On January 10, 2020, organised non-state actors in Edo State under the aegis of Edo State Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSOs) criticised the state government for what could at best be described as governments phobia and unnecessary sensitivity towards people holding town hall meetings in Edo State.
The group outlined 13 grounds upon which Edo State people want to ask critical questions but which they are being denied now that the government has unveiled plan to hold its very first town hall meeting in Lagos.
The group reminded the governor that that governance is a two-way thing, and that power is held by government in trust for the people.
It harped on the recent past when a town hall meeting in Benin City saved the planned sale of Edo Government House in Lagos by the immediate past governor of Edo State and current national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, with Obaseki as chairman of the economic team.
EDOCSOs itemised a 13-point questionnaire, drawing a long list of questions by the ordinary man and woman struggling, suffering and trying in vain to smile daily in Edo State’s harsh economic weather.
For example, the people of Edo State would like to know the drama or crimes that allegedly led to the arrest and detention in Europe of Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Osaze Osemwingie-Ero, one of the government’s most respected and likeable cabinet members who disappeared from the state for over a month now without explanation.
The people would also like to know how Mr Osemwingie-Ero came about the huge cash of USD 2 million allegedly found in his possession when he was arrested as well as what the governor and government are doing to bring him out of the problem.
We want a town hall meeting in Edo State. The people want to know what the government is doing and be able to ask critical questions. An invitation personally signed by Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki inviting guests to a town hall meeting scheduled for Sunday, January 19, 2020 at Billingsway in Oregun is already being circulated. It is not contestable that an elected government has a responsibility to give the people timely, critical and regular feedbacks, but there is much more than meets the eyes in Edo State government’s pursuit of a town hall meeting in Lagos.
What must be known by all citizens and observers is that there is an anticipated political gain to be made from holding a meeting (whether town hall or by any other name) in Lagos at this critical moment the state governor is confronted by internal and external rejections. It does not take rocket science for anybody to know that the great expectation is for a huge political gain.
The forthcoming town hall meeting in Lagos, ostensibly designed as an opportunity to present issues to Edo in ‘Diaspora’ is a life-saving chance to apologise and court foot soldiers’ support for a new friendship ahead of Governor Obaseki’s greatest battle in his life.
Sebastine Usifo Ebhuomhan,