THOSE who accuse Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of dehumanising or traumatising the now famed Benin widow are strident in their view that the widow did not deserve to be so upbraided as the Governor did even as a law breaker.
They point to the fact of the widow’s profuse supplications as enough atonement serious enough to have melted the Comrade’s heart even if it is made of iron and steel. Some have also expressed indignation for the Comrade in words that clearly suggest they would give vent to their anger by throwing pebbles at the Governor were they to come in physical contact.
There is a point in all of this as Comrade Oshiomhole, a human being, infallible as we all are, admitted he failed to rein in his anger (by what he said as opposed to what he did) at a law-breaker caught in the act in public. But what would his accusers have wished he did? Is it that he failed to observe the injunction of Jesus Christ who told the woman accused of adultery in the Bible: ‘’Go and sin no more’’?
It is heart-warming that the Comrade Governor has since taken steps to remedy the damage his upbraid of the widow, Mrs. Joy Ifije, may have caused, not only to the widow but also the slur on his image as a humane, caring governor presiding over the lives and livelihood of all of us, including widows and widowers.
Profuse apologies have been offered and gladly and genuinely accepted in a manner that should humble Comrade Oshiomhole’s critics, including those who have attempted to gain political mileage from a mere human foible. Suddenly, Comrade Oshiomhole has thrown up the issue of widows and widowhood, awakening some political hawks from a slumber they and their torn-umbrella platform may not recover from easily.
The controversy the incident involving the widow has generated also clearly shows that we, the people, are beginning to imbibe Comrade Oshiomhole’s often restated idea that as masters of the servants we elected into public office, we owe it a duty to ourselves to interrogate those in power.
He had said several times in the past that we must speak to power in a manner that would not only keep those in power reminded that we are the masters but also point out to them the way we would like to be governed.
The case of the widow is a good example of how we the people live particularly in EdoState. We are unarguably very lawless people who like to be handled with iron fists. Those who reside in Benin City know that it can take only a tough, no-nonsense governor to change our city as well as our attitude towards orderliness and cleanliness for the better.
We require an unrelenting, hard and uncompromising implementation of laws, rules and regulations. All genuine efforts by the present administration to make our state better will come to nought if we the citizens do not contribute our quota to the sustenance of such government efforts.
Examples will suffice here. Traffic lights have been erected at major intersections/ junctions on major streets in Benin City. How many drivers, especially commercial drivers, obey these traffic lights erected to make for order on our roads?
It is only in Benin City that taxis and buses stop to pick or drop passengers right on the road and every other motorists must stop and move at the pleasure of the commercial drivers. Street lights and other beautification projects provided for our comfort and wellbeing have been destroyed or vandalised. Pedestrian walk ways on Mission Road, Oba Market Road and New Benin have become market stalls, while pedestrians have been pushed to the roads to compete with vehicles.
Monthly environmental sanitation exercises declared for the last Saturdays of every month are rarely observed as we think that three hours of the exercise is too much time to waste on keeping our homes and surroundings clean and healthy.
But when some of our people travel to other state capitals they come back with tales of how clean that city is, how orderly traffic flows in that other city. It takes human efforts on the part of the ordinary citizens to make laws work. In EdoState, it would appear that we make deliberate effort to circumvent traffic and environmental laws particularly.
It was this knowledge of our being adverse to change that brought Comrade Oshiomhole to the streets when he had an encounter with the Benin widow. Have we asked ourselves why our governor has to personally monitor the streets to ensure we comply with rules and regulations? This is the point we miss.
Two critical agencies, Taskforce on War Against Indiscipline, WAI and Edo State Traffic Management Agency, EDSTMA, created by this administration must be alive to their responsibilities not just in the enforcement of relevant laws but also in public education and enlightenment.
Their staff should be trained properly as many of them, most unfortunately, do not even know the laws or rules and regulations they are on the field to enforce. The state governor does not have to be on the streets by himself to monitor compliance with laws and regulations.
Relevant ministerial, departmental or agency heads have a responsibility to ensure that government policies, regulations and laws relevant to their ministries, departments and agencies are implemented to the letter.
The case of the Benin widow, rather than dampen the enthusiasm of the Comrade- Governor and his team to do what is right without fear or favour should spur them to intensify efforts at cleaning up our state capital, especially now that Mrs. Joy Ifije’s case has served as enough enlightenment and education to the people. It should be a case of no retreat, no surrender.
Mr. BLESSING YAKUBU, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Yenogoa, Bayelsa State.