Edo: APC, PDP at war over Obaseki’s scorecard
Recently, the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State rolled out the drums in celebration of a successful one year tenure. But that occasion also presented the opportunity for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to highlight the failures of the administration. Banji Aluko writes on the unending feud between the two parties.
In its traditional role as the main opposition party in Edo State, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gathered journalists and party members together to examine the government of Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State after it had superintended over the affairs of the state for one year. Few days earlier, the Obaseki government had ditched the traditional one-year celebration and organised the Alaghodaro Summit, an investment summit to mark its one-year in office.
The state government declared that its economic summit will aid the ease of doing business in the state and lift its internally generated revenue. Chairman of Alaghodaro 2017 Organising Committee, Asue Ighodalo, said ahead of the summit that it was planned to showcase economic and institutional reforms being implemented by the Godwin Obaseki-led administration.
He said: “Governments are looking beyond oil to alternative revenue sources in order to ensure sustainable development, and we must also get creative and take action today for our future and the future of our children.” Panelists at the summit included the former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Steve Oronsaye; Co-founder, BudgIT, Seun Onigbinde and Andrew Nevin of PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
He stated that the sub-national data from the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report in 2014, indicated that Edo State ranks 33 in dealing with construction permits, 14 in starting a business, 34 in registering property and fifth in enforcing contracts in comparison with other states in Nigeria adding that by passing the Private Property Protection Law, the state took an important first step in changing the narrative.
Stakeholders and supporters of the government saw the summit as a success but the state chapter of the PDP was unimpressed. The PDP reflected on the summit and declared that it was convinced there was no reason to celebrate Obaseki’s one year in office at all. State Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, listed some of the challenges facing the Edo people in the first one year of Obaseki to include the plight of Edo pensioners, the sorry state of the health sector, pathetic condition of federal roads in the state, the Edo accumulated debt profile, unprofitable foreign trips by the governor, a regressive tax policy, corruption, insensitivity, misplaced priorities, proposed sale of assets and insecurity adding that Obaseki’s one year in office should be a period of sober reflection and not celebration.
Orbih also reminded the Obaseki-led All Progressive Congress (APC) that after nine successive years of the APC and its allied parties, the PDP can no longer be held responsible for the problems facing the state. He drew comparison between the Obaseki government and that of his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, pointing out that like Oshiomhole, Obaseki has started pointing fingers at the PDP for the woes confronting the state. While faulting the approach to governance of Obaseki, the Orbih suggested steps that could be taken to better the lots of the Edo people saying, “we don’t only criticize; we proffer solutions.”
He said, “All that we have seen in the past one year is that Governor Obaseki is conducting himself as if he is still campaigning. He is still making promises at every given occasion. He will be saying, ‘our government will do this,’ ‘we will partner with that,’ ,we will establish this, we will train that.’ A year after taking over government. I want to tell Obaseki that the days of campaigning are over. I want him to face the business of governing the state.
“Today, Obaseki cannot look back and blame a PDP government for the problems facing Edo State. The only government he can now blame is the eight years of Adams Oshiomhole as we are now completely out of the picture. In the past, at every turn, they will say the problem was created by the PDP government. That can no longer hold water. Nobody should look further than APC for the plight of our workers, who worked tirelessly for the state but are now being treated in this shocking manner.
“On daily basis, pensioners have been protesting and demanding their entitlements. Unfortunately, they have been blackmailed and intimidated by a government that accused them of being sponsored by the PDP. The reason why they have not been able to address the problems facing pensioners is simple. For the past eight years of Adams Oshiomhole and one year of Godwin Obaseki, they turned the Edo State Pension Board to a den of thieves that was operated by their party officials in collaboration with some government officials.
“As we speak, the Edo APC women leader is facing trial over the heist in the pension board. We don’t only criticise; we proffer solution. We believe the problem facing the pensioners is not above any serious-minded person could tackle, but instead of channelling resources to take care of the pensioners, the Obaseki government organised a talk show and termed it ‘Investment Summit’.”
On the Alaghodaro Summit, Orbih said the event was not more than a coming together of friends of Governor Obaseki, those who financed his election and staffs of the governor’s company. He noted that the governor gathered his friends, called some few people to speak and entertained them and put a huge bill on the state. He said crisis looms in the health sector with the warning strike recently embarked upon by the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), adding that the doctors were clear in their demands to the state government.
He said, “Today, there is an unbelievable lack of manpower to attend to the health needs of patients. Outside that, there are no basic essential facilities in the health centres. I’m aware that surgeries are done in some hospitals with torchlight and candles. Are they still going to blame the problems in the state health sector on the PDP?
Anybody talking about past governments in Edo State should focus on the eight years of Adams Oshiomhole, an APC governor. Just like the doctors, we in the PDP are very disappointed with what is happening in the Edo State health sector.
“In the latest report by the Debt Management Office, it has been shown that Edo State along with Lagos State are the most indebted state in the country. As at the time, Oshiomhole handed over to Obaseki, Edo’s foreign debt stood at $179.52. As at today, Edo’s foreign debt is $213.95. Within one year, Obaseki has increased Edo foreign debt profile by $34.43. It appears the Primary Six certificate holder managed Edo’s debt profile better than the so-called technocrat.
“In the past one year, Obaseki has surpassed the record set by Oshiomhole in terms of foreign trips. Regrettably, Oshiomhole’s foreign trip attracted zero foreign investor to Edo State. In the same manner, we have no doubt that these trips by Obaseki will not attract any investor or investment to Edo State.
The state government however denounced PDP’s criticisms, adding that the opposition party was “still stuck in archaic and medieval governance style.” Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy to the Edo State Governor, Mr Crusoe Osagie, who stated this, pointed out that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration was forward-looking and has since moved on with result-oriented governance that is backed by millions of discerning Edo people.
Commenting on the PDP’s appraisal of the Alaghodaro Summit, which he said received commendations from the international community, the federal government and other state governments, Osagie said, “the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) again demonstrated its lack of capacity to appreciate the new direction the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration is taking the state with the opposition party’s consistent embarrassing comments on the well thought-out programmes of the APC. He noted that the very few people still left in the ragtag drowning PDP have shown that they are stuck with their medieval and archaic approach to governance, by attempting to tarnish the rising profile the state has earned with her lofty programmes, especially the Alaghodaro Investment Summit.
He said: “We wish that the PDP remnant will follow their former members who have evolved from stomach-seeking politics, have come to terms with the new people-oriented governance and have found a place in the APC. It is not surprising to see that the feeble PDP remnants cannot see the benefits of an investment summit that assembled over 5,000 business leaders from across the world in Edo State to discuss the opportunities that abound in our state.”
According to the governor’s spokesman, “these are companies that are investing billions of dollars in Edo State, including the chief executives of BUA Group whose $1billion 3million tonnes cement plant was inaugurated by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, recently in Okpella, Edo State; the President of Dangote Group that is kicking off a $1 billion cement factory in Okpella to expand its cement production in Nigeria; the Mahindra Group that is collaborating with the Edo State Government to build the N200billion Benin Industrial Park and Tolaram group to mention a few.”