By Oteghe Adams
IN consonance with the declaration of progressive continuity from his predecessor, Governor Godwin Obaseki is nurturing a new culture of service and principle of governance in Edo State. The direction being paved by the Governor was honestly articulated in his pre and post election pronouncements- it was clear that the new administration was going to adopt a substantial shift in the economic and fiscal management-style of the state.
The trajectory of Obaseki ‘s contemplation were insurmountably logical. As the inheritor of a uniquely formidable political structure, Obaseki forthrightly concluded that Edo people should equally become legatees of a powerful economic sector. Ex-Governor Oshionmhole had undoubtedly evolved an enviable APC brand. In his conception of progressive continuity, Obaseki sought to cultivate the fertile political lands of Edo APC into a dominant South –South economic power house. Without loss of time, the citizenry of Edo State are beginning to see the results of the combined science of technocracy and the art of political management. Indeed, Edo people across all the senatorial zones, local governments and wards are today confidently locating themselves in the new inclusive economic map of opportunities for which the Governor is tirelessly working.
From the micro to larger economic initiatives and projects, Obaseki is justifiably ambitious in projecting the state for leadership in the first half of the 21st Century. However, is the magnificent horizon of Governor Obaseki in the same planet with those of the ‘’entrenched leaders’’ of Edo State who are stagnated in the quagmire of yester years politics? Is Obaseki’s definition of manifesting the dividends of democracy in alignment with the viewpoint of some party chieftains especially those of the Edo South Senatorial extraction? Whereas the strategic focus of the Governor is in the orbit of locating Edo State in the arena of global economic competition, a segment of the so-called leaders still conceive of the state as a predominantly ’’ civil service enclave’’; a region that is cursed to be a perpetual and helpless client of Federal Government fiscal allocations. While Governor Obaseki draws the contours of the rapid digital economy, a cabal of disgruntled supposed political big wigs are still stuck with imageries of ‘’Agbegilodos’’ ( junkyard –grade ,snail-speed moving timber-carrying trucks) stumbling on the rugged terrains of the old Benin-City. Should any group of altruistic leaders not be more enthusiastic and celebrating the recent initiation of information, communication technology (ICT) hub where about 30 internationally certified companies are expected to begin operation in Benin? For the APC chieftains who genuinely care about the future of youths in their constituencies, is the ICT endeavour not the kind of project that they should proudly rally around? – an initiative that opens a whole new world of opportunities to our endowed tech-savvy youths whose dreams of becoming successes in the field will now be fulfilled with the hub. Or is the 996 hectares large industrial park that will accommodate over 100 companies and the Emotan 1600 Housing Units which will each sell for between 3 and 12 million naira in partnership with Mixstar Real Estate Developers not the kind of projects for which party chieftains should galvanize support? Unfortunately, the party leaders who are so addicted to the game of insatiable self gratification and ‘executive pan-handling’ cannot see the rainbow rising for the marginalized youths in their constituencies with such endeavours. Hence a handful of assumed APC leaders are threatening to recoil from party activities and perhaps decamp.
In the progressive reform agenda of the Governor, it is more urgent to rehabilitate roads, to boost commerce, to reposition the state in agriculture and agro-industry and expand job opportunities. Obaseki is devoting energy to rejuvenating the dignity of Edo’s humanity by initiating programmes to discourage migration of our young women and men from embarking on precarious journeys to Europe. It is Obaseki’s conviction that the sacred obligation of governance is to advance the social and economic interest of the whole society and not to indulge a club of party leaders with decadent patronages. Undoubtedly, this is a strange new order especially for those party leaders who have become irredeemably accustomed to the cocktails of endless pampering from the Government House. Particularly in the PDP era, the Government House had acquired the sully image of a daily convention centre for idle self-ascribed political leaders shamelessly lining up to share what they considered a state booty . Often times, the large presence of the gang and parade of such political opportunists mostly become a distraction to the serious business of governance.
For some Edo South APC leaders to expect the continuity of PDP immoral proclivity would tantamount to a gross betrayal of the overwhelming September 28th 2016 election; the massive vote of confidence on that date signaled the historic covenant between Obaseki and the electorate .The transparent delivery on his campaign promises will constitute the gravamen on which the jury of Edo electorate and posterity will judge the Governor and the APC.
No political group or nation can make progress if it fails to embrace reformative ideas to ensure its evolvement and create momentum for the collective march of history. The quintessence of progressive continuity is the scientific and sociological awareness that change is constant. The worthy leaders of Edo APC must be acculturated to the new civics of service in the state under Obaseki. As an astute observer of politics in Edo State, I’m very aware of the reverence that the Governor accorded genuine political leaders in his pre-election days and still does so till date. Significant party officials indicate that the Governor does not by any means restrict access to political leaders who want to discuss the collective welfare of their people- those leaders who want to make contributions on how the administration can facilitate Edo State economic transformation into higher orbits of the 21st Century are said to be endearing to Obaseki. Regrettably, most of those who stride around the political arena today adorned with the toga of leadership are nothing but avaricious self-centered masquerades. Such characters will somersault, gyrate, genuflect and even threaten to quit the party in the quest for greener pecuniary pastures.
Edo APC leaders who are determined to emblazon the legitimacy of their titular political appellations with concrete story of fulfilled promises will remain unshakable-such leaders will proudly associate with the unquestionable performance of the Governor and will show fidelity to the philosophy of true change.
But there would be the serial political party crossing self acclaimed leaders, the permanent political nomads and ‘ bounty hunters’ ; there would be others seeking to fictionalize excuses to abandon the road of principle and progress that Governor Obaseki represents. This is the season of crucial test for the manifestation of genuine leadership –only those with the steadiness of character and honesty of purpose will remain to actualize the progressive market-reforms and people-oriented agenda of Edo APC. Ultimately the principle of service to Edo people and the goal of rapid economic transformation as embedded in the comprehensive vision of Obasekism will flourish and triumph.
Oteghe Adams, a public commentator writes from Benin City.