What has changed?
By John Mayaki
FOUR years ago, all members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, put aside their differences, subdued their reservations and campaigned for the current governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was campaigning under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mr. Obaseki at the time assured former governor Adams Oshiomhole that he meant better. He gave his word, which at the time meant something; that since he was the Chairman of the Economic and Strategic Planning team, he would continue with everything he had started during the Oshiomhole-led government. Now, we campaign against him, juxtaposing this with our campaign for Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
Following the gubernatorial debate organised by Channels Television certain narratives arose which I feel the need to address. These narratives arose because of the elaborate game of psychological manipulation currently being played by the PDP. Some people call it “pity face”, psychologists call it manipulation.
Sadly, the public believes that he is playing that game against APC; he is not. He is playing the game against the people of Edo State, and they simply do not know it. They have instead, chosen to focus on the mannerisms of a philanthropist.
I will not talk about his double-dealing. I will talk about his party, the PDP, which thought him incompetent from the moment he assumed office till as recently as April this year. The man currently spearheading his campaign, the often unnoticed Chris Nehikhare, was, along with Chief Dan Orbih, his biggest critic.
After the governor had been one year in office, Orbih had seen enough. He said insecurity, comatose state of the government-owned hospitals in the state, non-payment of pensioners’ arrears and gratuity spanning several years, bad roads and high taxation burden on the state residents were begging for attention.
How then can the same man, who stressed that insecurity in the state is unbearable, who cited incessant kidnapping and wanton killings as one of the achievements of the Obaseki-led APC government, who said there was no security of lives and property in Edo, as one cannot walk or drive through major streets in the state capital and its environs for fear of being kidnapped or killed by gunmen, and who said there is nothing to show that this government will do anything to address the suffering of the people, suddenly claim that this government has been outstanding in office?
On April 6, 2018, Nehikhare said: “We are dismayed by the recent announcement that the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, Edo State, has been closed down and the employment of all its academic and non-academic staff terminated.
All sacked. Following the unlawful closure of Iguoriakhi, on August 8, 2017, by armed policemen on the orders of the Godwin Obaseki-led APC State Government, the body of academic and non-academic workers as well as students sued Edo State Government and others in Suit no NICN/BEN/08/2018 at the National Industrial Court, Akure.
The case was adjourned to June 7, 2018 for arguments on the claimants’ Motion for a Mandatory order to reopen the College pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court. In total contempt of the judiciary and in a clear case of obstruction of justice, Edo State Government went ahead to announce the termination of employment of all staff members of the institution. This “slap in the face” of the judiciary must be condemned and resisted.
On April 28, 2018, Nehikhare once more described his government thus: “Yesterday, distinguished Senator Matthew Urhoghide in the presence of Gov Godwin Obaseki was attacked by APC-led government-sponsored thugs as he disembarked from the plane that brought him from Abuja.
We were informed when the flight was airborne that APC thugs kitted in black had been mobilised from government house with a mission to invade the Benin Airport and their target was Distinguished Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
In the presence of the governor, who draws N400m monthly from the state security vote, these thugs kitted in black by Edo state government, attacked Senator Matthew Urhoghide, a former state woman leader and our youth leader.
After observing and supervising the attack, with a smirk on his face, the governor, Godwin Obaseki, climbed into his Jeep and gave a fist pump in approval and solidarity with his thugs for a mission accomplished.”
On the issue of the state’s budget, Orbih became something he is rarely known with – oratory. He said: “At the time most people are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet, the APC government led by Governor Obaseki is still wasting state funds on frivolous things. He has allocated N2.5 billion for protocol and entertainment and this is not the kind of governor people voted for.
The governor also allocated the sum of N1.5 billion to his office and voted N4 billion as security vote.”
Governor Obaseki, it appeared, was everything Orbih had said, as the governor had actually earmarked N134billion for water fountain, while another N10 million was set aside for its maintenance. He had even set aside a N1m monthly vote as ‘essential drugs’.
And for Orbih: “The question one is forced to ask is, is Obaseki sick? How come every month we use N1 million to buy essential drugs for the governor? …What exactly is wrong with Obaseki?”
