By Brain Jatto
THIS is election season in Edo State and it turns out that the so-called progressives in attempting to gain advantage over the PDP, have chosen to stand history and truth on their heads. The situation is not helped by a fawning and uncritical media. It is heavily bought off to play vile megaphone roles. Thus the media has jettisoned its mandatory role of being the information choice, the critical voice and a discerning institution as a neutral umpire and a truth teller.
It has pleased the Comrade-Governor’s propagandist to lie wilfully against the legacy of Chief Lucky Nosa Igbinedion in his eight years tenure and the public is absorbing the lies as the truth of his service. Not given to the tactics of self- glorification, self- trumpeting and a descent into propaganda, Chief Igbinedion, never bothered to overblow his records and achievements as he never was for grandstanding and self- aggrandizement. No doubt in a clime as ours, self- effacement, and humility count as nothing, hence Oshiomhole thinks he and his cohorts have the centre stage for story telling.
He has the liberty to tell his story and no one else and so in stating his over inflated contract filled years, he must stay with facts as facts are sacred.
Nigerians are so enamoured with today “yes men” that they conveniently forget that in narrating history, it is apposite to be contextual; contexts are always different, policy directions are always set in time, space and context, policy thrusts so very different from regime to regime.
It seems so convenient for today’s Edolites to forget that in eight years, all that was available to Chief Igbinedion was N197 billion as against eight years of Comrade Oshiomhole of over N1 trillion. Lucky Igbinedion took the saddle immediately after the military years; military years that created institutional structural defects and distortions.
To address these distortions and dislocations, and reverse the ominous trend of poverty and lack of infrastructural development and decay, Chief Igbinedion first liquidated unpaid salaries of civil servants forthe period of a year and eight months left behind by the outgoing Adamu Baba Iyam who subjected Ministries and MDAs to a self-sustenance policy, a scorched earth policy that was unsustainable and inhuman.
Was that not governance with a human face? Was Igbinedion to leave addressing hunger and massive poverty and commence refurbishing of schools and building roads which the today “yes men” think are superior acts without realising where we were all coming from?
The Igbinedion administration embarked on a total restructuring of the Civil Service and the appointment of 19 Permanent Secretaries and nine civil commissioners within four weeks of his administration’s inception. Human capital development was one of the greatest achievement of Igbinedion’s administration. He provided enabling environment for new crop of younger politicians who today form over 80% of Governor Oshiomhole’s cabinet and leaders of his party. Some of them include the APC state chairman, Anselm Ojezua and several civil commissioners as well as APC state secretary, Osaro Idah and several others.Therefore, Chief Igbinedion is the superstructure on which Oshiomhole’s ambition and administration relied on to date.
On June 22, 1999, he initiated a daily regime of Executive Council Meetings (Mondays through Fridays) at 8:00am in order to ensure that all government policies, programmes and projects were well articulated and implemented. Above all it was an organisational drive to carry everyone along, unlike his accuser’s emperor-like and dictatorial style and imposition of will.
Within two months of assumption of office, Chief Igbinedion started scouting for investors and entrepreneurs from Lagos, Abuja and overseas as a way to kick start the rapid industrialisation of the state, one of the major planks why he sought the office of Governor of Edo State.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is notable that the aggressive and radical approach to programme implementation increased the tempo of economic activities in Edo State, which resulted in government being directly involved in diverse economic activities that included manufacturing and socio-related ones like transportation. Have all these gains not be comprehensively reversed by the Oshiomhole’s administration for its purely selfish gains and political expediency grounds? Who is the loser? It is the Edolites with a resultant massive unemployment and years of retrenchment.
Contrary to the vile propaganda and outright lies out there, the sectoral layouts of the Igbinedion administration testify to having performed creditably and is only being vilified for the sake of a stooge who must cover the tracks of his cohort’s eight years of unmitigated profligacy. Let us make a count of the sectoral interventions:
Refurbishing and renovation of over 300 primary and secondary schools through the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB. Found an enduring solution to the nagging problem of cultism at the premier state tertiary institution – Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
Construction of a 1000 seater lecture theatre, hostel and classroom blocks at the permanent site of AAU, Ekpoma.
Increase in monthly subvention to AAU from N4million (1999) to N100million (2007) per month and a corresponding reduction in tuition fees and stoppage of discriminatory fees by payable by non-indigene students.
