By Nosa Omorodion
PERHAPS, as a prelude to carrying out the rumoured plot of the Edo State Government to remove the solar-powered streetlights installed by Senator Matthew Urhoghide on several streets in Benin City, the agents of the State Government and the APC have embarked on the removal of the labels on the lampposts, which indicate that Senator Urhoghide is the facilitator of the lighting project.
About a week ago, when the plot was leaked, concerned members of the public took to the social media to express their reservation and to condemn it. Concerns had been raised as to the implication of the action, which in the first instance, seemed unwise given the deficit of essential public infrastructure in general and street lighting in particular, in the constituency. It was also observed that such an action would tantamount to a needless waste of public funds expended on the projects.
Commentators were unanimous on the view that the state government should not see the remarkable efforts of Senator Matthew Urhoghide as competing with but complementing the effort of the state government, in the interest of Edo South people whom they had both promised to serve if voted into office.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide’s performance in office in the past three years of his first four-year mandate has been both outstanding and unprecedented. In just three years, he has been able to redefine the concept of representation at the senate against the backdrop of the nondescript performance of his predecessors in office.
Urhoghide’s sterling performance has been reflected in his articulateness at legislative debates, dexterity at legislative oversight function and profusion of his constituency projects, which resonates more with constituents. He could be said to have indeed rekindled hope in the people; hope that a legislator can copiously attract development from Abuja. This is a marked departure from the regimes of excuses prior to his coming.
Consequent upon the forgoing, Edo people have come to a consensus that Senator Urhoghide has been providing exceptional and unparalleled representation to
Edo South in the past three years. Across party lines, Senator Urhoghide’s achievements are openly acknowledged, with members of the ruling APC wishing, he was representing Edo South people on their party’s platform.
With Urhoghide’s vast infrastructural landmarks dotting the landscape of Edo South Senatorial District, the possibility of the candidate of the ruling APC beating him has become a subject of debate in political circles as the 2019 general elections, in which he is expected to seek reelection, draws near.
Knowing the daunting task of defeating Senator Matthew Urhoghide, the APC using the instrumentality of the state government, must have reasoned that obliterating the marks of his impressive achievements like the streetlights was a strategic step to take.
Following the widespread condemnation of the rumoured plan by the state government to remove the streetlights, which are already in use, supporters of the government had responded that the claim was a false alarm by the opposition PDP. Many had reasoned that no responsible government would undertake such a venture that obviously would be at the detriment of the residents of the areas where the solar-powered streetlights are located and the public, in general. Some had said that Governor Obaseki as a gentleman cannot descend so low into petty political maneuverings.
However, the recent development whereby agents of the government were seen in the night moving round to remove the inscriptions of the sponsor of the project, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide from the lampposts makes one to wonder if indeed the state government is on the verge of carrying through, the plot of uprooting the streetlights. Another school of thought however, says that the removal of the banners may just be to hide the identity of the initiator so that passers-by would think that it is part of the developmental projects of the state government.
While removing the streetlight would be horrendous, concealing the identity of the initiator of the laudable project, Urhoghide would be no less uncharitable, unfair and dubious. It has become a tradition all over Nigeria, that political office holders who facilitate the provision of infrastructure within their constituencies leave their imprints on them for public awareness. Therefore, it is in order for political opponents of the ruling party in Edo State to enjoy the privilege of reminding their constituents, in graphic terms, the projects they have attracted to their constituencies.
In conclusion, it must be said, that the state government has no justifiable reason to launch an assault on Senator Matthew Urhoghide, in the hope of getting undue political advantage, by removing public infrastructure, which the highly resourceful and commendable Senator representing Edo South people on the platform of the PDP, had gone a great length and at great costs to himself and tax payers, to provide for the benefit of his appreciative constituents and the society at large.