Only two political parties are hopeful of winning the 2012 governorship election in Edo State: The ruling Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. And since it is now clear that ACN is sticking to the comrade governor, it is left for the PDP, as the main opposition party, to provide the state with an alternative whose antecedents do not fall short of the peoples expectation come 2012.
Apart from the determination of the PDP to bounce back to relevance in the politics and governance of Edo, the party must know, at this time, that majority of the people look up to them to rescue the state from the draconian rule of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
The PDP should know that the people are looking up to the party to give them Senator Oserhiemen Osunbor, whose eighteen months as governor of Edo produced the only track record of performance the party can boast of today in the state. Edo people want Osunbor as their next governor for reasons that are verifiable.
They want Osunbor because during the one and a half years he spent in office as governor, he created a new platform for good governance, people friendly-policies, programmes and projects and fair distribution of democracy dividends, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and quality education at all levels.
He is wanted because of his overall vision for a new and improved Edo State that is premised on the creation of an enabling environment for commerce and industry to thrive. Osunbor is wanted for encouraging massive food production to ensure self sufficiency.
He is wanted to continue with the development and promotion of tourism, arts and craft, exploring and exploiting the rich solid mineral base which his administration started during the eighteen months period he was in the saddle.
It is on record that Osunbor’s administration introduced a purposeful educational policy that placed emphasis on information technology. He articulated programmes for women and youths, and found roles for our traditional rulers and chiefs.
The Osunbor regime was able to put in place an effective and result-oriented security system for the protection of life and property of Edo citizens and residents, to the effect that violent crimes and other criminal activities in the state were reduced to the barest minimum.
Edo people want Osunbor for his dedication to poverty eradication by carefully instituting a dedicated poverty eradication programme where over two thousand youths were engaged by the state government in the back to land agricultural programme.
In addition to that, over a thousand Edo indigenes benefited from the administration’s micro-credit facility for traders and artisans.
Osunbor is wanted because his administration tackled the problem of infrastructure decay in the state by constructing and renovating new and existing infrastructure, especially roads, water supply and electricity. These, he did, with a human face without having to displace anybody from his place of residence or business premises.
Osunbor is best remembered for his human approach to governance. He ensured that the needs of the people were met within the available resources of the state without having to take anything back from them through the backdoor which is the practice of the present state government.
Between May 29, 2007 and November 11, 2008, the Osunbor administration increased the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state through a focused and transparent leadership. He introduced the automated pattern of revenue collection which ensured the blockage of leakages.
The revenue profile of the state rose to an all-time high yet the people did not have to cry over astronomical hike in taxes and other revenues payable to government.
Osunbor radically revamped and developed the agricultural sector for food sufficiency and mass employment through rural roads construction and rehabilitation, water supply to over 180,000 farming families in the state under the Agricultural Development Programme at Ojirami, Usen, Okpella and Ikabigbo. There is no area or sector in Edo that did not feel the positive impact of Osunbor’s administration within the short period of his reign.
Taking into account Osunbor’s track record in democratic governance, the PDP will do well by looking in the direction of the tried and trusted professor of law, two-time senator and ex-governor in deciding its candidate in the Edo 2012 gubernatorial race.
*Francis Osawe, a legal practitioner, is resident in Benin City.