By Uyi Osaretin
There is a raging ideological war in Edo State’s political milieu between the growing millions of progressives who have taken sides with Governor Godwin Obaseki’s people-focused governance model and a few self-seeking politicians who have refused to wean themselves of the old heritage of ‘share the money’ politics.
In the open, they parade themselves as APC card carrying leaders and members, but are actually resident enemies amputating the party’s fortunes from within, in connivance with external forces in the opposition.
They dealt their first blow on the APC’s fortunes in Edo State in the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly election when they sabotaged ‘their own party’ the APC, by redirecting logistics meant for the mobilisation of APC members, in favour of the opposition.
Ask them why they are working against the APC in the state, their complaints range from the ridiculous to the absurd: “Governor Godwin Obaseki is destroying our political legacy. How can we work to enthrone a government and not be rewarded with ‘money meant to build infrastructure and pay teachers etc?’
“What is the governor doing with the security votes? Is he not supposed to hand it to us in Ghana-must-go bags? The list of their ‘complaints’ is endless. Even some journalists in Edo State who by their professional training, should push for probity and accountability in government, have not been left out of the hush-toned protests.
“We are the journalists that brought this government to power, now we are not getting monthly payments from them. We got landed property from his predecessor, we were spoiled and lacked nothing but now we are left high and dry.”
These complaints which started as whispers are fast becoming loud, more so, with the general elections winding up and the 2020 governorship election beckoning.
Recalling what he was told by one of the APC stalwarts, a source who would not want his name mentioned, said: “In the February 23 presidential and national assembly elections, just to prove a point against the Governor, known APC stalwarts both in the elite class and hoodlums, not only refused to support the party’s standard bearers but actually went ahead to join resources with the PDP to exchange votes for cash.”
The source continued: “They knew that just standing idly by will not make Edo State lose the presidential election, so they joined forces with the PDP to subvert the will of the people especially in Edo South senatorial district.”
What a shame! One is constrained to ask: What is the honour of these so-called politicians worth really?
Readers may want to know in specific terms what Governor Obaseki, who by the way is the most popular politician in Edo State, among people who do not depend on politics as the source of their daily bread, has done to incur the wrath of politicians across the state.
Findings showed the following: Obaseki’s retrieval of powers of state from known hoodlums such as Tony Kabaka, Shaba, Osakpamwan Nomoless, Bob Izua etc.; the governor’s termination of massive pay-outs to politicians and the enthronement of a culture of frugality in resource allocation in the state, towards ensuring that the state’s infrastructural facilities are strengthened to drive sustainable growth and development and to build an economy that can withstand shocks.
The small gang of self-serving politicians really don’t care if you spend the money on constructing the road to their homes. As long as you don’t hand the money to them, you are in real big trouble!
The other complaints by this gang of self-serving politicians are that: Obaseki engages technocrat with the requisite experience and skills to carry out functions in Government as against the old culture of allowing barely literate individuals, sometimes completely illiterate people to hold political positions which require vast professional knowledge and experience;
Yet another complaint is that there is no more thorough fare in Government House. Once upon a time, parts of the premises of the Edo State Government House were like dens. It was not out of place to hear gun shots ring out from certain corners and Indian hemp smoke billow into the sky. All that stopped once Obaseki assumed office. Now you must have an acceptable purpose for coming to the Government House otherwise access will be denied. The hygiene in governance can be seen from the gate, in the quality of people and the surrounding tranquility, akin to a research centre.
Although these aggrieved fellows will coat these points in more acceptable, diplomatic and political language when they express their displeasure, but all that is stated above are what they are actually talking about.
They have been passing threats of what they call the ‘Ambode treatment’ among other punitive measures against governor Obaseki.
Many will hastily conclude that this must be a clear face-off between Obaseki and the political class but actually, it is between a small gang of few self-serving individuals in the political class versus the millions of Edo people. Obaseki had a choice to make between the masses and this gang of self-seeking politicians in the face of dwindling public resources and he chose the former.
Obaseki’s development-oriented politics resonates with many astute politicians in the APC who have stood by him through thick and thin and are determined to go the whole hog. There has been a quiet political storm since then. The election season has only now provided an opportunity for the disgruntled self-seeking ‘career politicians’ who are not qualified to do other jobs, to take their pound of flesh.
But the millions of Edo people whose roads were abandoned for over thirty years and more, spread across Edo Central, Edo North and South senatorial districts have sworn to stand by Governor Obaseki come 2020 gubernatorial election.
Traders in the state who enjoy massive cut in revenue, a thuggery-free business environment are waiting with their PVCs to re-elect Governor Obaseki. Teachers in the state, numbering over 15,000, who have been trained on the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and who receive their salary not later than 26th of every month have taken a position on Obaseki’s re-election.
The story is same for the state’s senior citizens and pensioners, who have never had it so good with pension payment. Edo’s civil servants, the over 77,000 Edo youths who have been empowered through various job creation initiatives are with Governor Obaseki.
Market women in the state, farmers and transporters alike, students and other classes of Edo people and residents are not ready to part ways with the Wake and See Government of Obaseki just yet. The battle line is drawn, victory is assured for the majority, which usually carries the day in any democratic contest!
*Uyi Osaretin, a journalist, writes from Benin City.