-By Inwalomhe Donald
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has assured the governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the primaries of the party held on Saturday 18th June, 2016, that the exercise will be free, fair and devoid of violence. Governor Oshiomhole said “as the Chief Security Officer of the State, every step will be taken to ensure that there is no violence, and there will be no violence by the special grace of God because our party does not include violence in its method. There was enough security, and nobody was able to carry any offensive weapon.. He advised, “My plea is let’s maintain our friendship. Let’s not scandalize ourselves. The only regret I have is that some seem to be more vicious in the course of this intra-party contest than even focusing. I tell them that what we do in APC is that service delivery and infrastructural development is a way of life in our party, and that explains why even six months or less than six months to the end of my tenure, we are still flagging off new projects when others can’t even pay salaries. I want to service the bond between Edo electorate and the All Progressives Congress as a party so that I will leave the ladder stronger than I met it. That is the tradition I am coming from. This party whoever it fields will build on APC tradition which is about service to the people, changing our way from the politics of our opponent which is share the money. So, our party remains the best in the State which is why in your free will, you have chosen to contest on its platform.”
According to Oshiomhole, “What I owe each and every one of you is first to ensure no one is harassed in the course of electioneering, but as you will soon find out, I have had course to do a letter to the police asking the Police Commissioner to arrest an official of my party for molesting someone, and when they refused to arrest him, I wrote to the Inspector-General because I don’t need violence. I am capable of canvassing my position. So, let us build, consolidate on our strong points. We are all members of a political party that has strive so hard over the years, and as it stands today, we are very fortunate to be part of the governing party at both the local government, the state and the federal levels, and if you ask me, this should be our finest hour as a party in the State.”
Oshiomhole, who met with APC aspirants, urged them to eschew violence and campaign of calumny ahead of the party’s primaries, warning them to avoid violence so as to ensure that credible people emerged as the party’s flag bearers. Let us see ourselves as brothers and sisters. It must not be a do or die affair. Oshiomhole had different fora said: “I will not impose any body. The primaries will be free and fair in Edo 2016 guber election.
Like other Edo 2016 guber aspirants Mr.Godwin Obaseki the winner of the primaries does not need introduction in Edo politics. Obaseki currently serves as the Chairman of the Edo State Government Economic and Strategy Team (EST). He served as founding secretary for a New York based US Africa Chamber of Commerce New York in 1992, which promoted US organisations doing business in Africa.
Obaseki as chairman of The Edo State Economic Team had advised Governor Oshiomhole to take upon himself some ambitiously near impossible tasks and turned them around. The Azura/Edo Independent Power Project and Edo Water Storm project are obvious examples. The former is a $1 billion project and the first Nigerian power project to benefit from the World Bank’s risk guarantee status, covered by the global bank’s Partial Risk Guarantee structure for developing needs of emerging global markets. It is very credible evidence that the state is a viable centre for global investment hub.
Obaseki is instrumental to the setting up of the 450MW Azura-Edo gas power project, BUA Cement Okpella, Dangote Cement Okpella and others.
For Oshiomhole positive stand on Edo 2016 APC Primaries, like in many democracies, he introduced one man one vote in 2012 which makes it far uneasy for powerful special political interests to get a stranglehold on government or the processes that would install any government and that is the beginning of good governance or the fight against corruption. ONE Man, One Vote is one of the gospels according to Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole whose idea has come to stay. One Man, One Vote is a slogan that has been used in many parts of the world where campaigns have arisen for universal suffrage.
As with virtue everything in Edo, the buildup to the 2016 governorship is already making waves. It is not for nothing that we pride ourselves as the heartbeat of Nigeria. As Edo people, we appreciate good things and strive towards excellence.
The noble, fair, equitable and just earn our continuous respect. The purpose of this piece is not for chest beating or exultation of who we are. However, the preamble is necessitated by what prompted the write-up in the first place. We should rather commend our governor for having the presence of mind to situate the cause of the socio-political challenges facing our dear state. If he or his co-travelers are resident at home, they would easily recall that Edo State was the only state in Nigeria where elections were determined by political godfathers in the country in the past.
