By BRIAN AJAYI JATTO
“This inauguration marks a fresh beginning in our state. A bright beginning in which the people are the main purpose of government and the target of all our development efforts. We shall strive to fulfill our own part of the social contract to govern well and transform the lives of the people”.
Being excerpts from the Inauguration Address delivered on May 29, 1999, in Benin City, Edo State, by Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion. As held globally, the function of any government in raising the level of the living standard of its people, is best achieved through those policies, programmes and projects that will impact positively on them.
Right from his inauguration on May 29, 1999, Chief Igbinedion laid an enduring framework for the institutionalisation of workable democratic ideals, good governance and sustainable development that stood the test of time. His administration came in close proximity to the exit of the military that not only created distortions and structural, defects in the body polity of the nation, but had also created institutional defects due to their prolonged stay in power.
To address these distortions and dislocations and reverse the ominous trend of poverty, lack of infrastructure development, decay and environmental degradation, the Igbinedion Administration embarked on a total restructuring of the Civil Service and the appointment of nineteen (19) Permanent Secretaries and nine (9) Commissioners, within four (4) weeks of the inception of the administration. On June 22, 1999, he initiated a daily regime of Executive Council meetings, Monday through Friday and starting at 8.am.
Unlike the prevailing practice, the purpose was to carry every member along and make sure that all government policies, programmes and projects were well-articulated and implemented. Within two (2) months of his assumption of office, Chief Igbinedion started scouting for investors and entrepreneurs in Lagos, Abuja and outside the country, to kickstart the envisioned rapid industrialisation of Edo State – one of the major planks on which he sought the office of Governor of the state.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is notable that the aggressive and radical approach to programme implementation increased the tempo of economic activities which evolved an enduring economic base that resulted in the government being directly involved in diverse economic activities that included manufacturing and socio-related ones like transportation etc.
As can be gleaned from the pronouncements of key actors on both side of the political divide, the key indicators are premised on issues of validity of educational qualifications; achievements; party and personal blueprints for development and progress of the state which are, by extension, prime indices of administrative and good governance practice or lack of it. Others border on the trivia and are reminiscent of the Greek Aesop Fables.
It is on this realm that the purveyors of the notion that Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion, the Governor of Edo State between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007, did not perform during his tenures of office, argue that the PDP should not be taken seriously. This set of people fly this kite for political primacy to garner support against the Peoples Democractic Party (PDP), forgetting that it is the same Igbinedion who “adopted” the present governor as an aspirant/candidate and gave him a platform and the means – financial, political etc. – to achieve his political dreams in 2008 and 2012.
In reality, the media advocacy pattern on the dissemination of news, discourse and views about the so-called non-performance of Chief Lucky Igbinedion while in office, virtually directed the people’s perception and understanding of what was at stake. Facts were deliberately misrepresented. The stance and stand of a large portion of the populace, at that initial period, was largely-drawn from the angle that the media (especially those not owned by the state government), presented, the “non-performance story as” gospel truth.
When re-viewed against globally-held media precedents, the media coverage of the wrongly-held view about Chief Igbinedion, totally abandoned the Fairness Doctrine as there was no visible or recorded attempt made to access or get a proper angle, perspective or intent of the so-call Low Performance Indices.
One of the major factors that militated against Chief Igbinedion getting a fair Press and by extension the people’s understanding, was the brazen fact that he did not engage in media buying, propaganda, courting print and electronic media practitioners to showcase the various programmes, policies and projects his government did on behalf of and for, all Edo people. In short, Chief Igbinedion did not blow his own trumpet and forbade others from doing so, on his behalf.
Contrary to the vile propaganda unleashed on the Igbinedion Administration by his political traducers within and outside his political domain, the following sectoral layout of some of the achievements and strides that Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion garnered, are succinct evidence that he performed creditably and was only vilified for political expediency.
This is just a tip of the iceberg; Refurbishing and renovation of classrooms in the primary and secondary segments of the state education set-up by SUBEB. Construction works on over 150 roads and streets in Benin metropolis and across the three senatorial districts.
Procurement of medical equipment for the College of Medicine, AAU, Ekpoma. Construction works on Students Union and hostel blocks at Auchi Polytechnic. Tarring of 70km of campus roads with hot-rolled asphalt in AAU, Ekpoma.
Renovation/Rehabilitation of the Institute of Physical Education, Afuze. Supply of school furniture to post-primary schools in Edo State by the Ministry of Works and Transport.Flood and erosion control works in 10 crises areas in the Benin metropolis.
The list is interminable and all-encompassing, but shorn of the usual Goebellian propaganda that tends to accentuate the sublime and skew those facts and figures that are verifiable, to confuse the citizenry.In view of the foregoing and numerous others, Edolites should, in the exercise of their franchise in the September 10, 2016 governorship election, not expose themselves to the battering ram of so-called progressives, whose set objectives are not pristine, altruistic or masses – oriented but are selfish in mode and autocratic in execution. They should not eat from a stastaple of self-serving lies and fabrications.
The concocted lies and fables that Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion did not perform, remains what they are: lies and fables. Chief Igbinedion’s bouquet of achievements and development strides did not go through the crucible of embellishments and strident propaganda in the print and electronic media because he assumed that the “works will speak for themselves”, hence the anomie of truth. That Igbinedion did not perform, is a page off the Greek Aesop Fables, a folkloric compilation. He did, albeit exceedingly, well!
Ajayi Jatto writes from Lagos.