By Kassim Afegbua
July 14, 2012 is barely three months away. It is a date that Edo State voters will troop out in their numbers to elect who to govern them for the next four years. Two candidates and two parties are the major contenders for the plum position.

The incumbent number one public servant in the State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and one little known retired Major General Charles Airhiavbere; such a name that sounds like erupting volcano, emitting molten lava.

Trust Edo people, they are very ingenious people, with native intelligence rocking their sensibilities. Edo man no dey take last, is the usual malapropism. Charles and Adams are locked in horns in the battle for who gets the slot in the aftermath of the election.

Both camps are already whiffing hot air and ready to go the whole hug to wash dirty linens in the public. The PDP will need to bring the sky down from space if it is ready to make any meaning out of the contest. Coming from a very disadvantaged position because of lack of any scorecard to showcase, the PDP propagandists have resorted to skunk works to cause deliberate distraction against an opponent whose performance so far has overwhelmed the Stateandher people.
Oshiomhole’s performance has not been an issue of doubt. His acceptability amongst Edo people is apparently cheering news. Like a leader who understands the nexus between promise and performance, Oshiomhole has set out from day one that he meant business; swearing with his ancestral strength that Edo people have no business being poor or backward. He structured a blueprint that has since become his abiding testament in his methodical probing into the leadership mainstream of the State.

Desperate in his bid to break the yoke of underdevelopment and place the State on the path of self-rediscovery in order to make people pursue and exploit their innate potentials, the Comrade kept several late nights in the leadership laboratory of the State, brainstormed with other like minds to factor out what exactly the problem was. Having carried out several inquisitions to effect a leadership mutation, he discovered that the only way he could make greater impact was for him to damn all consequences to bail Edo people out of the acquisitive grip of the godfathers who had plundered the resources of the State in a mafia-like circus.

While the people of the State wallow in abject poverty, these categories of persons called by several names; godfathers, party chieftains, business associates, milked the state to a point that the resources of the State could no long cater for the greater needs of the people. While they were growing fatter, the State and her people were growing slimmer and slimmer.

Budgets were written and approved in the homes of their godfathers and projects were carefully chosen like oasis in the desert, just to give an impression that the State was working. Ghost workers syndrome became a recurring decimal.

The general character of government became badly dented and life became miserable for the average Edo person.
All that has passed away. Old things have passed away since the coming of Oshiomhole, as a former Chief Press Secretary, I should have a fairer idea about what obtained in the earlier stage of the administration.  At least for those of us who have critical minds also, we cannot but appreciate the efforts and performance of the Comrade Governor in making Edo State to work again. Whenever he falters, as it is natural for humans, we call his attention to it. For example, my piece against Oshiomhole on the subsidy debate and the position he took with the PDP wicked souls is a case in point.

But the greater challenge is not so much about the unique performance of the Comrade Governor but about the leadership deficit of the PDP as a party and its gubernatorial candidate, Charles Airhiavbere. Apart from the fact that the candidate admittedly said in an interview that people don’t know him, (which is a fact anyway), he has several excess luggage to clear with the Edo people, in this case, the Edo Voters. From my understanding and with the benefit of some information that I was able to glean from Military circles, I am well informed that the General did not properly retire from the military.

According to such unverified reports, that he negotiated his retirement having been kept in detention for three months for one misdemeanor or another.

Another unverified report has it that he was a guest of the EFCC over queries raised on his handling of military funds. As director of finance of the army for about six years, I am told that the General presided over military pension funds and with the probes becoming the ritualistic indulgence of the National Assembly as we speak, an invitation to the army hierarchy to unravel a few puzzles bordering on accountability and transparency will be a welcome development. Added to this, is the politics of “if you Tarka me, I will Dabo you” between Charles Airhiavbere and one Brigadier-General Aminu Kano. Story has it that the in-fighting between these two officers led to the dismissal of the latter on the allegedly framed up charges against General Aminu Kano by Airhiavbere.

