By Simon Ebegbulem
THERE is no doubt that the  politics of Edo state took another dimension on the 12th of November, 2008, with the coming of the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole as Governor of the state. After the protracted legal battle between the gubernatorial candidate of the now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Edo state, Comrade Oshiomhole and Professor Oserhiemen Osunbor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), over the conduct of the 2007 governorship election in the state, the Appeal Court had on 11th November, declared Oshiomhole as the authentic winner of the April 14, 2007 governorship election in the state and was subsequently sworn in on the 12th November, 2008. This brought the over ten_year reign of the PDP in the state to an end.

And when the Comrade Governor came out roaring it was obvious to every body that the change has come. As a matter of fact it was easy for him to acclimatize to the system because majority of the people of the state were already tired of the domineering nature of the PDP in the politics of the state particularly with the crisis that rocked the party in the state.

Oshiomhole promised a lot to the people of the state and in particular, he vowed to end the politics of godfatherism. There was nothing on ground in the first six months of his administration apart from the stoppage of illegal levies in the markets, and people were apprehensive. The PDP in the state was quick to describe him as a failure and said that his attitude at that time meant that he was never prepared for the job. Also, the former Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih in a rally of the party, said the Governor had achieved nothing in his first year in office but only the planting of flowers at Ring Road.

However, the Governor came to defend his action, explaining that the problems of the state particularly in the areas of flood and erosion required proper planning and that it would be suicidal to commence work on them without tackling the problems holistically. He said he would not be rushed into taking decisions that would lead him into doing a bad job.

He insisted he must plan before rolling out bulldozers in the streets. Besides, he said that if the PDP had planted flowers in the state, he would have used the funds for some thing else and lamented that the PDP ruined the state in the past ten years they were in power.

Adams Oshiomhole

However, there is no doubt that as the Oshiomhole’s administration clocks two years today, Benin City that was once famed as an ancient city, has been modernized. True to his words, the Governor commenced dualization and construction of roads in all three senatorial districts of the state shortly after the design for the new city was released.

The roads in the cities were equipped with street lights, walkways and waste disposal centers. He also commenced the electrification projects in communities that did not have electricity in the three senatorial districts. And recently, he imported city buses popularly known as Comrade City Bus.

The truth of the matter is that the State has not seen such a transformation since the second republic when Prof. Ambrose Alli was governor.

Apart from the road projects he embarked upon in the three senatorial district, he also commenced water projects in Edo Central. The problem of water in the area had been an age long thing and the Governor had to import water drilling machines and specifically declared that they will commence in Uromi, home town of Chief Tony Anenih.

Oshiomhole has also exhibited so much passion and zeal in his efforts. Indeed, there have been occasions when the Governor’s security operatives went in search of the Governor. On those occasions, he drove himself out of Government House to inspect projects to the chagrin of the security operatives. On those occasions he would he would also use the opportunity to feel the pulse of the people on different issues in markets and bars.

Political battles
Before he came into power as Governor, a lot of people particularly the PDP regarded him as a political neophyte. But he has shocked them. Few months after he joined office, he intensified his war against the PDP in the state and launched an assault on Chief Anenih.

But he explained however that Chief Anenih started the verbal war when he accused him of only planting flowers in the state and also cited an instance where Chief Anenih commended a Governor from the South East for doing a good job in his state in a luncheon in Abuja and went on to say that Edo state would have been fortunate to have a Governor like that particular governor and not the type of Oshiomhole. As he sustained his attack on the PDP and Chief Anenih, Oshiomhole continued to harvest PDP members to his party the ACN.

Out of the 18 Local Government chairmen in the state, ten of them decamped to the ACN while three were suspended for alleged misappropriation of council funds. Anenih’s in_law, Chief Johnson Emeasalu, the chairman of Akoko Edo Local Government was one of those who were suspended until the dissolution of the councils penultimate week by the Governor.

And in the past two years, Oshiomhole’s ACN has defeated the PDP in three re_un House of Assembly elections in Akoko Edo, Etsako Central and Oghede ward, Ovia North East Local Government Council of the state. But the PDP cried fowl, accusing the governor of manipulating the elections contrary to his one man one vote campaign. Unlike in his first year in office, the state House of Assembly is now controlled by his ACN and ever since then, there are no longer hindrances in his affairs apart from funds to execute the on_going projects.

The PDP in the state led by its chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, has been a torn on the flesh of the governor. As expected, they viewed differently the developmental strides of the governor. They alleged that most of the contracts were inflated and never followed due process. According to Orbih, “my pains and sympathy goes to the good people of Edo state for what they are suffering today. Oshiomhole came into power with a very high expectation. Coming from the background of Labour, it is expected that this man will initiate programmes that will improve on the welfare of workers in Edo state.

But today, the workers of the state have suffered as a result of the type of welfare policy of this government by way of high taxation, not living up to the commitment reached between government and various unions in the state to the extent that every month, we have a segment of workers in the state either protesting or they are going on strike. Either the health workers or those in the educational sector.”

However Oshiomhole, who reacted to some of these criticisms during a recent interaction with newsmen, said the Chief Orbih led PDP in the state is shameless and does not know the running of government. Starting from the criticism from the PDP as regards the dissolution of the councils, he said: “ If I wanted to do like other PDP governors, I would have dissolved these local governments the very month I assumed office.”

As his administration turns two today, Oshiomhole is surely going to fight a lot more political battles in the next two years as election year beckons. But apart from the PDP, the Governor is worried about the political play going on in his own party, the ACN. The registration exercise of the party in the state has led to bloodshed with at least one person killed and over ten persons hospitalized.

His two years in office cannot be said to be disappointing in terms of infrastructures but his greatest challenge in the remaining years of his administration would be the completion of these projects he commenced and the challenge posed to his second term ambition in the hands of the rejuvenated PDP in the state.

Which ever way it goes the political atmosphere in the state will remain charged until the 2012 governorship election.

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