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Oshiomhole, democracy and the burden of leadership

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Governor Adams Oshiomhole is committed to turning Edo State around for good, but not without a cost.  With the electoral system, the recently conducted local government elections, Oshiomhole has to clean up the Augean stable of previous governments. He is like Moses in the Holy Bible.

“…And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”.


The above explained the burden and challenge of leadership Moses faced in the course of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. It wasn’t an easy task. It is obvious  Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is presently in this quagmire.  Like Moses, Oshiomhole a misunderstood struggle-monger, is almost becoming a victim of his own creation –One Man, One Vote.  A champion of the democratic struggles in Nigeria, a selfless labour leader who sacrificed personal comfort for the common good is now being derided over the last week local government election in Edo state.

Like Moses led the children of Israel from bondage, so did Oshiomhole to Edo people. He inspires us alot and we fought together for Nigerian workers and democracy. He fought for workers welfare so as to engender qualitative improvement in the lives of all Nigerians.

He, with others struggled for a democracy that would guarantee Nigerians access to quality education, healthcare and good physical infrastructure. These heroes struggled for a country where every Nigerian would have legitimate means of livelihood. They fought for a country that would enhance the productive capacities of every Nigeria, both human and natural. They fought for a country where every Nigerian will live in dignity.

Oshiomhole is one man who is a patriotic Nigerian struggling for a united Nigeria and a society where every vote will count.

As a Governor, just as in labour unionism, he is still in the struggle for a society where the will of the people, not Godfathers, is the basis of governance.And he hasn’t betrayed this trust.
There is no doubt he meant well for Edo people. He preached One Man, One Vote like a puritan politician, if any. He cannot be Governor and the same time the Commissioner. He cannot be EDSIEC Chairman neither can he pretend to be. He cannot sit in Osadebey Avenue and at the same time in Uromi for the election. He has told us time without number that he cannot rig election for anybody; what shall it profit him?

And so, during and just after the local government elections, some elements best described as criminals, who terrorize the rest of society hijacked the political space, a section of the media and our religious bodies especially, the churches were not spared. They own churches and freely and plant their choice pastors there. I mean the emergence of Godless Churches, Churches that churn heavenly things as piety while being pre-occupied with worldly things.

They encouraged the looting of our commonwealth by public officials, some of whom are made elders in these churches – the more the public official loots, the more prominent he or she becomes in these churches. Similarly, contractors who fail to complete projects (leading to the phenomenon of abandoned projects and the consequent continued underdevelopment of Edo state) while having collected the funds from the treasury, occupy prominent places in these churches. Such churches have nothing in common with the teachings of Jesus.

Edo State was in their hands before Oshiomhole came in. It was a state where poverty, inequality, under- and unemployment were on the increase. The majority of our youths and graduates were unemployed. But the situation, since Oshiomhole came on board, has changed. They would be foolish, if they don’t fight back. And so, the opportunity presented itself: late arrival of electoral materials by EDSIEC- they seized it, cashed on it and politicized it.

However, let me quickly remind us that we must not forget the general acknowledgement of the decline of education system in the state before Oshiomhole came. We also know that this decline was partly due to the neglect of the education sector by successive governments at the state and local government levels. And that these politicians who shouted hoax masterminded the coup against Edo people in the past. We must not forget so easily.
Be it in terms of road infrastructure, Oshiomhole opened our eyes. We were in a parlous state but today, there is no local government that has not benefited from Oshiomhole’s road gesture. Some will argue, ‘its our collective patrimony’ but don’t forget that some diverted same to private pockets in the past and heavens didn’t fall.

We now see extra lanes being constructed along Uselu, Ugbowo, New Benin, Airport Road, and Akpakpava road. We now see street lights in RingRoad, Sapele Road, Sokponba Road, Siloko Road and the magnificent glittering sight to behold in Five junction. We now see red roofs in our public schools across the 18 local government areas, water in difficult terrains and employment of jobless youths. We’ve not had it so good before and we must do everything possible to sustain this tempo.

In Oshiomhole’s enlightened self interest, he freed the political space and brought governance down from it’s Olympian height to the ordinary people. Today, anybody can go to Edo State Government House, access the governor, the Commissioners and even lead one man protest to Osadebey Avenue. We all know that, before Oshiomhole, we dare not leave our individual local government areas to be seen in Benin City or Government House; because, if your leader, in this case a Commissioner sights you, it’s either expulsion from the party or a punishment near it.
Today, even Oshiomhole’s worst critics attest to the fact that we now have a purposeful and visionary leadership in the state. The Governor is not oblivious  of this fact that except good leadership, the political and economic leaders will be consumed by the rot they have created in the country.
In effect, good governance and improved social and physical infrastructure as well as inclusive political participation, economic  and wealth creation and distribution and retooling of our educational facilities as well as conducting a free and fair local government elections are not only needed by Edo people but some appreciating and encouraging minds can yield more of democratic dividends.Or else, our political Pharaohs will say of us,  “they are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in”.

Lest we forget that it was also in this wilderness that the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. This is the burden of leadership and that’s why I sympathize with Moses and Oshiomhole.


Dr. Deacon Abulimen writes from Uromi, Edo State

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