In the July 26th THISDAY Sunday newspaper edition, Olawale Olaleye penned a scathing narrative devoted to the inadequacies in his own prism about the first term tenure of His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki. It touched a nerve that a journo of his stature would employ such acerbic portrayal of the inner workings of Edo State and governance in the mid-Western State – which he acknowledged as anything but stellar in one of the paragraphs of his hush and puff account that detailed the undoing of the Edo State Governor.
As a member of the Fourth Estate, the author has a right to criticize in constructive terms – what he owes the audience is a balanced representation of facts. What raises eyebrows are mannerisms that are wrought with hidden agendas and throwing the tenets of journalism to the winds.
From the headline of the article to the opening paragraph, that cascades into the body and conclusion of his submission, which was characterised by adjectival qualification of the Edo Governor in terms of spirit of ingratitude, vengeance, treachery, betrayal and ‘pull him Down syndrome’ in the words of Olaleye.
For a third party, it seems the writer is privy to information that we don’t know about. Obaseki has been described and chronicled by Adams Oshiomole in glowing terms in public domain right from his days as chairman, Edo State Management Team (EMT) till his emergence and victory as the governor.
The paintbrush of the article had a predetermined goal and was not objective in any way whatsoever to the Obaseki’s persona, where he was dressed in robes of someone, who has the inability to choose his battles.
One didn’t need to go far and wide to deduce the intention of Olaleye’s tirade, as the meat of his narrative came to the fore in the third paragraph with the unveiling of corporate titan Captain Idahosa Okunbo as the ‘cause celebre’ with superlative characterization which he has earned.
The author weaved a narrative that Captain Okunbo was in the front burner before hats were thrown into the ring for the Edo gubernatorial contest and this factor led to his demonisation in political and business circles based on the figment of imagination of the writer.
Olawale Olaleye’s disdain for facts and quest for half-truths came to the fore where he stated that Okunbo’s business concerns and persona were subject of onslaught. He projected Obaseki’s persona in a sci-fi motion villain garb with a sinister plot to shoot down Captain Okunbo’s commercial interests.
He went to further with his peppersoup and beer parlour inclined narrative that Obaseki’s reply to this action passed as a waste of time. For reasons of posterity, it is imperative to take a cursory look at the salient points raised by His Excellency in his correspondence to Captain Okunbo, which is hinged on the revocation of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract that was executed by Ocean Marine Solutions (OMS) – a business concern owned by the illustrious son of Bini kingdom.
The factors that led to this business decision were laid bare by the Hadiza Bala Usman led Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and other key stakeholders in Nigeria’s maritime industry, that includes the Nigerian Navy and the National Assembly where an adhoc sitting was held to this effect.
If the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) deems it fit that a contract is not in the interest of our dear nation, Nigeria, why is such a development laid at the table of Obaseki? It beats one’s imagination that in Olaleye’s estimation that the Edo State governor whose oversight function does not extend beyond the precincts of Edo State will influence a decision that affects the revenue stream of the FGN.
In His Excellency’s letter to Captain Okunbo, he addressed the inability of the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari to visit his agricultural holdings launch due to the schedule of Nigeria’s number one citizen that was unable to accomodate this endeavour.
With the crystal clear statement of facts, why would any individual seek to twist and turn facts on its head? This kind of question is begging for answers, as balancing acts should be applied to present a coherent journalese statement that does not exonerate or paint any entity in bad light.
I think that the likes of Olaleye will do well in abstract expressionism where the terms of reference are the sole preserve of the artist, as he or she wants to pander the strokes of the oil on canvas representation.
It did not end here, as Olawale Olaleye made colossal attributes that the Edo born philanthropist sponsored the governor and his team on an investment trip to China, mobilisation of support for him at the Edo Convention, Toronto, Canada, donation of five houses for Obaseki Housing project in Benin and contribution to the state’s Covid-19 relief fund campaign.
I would like to assist Olaleye’s armchair journalism that fails to seek the facts that’s readily available in the public domain. Obaseki’s career trajectory with AFRIVEST (West Africa) Limited – a leading independent investment banking firm with a focus on Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa has engineered some of the biggest ticket transactions with heavyweight business concerns.
It takes even school boy journalism entry levels to find out the true picture of things before one spews out innuendoes on the ABC of fund raising and FDI basic terms. Olaleye’s pen reduced the persona of Obaseki as a petty individual, but his narrative was skewed as he stated how the governor requested and employed the daughter of Captain Okunbo and how the corporate trojan sustains her office and even purchased a brand-new Toyota Hilux vehicle to facilitate her work. These tales by moonlight and hearsay journalism does not help matters.
In conclusion, it is imperative to note according to the old mantra that all politics is local. The contestants will test their goodwill with the electorate on September 19, 2020 to emerge as the candidate to lead Edo State for the next four years.
In furtherance to this, the postulation by Olaleye that the seemingly vindictive and vicious leadership posture of Obaseki’s leadership – My humble question to Olaleye’s quarter is that would he allow non-state actors take over the state of affairs as Edo State governor?
If the journalist has forgotten, I would like to remind him about the chronicle of events when Obaseki lost the ticket to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress at the gubernatorial polls. He accepted his fate and considered other options. The resort to maligning any character did not come to fore. Does this trait indicate anything or not to Olaleye’s merry go round chronicles to paint the Edo governor in his own rehash of events?
It is expected that facts be presented in a fair and balanced manner. The uncharitable route of being the victim, judge and the jury does not augur well. In the footnote of his article Olaleye has predicted the results of the forthcoming elections as payback time. The choice to choose the next governor of Edo State lies with the electorate and time will tell who will emerge victorious.
As regards the facet where Olaleye has projected Obaseki as an ingrate who failed to mend fences with his benefactor Adam Oshiomhole, the train has left the station. The campaign trail has begun in earnest and all it takes is to relay all the eulogies and accolades that were delivered on behalf of the incumbent and amplify the words from the horses mouth about the opposition candidate.
––Umweni is a business executive and convener of Edo Professionals Collective.