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Second tenure, ethnic irredentism and all that

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By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan

We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the relationship between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki has gone sour so soon. From the lessons of history, the godfather/godson relationship travels only in one direction – sweet in the beginning but with time, the wine turns vinegar. Let’s take a short excursion into history:

Obaseki, Oshiomhole, Edo

At a time, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe were perfect bedfellows but in due season, tragedy struck and bitterness entered!

At the Western flank, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola must have thought that nothing would ever separate them from any day’s lunch but in due season, they were at bitter ends of the Wild-Wild West onslaught!

Back home in Edo State, during the ill-fated Third Republic, this writer was a Personal Assistant to Chief Tony Anenih. Perhaps unknown to many, Chief Anenih virtually emptied his bank accounts to bank-roll Chief John Odigie-Oyegun into Government House as the first Executive Governor of the State. After the election, the governor needed just a small elbow room within which to operate but the godfather was holding on to every space. The governor’s struggle for some semblance of independence led to the estrangement that was to last forever.

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In his sober moment, Oshiomole might admit that, no matter how short, time was when he was tied to the apron-strings of the Igbinedions but not any longer.

The most nauseating aspect in the Oshiomhole/Obaseki relationship is the diabolical ethnic twist, which some Benin elements are bringing into it.

One thing is clear, though – Oshiomhole has done for the Benin, more than all past governors combined have done for them. That’s how far he could go in being a Benin man. Before we look at this in greater detail, let’s examine a few fundamental questions: first, who among the ethnic jingoists that now pretend to be fighting for Obaseki was not latching on the Oshiomhole government, collecting plump contracts and all forms of political lagasse, till the last moment before Oshiomhole’s departure for the current national assignment? Was Oshiomhole a Benin man at that time?

Secondly, has Oshiomhole indicated to anyone – overtly or covertly – that he wants to remove Obaseki and replace him with a non-Benin?

Otherwise, why are these ethnic irredentists getting worked up? We agree essentially with Oshiomhole that performance is the antidote for success in government. If being a Benin is the only credential you are parading too bad!

The second-term bid for the governorship of a state cannot be automatic – it must be earned! One would have expected Obaseki’s ethnic irredentists to be helping him to perform to show himself approved.

Having followed Oshiomhole closely for eight years, Obaseki cannot feign ignorance of the fact that Oshiomhole endeared himself to the Benin through dint of hard work. A few examples will do here:

Before Oshiomhole’s arrival, the Five-Junction area of Benin was a no-go area, particularly when it rained. By the time Oshiomhole finished work on close to 40 streets there, plus all his great works at Okhorha, Lawani and Eko Sonorhue, which were already garbage dumps, Oshiomhole was adopted by the people as a son of the soil.

There were other bold initiatives on which Oshiomhole spent billions like the Storm Water Project which was intended to remove any sign of flooding from all parts of the Benin Metropolis and the solid road that runs through the heart of the entire Iyekorhionmwon. To all the inhabitants of the areas, Oshiomhole was indeed a Messiah.

Oshiomhole turned a totally erosion-devastated Igbanke to an Eldorado by revamping 31 kilometres of their township roads with unsurpassable concrete drains! He replicated the same feat in communities across Edo South and, indeed, the entire State!

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Oshiomhole squandered all his goodwill on his godson, hoping he was bringing someone who would continue from where he stopped. But alas, all the laudable projects Oshiomhole started have not only been abandoned, they are  dead! How callous could a godson be – callous to your godfather; callous to your State; and callous to your people?

What is Obaseki bringing to the table of the second tenure? Broken promises and dashed hopes? That he is the Benin man who painted and manicured a few street corners in Benin City? Or that he is the Benin man who permanently closed down all the Institutions of Higher Learning in Edo South? Or the Edobest programme, so-called, where he imported his foreign contractor friends to supply bogus lap-tops and show teachers how to put them on in the name of training the teachers? Which of these is comparable to Oshiomhole’s Red-Roof Revolution, which took education to the doorsteps of Edo people?

  • Omorotionmwan, a public commentator, writes from Benin
  • Vanguard

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