The governor’s reply was that the PDP could not appreciate the plans and initiatives contained in the budget because it (PDP) was still “stuck in primitive politics and a system that glorifies avarice, as the budget has been hailed by experts in the development circles, academia and civil society for its focus on fortifying growth.”
On April 2 this year, Nehikhare believed that no leader could be more reprehensible than Obaseki in his handling of the coronavirus. “Governor Obaseki has not demonstrated expected visibility, to give hope and direction as well as douse public apprehension, particularly at this time when the public space is awash with uncertainties. Unfortunately, Governor Obaseki with his renegade APC governorship aspirants are only interested in the Edo 2020 elections.”
On April 20, he said: “The… PDP, Edo State chapter, has described the Sunday COVID-19 speech of Governor Obaseki as disappointing, curious and scandalous.
The party laments the financial opacity surrounding this fight amid the disclosure by governor Obaseki that over N1bn has been expended on the fight against COVID-19 and provision of palliatives to over 50,000 vulnerable Edolites! We are saddened that Governor Obaseki again failed to show leadership and displayed total lack of touch with reality as he failed to address the issue of palliatives diversion.
“It is more painful that Governor Obaseki could not address the immediate needs of SMEs and its employees or provide a trajectory that will take care of their future as the month of April draws to an end.
Business owners are going to ponder how they will meet their wage bill demand when they haven’t done any business but must make their utility payments; electricity, telephone and rent!”
On April 28, he noted thus: “Edo PDP is saddened and dismayed that Governor Obaseki’s government has now resorted to ‘bribery’ in an attempt to get a second term at all cost.
The situation is yet another manifestation of leadership failure and insensitivity of the Governor Obaseki-led administration to the plight of Edo people at critical moments.
It is unacceptable for a government that is struggling with providing palliatives for its citizens, helping businesses stay afloat and running an efficient and effective government, to continually divert state resources to the detriment of its people. It is even more ludicrous for Governor Obaseki to ignore the optics of such a venture.
Such anti-people antic from government is symptomatic of a leadership that has not only lost focus, but has lost touch and, certainly, the confidence of the people he was elected to serve. Our party holds that Governor Obaseki is desperate to get a second term and as such has thrown caution to the wind by pursing extraneous issues that have no direct benefits on the lives of the people.”
But it was not only the PDP that was fed up with Obaseki. Residents of Apana Village, Edo State, in a letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, accused Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, of shooting at residents during a PDP rally.
The residents claimed that Shaibu led thugs into the village as they shot sporadically at residents. The governor’s convoy, it was reported, arrived at the square.
The list goes on. But the question remains: What changed between April and June that this man loathed by the PDP for his governorship style they felt was sluggish, has become a worthy candidate for their party? Money. To facilitate his crossover and obtaining a ticket from the PDP, Governor Obaseki is believed to have splashed money on the party.
It is a shame that the PDP has become saturated with men sporting lean and hungry looks, so much so that for a fee they can call a spade a spoon and market a bumbling governor as a worthy candidate. These people mean no good to Edo State.
They have simply been waiting to sink their fangs into the state treasury. The once petulant Orbih, who was furious at Obaseki that asking farmers to pay the sum of N2000 into a Sterling Bank account as one of the criteria to benefit from a scheme, has now become advocate for that same governor.
Edo people need to reject these men. They mean no good for the state. For a governor to be rejected by his party in spite of his incumbency, is telling. It was a statement of intent that he was clearly not qualified enough – a fact that was brought to the party’s notice by the same PDP on whose platform he is campaigning for re-election.
Edo people should choose wisely, for Mr Obaseki will show all his wrath if re-elected. He will collect every penny he has given to secure election. He was humble when seeking election in 2016, and was quick to describe party members as thieves and looters by 2017.
He will do worse to the PDP and to Edo State if given the chance. A sybarite, by Dan Orbih’s confessions, he only owes loyalty to his nest, and he will feather it wantonly for as long as he is chanced.
Written by Kartia Velino