The Hub

November 11, 2010

Beyond flower planting

By Josef Omorotionmwan
WHETHER in politics or in business, or in any other field of human endeavour for that matter, consensus building demands a lot of compromise, horse-trading and the spirit of give and take.

That explains why we would want to accept the phraseology of critics, or rather, cynics, of the Oshiomhole administration as a title for this piece. Once in a while, consensus builders must attempt to meet people of opposite persuasion midway.

That’s how flower planting has apparently become a perfect metaphor for the administration of Adams Oshiomhole.

It is now two years since the Court of Appeal, sitting in Benin City, restored life to the current administration in Edo State. Mid term in the life of any organisation is an appropriate time for stock-taking and performance evaluation, hence it is now necessary to pause for a while and ask how the flowers are doing.

Before going into business proper, it is necessary to catch a glimpse of where the administration is coming from. We remember Kwame Nkruma (1909-1972) who always insisted that the best way of appreciating where you are now is by looking at where you are coming from.

The Oshiomhole administration arrived when Edo State was in coma, so to say, after decades of corrosion, rot and eventual near collapse; at a time when everybody had virtually given up hope.

And don’t forget, the administration came in, totally bruised from a long-drawn battle at the Tribunal and Court of Appeal. It is not also easy to forget that the administration had to begin from a zero base in which essentially, even the implement for the initial flower planting was not on ground.

At the point of arrival, the first duty before the administration was to mobilize the public to face the fearsome new economic realities. In the process, Oshiomhole had to deliver what people called bad news and he had to transform crises into triumphs.

He had to effect a major change in our political life: getting the public to think about long-term solutions rather than short-term balms; getting the people to think of long-term gains instead of instant gratification; teaching the people to believe that nothing good comes easy and in any case, there was not going to be free lunch anymore.

Anyone intent on reaping the benefits of governance must also be prepared to pay tax. The period was a challenge to history. All along, Oshiomhole remained level-headed through a season that many would have regarded as one of political insanity. After all, Oshiomhole is an ordinary man except that he is doing extraordinary things.

Two years after, the flowers are growing. They have pleasantly metamorphosed into huge urban renewal programmes in which people are seeing beautiful roads, properly paved streets with decent drainages and properly manicured walkways in the major cities across the State.

The flowers are growing in the rural areas where potable water and electricity are springing up everywhere. The flowers are blossoming in the education sector, where hitherto ramshackle and dilapidated classrooms are giving way to most modern classroom blocks with state-of-the-art furnishing, some of which are not available in many of the advanced countries of the world.

The flowers have vastly moved into the transportation sector where 100 “tear rubber” luxury buses were released into the streets of Benin City alone. Two years ago, if a soothsayer had predicted that some day, our school children and market women would go to school and market in air-conditioned buses, he would have been asked to subject his head for examination.

The flowers are growing in the sports arena and that’s how the Ogbemudia Stadium has suddenly attained the status of an Olympic stadium, comparable to any in the world.

The State-owned media are not left out and that explains why The Nigerian Observer and the Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS) are gradually developing towering profiles and the man will get there!

We can go on enumerating the concrete achievements of this administration but for lack of space, some detailed aspects of this must be left to public relation officers. Suffice it to say that no sector is left out in this crusade.

Elsewhere in the more advanced world, most viable projects are normally executed on borrowed money. Oshiomhole wants to work. Recently, he approached, and got the approval of the State House of Assembly, for a N30 billion development bond. But detractors would stop at nothing to stop him from floating the bond.

The moral message of these detractors is: Why won’t this man stop working and stop embarrassing us? Unknown to them, though, they are merely advertising the bond issue and in due season, it will be ten times over-subscribed. Watch out!

And the House of horror is at it again. Could somebody please remind this House to put its mouth where its functions are? In fact, we are not as disappointed with the wishy-washy resolution aimed at pushing the Federal Government into the deep sea trouble of withholding the allocation to our local governments, as we are with some decent people who are listening to them.

Is it no longer folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss? Which of those ten-for-a-kobo resolutions will ever have the force of law?

Two years after, Oshiomhole’s flowers are growing and inspiring hope. Hope remains God’s greatest gift to humanity. It is the bedrock of a nation; the belief in things not seen; and the belief that there are better days ahead. Two years after, the message is coming out loud and clear: we are merely at the end of the beginning!