Those who governed Edo State in the past were least acquainted with the danger the people face, even in the face of obvious erosion wrecked communities that are completely cut off from other neighbouring communities. The PDP took a swipe at Governor Oshiomhole on assumption of office and viciously dismissed him as an infantile tree planter and that tree planting was not one of the immediate needs of the people of the state. They did not consider planting of tree as one of the potent solution to erosion menace which has, in most cases resulted to washing people out of their home in the metropolitan City of Benin. They simply played to the gallery to give the impression that ACN led-government is out of tune with the immediate needs of the people it governed.
The misinformation at the time gave the PDP some measure of showing, coupled with the fact that the momentum that brought Governor Oshiomhole on board as the needful political liberator was beginning to wane with a few tangential development at the planning stage. To them, tree planting is a mortal sin that must be rewarded with electoral rejection in the next round of elections. They did not spare a thought about the world view on tree planting and the attendant advantages.
A tree, as defined elsewhere, is a durable woody plant with many secondary branches, clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with apical dominance. Effectively, a tree is an important component of the natural landscape which supports the prevention of erosion and the provision of a weather-sheltered ecosystem in and under the foliage. Tree plays very important role in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as moderating ground temperatures. It’s also an element in landscaping and agriculture, both for the aesthetic appeal and the orchard crop – such as cherries and the like.
Most recently, the importance of tree has assumed international appeal as a result of Ozone layer’s depletion that see the people planting trees in and around their houses and on top of their concrete roof to generate the necessary foliages needed for the preservation of the planet earth. Across the globe we now see ever more flood, ever more draught, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked – the impacts we are already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.
In places of drought-stricken Mongolia to the flood-stricken Thailand, from fire-ravaged Australia to Himalayan communities threaten by glacial melt, campaigns are on-going reminding and sensitizing everyone what has happened in the neighbourhoods and how to go about planting trees as the ultimate solution to the self-afflicted tragedy. It is a mirror hold up to the planet which will force people to come face to face with the ravages of climate change.
Today, those who vilified Adams Oshiomhole for planting tree are practically humbled by the visible greenery in most parts of the state and his modest achievement across the state. He has overtly supplanted himself in the place of the tree he planted some three-year ago. The tree has germinated luxuriantly, provided foliage and pavilion and bear fruits. He has become the fruitful and envious ‘‘Political Tree’’, that attracts stones and clubs of all kinds, unlike the uprooted proverbial ‘‘Fig Tree’’ in the Holy Book that bore no fruit and incurred the wrath of Jesus for barrenness.
Jesus tells the story of the fig tree, the vineyard owner, and the gardener who took care of the vineyard. The three entities in the story all have clear symbolic significance with regards to Edo State, its politics and people. The vineyard owner represents Edo people, the ones who rightly expect to see fruit on their tree and who justly decide to destroy it when they find none. The gardener, or vineyard keeper who cares for the trees, watering and fertilizing them to bring them to their peak of fruitfulness, represents ACN, which fielded the governor and gives him a sense of impetus and probity. The tree itself has two symbolic meanings: the nation of Israel and the individual. The episode basically, is to emphasize spirituality and fundamentality of tree with abundant fruits and the weakness of the fruitless one and its untoward fate of downright destruction.
That tree, figuratively speaking, is Governor Oshiomhole who is being accused and dressed in ethnic toga by the befuddled PDP as a stranger and none Bini indigene who does not have the interest of Edo South – the Bini – where the seat of government is situated at heart. The PDP ethnically slanted jingles currently running at full throttle have this to say of Oshiomhole: ‘‘whatever a stranger acquires in any land of his sojourning, including Chieftaincy Tittles, he would certainly return to the land of his forebear with’’, something in that order.
The hollowness of this racially inclined campaign that seek to divide Edo people and hardly address the issues of developmental governance is the very reason Nigeria with all its potentialities remains a laughing stock in the comity of nations. Instead of addressing the question of how to create more jobs, eradication of poverty, infrastructure revamp, solution to security challenges, enhancement of Private Partnership coalition and capacity building the opposition party in the state has further sullen its dented reputation with ethnic titles.
It is pertinent to note that executive waywardness as witnessed in Nigeria polity is not a product of intrinsic design of cultural deficiency; rather it is the lawlessness of the holder of such public offices, the erosion of our value system and individual callousness. Nigeria since flag independence has been governed by the Northern leaders for upward of 38 years out of the 51 years of her corporate existence and yet statistics have shown the Northern part of Nigeria as holding the largest concentration of poverty-stricken populace more than anywhere else in Nigeria! What is more, a Bini son from Edo South was governor of the state for 8 wasted years without even tarring the road that leads to the father’s university. He was thoroughly distracted by the godfathers who preferred that the roads are better tarred in the stomach.
Come to think of it: is it possible for Governor Oshiomhole to take along with him all the schools he has built across the seven local governments Area of Edo South at the expiration of his second tenure in office by 2016? Is it feasible for him to uproot the ultra- modern edifice at Central Hospital at the heart of Benin City to his sleeping village of Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo North in 2016? Can he relocate Airport Road, Sapele Road, Akpakpava Road, Siluko Road, Second West Road, New Lagos Road, Chief Gani Fawehinmi Avenue, Ugbowo Road, the thirteen roads he has constructed in Iheya area, just to mention a few along with him at the end of his Administration?
Before the PDP was roundly crushed by Oshiomhole’s moving train in 2007, Edo State and public offices were depressing sights which constantly reminded visitors of an old Tax hovel with bald men decaying among decaying files! Today, it is different story altogether. The people stoic resistance against the forces of darkness in defense of their mandate has changed all that. It is impossible today for one to exploit the poverty of the people’s consciousness to that dizzying abuse of public office.
Since Oshiomhole’s coming, Edo State has become the curative platform in the political permutation of Nigeria democracy in search of structural mellowness needed for its growth except that the triflers who were part of the driving process in the past are more on the repellent than positive. Even now, they are yet to deaden their appetite for rigging, brute force, gun and blood.
The PDP morbid fear of Oshiomhole can be understood. The political rascals and masters of hateful politics are at work again. Oshiomhole does not take political hostages. It is the middle name of the outnumbered PDP that is hiding under the brazen electronic manipulation of voters’ registration update by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and its cohorts in Edo State. The party is frustrated and bemoans the fact that it has been wiped out root and branch in a state in which it had fraudulently claimed political supremacy since 1999.
Their travail is that the obvious defeated people have resolved hence forth to fight for their electoral and civic rights and defend their vote forthwith, where it is necessary. Comrade Oshiomhole has vented the same optimism: ‘‘Edo people have encountered many defeats for hundreds of decades, but we must not be defeated’’. The defeat of the enemy of the people on July 14 would indeed cement the triumph of good over evil.
Senior Special Assistant (Media Affairs)
To Edo State Governor
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole
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