The governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has come and gone but the lessons learnt are still with us. For everyone, who gathered at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium that day, and who followed events that surrounded the gubernatorial primaries, the message was clear and simple–democracy and popular political participation have taken root in Edo State. Gone are the days of godfatherism and favoritism; the people now lead and decide who presides over their affairs. Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, had earlier declared his role in the primary of his party few days before the conduct of the exercise. He said as the chief security officer of the state, his duties were to ensure that there was no violence that day and to ensure that the life of everyone connected to the exercise was protected.
One must say that one is not prepared to rehearse the ignoble drollery of the past here. Governor Oshiomhole had taken it upon himself the task of liquidating the godfathers and godfatherism in Edo State. This determination became the operational mantra of Oshiomhole’s first term in office and to that effect, he erected billboards across the state proclaiming war against godfatherism. Not done with that, jingles were aired on radio and television stations proclaiming the end of godfatherism.
When Oshiomhole declared some few years ago that godfatherism had been banished from the politics of Edo State, not many people took him serious because of the powers wielded by the then godfathers. Oshiomhole first annihilated the godfathers and their co-travelers in 2008 when the Appeal Court declared him winner of the 2007 Edo State governorship election. No thanks to Abuja, these men, who hitherto held Edo State by the jugular, survived on an oxygen supplied them by the notorious government in Abuja. The final conquest was completed in 2015 as the godfathers and their evil party were completely uprooted from the seat of government, leaving their hangers-on in Edo without lifeline.
Terminally ill and gasping for breath, the godfathers and their collaborators, who nearly grounded Edo State, are trying to stage a comeback in order to continue to dehumanise and pauperise the Edo people. Oshiomhole, however, showed them how the business of politics should be conducted with the June 18, 2016, governorship primaries of the APC. The governor saw the need to support Edo people to produce the governor that will take them to the next level and he worked with them. For the avoidance of doubts, Oshiomhole did not say he would impose a governor on Edo people. What the governor said was that fairness, equity, justice and good conscience demand that Edo people should be supported to produce the next governor.
This is a sentiment, whose time has come and Edo people should commend our governor for having the presence of mind to situate the true position of the socio-political challenges facing our dear state. The fact that the September 10, 2016, Edo State governorship election presents a viable opportunity to begin this novel and peaceable system should be welcomed by all and sundry. The fact that Oshiomhole carries the cross and the crown of Edo State at this point in time should also make his depositions sacrosanct. For this important reason, 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 a 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. As he said, the challenge for every true Edo son and daughter is to search for credible, patriotic and honest citizens from Edo State to support the APC agenda to put Edo State on the path of sustainable development.
The good thing is that the winner of the primary election, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, does not need introduction in Edo politics. Obaseki currently serves as the chairman of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team. He served as founding secretary for a New York based US Africa Chamber of Commerce as far back as 1992. Obaseki as chairman of the Edo State Economic Team has advised Governor Oshiomhole to take upon himself some seemingly impossible but ambitious tasks that are about to turn the economy of Edo State around.
The Azura/Edo Independent Power Project and Edo Water Storm project are two examples. The former is a $1 billion project and the first Nigerian power project to benefit from the World Bank’s risk guarantee status that was covered by the global bank’s Partial Risk Guarantee structure for developing needs of emerging global markets. It is an evidence that the state is a viable centre for global investment. Obaseki was also instrumental to the setting up of the 450MW Azura-Edo gas power project, BUA Cement Okpella, Dangote Cement Okpella and others.
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 has made 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 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, a public affairs analyst, writes from Benin City, Edo State.