By Efosa Ugiagbe
Recently, in an interview granted the Vanguard newspaper, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State Governor, referred to his predecessor in office, Sen. Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor as incompetent. He, however, did not say in what area of the Professor’s activities he had been found wanting to have been so referred to as, in Oshiomhole’s word “hopelessly incompetent”.
Aside the fact that Oshiomhole has consistently demonstrated a lack of culture and maturity in his choice of words, the present qualification of Osunbor calls to question his sense of appreciation and judgment.
Prof. Osunbor has shown competence in all aspects of his preoccupations but in one, which is the act of pretence and deception, an area that Oshiomhole has proved to be a grand master. Perhaps, if Osunbor had been competent in this area, Oshiomhole may not have had the opportunity to take over power from him in 2008. It may be this advantage that Oshiomhole has over Osunbor that he meant to point out in his interview.
Perhaps, Oshiomhole’s competence in the act of deception worked for him when he became the chief negotiator with the government on behalf of Nigerian workers. Upon the resolution of every encounter, while the worker got more hopeful, Oshiomhole got richer and more famous. Even now, Edo people are on a coaster ride on Oshiomhole’s train of deception.
Prof. Osunbor’s history could be anything but incompetent. A first class law scholar and teacher, Osunbor distinguished himself in the Nigerian Senate as the Chairman, Judiciary and Law Committee, a position he held for two consecutive terms of eight years. His performance was commended within and outside of the National Assembly, and remains a reference point in the history of the Federal Legislature.
Prof. Osunbor, in the brief period he spent as governor of Edo State, replicated his track record of competence. He made monumental marks which Comrade Oshiomhole has been desperately trying to destroy by physical action and unfair criticism.
For those that do not know, Osunbor’s achievement was so intimidating to Oshiomhole that upon his assumption of office, he ostensibly ordered the destruction of the evidences of Osunbor’s performance in the archives of the Government House Press Unit, particularly video recordings.
Even the streetlights Osunbor installed on Akpakpava were removed just so the people may not have any physical evidence to remind them of Osunbor. In other instances, attempts have been made to replace the traffic lights that Prof. Osunbor introduced and installed. If it were possible, Oshiomhole would have removed the roads that Osunbor constructed.
Could it be a mark of incompetence that Osunbor in less than a year and half increased the salary of workers twice; that workers got their salaries before the end of every month; that students were paid bursary and school infrastructure developed even while school fees in higher institutions remained very low? Was it incompetence that made the payment of pensions and gratuity of prime importance to Osunbor which reduced significantly the suffering of our senior citizens in Edo State?
Was it incompetence that designed a process that made Edo State one of the states with the lowest crime rate in Nigeria as at 2008? How incompetent could Osunbor have been to have within a year and half constructed over 40 roads in the state, Benin City inclusive, measuring thousands of kilometers?
It must have been hopeless incompetence that made Osunbor make organized labour happy in a way that Oshiomhole has been unable to make them. Incompetence must have a new meaning in a situation where electrification and water projects were executed all over the state by Sen. Osunbor. Incompetence indeed!
Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor as Governor demonstrated high competence in the appointment of aides and in relating with them to achieve the objective of focused implementation of government’s programmes. The same demonstration of managerial competence cannot be said of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Governor.
Commissioners and other categories of appointees have resigned from his cabinet on the grounds that such principled persons could not afford to bear their titles of responsibility while in practice Oshiomhole did the jobs which he had assigned to them. Imagine a situation where a commissioner would not be aware of a decision taken about an issue related to his ministry.
A case in point was the revocation of the controversial Airport Road contract. Even while the press had gotten the information that the contract had been revoked, the former Commissioner of Works, Engr. Erhauyi Obayagona was still in the dark a day to the official announcement from the Governor’s Office.
What may one also say about Oshiomhole’s sense of Judgement in appointing his aides if not incompetence? Not long ago, Oshiomhole orchestrated the celebration of his arrest of Major Lawrence Oloye, his erstwhile Chairman, Taskforce on Demolition, for unauthorized demolition of a house in Benin City. He even charged him to court for the perceived offence. However, it is instructive to note that it was Oshiomhole that gave Oloye this sensitive responsibility
. A similar incident had played out earlier when Oshiomhole publicly made a show of arresting and charging to court of Colonel Felix Igiebor for “illegally” arresting the car of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi. Igiebor was appointed by Oshiomhole. And about that time, Oloye who was a member of the task force was laid off until he was reappointed. The above is just a reflection of Oshiomhole’s incompetence in judgment.
Oshiomhole accused Osunbor of standing truth on the head in his criticism of Oshiomhole’s administration. How true is this? Could Osunbor have stood truth on the head when he accused Oshiomhole of implementing an unreasonable tax policy that has made the lives Edo workers and traders miserable? Could truth have been stood on the head to say that the astronomical increase in fees in Edo State tertiary institutions discourages the pursuit of higher education?
How untrue could it be that Oshiomhole’s expansion of three federal roads in Benin City is to create the illusion of monumental development? Could it be untrue that Oshiomhole has been unable to fight crime in Edo State because of the characters he has surrounded himself with?
In fact, Oshiomhole described Osunbor well when he said Osunbor is a nice man, educated and civil. These qualities, one could say, perhaps restrained Osunbor from describing Oshiomhole’s administration in the crudest but truest of ways.
In conclusion, it would be apt to say that Oshiomhole’s comment on Osunbor is a classical example of irony and hypocrisy.
Ugiagbe is a public commentator who resides in Benin City.