From Ojieva Ehiosun, Benin
Director –General of Obaseki Campaign Organization, John Osakwe, has said that Edo politicians have failed to understand Governor Godwin Obaseki because it was no longer business as usual. He speaks on other issues.
Around this time last year, you were traversing the length and breadth of Edo State with your candidate, Godwin Obaseki on electioneering. What did you see in him that made you believed so much in his promise to transform the state?
The story didn’t start around this time last year as you tried to infer. It started much earlier. We began the journey precisely on September 9, 2013. That was when I was invited to have a meeting with him by my political leader, Charles Idahosa. When I arrived at Mrs. Charles Idahosa’s house, he introduced Mr. Godwin Obaseki to me. It was at that meeting that I was given the responsibility to pilot his campaign and ensure that he emerges first as the candidate of the APC (All Progressives Congress) and to slug it out with the opposition political parties in the 2016 governorship election. That was how it all started.
On the first day we met, we had very sharp exchanges which opened up to each of us what stuff we are made of. I can tell you straight away that my first interaction with Mr. Godwin Obaseki was full of sharp reflexes and special reflections of the capacity of his mind and the content of his character. I had no doubt in my mind, at that point in time, that he was the right person to back, given the circumstances of the time. Not forgetting the fact that Mr. Adams Oshiomhole came to lay a foundation on the heels of the distortion of the foundation laid by previous failed governments in the state, led by the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party). So, having laid the foundation I thought that we needed a man with great foresight to take-off from where Oshiomhole was was going to stop. It was not difficult to know that he was the right person to take over the mantle of leadership from Oshiomhole. Thank God we went into the election we fought hard and he won. Today, he’s the governor of Edo State. There’s no regret whatsoever because even the opposition is happy that the right person is on the saddle of power and authority in the state.
About a year into Obaseki’s administration what can you point to that he has done to better the living standard of the people?
The living standard of a people cannot change overnight. It takes a lot of planning; a lot of brainstorming; great foresight and ability to organize all the resources available in order to engender a change that is desired by the people. So, what we’re seeing in the last one year is the kind of brainstorming that cannot be compared with any by any government in this country before now.
Virtually every segment of government has been again reassessed and what was done was to see whether what was been there is still sufficient to take us to where we want to be. You see, government ought to change with time. Government ought to see what is regarded as the best practices across the globe and reflect such in its local environment. Government should not be short sighted. And so you’ll agree with me that this governor started with looking at the civil service, since it is the main engine room of government and to ascertain whether the capacity to interpret; to break down government policies to implementable level; whether the capacity to do this can still be found within the civil service and if not what should be the government’s response to that situation?
Government came to the conclusion that it needed to reposition the civil service and to provide an enabling working environment such that when a man leave the home and is going to work he would be sufficiently motivated to put in his best and to ensure that the very essence and motive for those policies at the end of the day delivered for the good and betterment of the people. That was where the government started. Having done that, government looked at the structure of governance in its entirety vis-a-vis the vision and the promises of government; how the present structure will help to deliver? And found that there was a need to change; to refocus and reengineer the system. That has been done. The stage we are now, having fully constituted the executive council is to now begin to use the machinery of government as a conveyor of government policy from the establishments, down to the people. That is exactly where we’re now, whether in terms of education; in terms of infrastructure or in terms of health.
Governor Obaseki has been quoted as telling politicians off. Do you think that he still command the respect of his party leaders?
Nobody was born a politician. Therefore everybody involved in the act of forming a government and the act of running a government is a politician. From this analysis it’s safe to say that Governor Obaseki is a politician like every other politician. However, you can say that he’s not the run -of –the- mill kind of politician. He is one that has come to the politics of Edo State with clear ideas on how to go about it. Those ideas may not be in consonance with what has been the norm. Society move forward only when new workable ideas are brought forth.
Having worked with him, having interacted with him publicly and privately, I can say much about him. I remember we were discussing and we agreed that it’s better for a political leader to go to his community and introduce himself and be seen by the people as a big farmer or industrialist contributing to the economic wellbeing of the community. He can use the resources he garners from such to bring development to the community. That will give the man respect not when a man is known not to have any viable business. They will see him as someone who goes to government house cap in hand to collect money on their behalf only to come back home to give them peanuts. Handouts will not help you, the government or community. What he is saying is that he’s ready to support the people; to bring in investors and to create an enabling environment for business to flourish. This way the economy of the state improves and everyone benefit immensely. Quite a number of our party members understand the point of the governor and they’re giving him full support.
In less than three years, Edo State has changed speaker of the House of Assembly four times. What do you think this portends for the state?
I don’t see anything that is out of the ordinary about it. The fact is clear that no member was elected into the house as a speaker. All of them came into the hallowed chamber as equals. Headship of the legislature is totally dependent on the trust they have in the member. Any time you’re unable to carry the majority along you lose your seat. It has nothing to do with stability or a number of reasons some people have suggested.