By Mike Igaga, Jnr
In recent times, the embattled governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, seems to realise that he needs a second term to continue as governor of Edo State. For a governor as powerful as Godwin Obaseki, a governor that can unilaterally orchestrate the suspension of the National Chairman of the APC and, therefore, remove him from office, his second term qualification does not need approval. He has clearly stated that he is most qualified for a second term. Governor Godwin Obaseki has addressed a press conference where he affirmed his qualification. Maybe on a second thought or by advice, he considered it ceremonial to tell members of his party that he is contesting for a merited second term and desire their compelling patronage since he is eminently qualified for their endorsement. In that meeting, the all-powerful governor made it clear to those who attended that it is conventional for him to have endorsement for a second term ticket without primaries within the party. He referred to the second term of Adams Oshiomhole to justify his assertion.
For a governor who is as powerful as Obaseki, his endorsement was given. This is irrespective of the objection raised by some members of the party who attended the session.
The issue, however, is: what options did the people who were gathered have against a governor who is obviously the most ruthless tsar of the fourth republic? A governor who has the capacity to suspend the National Chairman of his party without recourse to the NEC of the party is definitely bigger than the party. Prevalent in the news of late is the capacity of the governor to subdue any voice of dissent being in control of an army of thugs who get paid for odd jobs in the Edo State political space. In the expression of his might, he has been able to compromise the credibility of the police in the perception of the public. A governor who can use thugs to stop a member of the House of Representative from opening his constituency office which is a constitutional responsibility is better obeyed. Godwin Obaseki definitely possesses the credentials to earn a second term as governor of Edo State, having submerged the NEC of the party in his heroism.
The only thing that could have hindered Obaseki’s second term is the question of performance. While majority of the people perceive him as the worst governor the state has ever had, he has a number of awards from various global institutions for his overwhelming performance as governor of Edo State. With a visit to Edo State, one wonders the performance index by which Obaseki earns these awards.
Without being pedestal, a major issue with Obaseki is the quarrel he has with Adams Oshiomhole, whose godfather disposition as defined by him, must be resisted and crushed. Without being drawn into the justification for the battle, it must be said that the governor has invested more time in fighting Adams Oshiomhole than he has to fully indulge in creative response to the developmental needs of Edo State. He has diverted reasonable sum of the state’s lean purse to be applied for anti Oshiomhole mobilisation including a proposed demonstration at Abuja. The demonstration, it is said, will cost about N200m.
It is clear that Edo State benefitted from infrastructural development with Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State. Today, Governor Obaseki has shown incapacity to manage the facilities bequeathed to him or improve on them. The roads in Benin City have not had any qualitative improvement beyond what Adams Oshiomhole achieved. The Benin Storm Water project has been virtually abandoned. The roads constructed by Adams are being gradually submerged by erosion. The Gelegele seaport project has been reduced to the level of rhetoric. The state of electric power supply in Edo State is perhaps the worst in the entire country. The schools are run without the appropriate students-teachers ratio. The school buildings that were upgraded by Adams Oshiomhole are witnessing deterioration. The debt profile of the state is at its highest due to the additional loans collected by Godwin Obaseki in the last three years.
As we speak, Edo State has the highest level of external debt ($276 million as at December 2018) second only to Lagos state and highest among all the South-South states, yet we cannot juxtapose this against real dividends on ground. This is with the fact that as at the inauguration of his government, the external debt of the state stood at $168 million. The domestic debts burden has increased from about N45billion pre-inauguration to N84 billion as at June, 2019.
Sadly, Afriinvest, a company where Godwin Obaseki has substantial interest, is responsible for syndicating the loans being acquired from the World Bank and other agencies. Even if the relationship between Obaseki and Afriinvest is remote, the question is who collects the commissions on these loans? It is reported that Afriinvest collected about N600 million Naira for syndicating the loan for the Benin Storm Water Project. Being a company which had Godwin Obaseki as its major player before this time, much is left to be desired in terms of conflict of interest among others.
The recent revelation or scandal that a commissioner of Godwin Obaseki’s cabinet is being detained in Italy for undisclosed crimes, rubbishes Obaseki’s self-celebration on propriety and his accusations against Oshiomhole becomes absurd. There is something definitely wrong with Obaseki and his assertions. There is something also wrong with his methods of engagement. Obaseki justifies his unconstitutional approach to the induction of the Edo State House of Assembly on the assertion that Adams wants to impeach him. He inducted the Edo State House of Assembly with nine members. Four of those nine informed the public that they were deceived into the induction ceremony which held at about 10:00pm. The puzzle in the whole House of Assembly saga is how Adams was going to impeach him when the House of Assembly was yet to be constituted. His accusation in this regards collapses as he obviously acted on preconception. Obaseki is clearly a master of subterfuge.
