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The politics of ethnic cleansing in Edo

“Hatred may be engendered by good deeds as well as bad ones.” –Niccolo MachiavelliPOSER: Is the growing intolerance by Governor Adams Oshiomhole against the Esan ethnic nation a reaction to its good deeds of voting for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the three elections held in April, this year?

The answer cannot be far-fetched.  It is basically for that reason that he has bared his fangs at the entire race which is geographically circumscribed in the Edo Central Senatorial zone, in a deliberate policy to cleanse its people from the matrix of his administration.

His rationalisation is, perhaps, simple: He seems to be saying, and I believe it to be so, that the Esan ethnic nation does not deserve to reap where it did not sow and has therefore taken the rash action of sacking from office virtually all beneficiaries of his political largesse who are of Esan extraction ranging from council chairmen, commissioners to board members.

The zone had resisted the planned incursion by Oshiomhole’s army of occupation that masqueraded as Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, by rejecting it at the polls.  Unlike the unsuspecting Edo South and Edo North Senatorial zones which fell cheaply to the frolics of political mercantilism, Edo Central zone maintained a dignified opposition.

And for standing tall in the face of huge financial inducements at the polls which only the state government machinery could deploy, and for voting for their preferred candidates who incidentally are of the PDP, the zone is confronting the backlash of the growing monstrosity of a bizarre and ridiculous kind of ethnic cleansing.

Political office holders of Esan ethnic nationality, who could not deliver their areas to Oshiomhole’s ACN in the elections, have been given the boot.  The Governor could not hide his pains arising from his party’s loss in the zone; he also could not hold back his disdain for both his failed foot soldiers in the zone and the zone itself.

He has also, curiously, transcended the confines of political governance to the academia where for the same reason of rejection at the polls by the electorate in the zone, many of them students of the ill-funded Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, he removed the Vice Chancellor.  Whatever official reasons he gave for doing so were mere façade.

There are indications that the government of the day in Edo State is earmarking top Esan indigenes in the university for either demotion or outright sack.  Whether the proposed strike in protest of these anomalies by the ASUU will yield positive result is yet to be seen.

The Comrade Governor has demonstrated his intolerance for the capacity of the Edo people, especially the Esan ethnic nationality, to express alternative views, which are the essence and bedrock of democracy.  All the people cannot choose to be subservient to his philosophy of governance.

Must all Edo people condescend to being led by the nose by any government, for that matter, just because it is in the saddle?  Or, should the people now lose the awareness of their power of individuality and choice of the persons they want to represent them regardless of the platforms on which they contest for elections?

It is indeed sad that the Comrade Governor allowed the latent streak of activism in him to negatively preponderate a simple political issue that should have been well handled by allowing a measure of reasonableness and introspection.

He should have known that beyond the ACN platform which he tries to celebrate and popularise with his deceptive mantra of “one man, one vote” (which now reads as “one thug, one vote”) as well as the vote-catching, albeit half-hearted, strategy of building some road infrastructure to create the impression of performance, the grassroots people in the state, especially in Edo Central, know who their  true representatives and leaders are.

This executive action against Edo Central zone is a potent means of intimidating political office holders from the other zones ahead of the crucial governorship election which holds next year.  These persons would stop at nothing to ensure that they win their areas in order not to fall victims of the Comrade Governor’s axe of wrath.

But then, this is not the genre of politics that should be encouraged by someone who professes democratic ideals of free, fair and credible elections.  This variety of politics assaults the sensibilities of well-meaning and right-thinking people of Edo State.

I am sure many of them would be quietly interrogating the current scenario in the State in their minds.  For people like me who have chosen to use the popular media to write commentaries on what seems a type of political gerrymandering in the state, I dare say that any other zone could fall a victim in the future.

But was this the original desire of Edo people in 2007?  Is this what they really invested their hopes, aspirations and votes in?  It is true that the people dumped him for the PDP.  But the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, in their wisdom, forced him on the people and ever since he has been behaving like a bull in a China shop.

I just pray that he will not end up turning the state upside down in terms of how to be decent in politics and play by the rules.  No one can convince me that the Comrade Governor, from the way he has comported himself after the outcome of the April general elections in the State, would want to contest the 2012 governorship elections freely and fairly if defeat stares him in the face.

How can I be convinced that a governor who went for the jugular of the PDP in the State, deploying public funds to factionalise the rank and file of the party, would play fairly?  How can I be convinced that a governor who resorted to ethnic cleansing as a punishment for rejection of his party at the polls in Edo Central will not exert himself to win at all cost?

Edo people should not be intimidated by this resort to cleansing of Esan ethnic nationality.  They should dare all manner of political antics-rigging, intimidation and manipulation-in their determination to vote a person of their choice as governor on the platform of any political party when the time comes next year.

I have no doubt that Edo State is the bedrock of progressive politics.  Edo Central zone is a true microcosm of progressive politics in the state and it parades, perhaps, some of the best and outstanding political elements in the State who were quick to understand the mercantile gimmicks being employed by the ruling political elite.

The people had, by rejecting the ACN, questioned the rationale behind government’s over taxation, the 300 percent hike in school fees, the naked corruption in the system and the purported expenditure of huge public funds on few dilapidating infrastructure.


Mr. OKHAREDIA IHIMEKPEN,  a commentator on national issues, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.


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