There is no doubting the fact that since the coming on board of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State has never had it so good. Oshiomhole, who took over the governance of the state after 10 years of Peoples Democratic Party PDP’s misrule, did has not disappointed both his critics and admirers in his drive to bring change to Edo.
Five years down the road, Oshiomhole stands out shining as an example of what a political leadership could do in turning around the fortunes of a people. One major achievement of the administration, led by the former labour leader, is the support to security agencies with the aim of combating insecurity in the state.
Prior to his assumption of office, crime rate in Edo was high. The administration has continued to support the Nigeria Police, the Army, the Air Force, the Department of State Security, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as Neighborhood Watch massively to discharge their duties. However, we are not unaware of the sabotage efforts of the opposition party, the PDP, to fuel insecurity in the state. It will only take a short while before all those involved will have justice delivered to their doorsteps.
The health sector has witnessed massive transformation as well. Hospitals are being upgraded across the state. The Central Hospital, along Sapele Road in Benin, is home to a multi-million Naira project, which, when completed, would compare to any modern hospital in the world. It targets bringing an end to Edo people traveling overseas for medical attention. Realising the importance of education, which is one of the biggest industries of his people, Oshiomhole has made educational revolution in the state a cardinal objective of his administration. One of the greatest achievements of the APC-led administration in the education sector is “the red roof revolution” as it is now being referred to, even by the worst critics of government which is an open acknowledgement of the transformation of public schools in the state.
Though he has been criticised for using red aluminium roofing sheets in place of the zinc used by previous governments, the formerly neglected public schools in the state have received a boost.
Tertiary education institutions under the administrations are also doing well. Subventions to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, College of Education, Ekiadolor and Igueben have been consciously jerked up while the Institute of Management and Technology as well as College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi have been upgraded and accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). Efforts are continuing to keep education at pace with what obtains in developed societies.
What is evident everywhere is that strong institutions are being built so that generations to come in Edo will have a very solid foundation to contribute their quota to societal development. This is evident in the enactment of the Public Procurement Law in Edo, the pursuit of the Criminal Justice Reforms, and the strengthening of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, BIR, among others.
Water has been roundly provided for the people. Edo South, North and Central now have water flowing from boreholes provided by the Oshiomhole government. This has drastically reduced water borne diseases which used to be prevalent in Edo North and Central.
Perhaps what needs to be done now is for a consolidation of Oshiomhole’s achievements as a means of sustaining the gains of democracy in the state and this is where the need to support Mr Godwin Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in the September 10 election in Edo, to succeed the Comrade Governor comes to the fore.
Obaseki, who has been part of the Oshiomhole team for the past seven years, helping, as the head of the Economic Team, to mobilise funds for the state government infrastructural development, cannot be said to be less qualified to succeed his boss.
He recently spoke on his accomplishments and why Edo needs somebody like him to be in the saddle at the Government House after Oshiomhole’s tenure: “Because the future is going to be more challenging than where we are coming from, we run a huge risk of losing the gains of what we have accomplished. What are those things that we have accomplished? First, we had to restore effects of governance by ensuring a sense of accountability, professionalism in the civil service, planning which helped us to earn the trust of people and getting money to execute projects. After going through all these, I realised that we have done the easy part, because we had a plan and money to build infrastructure and now created that expectation from the people that if government can, then it should continue to do it, but we are going into an era where oil prices have dropped drastically and those expectations are real and can still be accomplished, but with a different mind-set and management style.”
The governorship hopeful went further: “Looking around, I felt that it can’t just be politics only, it has to be politics mixed with some capacity to manage resources in difficult times and I think that I am more than qualified. If there is anybody in the race today, who has the experience in terms of managing resources and government, I am that person. I agree that I don’t have 30 years of political experience behind me, but I have more than seven years’ experience of monitoring political activities in Edo State. What we need at this point in time is not just someone who is adept to politics alone. We need someone who has managerial ability. So, I feel that I have that advantage of being able to handle both.”
I can’t agree less with him.
Ibekwe, an accountant, is based in Furgar, Edo State