Edo state is at the crossroads of political heist. The war of attrition between the incumbent and the former governor Adams Oshiomhole has got to tragic and ridiculous levels. Thus, it is imperative to put the issues in perspective before the Edo People and the Nigerian public in general.
Precisely in 1999, Nigeria got back on the democratic track after a long period of military rule in the country that witnessed the repression of freedom fighters and the civil society.
Unfortunately, Edo people did not get a better deal because their best sons and daughters, especially who were at the forefront of the prodemocracy movement that pushed out the military did not take over power. So the people of Edo state had to endure the maladministration of Governor Lucky Igbenedion for eight years. There was nothing to show in terms of development of the state. Things were so bad that the governor’s father would say that it was customary for failed students to repeat their classes, so his son should be obliged. At the end of it all, the governor was convicted for looting the state and would enter into plea-bargaining to regain freedom.
Then came the era of Professor Osariemen Osunbor, a professor of law whose tenure was short-lived due to judicial award of his victory to Adams Oshiomhole, a former president of the Nigerian Labour Congress who along with Pascal Bafyau worked hand in gloves with the dictatorial regime of General Ibrahim Babangida while noble Edo sons and daughters were ranged against military rule. He ran the state like a tin-pot despot on the matrix of empty populism.
In his eight years in power he did not achieve any concrete development goal. His greatest legacy in the state was indebtedness, uncompleted projects, poorly executed projects, and so on. In his obsession with power, he sought to divide the Edo people. In his sinister calculations, he forgot that Edo people have a common ancestry and history with few aliens among us. He played the Edo South against Edo Central as well as Edo North as a sustaining logic in power. He took sycophancy to its preposterous height that you have to be loyal to feel the dividends of democracy. At the time he left office, Edo state became the fourth most indebted state in the country trailing behind Lagos, Rivers and Kaduna states.
Upon his exit, he imposed Governor Obaseki on Edo people. Obaseki was not quite known to Edo people. With huge debt he incurred, he needed a technocrat who could manage the debt without pandering to politicians. Like most Godfathers, he wanted to control the incumbent from his Abuja office of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Governor Obaseki elected by law begged to be sovereign and would resist his meddlesomeness in his administration. A disappointed Oshiomhole therefore resolved to thwart Obaseki’s bid for a second term in Office.
He went back on his vomit to frontline Pastor Ize-Iyamu whom he had earlier denigrated to impose him on the state by applying strictures to edge off the incumbent in the party primary. Whether he would triumph with his sinister plans depends on the Edo people, who for sure, will not sell their future to a mediocre for a mess of pottage. It should be noted that this path would undermine gentleman agreement of power rotation among the various sub-nationalities in the state, namely, Bini, Esan and Afemai. We think this is the time all Edo people need to put on their thinking cap and ensure that another mediocre is not imposed on the state at the whims and caprices of Oshiomhole. Politics of inclusivity and unity of Edo people is to be treasured over political shenanigans.
It will be recalled that progressive Edo elite attempted to build unity among the Edo people and aware that majority of us share common ancestry from Benin, the point of dispersal to our respective present-day settlements. They formed the “Edo-Okpamakhin” which was driven by progressive elite in London led by Dr. Phillip Idaewor in the early 2000. This group has a developmental agenda for Edo people, not on the basis of sub-ethnic or sub-national group but pan Edo. Today, the greatest disservice Oshiomhole has done to Edo state is to shatter the unity of its people due to his consuming self-aggrandisement. The inclusivity and the spirit of “Edo-Okpamakhin” requires that Edo people should not choose another mediocre being sponsored by a Godfather but owe it a sacred duty to ensure that the incumbent serves out his tenure of eight years no matter the platform he chooses to run.
We strongly believe that as things stand today, Oshiomhole has disrupted the Obaseki administration through all kinds of manipulative intervention to ensure he keeps the state under his authoritarian control. Obaseki, who has already served a term, should be allowed to complete a second term in office. This is the only way power can rotate among the sub-nationalities that make up the state. This time the Esan people are next on the line to produce the chief executive of the state. I appeal to progressive Edo people to return Obaseki to power to foil the evil plans of Oshiomhole. Edo people must put behind them politics of “stomach infrastructure” and look forward to guarantee the future of Edo state now being occupied by alien herdsmen.
What is quite clear about the situation in Edo is that Oshiomhole wants to impose on the state a candidate who was part of the locust years of Igbenedion administration. This has implications for the state. One, the development of the state will be arrested on the altar of self-aggrandisement and widespread primitive accumulation. Two, it will arrest the rotational principle of power sharing in the state in that whoever comes in as candidate from Edo South other than Obaseki will want to serve eight years in office leaving the Esan and Afemai people in the lurch, thereby undermining inclusivity and equity among the Edo people. Justice is the first condition of humanity. It is time to say no to godfatherism and save our collective future.
Mr. Abumere writes from, Ewu, Esan Central Local Government, Edo State