EDO PEOPLE FAST BECOMING VICTIMS OF POLITICAL WELFARE

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BY ANDY UZAMERE

Governor Godwin Obaseki is undoubtedly the best legacy of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Going by his antecedents, Comrade Oshiomhole became governor through a groundswell of national activism. He was not a member of the political class, so he crossed from one party to the other looking for a Party structure, but not the Labour Party that had his DNA. He built on the alliances he made with the mainstream political class with whom he was now in sync. He had eight good years as governor and one can say that he had seen it all, but his instincts guided him to pick his successor from the same non-political class of technocrats from which he came, if he must save his legacy.

This choice proved difficult as it runs against the grain of the usual political succession order, but Oshiomhole invested all his assets with the singular mindset that it must be Godwin Obaseki or GO, as he is fondly called. Comrade Oshiomhole even took the risks to crush some former allies for the advancement of this project and got his vanguard in tow. Things turned out his way as GO is now on the saddle, after hitting the ground running. In GO, it is easy to see a Governor who will be unmatched in the long-term history of Edo State and who had clearly outclassed his contemporaries.

It is under this circumstance that halfway into this promising tenure that the man we used to call the Comrade Governor now wants to sell a reactionary and stale vision to Edo people. This is obviously incongruous with the established paradigm when all can see for themselves the clear success in his successor, yet the Comrade seems determined to spin a narrative that is already sounding hollow and confusing. What has gone wrong and how can this sumersault be sold to a people that have similarly invested trust and time in the GO project.

Surprisingly, the issues are not about Edo people, who see GO as already making the difference from the sordid political environment to move things far beyond where Comrade Oshiomhole had taken them. It is now a reaction to the rumble within the Party structure that wants to go for broke. The pity of this circumstance is that putting GO out by any unsavory way will be a hard sell, considering the myriads of developmental projects that he has brought on stream within this short half-time.

Apart from the quantum success of GO, who should be allowed to finish his first term strong, his stellar performance should actually now be the major selling points of the APC. Being a Party that came with the mantra of “integrity”, the party men have finally come face to face with their own Party principles and some should not be seen to be loudly complaining. Again, no matter how hard Comrade Oshiomhole had tried to bury the godfather syndrome in politics, it never really sounded plausible. Can that be possible when everyone knows that his choices are reflected in a sizeable number of political appointees?

Does he not preside over Party meetings even with the Governor in attendance? So, it must be a colossal risk for the Comrade to now appear with what seems a godfather cloak to breathe his authority on the perceived godson, instead of the morphed statesman.

However, the pecuniary demands of the Party cabal must be viewed against growing responsibilities of governance, such as servicing the usual inherited debts, or still having to borrow to pay back debts. There is always the obvious need to undertake new projects that endears government to the people; the issue of the newly approved minimum wage that is still a hard nut to crack – after all, as Dele Sobowale puts it: how do you raise salaries at the bottom rung by about 50% and not expect to make commensurate adjustments at other levels?

It all gets to a point whereby servicing a Party cabal may not add up to the equation, especially when governance is getting so expensive and if the people must come first. So the issues at stake for harassing GO are such that could boomerang if the ambitious party men will not explore other legitimate trades or start learning to make more sacrifices, but definitely not to hold governance to ransom.

We must also look at our expectations of the national APC Chairman who had promised to browbeat the NASS and Federal Executive to adhere to Party discipline. Good that he has for now achieved what seems like that in the appointment of the principal officers of NASS, but following the same logic, he should also allow the same principle to be applied at the State level, rather than supporting those who want to defy party discipline.

We expect the National Chairman to be even too engaged with national issues such as ensuring that fair and timely ministerial appointments are made, addressing the thorny issues of nepotism, RUGA-phobia and the core agenda of Restructuring – as in the APC manifesto, for which the El Rufai’s Panel report is gathering dust in the cupboard. Must he then leave all these monumental challenges at the national level to only flex his muscles at the backyard that is Edo politics? That the national Chairman is supporting those that are not following the State Party discipline is the contradiction that puts both the Governor and the State Party caucus in a weakened position that is invariably resisted.

This is what has generated such tense atmosphere in the State that distracts, if not impeding the development of the State. It is ironical that GO campaigned in the last State Assembly elections for his APC candidates on the premise that he wanted a peaceful Assembly, not knowing that it is the same APC dominated House and not the opposition PDP that is set to fractionalize in a manner that is giving anxiety to him and the citizens.

No doubt some compromises are needed as politicians like to do, but the cuts are running deep and the neutrality of the National Party Chairman, which is what should have helped to resolve the issues, is evidently not at play since he is rather neck deep in stoking the crisis. It is also unfortunate that the united home front that gave Comrade Oshiomhole easy victory to become the APC National Party Chairman is now being eroded, whereas he continues to need a unified home front to back him in surmounting the major challenges at the national level, for which Edo people deserve the benefits.

A major casualty in the ongoing political battle could be the delicate ethnic harmony that makes us all proud Edos, as the situation could easily provide missiles that will whip up ethnic sentiments that are often difficult to heal. In the final analysis, the Governor is the biggest asset of the Party and there is every need to keep the incumbent on a steady win-win course before the next election, rather than what could seriously weaken the party as well as upset the polity.

Apart from the quantum success of GO, who should be allowed to finish his first term strong, his stellar performance should actually now be the major selling points of the APC. Being a Party that came with the mantra of “integrity”, the party men have finally come face to face with their own Party principles and some should not be seen to be loudly complaining. Again, no matter how hard Comrade Oshiomhole had tried to bury the godfather syndrome in politics, it never really sounded plausible.

Can that be possible when everyone knows that his choices are reflected in a sizeable number of political appointees? Does he not preside over Party meetings even with the Governor in attendance? So, it must be a colossal risk for the Comrade to now appear with what seems a godfather cloak to breathe his authority on the perceived godson, instead of the morphed statesman.

Mr. Andy Ehanire, Tourism Consultant, writes from Benin City, Edo State

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