By OKHAREDIA IHIMEKPEN
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and the Iyasele of Esan land, Chief Tony Akahon Anenih, struck the right note as he addressed a rally of Edo people at the NTA pavilion, Benin City, to mark his partyâ€™s sensitization and unity rally. The welfare of the people, he said, constitutes about 70 percent of the responsibility of any government and that their development should be accorded great attention always as in the words of his partyâ€™s slogan that political power belongs to the people. He reminded the electorate of the duty they owe the society, namely to always elect a government they deserve, a venture that will make the government an asset rather than aÂ liability to the course of society building.
He didnâ€™t stop there. Realizing that Oshiomhole and his Action Congress, AC, government have become the peopleâ€™s burden for one year and over now and that to change the situation is an assignment that goes beyond mere realization of the situation, he committed his party members to the provision of good governance, saying, â€œWe will put in place a peopleâ€™s government in the Dennis Osadebe Avenue, it may take us weeks, months or two years, but we shall get there to relieve the people of their burden and, in the meantime, we shall make constructive criticism ofÂ the Oshiomhole government when it is necessary to do so.â€
Good talk, particularly now when the peopleâ€™s attention is expected to be focused on what I can call a dialogue with the future. The general welfare of the people is the prime motive of government and it is the electorate and the people that must define the shape of that future. And that definition, if not to be late, must be done here and now. There is no doubt that the state is today in a vicious circle. This is so because the Lucky Igbinedion administration cabal which today is represented by Adams Oshiomhole administration and which has ruled the state since 1999 has held the people hostage with poverty, and socio-economic disconnection as a result of dismantling the economic premises of the peopleâ€™s means of livelihood without compensation. This is fueled by mass unemployment and compounded by government intrigues, making democracy mere tantalizing dream.
On October 18, 2009, the PDP, through its publicity secretary, Nosa Adams, in an advertorial, condemned the Oshiomholeâ€™s government that part of the decay in his government is the continuous retention of those elements that conspired in the Igbinedion eight years ignoble rule to impoverish the Edo people as the leopard hardly changes it colours; instead of allowing Oshiomhole to listen to the constructive criticism, Abdul Oroh, who, when in the PDP and in the House of Representatives led a disgraceful campaign of the Obasanjo third term agenda, in his reply, resorted to the language of a guttersnipe. In a rather poorly written defense as he failed to address the issues raised, with very poor syntax, he demonstrated an infantile journalism.
Oshiomholeâ€™s government is indeed prone to flattery. After all, was it not the likes of Abdul Oroh, Oshiomholeâ€™s image maker, that characterized the Igbiendionâ€™s misrule for eight years? It is interesting that the people themselves are already taking their fate in their hands as could be seen in their reaction to the Oshiomhole nebulous protection of government property or otherwise known as the demolition of the peopleâ€™s properties.
Today, Edo people have found themselves like people moving between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born and, before the long expected dawn breaks, they may have been engulfed in a new darkness that can give birth to anything.
Before the August 27, 1991 state creation exercise which gave birth to Edo and Delta states, the defunct Bendel State, from which both states were excised, had a reputation for excellence in all spheres. The popular slogan â€œBendel No. 1â€ was, therefore, in deference to the leading position of the state among other states of the federation. Our sister state, Delta, seems to have sent us a signal that â€œBrother, look! Democracy has come to stay with us and other progressive states of Nigeria are ready to move on with or without you.â€ These are the many challenges Edo people expect the Dan Obih-led PDP to find solution to before the fall of the year 2012.
In Edo State today, even primary school pupils still have to pay fees. The irony is of the state that quite unlike Lagos State which took time to plan for a mega city, Oshiomholeâ€™s government has no plan, as anything goes. As we match into the remaining years of Oshiomholeâ€™s rule, the image of the government begins to grow uglier. To reconstruct the future of the government of our dreams, we must start reconstructing the electorate. This brings in the significance of Anenihâ€™s dialogue with the future.
Ihimkpen is resident in Benin-City.