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Wake and see what? (2): Matters Arising

By Josef Omorotionmwan

SOMETIMES, you have to cast a stone on the roof to ascertain the exact location of the house owner. Exactly eleven weeks ago, we wrote the first part of this article. It was necessary to allow enough time to receive the reactions.

True, the responses came in torrents but they were mainly vacuous in content. Rather than address the issues raised, the respondents went on a wild goose chase, pouring invectives on my person by resorting to mudslinging, insinuations and innuendos.

Cows

It was also a period of assessment. How else could anyone dispel the lying equivocation of some herdsmen – not Fulanis but Edos – amongst our so-called leadership cadre whose lives depend on the number of cows they get at yuletide? Like their cows, these leaders speak from both sides of the same big mouth – in the presence of the Governor, they lick his booth and tell him all sorts of lies; and in the Governor’s absence they demand that we hammer and nail him properly. We have learnt to point in the direction of Lagos Street where they could procure the sledge hammers and all the six-inch nails so as to do the nailing and hammering by themselves.

Our stand: We write to move society forward not to destroy or pull anyone down. Every society is deserving of its own Ralph Nader that wakes up a sleeping government. Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) shows by happy illustration that the best way to understand the present and the future is by taking a peep into the past; hence a short excursion into our recent history is necessary.

Professor Oseriemen Osunbor was first on line here. Apparently, he was impressed with the coloured pictures displaced as his achievements in his first one hundred days in office. But by the time he saw our critique, “First One Hundred Days In The Gutters” (THISDAY, September 7, 2007, p.18) it dawned on him that he must go to work immediately. That was when the administration embarked on meaningful, vote-catching projects across the State. To Prof. Osunbor’s credit, these projects would have put him at a serious advantage had a re-run been ordered in the electoral case between him and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

Oshiomhole had just arrived from the Labour front. Even where this writer was the one raising up his hands and introducing him to the people at every campaigns stop, when he failed to hit the ground running after his victory at the courts I did not spare him. I did two numbers on him “Return of the Godfathers” (THISDAY, January 20, 2009, p.18) and “Between Activism and Governance” (THISDAY, February 12, 2009, p.18). Comrade was thoroughly moved and by the time he went to work, there was no stopping him. The rest is now history.

In Nigeria in general and Edo State in particular, aides do not understand their briefs. They believe that their duty begins and ends with praising their principals to the high heavens. They also think that they must wait for the boss to make mistakes so that they would step in to defend him – right or wrong!

Contrariwise, the primary duty of the aide is to prevent the boss from making avoidable mistakes. As they say in public administration, you are there to protect the boss from himself.

Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communications, was very good at doing that which only the lazy could do. It is doubtful that he was listening to himself when he quipped rather glibly, “Which of the Local Government Councils can boast of establishing an Industrial Park for N200 billion?” – In apparent reference to our assertion that the one year achievement of the Obaseki Administration could be attained by any of the 18 Local Government Councils. This is where the Special Adviser is unable to distinguish between “wait and see” from “wake and see”. Indeed, if declaration of intention must be equated with actual performance, we know not of any of the Local Government Councils that cannot declare its entire geographical entity as an Industrial Park for N500 billion!

This is the type of distorted thought trend that runs across Osagie’s submission.

Enter Chris Azebamwen, Publicity Secretary, APC, Edo State. He represents the face of indulgence in this episode. In his four-page response, there was hardly any line that was not laced with “Pa Omorotionmwan” with a veiled insinuation that old-age is a disease. Even at that, Azebamwen woefully fails the test of a good gerontologist where all he is able to mutter is the obvious fact that old people could suffer loss of memory – without giving credit to the enormous experience that goes with aging.

Even these aides choose to be allergic to research; research remains the crux of the matter. We asserted that the Obaseki-led Administration is selling or transferring our assets without regard to due process and the enabling laws.  For the purpose of clarity, we shall take the EDPA as a case study.

The Bendel Development and Planning Authority was established by Edith N0. 3 of 1969. It was amended by Edith N0. 11 of 1979, which removed the planning function and gave it the function of overseeing the property of the State Government.

Ab initio, the Enabling Law provided for the Authority, a six-member Board under a Chairman; and a Management Team headed by a General Manager who is also the Accounting Officer of the Authority. In the Organogram, the title of Executive Chairman is alien to the Law.

To be safe is to assume unsafe. We have today a vibrant House of assembly that is favourably disposed to the Administration. All you need now is to take the simple step of approaching the Legislature to amend the Enabling Law to accommodate whatever you want, if only as a way of obviating any challenge that could come from a knowledge-based opposition in future, which could consign some of the laudable steps being taken by the current Management Team to the pit of illegality.


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