As we speak, General Aminu Kano has legally fought his way back and has since been re-absorbed into the Military again. The full details of the encounter will be an interesting read.

The other story around town is that the only reason why General Charles is looking for governorship is to seek protection under the immunity clause in the constitution by which time he would have been able to clean up a few mess here and there. So many probabilities each one with its addictive properties pointing to the reality. I am still wondering why a man who just retired from the army less than a year ago would suddenly plunge himself into the murky waters of politics where money plays a role in carrying out a lot of the activities. Before we say Jack Robison, the man had emerged from that questionable primary election in a manner that still confounds other participants. Strongly supported by Chief Tony Anenih who is on the last lap of his political prostitution, the General and his Party have unleashed propaganda campaign on the State in the goebellian fashion, to whip up the sentiments that the State needs a replacement.

Edo State is surely not waiting for an Arhiavbere. The litany of allegations of fraud, detention without explanation, EFCC quizzing, returned funds to the coffers of the EFCC and the several properties that were allegedly purchased with military pensioners money, are too legion to be glossed over. These are the serious issues that the General needs to clear before anyone can truly take him serious.

The PDP is surely standing on a conveyor belt that is set for self-destruct. Desperate to get power in order to quench the thirst of the inordinate ambition of her several chieftains, the PDP in Edo State is rumbling and mumbling, such gobble-dy-gook trying to shout itself hoax for the sake of power. From Dan Orbih to Chief Anenih, the desperation is growing by the day, yet Edo people are glued to the achievements of the Comrade Governor, and saying never again will the State be governed by self-seeking power mongers who do not mean well for the State.
I think the PDP just decided to set for itself very tall ambition to justify its existence in Edo State. Otherwise, how do you reconcile a situation where a Party that has nothing to show for its existence in the state suddenly discovers that it can railroad voters into its conquest mission and make meaning out of that? What is the PDP and its unknown candidate campaigning about?

What are the issues that they want to present before Edo Voters that may appear superior to that of the performing Governor of the ACN? What is new in its manifesto to convince us Voters that PDP is a better alternative? With an epileptic leadership orientation at the centre surrounded by conquistadorial advisers and cult-like servitude, the PDP as presently constituted in Edo State is a party infested with virus.

There is no clear cut policy direction and handing over the State to such a Party will mean total ruination of all the attractions and stimulations that have endeared governance to the people in the last three years.

GeneralCharles rejected at home? Our ancestors will hear this.

As I was pondering on the various intervening variables that may have fired my good friend General Charles’s adrenaline, I was confronted with an advertorial in the Sunday Vanguard of April 8, 2012 page 59 where members of Agbodo Community, [where General Charles reportedly hails from], rejecting his candidature and declaring it a taboo for anyone in the community to vote for the candidate.

Even though under a democracy, everyone is free to exercise his franchise guaranteed in the constitution, the sense of communalism in the African tradition makes such rejection a very profound statement about the qualification, competence and acceptability of the candidate. Citing a number of reasons why the members of his Community rejected him, the advert signed by one Hon. Samson Abu stated categorically; “it is a taboo for any son or daughter in the community to vote any candidate other than Comrade Adams Oshiomhole”.

Such categorical rejection also points to a number of variables; it is either that General Charles has been away for too long that the people no longer know the son of whom he is or simply that he has not carried the people along in his previous engagements as an Army General especially one that presided over the finances of the Army. This rejection is a lesson for other persons who may want to seek public office in future.

They should always remember that there is always a day of reckoning when the people in their thousands will roll out tongues to query what they have done for them. Now that the PDP prophet has been rejected at home, wherein lies the morality for him to stand election? One would usually cash in on the support base of members of one’s community, but with a scenario as hostile as this, I can understand why the PDP has employed the use of propaganda to hoodwink the people.

With such invocation of fatwa, so to speak, by members of the Agbodo Community, it also means the ancestors have endorsed such rejection. Too bad for a General that has just entered into the fray of politics.

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