By Okharedia Ihimekpen
Abdul Oroh, Governor Adams Oshiomholeâ€™s Commissioner for Information, and Charles Idahosa, the special adviser on political matters, have a Herculean task managing the image of their boss.
They had been in the media for over one year now, lecturing our media and audience on the virtues of objectivity and admonishing them to report Oshiomholeâ€™s government accurately byÂ bringing the reality of its development to the unsuspecting public.
The duo should have known from the onset that they were embarking on a mission made difficult by a combination ofÂ factors. First, they are the very wrong people to do this image managing. They are among the facesÂ that dominatedÂ theÂ Lucky Igbinedion government; which Oshiomholeâ€™s government hasÂ been battling to distance itself from since he came to power. The secondÂ factor is that media reports and the peopleâ€™s perception of the government do not emanate from nothing. One thing usually leads to another. For any government to stopÂ criticism by the opposition or do away with peoples apathy,Â the starting point is performance index. If you perform to the expectation of the public, the opposition parties will not manufacture adverseÂ reports. Of course, it is true that the opposition do exaggerate sometimes. They are at their best when the unusual happens. But if governance is bad, it will make a good constructive criticism in the words of the PDP national leader and Nigerian elder statesman, Chief Tony Anenih.Â Anenih is a political bull-dog of his time. Whatever is his political induced bias, he shares some socialist profound ideals. These are contempt for injustice and corruption, generosity of spirit and genuine love for good governance. Indeed, these concerns, threatened as they are in our current strained circumstances, have turned him and all lovers of democracy into fellow travelers in the vanguard for justice and good governance in a country he evidently lovesÂ so much.
Dilapidated school system, state hospitalsÂ reduced to mortuary centres, unprecedented bad state of our roads, Edo State that used to be number one inÂ positive things has now taken the back seat, as its chief executive is never in office to attend to files; instead, he jumps into every next available jet toÂ globe trot. The oppositionÂ is therefore bound to speak out.
Oshiomhole and his crowd mayÂ not like to hear this, but the fact is thatÂ there is angst among the people.Â And the reason is that Edo citizens are feeling worse-off than they were few years ago when the governorÂ cameÂ to power.
What makesÂ Oroh andÂ Idahosaâ€™s tasks particularly difficult is that they were amongÂ the faces that ran Igbinedionâ€™s infamousÂ administration for eight years.Â It must be emphasized that one of the negative effects of Igbinedionâ€™s government wasÂ (like Oshiomholeâ€™s government today) that the former governorÂ was never in the state. It was this development that elevated Pastor Ize Iyamu, his SSG, to a de-facto governor and reducing the then deputy governor to a glorified messenger.
Idahosa, a self-confessed apostle of the Igbinedion government, who was a special adviser, a liaison officer and later a commissioner of that era, seemsÂ not to have understood the rudiments of the game.
Imagine in theÂ 21st century when Barrak Obama, a Kenyan,Â can become the president ofÂ America; the chairman of Mina Local Government Council in Niger State is an Igbo indigene and the Lagos State publicity secretary of the AC is from Anambra,Â the like of Idahosa still cling to tribal chauvinism to survive in a polity that has gone digital. The court that brought in Oshiomhole in their mathematical voyage said the governorÂ got more votes in the Benin speaking area than he got in hisÂ senatorial district of Afemai. And here is Idahosa denigrating statesmenÂ likeÂ Anenih and Dr. Ogbemudia, not for the content of their character but because they may have come from wrong tribes of Idahosa.Â How sad!
As Edo people are yet to recover from this daily insult, they are again today confronted with the stark reality that Oshiomhole has spent over one yearÂ in office with so much motion without movement. Yes, it is true that he has partitioned Benin City Ring Road and demolishedÂ houses to plant flowers, but is that all we bargained for, forÂ one year and over? Is Ring Road Benin City? Is Benin the 18 local governmentsâ€™ area of the state? Where are the six-lane dualization, the erosion control and the revamping of schools we were promised?
Imagine what Oshiomhole has now inflicted on himself and his government. After over taxing the citizenry, he went into the educational institutions to increaseÂ school fees byÂ over 300%. As if this was not enough, he tried to manipulateÂ the state House of Assembly into impeachingÂ the speaker and change the leadership.Â This aims at rulingÂ the state as a tyrantÂ with a rubber stamp House of Assembly. Today, the state is in turmoil; Edo, is in, fact a failed state.
But the situationÂ can stillÂ be stemmed if theÂ resources of the state are properly mobilized forÂ growth and development, if the Oshiomholeâ€™s government hasÂ the courage to purge its ranks ofÂ tired, recycled faces who have nothing new to offer, if our infrastructure and a comprehensive health system are developed and our men in power set the highest examples in their every day lives.
* Ihimekpen is resident in Benin-City.
Only the other day, it was alleged that theÂ Oshiomhole government spent N800 millionÂ to receive fourÂ council chairmen from the PDP into his AC.Â It was also alleged that the governor spent N4 billion of the tax payers money to fight the PDP in the Etsako Central re-run election. These allegations have not been refuted.
Oshiomhole in his speech said that the PDP lacked internal democracy. One would have lovedÂ to ask him, does AC, his party, have it? How was his state chairman Tony Omoaghe elected? And how did heÂ become the AC candidate in 2007?
The criticism of the Edo government under OshiomholeÂ therefore lies not with the opposition parties or the PDP but with the governorÂ himself. So, beforeÂ Oroh andÂ Idahosa takes off again on another fire fighting mission, it will be useful for the duo to know that the fire ought to be extinguished right here at home. First by performance index and not with use of the sycophants.