Chief Dan Orbih is the Chairman of the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Oshiomhole administration, Orbih in this interview assess the administration’s performance, articulates what he describes as the limited successes of the administration even as he asserts the party’s determination to remain a constructive opposition.
How would you assess two years of the Oshiomhole administration?
Generally, from the background of the promises that he made before coming to power you will score him below 30% because he said far more than he has been able to achieve. He said he would give free education but he ended up increasing school fees which has led to a very serious crisis in the educational sector. He promised that he was going to improve on workers welfare but we have had more strikes.
So if you look at the entire administration you will agree with me that he has scored below 30%. He talked about rural development bu t all that he has done is beautification of Benin-City and planting flowers and all that especially at Ring Road. in all of these, the only thing maybe the 30% is coming from only one sector, he has been making strenuous efforts at doing roads but the quarrel I have with the roads is the cost. The cost is the most expensive anywhere in the world.
These contracts are awarded at very huge sums that you cannot explain and almost all the contracts did not go through due process, the contractors were handpicked and a lot was built in into it.
We did an analysis of similar road projects and we compared the cost and we discovered that it was the highest amount paid out for any road project anywhere in the world and we stand by that position.
They later came out with a defence that it is because they are doing drainage, doing beatification, so we cannot use those figures for other road projects to match their own. In any case, what we are saying is that the roads are being done at a huge cost and we are even questioning the priority being given to some of the roads. Like the Airport Road, there was nothing wrong with the existing road, but he was busy destroying peoples houses, expanding it to six lanes and I have said and I will continue to say that that was not necessary. If you go to London, the roads are narrow.
People don’t get voted into government and they start destroying structures that have been there over the years all in the name of road expansion.
What happens in civilized worlds is that you open up new areas for development and people will start navigating in that direction. You don’t have to destroy existing houses in the name of road expansion. I believe in Benin_City what is required is to ensure that all the existing roads are accessible and if you do that you will decongest the major roads. So, this idea of expanding existing roads to six lanes I don’t really see the wisdom in doing it.
What is more, the roads are there and you borrow money left right and centre all in the name of saying that you want to make an impact. I do believe that a good manager should be able to manage existing resources without plunging the State into a bottomless pit of debts and that is what he is doing now.
Against the background of the previous nine years of PDP administration, how do you compare him?
This is a very interesting question. I have been accused by government officials, I have been derided by government officials that I should not talk because PDP was in government for eight years and what did they do? But my simple answer is that if those who were in government for the previous eight years did not do anything, is that an excuse why we should allow the present to also go bad because others were there and in our assessment they probably did not do well.
So, do you agree that the PDP government that was there before now did not do well?The question is not yes or no. it depends on the PDP government you are talking about. I know that Osunbor in his few years in government that he did far more what Oshiomhole has done in the past two years.
What of the eight years of the PDP under Chief Lucky Igbinendion?
I am not the one who should speak for or defend Igbinendion. I think that the better person to do that assessment is Anslem Ojezua who is today the Commissioner for Information in the Oshiomhole government. He is in a better position to assess what they did in the eight years of that government. I have continued to say that what we have today in Edo State is a sanitized PDP.
All those bad elements who were responsible for people to feel that the party did not well in eight years are the same people in Adams Oshiomhole’s government. They are the people working with him. The present PDP as presently constituted has nothing to do with the failure of that government.
Those who should be held responsible, who held Lucky Igbinedion held hostage are those working with Adams Oshiomhole. From the Secretary to Government to Commissioner for Information, to his Political Adviser all of them, about 80% of those who make up his government were people who worked with Lucky Igbinedion.
How were they able to hold Igbinedion hostage and are unable to hold Oshiomhole?
That is a question that should be directed at Lucky Igbinedion. But I am also aware without attempting to defend anybody, I am aware that what Oshiomhole has received from the Federal Government is far more than what was received by Igbinedion.
How prepared are you to square up with the Action Congress government in the 2012 gubernatorial election?
It is obvious that we are ready. I can tell you today that Edo State has the most vibrant opposition in terms of critical evaluation of government or policies. We have been very objective in our criticisms. As I told you about the roads we have proffered alternatives to what he is doing.
You will not end up paying compensation to people that you are destroying their houses, the money you are using doing six, seven lanes, you will channel them to existing roads that are not motorable. I believe that if you do that you will save the government a whole lot of resources and you will save the people the agony when they are houses are destroyed without adequate compensation.