Need for continuity in Edo State

The people of Edo State will go to the polls to choose Adam Oshiomhole’s successor this weekend. The campaigns have reached a crescendo, as the two major candidates, Godwin Obaseki and Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamuare selling their parties.Edo people don’t need to search far before making up their minds on who among the candidates to vote for.

Apart from the fact that Obaseki, who is flying the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has a good head start because Oshiomhole  has given him a lot to market, in terms of achievements, the electorate are not sure who the authentic candidate of the  PDP is between Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the Senator Ahmed Markarfi-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Matthew Iduoriyekemwen of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction. For this reason, the electorateshould to vote for the candidate whose candidacy is sure, and whose party has transformed the state in the last seven years.

Considering the antecedents of the two parties in the state, there is no gainsaying the fact that Edo should borrow a leaf from Lagos State, where an unbroken chain of progressive governments makes it the most economically viable state in Nigeria, increasing her Internally Generated Revenue from a meagre N600 million in 1999 to an average of N23 billion in 2016, with a plan to hit N30billion monthly in 2017 and N50billion in 2018.

The governor of Edo in 1999, Lucky Igbinedion spent two terms and left the state in ruins. Lucky was re-elected through the usual PDP magic and the state was the worse for it. Professor  OserheimenOsunbor succeeded Igbinedion, after rigging out Adams Oshiomhole in 2007. But the Court of Appeal overturned his victory and declared Oshiomhole the actual winner on November 12, 2008.

While agreeing that the period Osunbor spent as governor of the state (May 29, 2007 to Nov 12, 2008) was so short for proper assessment, the fact remains that no meaningful achievement would have been recorded by his administration, even if it had not been terminated by a judicial hammer. As ProfessorOsunbor noted on why he left the PDP, “I was not loyal because I refused to share the money meant to develop the state while I was the governor. That was why they started fighting me.” Osunbor meant well for Edo people, but the hawks who surrounded him in his party wouldn’t have allowed him to work. It was the same Mafia that the comrade governor fought to a stand-still and rescued the state from the jaws of vampires!

There is no need for further proof that the PDP as a party never meant well for the state. Edo should not lose her opportunity of voting for continuity as they have tested both parties and can conclude which party has actually done better, in terms of human capital development and infrastructure. Yoruba would say “otigbepowo, otigbomiwo, o timoeyi to wuwoju” (you have lifted water and you have also lifted palm oil, so you know which is heavier). Edo people should know by now that any break from the present progressive government will spell doom for the state.

What has Oshiomhole done in seven and a half years to make continuity in Edo imperative?  The rot inherited by Oshiomholewas especially visible in the education sector, with the reign of miracle centres known for awarding undeserved grades to students for a fee. Oshiomhole embarked on surgical operation of the education sector and it was successful because the state that used to be graded 30th position in performance at national examinations has now moved to the second position. Edo is tuition-free for both primary and secondary school students, while buses were provided for school children. This has encouraged school enrolment and learning.

Oshiomhole excelled in massive construction of roads in the state capital and all the major towns down to the remotest village in Benin. It is obvious even to the blind, that road network in Benin and other parts of the state has greatly improved. Oshiomhole created a conducive environment for investment such that Edo became a haven for investors. The budgeting system was remodelled such that capital expenditure was given priority unlike in the past when recurrent expenditure was higher. The result of this are the projects spread across the state.

This has attracted many other businesses such as the bamboo wood furniture company in Anegbete, ceramics tiles company in Benin City and Yongxing steel company, which have recruited and trained  over 1,500 youths who are now gainfully employed.

Oshiomhole transformed the Ambrose Alli University at Ekpoma and made it a true citadel of learning. He built and commissioned three lecture theatres, two world class laboratories for medical and sciences students; completion of the moot court that was abandoned in 1991;  the agriculture extension services department; the Fine and Applied Arts department, and the Building department.  The monthly subvention of the university was increased from N100million to N250million, even as many projects are still ongoing in the university. He equally increased the monthly subvention of other higher institutions in the state.

When other oil-producing states are owing workers salaries running into six months, Oshiomhole is not only paying salaries promptly, but he has almost completed building a brand new Edo State University located at Iyamo, which can compete with any other university in the world.

Obaseki’s choice as a successor comes handy in this period of economic recession as he combines political value with the capacity to manage resources in difficult times. This combination is good for continuity and there is no doubt that Edo people will be the gainers if they vote APC.

Sunny, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benin-city.