With due respect, we are inclined to believe that perpetrated the worst imposition of governor in the state by scuttling the mandate freely given by Edo people to Oshiomhole in 2007. The gory details of how these buccaneers incinerated government property when the evil alliance went awry deserve no recapitulation. Edo people cringe to remember how attempt was made to hijack and manipulate a sitting governor for the simple reason that he repented from the well-known perfidy of the gang to serve the people and not their pockets.
Though we are not prepared to rehearse the ignoble drollery contained in the past. Governor Oshiomhole said few years back that Edo people terminated godfatherism when Edo people voted again and again to bury the godfathers but as Edo people bury them, Abuja puts them on political oxygen mask. They have been on political oxygen for so many years. It was under such a divided and resentful condition of the PDP in Edo State that Oshiomhole emerged as governor. Fully aware of this situation, he was convinced that the only reason he could wrest power from the PDP via the court was the demise of godfatherism in the state, which necessarily paved the way for the emergence of the famous “one-man, one-vote” philosophy.
In consequence, he took it upon himself the task to “liquidate the godfather and godfatherism in the state. This determination became the operational mantra of Oshiomhole’s first term in office and to that effect, he erected several loud billboards all across the state proclaiming the “war against godfatherism.” Jingles were aired endlessly on both the state radio and television stations proclaiming “the end of godfatherism”. Everyone was happy.
The shock that recently struck Edo State like a tsunami was that Governor Adams Oshiomole of Edo State led thousands of APC faithful on a 10-km road show round major streets of Benin City, Monday, April 13th, 2015 to celebrate victory of the All Progressive Congress in the House of Assembly elections held in the state. The “Thank You” road show which commenced from Ramat Park on Auchi-Abuja road took the Governor and the party faithful through Ikpoba slope to Ewah Street, through Gani Fawehimi layout, to Guobadia Street down to new Lagos Road, to New Benin through Mission Road to and ended at the Oba Ovoramwan Square, in the heart of the state capital.
For the avoidance to doubts, Oshiomhole did not say he wants to impose a governor on Edo people. Rather what he said is that fairness, equity, justice and good conscience demand that Edo people should be supported to produce the next governor.
As Edo people, we wish to place it on record that Governor Oshiomhole has vowed to effect that Edo people should produce the next governor of the state is a sentiment whose time has come. The fact that 2016 presents a viable opportunity to begin this novel and peaceable system is welcomed by all and sundry. And because Oshiomhole carries the cross and the crown of the state at this point in time makes his depositions sacrosanct. Therefore, the governor cannot be frightened away from this path of sanity to address the periodic schisms and recriminations that play out whenever we want to elect our governor.
Oshiomhole’s declaration is without prejudice to political platforms. Interestingly, the governor did not at anytime say the democratic process of nomination by political parties and voting by the people of Edo should not be observed in the election of Edo Governor in 2016. The time has come for Edo State to tow the honourable path of electing her leaders without little wars that traumatize the population emotionally and psychologically.
As Governor Oshiomhole has said, the challenged for every true Edo son and daughter is to search for credible, patriotic and honest citizens from Edo State to support for the 2016 governorship in the State. Our people are tired of the incessant fight by our big political businessmen for power. Narrowing the search for a competent person to succeed Adams Oshiomhole to Edo State makes the whole thing easier. Oshiomhole’s pronouncement represents the view of the generality of Edo people because it would help to avert bitter struggles, entrench peace, brotherly love and unity. There can be no going back from this determination if the search is for enduring peace, unity social healing and greater prosperity of Edo State.
We should support Oshiomhole to produce the next governor in 2016 and demonstrate to Nigerians that he has done well.
Inwalomhe Donald, public affairs analyst writes from Benin City..