THE Edo state governorship election slated for September 10, 2016 presents both an opportunity and a challenge to reposition a state with the sobriquet Heart Beat of the Nation. Getting it right starts from the party primaries especially that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. For a party that held sway from May 29, 1999 to November 12, 2008 and suddenly found itself in opposition in the state, there is a compelling reason to get it right owing to the wobbly performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state.
To do so is down to a few factors of which the candidate of choice and cohesion of the party after the primaries stand out.
There is an imperative that in keeping with the past, a new frontier of fielding a candidate without the blemish of jumping ship, inconsistency to party fidelity and unalloyed loyalty to the ideals of what the PDP represents is cardinal.
It is in this sense that one begins to appreciate the aspiration of Earl Osaro Osaze Onaiwu, the Director General of the PDP Governors Forum, and a firm apostle of party discipline and unity in the contest to fly the party’s flag in the Edo guber race.
Onaiwu is not just any other candidate. He is man who has been tempered in the furnace of administrative preparedness having at a young age served under the irrepressible Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia as Personal Assistant. It is a fact that Ogbemudia is the grand architect of the many development monuments scattered round and about Edo and Delta state. Serving under the one-time Governor of Old Bendel State opened Onaiwu to what service, unalloyed service, means to the changing the lives of people for good.
During this period, the governorship hopeful also brought his idea of governance and development to the table. His record of service, many have said, is what lent impetus to his being picked by another illustrious Edo son, the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu as Special Adviser.
In all of these, Onaiwu gained insight into the inner recess of power and governance, opportunities that cemented his aspiration to work towards service.
Over the years, he has demonstrated that he is a man of many parts; entrepreneur, socialite, philanthropist, patron of the arts, and fundamentally, a vehicle for the formation of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
In the early days when the governors were without a coordinating body to present a common front on issues affecting states, Onaiwu proposed a peer review mechanism to the current Senate President Bukola Saraki where states can leverage on their economies of scale for accelerated development. Years on, his vision has lived on leading to his being a pivotal presence in the circle of governors over the years.
Perhaps, David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of “The Libertarian Mind,” was referring to Onaiwu when he noted that a leader must have a firm grasp of reality. According to Boaz, good character and a firm grasp of reality are fundamentals for service. In an era where good character is in serious deficit, where the moral quotient of leaders is grossly lacking, Onaiwu comes with a freshness of the untainted.
The place of good character helps the leader to focus on delivering the dividends without the distraction of scandals and the foothold to galvanise the people to chart a new direction for not only growth and development, but moral regeneration.
One other added value of fielding Onaiwu is that having worked closely with governors; he has an array of networks and synergies vital for modern governance. Edo state as it stands requires an individual that can galvanise a whole range of stakeholders to see the potential that the state has and take advantage of investing in it. To this end, experience matters a lot. What are the factors that have hampered Edo from leveraging on its abundant natural resource that is not within the premise of the Exclusive List? How can the state navigate the pitfalls of shoddy growth and development? How do the people get involved in the development matrix of the state?
Therein lies the difference in the Onaiwu Solution Matrix. For him, it is not just about acknowledging that the boundary of inclusive growth needs to be broadened to include those who have been excluded in the promise of participatory democracy, but getting the people to pitch their most pressing development challenging to the government.
Also, Edo state currently needs a unifier. Not a divisive individual who will further polarise the state along ethnic and geo-senatorial lines. In all his campaigns, Onaiwu has maintained that let the best man wins; let the will of the people be sacrosanct while not discountenancing equity, fairness and inclusion. Aware of the cankerworm of not have singularity of a common platform, the governorship aspirant has been working round the clock to integrate all groupings in the PDP; preaching the gospel of sportsmanship no matter what the outcome of the primaries maybe.
For him, serving the people is respecting their wish in a free, fair and credible process. It is not one dictated by money or some other primordial consideration but one conditioned by the experience, empathy, a vision of the Edo dream, a handle on the rich history of our peoples, the ability to collaborate as well as being nimble and decisive.
Mr. Farouk Usman, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.