In recent time, the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, seems to have realised that he needs a second term. For governor that can unilaterally orchestrate the suspension of the national chairman of the APC and, therefore, remove him from office, his second term qualification ordinarily does not need approval. He has clearly stated that he is most qualified for a second term. He has addressed a press conference where he affirmed his qualification. Maybe on a second thought or by advice, he considered it ceremonial to tell members of his party that he is contesting for a merited second term and desire their compelling patronage since he is eminently qualified for their endorsement. In that meeting, the governor made it clear to those who attended that it is conventional for him to have an endorsement for a second term ticket without primaries within the party. He referred to the second term of Adams Oshiomhole to justify his assertion.
The issue is: what options did the people who were gathered have against the governor? The only thing that could have hindered Obaseki’s second term is the question of performance. While the majority of the people perceive him as the worst governor the state has ever had, he has a number of awards from various global institutions for his overwhelming performance as governor. With a visit to Edo State, one wonders the performance index by which Obaseki earns these awards.
A major issue with Obaseki is the quarrel he has with Adams Oshiomhole, whose godfather disposition as defined by him, must be resisted and crushed. Without being drawn into the justification for the battle, it must be said that the governor has invested more time in fighting Oshiomhole than he has to fully indulge in creative response to the developmental needs of Edo State. The roads in Benin City have not had any qualitative improvement beyond what Oshiomhole achieved. The Benin storm water project has been virtually abandoned. The roads constructed by Adams are being gradually submerged by erosion. The Gelegele seaport project has been reduced to the level of rhetoric. The state of electric power supply in Edo State is perhaps the worst in the entire country. The schools are run without the appropriate students-teachers ratio. The school buildings that were upgraded by Oshiomhole are witnessing deterioration. The debt profile of the state is at its highest due to the additional loans collected by Obaseki in the last three years.
As we speak, Edo State has the highest level of external debt ($276 million as at December 2018) second only to Lagos and highest among all the South-south states, yet we cannot juxtapose this against real dividends on ground. This is with the fact that as at the inauguration of his government, the external debt of the state stood at $168 million. The domestic debts burden has increased from about N45billion pre-inauguration to N84 billion as of June 2019. There is something also wrong with his methods of engagement. Obaseki justifies his unconstitutional approach to the induction of the Edo State House of Assembly on the grounds that Oshiomhole wants to impeach him. He inducted the Edo State House of Assembly with nine members. Four of those nine informed the public that they were deceived into the induction ceremony which held at about 10:00pm. The puzzle in the whole House of Assembly saga is how Oshiomhole was going to impeach him when the House of Assembly was yet to be constituted. His accusation in this regards collapses as he obviously acted on preconception. Obaseki is clearly a master of subterfuge.
Also, Obaseki argues that Oshiomhole tried to act the godfather by advising that he should accommodate the welfare of party loyalists. It is not unexpected that Obaseki could not see reasons for Oshiomhole advice. He only moved into a party that was already built. Therefore, he does not know that in every social system, sacrifices are made to retain loyalty and compensate commitment. Obaseki is definitely a stranger in the All Progressives Congress of Edo State. He could not have understood what Oshiomhole was saying. The depth of his limitations is expressive in his classification of Oshiomhole’s advice as playing the godfather role.
Let it be known that Oshiomhole built the APC in Edo State in collaboration with Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu among others. He emerged as the national chairman of the party. Therefore Oshiomhole could not have been spared the complaint of the founding members of the party when they felt alienated by the governor.
The reality is that Obaseki has not been able to tell Nigerians that Adams asked him for any personal financial gratification. All these encapsulate the absurdity of Obaseki’s vituperations against Oshiomhole. It is unfortunate that Obaseki has chosen the path of brazen profligacy in his undertaking to undo the man that made him. In that enterprise, he is alleged to be mobilising governors and party leaders at the National level to ensure the removal of Oshiomhole.
It bemuses to know that the governor conveniently forgets that he is the head of the party at the state just as the president of the country is the head of the party at the national level. Therefore, for Obaseki to have claimed that he has suspended the national chairman of the party is akin to assuming the role that only the president can perform. It is, perhaps, the desperation of a man whose only thread of survival is perfidy. Obaseki has moved from his malignant assault on the psyche of the people of Edo State to insulting the esteemed offices of the President and leader of the APC.
Taking the report sheet of Obaseki in perspective, Obaseki has not escaped the limiting definition of development traded by the Benton Wood institutions. Obaseki does not understand that concrete development is defined in human resources development. He is unable to understand that the only solution to poverty eradication is full employment. He sloganeers without any ideological definition.
When the larger population is unable to access education because they cannot pay fees, when Obaseki is unable to fund the schools opened by the past governments, when he abandoned the state university, Ambrose Alli University to a self-funded development policy, one wonders whether Obaseki understands what should be classified as development. Development is anchored on human resources and its underpinning capacity. This requires broadening access to education for the citizenry by opening more schools that must be necessarily qualitative. It is about ensuring that economic incapacity does not hinder access to education for the citizenry. It is about an enabling environment for economic activity for all. In all these, access to healthcare is critical among other factors which deliver psychological balance to the citizenry.
Having commercialised the Specialist hospital built by Oshiomhole, he has deprived the poor in Edo State of a health facility that was built from their taxes. To have built 150 roads covering 200 kilometres indicates road length of 1.3 kilometres each. Clearly, these lengths of roads are not related to concrete development in Edo State.
Igaga Jr, writes from Lagos