By SIMON EBEGBULEM
HISTORY was made in Edo State on November 12, 2008, when the former labour leader, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the April 14, 2007 governorship election was sworn in as the fourth civilian Governor of the state.
He was able to achieve the feat after a protracted legal battle with the governorship candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor.
The legal war ended on November 11, 2008 after the Appeal Court in Benin, presided over by Justice Ayo Salami, declared Comrade Oshiomhole the authentic winner of the 2007 governorship election in Edo State, thereby annulling the earlier declaration of Prof. Osunbor as Governor of the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Oshiomhole’s administration will be three years this Saturday, November 12, 2011 and it has been three years loaded with activities.
In his acceptance speech at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the governor vowed to judiciously utilize the state resources in revamping the decayed infrastructure he met on ground, particularly in the areas of roads, education, flood and erosion control.
He also vowed to demystify governance and ensure the end of god fatherism in the politics of the state. Before his coming, the people of the state suffered in the areas of infrastructures and other basic amenities of life and that was the secret behind the success of the Comrade Governor at the polls.
Having seen the problems confronting the state, the Governor decided to set up an economic team with a view to holistically solving the problems. It took about six months before the people of the state started feeling the impact of governance in the state and as a result he received serious criticisms from the opposition PDP, who accused him of not commissioning any visible project after one year in office.
Resources of the state
The Governor, however, stood his ground, explaining that rather than waste the resources of the state by embarking on projects that will not stand the test of time, he would rather plan better to do a solid job. And after brainstorming with members of the team, he rolled out caterpillars in the three senatorial districts of the state.
So far, there is no doubt that he has exhibited so much zeal and passion in finding solution to the infrastructural problems in the state. In three years in office, the people of the state have witnessed visible infrastructures considering the fact that little or nothing was on ground before he assumed office.
The Oshiomhole administration has also made giant strides in boosting the state Internally Generated Revenue. The state IGR during the administration of Prof.Osunbor was N350million monthly, but has now sky rocketed to N1.6billion.
Though some members of the public have described the tax regime of the state government as callous and anti people, but the Governor has always insisted that the tax being demanded from the people were normal taxes enshrined by law, and assured however that “any tax received will be used to develop this state.”
Boosting IGR: Stressing the need to boost IGR, he said: “We need to boost our IGR because we cannot rely only the funds accrued to the state from the Federation account because we have erosion problems and we need to check flooding in Benin City and other parts of the state.
These projects require massive funding and any kobo that is received will be accounted for. Edo state is working and we are happy to be working. I must deliver on my electoral promises”.
As it seems, Oshiomhole is very mindful about the forthcoming 2012 governorship election and he wants to ensure that most of his key projects are completed. Fortunately for him, he has gotten the endorsement of his party leadership for the election and traditional rulers in the state have also backed his second term ambition.
The revered Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa has also not hidden his support for the governor and had tacitly backed him for the 2012 governorship election. There is no doubt that the governor may beat his chest to say that the three years in office have been well spent.
However, the state PDP led by Chief Dan Orbih, described the three years of Governor Oshiomhole as one filled “ with unfulfilled promises”. According to him, “It has been three years of unfulfilled promises. Failed expectations and deceit. Oshiomhole has elevated propaganda as an instrument of government.
To the disappointment of Edo people, everywhere you look at is abandoned and uncompleted projects, three years after the expansion of Airport Road walkways have not been completed.
We have challenged him to disclose the total amount he has paid so far on that project and what he has re-awarded it for. For three years we have seen inflated contracts for the renovation of a few schools. Part of the money for the schools was paid by the Federal Government but it pleases Oshiomhole to say that he did the renovations. We have seen three years of growing insecurity and increase in school fees in our state university. Three years of heavy taxation and demolition of houses.”