Also, Obaseki argues that Adams Oshiomhole tried to act the godfather by advising that he should accommodate the welfare of party loyalists. It is not unexpected that Obaseki could not see reasons for Adams advice. He only moved into a party that was already built. Therefore, he does not know that in every social system, sacrifices are made to retain loyalty and compensate commitment. Obaseki is definitely a stranger in the All Peoples Congress of Edo State. He could not have understood what Adams was saying. The depth of his limitations is expressive in his classification of Adams’ advice as playing the godfather role. Let it be known that Adams built the APC in Edo State in collaboration with Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu among others. He emerged as the National Chairman of the party. Therefore Adams could not have been spared the complaint of the founding members of the party when they felt alienated by the governor. In that regards, Adams advising the governor is in the line of duty and moral responsibility. That the governor saw it otherwise reflects the parochialism that underpins the compass of the governor’s perception.
The reality is that Obaseki has not been able to tell Nigerians that Adams asked him for any personal financial gratification. All these encapsulate the absurdity of Obaseki’s vituperations against Adams Oshiomhole. It is unfortunate that Obaseki has chosen the path of brazen profligacy in his undertaking to undo the man that made him. It is being reported in the press that he is funding the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC. In that enterprise, he is alleged to be mobilising governors and party leaders at the National level to ensure the removal of Oshiomhole. When his efforts at the National level had failed, he reverted to the ward. As at today, His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki has in his own view successfully removed Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC. He does not see the absurdity of that proclamation.
The implication of this narrative is that Godwin Obaseki has successfully usurped the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the leader of the party at the National level. It bemuses me why the governor would forget that if he is the head of the party at the state level as he claims, the president of the country is the head of the party at the National level. Therefore, for Obaseki to have claimed that he has suspended the national chairman of the party is akin to assuming the role that only the president can perform. I wonder if this level of chicanery by Obaseki is far from treason. It is, perhaps, the desperation of a man whose only thread of survival is perfidy.
Obaseki, by his action, is indicting the President for acknowledging and relating with Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the party. By the new standards of engagement set by Obaseki, the President could be said to be guilty of anti party activities. Obaseki has moved from his malignant assault on the psyche of the people of Edo State to insulting the esteem and offices of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The truth is that Godwin Obaseki has taken the position of Governor of Edo State as a magna carta for unconstitutional indulgences. In this opprobrium, he is uninterested in how history will report him. Obaseki ought to know that the major plank of governance is delivery on the developmental needs of the people. He ought to know that this requires putting all hand on deck. He ought to be guided by the higher wisdom of exploiting the genius of his predecessor who is held high in governance delivery by the people of Edo state. But he chooses to fight all who could help him achieve the optimum. His solid social media performance is in contrast with reality as the people of Edo State have nothing to point to.
Taking the report sheet of Obaseki in perspective, Obaseki have not escaped the limiting definition of development programmes as captured and traded by the Bretton Wood institutions. Obaseki is not academic enough to understand that concrete development is defined in human resources development. He is unable to understand that the only solution to poverty eradication is full employment. He is unable to understand the concept of development within the context of the Group Mind matrix. He sloganeers without any ideological definition.
When the larger population of a social system are unable to access
education because they cannot pay fees, when Obaseki is unable to fund the schools opened by the past governments, when he abandoned the State University, Ambrose Alli University to a self-funded development policy, one wonders whether Obaseki understands what should be classified as development programmes. Development is anchored on human resources and its underpinning capacity. This requires broadening access to education for the citizenry by opening more schools that must be necessarily qualitative. It is about ensuring that economic incapacity does not hinder access to education for the citizenry. It is about an enabling environment for economic activity for all. In all these, access to healthcare is critical among other factors which deliver psychological balance to the citizenry.
Having commercialised the Specialist hospital built by Adams Oshiomhole, he has deprived the poor in Edo State of a health facility that was built from their taxes. To have built 150 roads covering 200 kilometres indicates road length of 1.3 kilometres each. Clearly, these lengths of roads are not related to concrete development in Edo State. When the governor’s achievement on roads infrastructure does not benefit the supply chain of the industrial and agricultural delivery of the state, its developmental implication becomes peripheral. The truth is that Obaseki has not been able to construct any major road in Edo State after almost four years of governance. His achievements are street roads that are at best in the purview of local government council delivery.
It will help Obaseki to refrain from subterfuge and appreciate that Nigeria has reasonably improved on the percentage of the population that are educated. Therefore, the old game of deceiving the people has been reasonably curtailed. His indulgence in the intimidation of the citizenry through thuggery will not deliver votes for him in the coming election. If he has suspended or removed the National Chairman who the party has not removed, it is clear that governor Obaseki either has his own APC that the members of the present APC do not know about or he has the intention of destroying the APC in Edo State and moving to another party. In all, Obaseki’s peregrination and his chosen path is self destructive and hold no hope of success. Sadly, it seems he is a man that cannot be advised.
Mike Igaga Jr, 9A Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.