Direct government involvement and intervention in the establishment of Edo Fertiliser Blending Plant, Auchi; Chemical Plant, Ikpeshi; Cassavita Plant, Uromi and the Fruit Juice Factory, Ehor and the resuscitation of Bendel Brewery Ltd. And Bendel Cement Company, Okpella through technical partners. (Note, it was Chief Odigie Oyegun who sold Bendel Brewery to Churchgate. Lucky Igbinedion vowed to return the legacy to Edo State.)
Construction and commissioning of a two-storey 27-classroom block at the state-owned remedial education institution, Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), Benin City. Construction and commissioning of an auditorium/lecture theatre at the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi and the College of Education,Ekiadolor.
Renovation of four hostel blocks and the increase in monthly subvention from N3 million to N10 million for the College of Education, Ekiadolor. Upgrading of facilities in four model Secondary Schools and the procurement of science equipment for all Secondary Schools in Edo State. Financial welfare package to students of Edo State extraction at the Law Schools in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu.
Palliative and reconstruction works on over 150 Roads and Streets in Benin metropolis and across the three senatorial districts.
Procurement of medical equipment for the College of Medicine, AAU, Ekpoma and the construction of the only state library complex.
Construction works on Students Union and Hostel blocks at Auchi Polytechnic. Tarring of 70km of Campus Roads with hot-rolled asphalt in AAU, Ekpoma. Renovation/Rehabilitation of the Institute of Physical Education, Afuze.
Supply of School furniture to Post-Primary School in Edo State by the Ministry of Works and Transport. Flood and erosion control works in 10 crises areas in the Benin metropolis.
Acquisition of 25 brand-new COMIL Volkswagen Buses for Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) and 28 new Peugeot Station Wagon Cars and 40 Motorcycles for Edo Line and its courier service. Construction of a modern corporate headquarters and garage for the ECTS.
The introduction of the Passengers Welfare Scheme (PWS) to provide a short-term insurance scheme for travelers commuting within and outside the state.
Return of sporting glory to Edo State through sterling performances in national and regional competitions. Of prime significance is the total refurbishment and equipping of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to international standard.
One of the most significant achievements of the Igbinedion Administration was the establishment and construction of the Stella Obasanjo Women and Children Hospital in Benin City dedicated to paediatric and gynecological cases as a referral institution with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Then also was the construction of a women maternity ward within the premises of Central Hospital, Benin City.
The construction and commissioning of the Benin Byepass through a collaborative effort between the Federal Government and the Igbinedion Administration. The construction of a Masterpiece monument in Abuja, the Edo House, which till date yields revenues to the State.
The concept and construction of two housing estates at Iguosa and Iyekogba with modern facilities like central water supply system, a drainage system; dedicated power supply; co-ordinated security set-up; good road network etc.
Attraction of businesses such as banks, eateries, communication firms, entertainment etc. through the enablement of a conducive business environment etc. Rural Electrification that covered nearly all rural Edo areas, including such out places like Somorika. Establishment of Edo State Institute of Technology and Management, Usen.
Establishment of Edo State Board of Internal Revenue which was never in existence hitherto. The list is interminable and all-encompassing, but shorn of the usual Goebellian propaganda that tends to skew the facts and figures that confuse the citizenry.
In view of the foregoing, Edolites should in the exercise of their franchise in the September 10, 2016 governorship election, not expose themselves to the battering ram of so-called progressives, whose set objectives are not altruistic or masses – oriented but are selfish in mode and autocratic in execution. They should not eat from a staple of self-serving lies and fabrications.
One of the major factors that militated against Chief Igbinedion getting a fair press and by extension the people’s understanding, was the brazen fact that he did not engage in media buying, propaganda, courting print and electronic media practitioners to showcase the various programmes, policies and projects his government did on behalf of and for, all Edo people. In short, Chief Igbinedion did not blow his own trumpet and forbade others from doing so, on his behalf.
The concocted lies and fables that Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion did not perform remains what they are: lies and fables.
Chief Igbinedion’s bouquet of achievements and development strides did not go through the crucible of embellishments and strident propaganda in the print and electronic media because he assumed that the “works will speak for themselves”, hence this season of anomie. That Igbinedion did not perform, is a page off the Greek Aesop Fables. He did, albeit exceedingly, well!