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Oshiomhole, good governance and the weak links

ALMOST six years on, close watchers of the Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole persona, in relation to his politics and two-term governorship of Edo State, point to his radical but result-oriented administrative style that is predicated on his almost fanatical and unwavering commitment to the best ethical practices of accountability, efficiency, due process, good quality and utility value and standards, prudent use of available human, financial and material resources, etc.

Considering the glaring fact that the depth of rot and “arrested development” that was prevalent when he was first sworn-in on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 was monumental, Comrade Oshiomhole was neither deterred, fazed or cowed by what he met on the ground.

As a prelude to his acclaimed “turning Edo State into a giant construction site” mantra, the Comrade-Governor assembled a core team of Commissioners and other relevant appointees to assist him in actualising the sustainable development programme he envisaged will bring the state out of the woods, the main reason why he sought the mandate of Edo people in the first place.

As is the ‘fashion’ in Nigerian politics, many factors came into play in assembling the team of Commissioners, Special Advisers, Executive Directors, Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, etc, who were to man the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. The Governor had to defer to many party chieftains and some apolitical but influential persons and groups in knocking together the team that will power the planning and execution of his roadmap for Edo State.

Human resources experts tie the cumulative functionality of a group of workers (or staff) in a particular programme or project to the contribution(s) of each and everyone in the chain, coupled with vision, doggedness, grit and resilience of the leadership set-up if success will count in all aspects of evaluation.

In governance, the successes (or failures) of an organisation (in this case, Edo State Executive Council) are invariably aligned to the inputs of the various core links in the chain of implementation of set policies, guidelines and objectives. Any weak link(s) in the decision–making, executive or implementation of the key objectives of government will have a domino effect that will slow down or outrightly scuttle and truncate the overall objectives of government in the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

One would have expected that all persons who work in close quarters with the Comrade-Governor will imbibe and adapt his innate knack for efficiency, judicious and proper use of scarce resource and materials, creativity, tenacity of purpose, transparency, due diligence, etc.

The opposite seems to be the order in some MDAs which have jettisoned those pristine values Comrade Oshiomhole stands for.

In their stead, they have created, albeit, surreptiously, oases of non-performance, lack of creativity or vision, lack of credibility, financial recklessness, diversion of revenue due to government through third parties and insider dealings, etc.

Due to the larger-than-life image and pedigree of the Comrade-Governor, many Edo State indigenes, and even other Nigerians, virtually expected those working under him to display and adapt some of his ideal in the running of Edo State that has survived 15 years nightmare.

It is true that no genetic scientist has succeeded in cloning Comrade Oshiomhole or creating any variant there from!

Some people expected a proto-typical political and administrative behaviour from all those who are opportuned to work with the ex-labour leader. Though not realisable in accessing these core values the Governor used as a platform to etch his name in the heart of Edo people in the 18 local government areas of the state, any government official worth his salt will imbibe and adapt some of Governor Oshiomhole’s attributes and evolve into a success-focused administrator in his/her ministry, department or agency.

In his first cabinet (Executive Council), Comrade Oshiomhole did not hesitate to discard any Commissioner found wanting or grossly incompetent in the discharge of his/her duty(s). In the current second stanza of his governorship, the Comrade-Governor has tightened the reins on those Commissioners presumed to be lackadaisical, complacent and corrupt in the implementation of government’s policies, projects and programmes.

Early this year, Comrade Oshiomhole without prevaricating, sacked his Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development over an alleged gross dereliction of duties over the long blackout and other sundry issues that occurred during a state-sponsored musical concert it organised in honour of those who attended a youth summit earlier in the day, in the state capital.

In his first tenure (November 12, 2008 to November 12, 2012), Comrade Oshiomhole actually turned the 25 local government areas of the state into a gigantic “construction site” through massive and programmed activities in the areas of works, roads and bridges; healthcare delivery; education; agriculture; transportation; commerce and industry; tourism development; youth and women empowerment, power and energy development; potable water supply; ICT (especially in government’s MDAs).

The second term was flagged-off on November 12, 2012 and in his inaugural speech, Comrade Oshiomhole restated his resolve to complete all ongoing projects and programmes before his current tenure expires in 2016. The Comrade-Governor said that one of the core areas that his administration will turn its search light on, is the attraction of reputable industrialists and entrepreneurs to come and invest in Edo State. He emphasised that his administration has prepared and deployed the enabling environment for commerce and industry to thrive as those factors that had repelled prospective investors from Edo State have now been constructed, re-constructed, rehabilitated, supplied and installed. It was envisaged that the revenue base of the state will be enhanced, considering the huge financial outlay that made those interventions possible.

Before this time, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry formed a Task Force whose main work is to collect gratifications from hapless Edo indigenes and this has continuously been used as an ATM by some persons in the top hierarchy of the Ministry whose profligacy in the spending of these monies from the Task Force is legendary.   The monies collected by this Task Force are never receipted for to acknowledge the payment for the various levies by the hapless citizens of the state.

With the plethora of quality infrastructure and facilities, Edo State would have attracted investment overflow but for the failure of human capability that has jettisoned policy generation and execution at the top echelon of the Ministry that is being sustained by monthly imprests and budgetary allocations.

Another area of leakage is the provision of a dedicated suite in the Edo Hotel, Benin City, which is government-owned and supervised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This dedicated suite is inclusive of board, food and drinks in spite of the fact that NO single industrialist or entrepreneur has come to invest in the state through the Commissioner’s numerous trips aboard in search of the “elusive” businessman or woman. Those that have come and indicated their readiness to invest in the state, were products of the Comrade Governor personal efforts. How do we now define PERFORMANCE?

Performance or lack of it, is an open-log book that any discerning person can easily access and assess.

It is imperative that the Comrade Governor must, in his usual elements, take proactive measures to build a matrix of other factors that will attract more investors and entrepreneurs to Edo State who will use the numerous infrastructure development indices as a starting block for the industrialisation and commercialisation of the state. This is trend, the people will always chorus that the “buck stops at his table” when no success is recorded.

EDWARD ONAIVI a policy analyst, wrote from Igarra, Akoko Edo LGA, Edo State.


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