Twitter on Tuesday, June 19 to announce this departure.

However, leaving the party does not automatically end his political ambition as his detractors would have imagined. They knew that he was likely to join the opposition party but what they didn’t envisage was the welcoming embrace that he received. Obaseki, who announced his new party on Friday June 19, was overwhelmed with heartwarming greetings from members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Former presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike and others took to Twitter to welcome him and assured him of their support.

The PDP Governors Forum, in a statement by its Director-General, Hon. C.I.D. Maduabum, hailed Obaseki for his decision and described his defection to the party as a homecoming to a “democratic platform that accommodates all Nigerians desirous of good governance, accountability and deepening of democratic tenets.”

By Saturday, Obaseki was screened by the party to contest in the primaries on Thursday June 25.

Cross-carpeting is not entirely new in Nigeria’s political landscape. It is prevalent during election periods as politicians pitch their tents wherever their goals will be advanced. Albeit, not everyone is usually favoured in this game of defection. For some, they are not given the warm welcome and may be relegated till an opportunity arises.

It is true that during an election period that politicians’ true colours are often unveiled. In the case of Obaseki, the public can see his determination to promote good governance in the state and also see the nepotism in APC. As much as APC vaunts itself as an inclusive and progressive party, recent happenings in the party have shown that the party does not practice what it preaches. If it does, then the party would have clipped the wings of Oshiomhole long ago and frowned at his confrontational style of achieving his goals. Isn’t it risible that Oshiomhole who during his administration fought tooth and nail to end godfatherism is the one imposing such demands on his successor?

PDP members must have laughed hard at the drama that ensued between Oshiomhole and Obaseki but were not blind to the leadership traits that the incumbent governor of Edo State had exhibited in his four years as the Number One citizen of the state. They are fully aware of Obaseki’s large following and know they stand a better chance to reclaim the state since Oshiomhole took the reins from Professor Oserheimen Osunbor in 2008.

It’s not that the party lacked competent politicians to contest in the election. After all, one of the most beloved politicians in the state, Kenneth Imasuagbon popularly known as the ‘Rice Man’ was already contesting for an opportunity to win the election. There is also Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama’, the House of Representatives member representing Oredo Federal Constituency who made his governorship aspiration known in May, and Gideon Ikhine who wisely stepped down for Obaseki on Monday, June 22.

These contestants are eligible to win the trophy for PDP in their own right but Obaseki however comes with experience.

As governor of Edo state, Obaseki never hid his intentions to make Edo state an investment hub in the state. This is clearly seen in the number of projects he initiated such as the Benin River Port Project and Modular Refinery Project.

It was under his administration that Edo state recorded the least number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, according to a 2018 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with a number of international development partners.

The feat can be attributed to Obaseki’s initiatives such as Edo Basic Education Transformation (Edo-BEST) programme, rehabilitation of the Government Science and Technical College, Benin City; restructuring the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, the Edo State Polytechnic, Usen and the College of Education, Abudu, among others.

Since he assumed power in 2016, Obaseki has continued to fight human trafficking and illegal migration which are notorious in the state.

Again, Obaseki’s competence is seen in his fight to protect Edo indigenes from the inscrutable Coronavirus that is still ravaging many parts of world. His Twitter timeline is filled with updates of the health situation in the state and recently he advised the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to set necessary guidelines to regulate the conduct of political rallies and elections. Even prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, Obaseki had proposed to build about 200 Primary Healthcare Centres. Obaseki’s focus in the health sector is to develop a viable primary healthcare system to provide affordable and accessible health care services to people in the state.

While Obaseki’s critics wished that PDP shut the door against him, they will be further disappointed when Obaseki finally wins the primaries and enters the major gubernatorial contest against candidates of other political parties in September.

QUOTE:

PDP members must have laughed hard at the drama that ensued between Oshiomhole and Obaseki but were not blind to the leadership traits that the incumbent governor of Edo State had exhibited in his four years as the Number One citizen of the state. They are fully aware of Obaseki’s large following and know they stand a better chance to reclaim the state since Oshiomhole took the reins from Professor Oserheimen Osunbor in 2008.