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Oshiomhole now has the opportunity to make a difference

By  Jefferson Uwoghiren

In few days, it will be a year, since the Comrade Governor assumed the reigns of leadership as the Executive Governor of Edo State .

It is an apt time to assess the impacts of his policies, deconstruct them and distinguish the fads from the fallacious.

A government is generally judged by its actions upon the citizens and by its actions upon the society, what it makes of the citizen and what it does with them. Its tendency to improve or determine the material conditions of the people and the relative impacts of its policies on the people.

I think a year is a sufficient time line to access the impacts of the Weapons of Mass Seduction, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole unleashed upon Edo people, when he walked unto the political stage donning the sartorial symbolism of an all khaki ensemble, complete with epaulette and rank, mesmerizing the people with his much ballyhooed and now abandoned but deceptively famous slogan “Action Congress, Bye-Bye to Poverty”.

The honeymoon is over. Today, a new face of poverty stares us all. The grim and undiluted reality in the State is that our Comrade Governor has not done much. Like a huge joke, we have precipitously slided from a remarkable odyssey of certainly to a state, where things are not working well. Unexplained upsurge in violent crimes has resulted in massive disinvestments and the painful relocation of very many people, owing to what has been described as leadership failure.

This failure of leadership arising either from sheer incompetence or autochthonous unwillingness to lead has equally spawned a new form of restrained angst, repressed shocks and revulsive revue. Many have increasingly lost faith and confidence in the ability of government to protect.

The consequential heightened state of imperfect protection and security has emboldened many to violently resolve private conflicts without recourse to law and because our laws are not self – enforcing, the lawless scoffs. The resultant hobbesian avenging of real and supposed wrongs has created a fresh vista of lawful disorder. Every man, for himself.

All these are some of the results of the flawed process of governance the Comrade Governor enunciated, when he introduced an administrative model,  known by political scientists as the “spoke of the wheel”,  wherein every political appointee is given equal access to brief.

The spoke of the wheel model of governance has caused much chaos, for the system, where co-equal subordinates compete for authority. The devastating consequence of this policy for decision making is that the Governor ruefully became incapacitated to effectively govern.

It made him jack of all problems and the master of some, to put it mildly. He became the vacillating all knowing boss, when he should have known that you can only gain power by giving some away.

Unfortunately, the circumstances and urgency of our situation as a State did not allow for such luxurious self-indulgence and short-sighted experimentation. But he persisted and today, almost a year after, we still await his action.

Watching him on television, sometime ago, as he conducted a meeting of EXCO he came off, so aggressively that members trembled. He attacks with his intellect, criticizing, demeaning, ridiculing and humiliating to such an extent that members with contradictory ideas have to be willing to take the guff to put them forward.

This is the face of governance in the State, impatience capacity to accept constructive criticisms.

In just eleven months, our Governor has nearly squandered the legacy of popular mass support he inherited, when Edo people adroitly and in response to the crisis of leadership of Igbinedion years, developed a frame of reference which challenged certain values,  including the naked struggle for wealth and power leading to a structuralization of reaction, which the people fuelled and led.

Deploying the broad propaganda techniques of sartorial symbolism, repetition and gross oversimplification, he found a ready response among the long suffering and benighted masses of the State, whose distress and aspirations no longer found consolation and fulfillment in traditionally non-ideological  political elites.

With his charisma and great labour activist credentials, he struggled against the People Democratic Party in Edo State, through the apparatus of the khaki clad broom welding bike riders and local muscle men similar in act to the German sturmabteilung, known also as the storm troopers or brown shirt. It was a powerful, but localized revolt against the unconventional political behaviour, which the PDP then represented.

But as Adolf Hitler noted in his autobiographical book and political manual, Mein Kampf, the masses revolutions never really brought the masses to power, instead they replace “decadent” elites with more vigorous ones. So all a shrewd politician need is ability in manipulative reality.

According Hitler, all propaganda must be popular and it intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. “The receptivity of the greater masses is very limited,

their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans, until the last member of the public understanding what you want him to understand by your slogan”.

In the past months, it is apparent our Governor had internalized the neurotic advices of the Fuhrer by his demagogic dispensation against the financially challenged masses that put him in office. He exhibit no urgency in dealing with their problems and he is more likely to be seen at the airports in Lagos, Benin, Abuja and Kaduna, on the way to some mundane functions than in his office in Benin dealing with the exasperating hunger, fear and anxieties  facing them.

When he chooses to address them, he starts with all sorts of premises, proceeding perfectly. There are obvious gaping holes in his understanding of the complex nature of our problems, which many believe has resulted in some hurtful policies.

The appalling conditions of public schools exemplify one of these policies. It is an assault on knowledge and its distributive processes for these conditions to have remained for so long. While our Governor intercede in Abuja in resolving the ASUU crisis, 80% of public schools in the State are in dare need of rehabilitation and intervention.

The  conditions of these schools, that is the saving grace of the poor masses he purport to represent, who cannot send their children to private schools or abroad, represent clear and present danger to the lives of these indigent students.

In Anglican Girls Grammar School, GRA, Benin City, a school with a great tradition and reputation for producing eminent personalities, including Senator Daisy Danjuma, it is always a heart rending sight to see our poor little angels and future leaders, go through the agonizing spectre of receiving lectures in “Open Air” classrooms with teachers holding umbrellas, while they teach.

Yet our Governor is begging late Chief Gani Fawehimi’s family to accept N25m naira from him as contribution to the proposed Gani Fawehimi fund. Daily, our children bear the brunt of the needless power show between the House of Assembly and the Governor over the House refusal or unwillingness to clear certain powerful persons presented as Board members of the State UBE.

To my friends, his media handlers, a year in a four year term is an insufficient time to access and gauge ability to combat year long problems, but it is the morning that makes the day. The time to start is now. Admittedly all these happenstance are reflective of a learning process, but how do we explain his “instead of horse wips, I shall chase you with scorpion” altitude, that has accompanied the implementation of some policies. He needs to change perspectives and re-engage the people again for inspiration. A

As he faces the difficult transition from the promise, the world euphoria of a political campaign to the role up-your-sleeves reality of governance, he should note that he has a one in life opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people, as History the great Chief Judge, will not absolve him, if he fails.

* Uwoghiren, is a Benin City based legal practitioner.


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