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Tears as Oshiomhole leaves

•The deaths that can’t stop hurting
•His prayers for Obaseki
•His regrets, legacies

By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin City

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State is leaving office today, Saturday November 12, 2016, but his legacies will remain for many years to come. Upon arriving the state as governor in 2007, the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), embarked on massive developmental projects across the state. There is no doubt that the former labour leader is quite satisfied with his achievements but the spirit of his late wife, Clara and that of his Principal Private Secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde resurrected last Wednesday during his valedictory Exco meeting.

Governor Elect Godwin Obaseki and Governor Adams Oshiomhole,  during the official handing over to Obaseki Friday night at Government House.
Governor Elect Godwin Obaseki and Governor Adams Oshiomhole, during the official handing over to Obaseki Friday night at Government House.

The meeting was highly emotional. At a time during the meeting he battled tears and so were his commissioners.   Oshiomhole recalled how he lost his beloved wife, Clara, who was right by his side when he took the oath of office as governor of Edo State in 2007. He couldn’t help his emotions when he recalled that “my late wife wore khakhi with me, standing right beside me when I took the oath of office.

Her death was very devastating to me because we were in the struggle together before I became governor and I felt now that God made me governor, she was going to enjoy the fruit of her labour. So, it was shocking for me to lose her at that stage. I started with her and it would have have been wonderful to finish with her. Another shocker I got in my life was when I lost Olaitan who was a son to me.

“Olaitan was killed by some useless and wicked gun men. For weeks it was like a dream to me because none of us expected it and that is why sometimes when I look at all these, its difficult to really say whether life is fair to us or not. But as a strong believer in God, who gives and who takes anytime He wants, we cannot question His decision. So I tried to comfort myself. It was not really easy but God in his infinite mercy gave me the strength and the courage to survive the painful exit of both my wife and Olaitan”.

Oshiomhole could not, at this time, stop tears as he addressed members of the state Executive Council. Most of the Commissioners equally betrayed their emotions. However, Oshiomhole went on to commend members of his team for their effort towards the success of his administration. He described his Commissioner for Works, Osarodion Ogie as his son, saying “he has always been there for me.

And sometimes even when I shouted at him he kept his cool and his loyalty has been unshaken”. Expressing gratitude to the entire team, he said “Let me thank each and every one of you for what God has used you to do for our people, for our great state.

Let me say publicly that I do believe the evidence is there, that members of this state executive council are the least paid but worked the hardest compared to any other state that I know of. I also know that we have had to work long hours.

“I recall a meeting we had, starting at 9.00 am, no adjournment and staying all the way to 7.00 am the following day. No break, no adjournment.

We all agreed that we would do that and we would not adjourn until we had addressed the issue of the viability of this state so that we can deliver on our promises. “I want to thank all of you. May God bless you; may God reward you. And we must have a sense of collective ownership of everything that happened while we were here.

I want to apologise to those I harassed, and there is hardly anyone I didn’t harass, but it can be both ways. I wanted everything to be perfect. The harder I strove towards perfection, the more I realised that it couldn’t be, and I am still striving. I was always afraid to fail; it has never been my nature to fail. I didn’t design it. Thank you for tolerating a lot of that and for appreciating that nothing was personal. I am proud of each and every one of you, and as Odubu said, let’s see ourselves as members of a particular class, like you have members of an alumni association, you have a particular class.

May God preserve this class, and may the membership of this class continue to advance. With Godwin (Obaseki) I think one of us is taking over. We have a sense that the man who chaired our economic team with whom we had debates is going to continue. My prayer is that he will avoid our own mistakes and build on our strength and that the economic environment will be sufficiently enabling to enable him to do all of the good things I know he has in his heart, because what brought us together was the Edo project.

I know he has passion; he has a commitment; he has the energy and he has the honesty of purpose, and above all, he has the competence. What he will need from us is the prayer for God to enable him to do so well that this club of which he was a member, he will be an example of how members of this club are performing and growing from strength to strength. Thank you very much.” It was very emotional.

Speaking also, Ogie pointed out that he has learnt a lot in the last eight years working with Oshiomhole. “In fact it is like another school for me and I will say I learnt humility, and you taught us that everything is possible, your doggedness, your sense of humour, your intelligence are all we learnt”. On his part, Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu said, “I recall with nostalgia the very early days of our relationship.

The very first time we met with regard to this project was in Abuja, and it was as if we had known each other for donkey years. We bonded as brothers. I recall again the trying moment, the trying period when our mandate was stolen. You provided exemplary leadership. Mr. Governor, sir, to say that you have performed beyond previously established boundaries will be to state the obvious. To also say that you began well and ended well will also be to state the obvious. Mr. Governor, sir, you have changed the Edo narrative.

The Secretary to the Edo state government, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere described Oshiomhole as a man “you can only understand if you are patient. But he is a good man and very very understanding and Edo people will surely miss him”. Chief of Staff to the governor Patrick Obahiagbon (Igodomigodo) lightened up the hall with his usual grammar when he described Oshiomhole as a “political bulldozer who has catapulted the politics of Edo state to the next level”.

The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Kaseem Afegbua thanked the governor for the opportunity given to him to serve but however admonished him to work on his temper because Nigerians are looking up to him as a future President of this nation. “ I admire your brilliance, power of oratory and courage and most of us are indeed very happy to work with you”.

Oshiomhole’s legacies:

Defeated Edo Political god fathers Ended the yearly flooding in Benin City through the N30billion Benin Water Storm Project
Revolutionized Edo schools through the red roof revolution (All the government schools now equipped with modern teaching facilities and qualified teachers).
Massive construction of roads in the 18 LGAs equipped with walk ways and side drains Beautification projects Benin City, Auchi and Ekpoma
Solving age long erosion problem at Queen Ede in Benin City and Auchi Youth empowerment  Championed of one man one vote Provision of water across the three senatorial districts (No water in Edo Central senatorial district until Oshiomhole came with his Dando machines) Prompt payment of workers salaries  Increased Edo IGR from N350million to N1.2billion Built a 5-star Benin Central Hosital Benin City.
Remarkable events to remember

Mourned his late wife for five years Married a beautiful lady, lara from Cape Verde First indigenous governor of Edo state to hand over staff of office to the Oba of Benin Produced a successor from his party APC in the person of Godwin Obaseki.


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