With the Edo state governorship election fixed for 19th September 2020, late night meetings, permutations, alignments and strategies are on top gear to win the primaries of the two main political parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Reason being that the next governor of the state will most likely emerge from one of the two parties. While such politicking is expected, what is worrying are the criteria being used in deciding the most suitable candidate. Under normal circumstances, the focus should be on the candidate with the requisite understanding and capability to provide good governance of the state.
In our dear country Nigeria and presently in Edo state particularly in APC the reverse is the case and the more you look, the less you see. In ranking the factors currently being used to select the APC candidate, it seems that deep understanding of the development needs of Edo state and capability to deliver are seemingly not included. If they are, the unnecessary and enervating animosities within the party and its consequent polarisation would not be the case. The more disturbing aspect of the quarrels is that it is mainly ego driven and consequently to the detriment of Edo state citizens. Nobody is questioning the credentials and possible capability of candidates such as Osagie Ize-Iyamu, but the factors behind their sudden realignment and support suggest that the overriding interest and focus is the removal of Godwin Obaseki and not the inclusive and sustainable development of Edo state.
Having followed the policies, actions and inactions of the 36 governors in Nigeria, Godwin Obaseki will be ranked among the top five in terms of understanding what good governance entails and the capability to deliver. Even with the needless squabbles between him and Adams Oshiomhole that have caused unimaginable costs and distraction, Obaseki’s policies are clear and his inclusive sustainable development strides are very visible. During the governors’ roundtable in the last Nigeria Economic Summit which I moderated, his contributions were thorough, deep and convincing. In my interactions with participants that attended the session, the verdict was unanimous that he is focused and endowed to lead Edo state on the part of meaningful and lasting progress. Many wished that they had leaders like Obaseki as their governor!
As one of the few islands of governance rectitude in a sea of governance turpitude, it is important that all hands are on deck to support him particularly to win his second term. And this is particularly important and a task for all Edo elders, leaders and anyone interested in the sustainable progress of Edo state and Nigeria. Given Obaseki’s policies and actions in Education/human capital development, Agriculture, Vulnerable groups like pensioners, infrastructure and other sectors, Edo state is emerging as a reference state of visionary leadership. In the last report on poverty and inequality in Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Edo state was ranked as the sixth state with the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria with only about 12 percent of her citizens classified as being below the poverty line.
With such encouraging performance, all concerned should implore Adams Oshiomhole to please consider the wider interest of Edo people particularly the poor and support Obaseki’s second term bid. In the same vein, Obaseki should do all within his power to make peace with Oshiomhole and other warring factions without mortgaging the larger interests of Edo people
With such encouraging performance, all concerned should implore Adams Oshiomhole to please consider the wider interest of Edo people particularly the poor and support Obaseki’s second term bid. In the same vein, Obaseki should do all within his power to make peace with Oshiomhole and other warring factions without mortgaging the larger interests of Edo people. While ego is inherent in men, it is important to appreciate that good legacies will be better and more lasting than temporal exuberance of power and influence. As Oshiomhole is 68 years and Obaseki 60 years, a fundamental question is how many years they have left before they are recalled for an audit of their actions and inactions while here on earth. Life expectancy in Nigeria is about 54 years!
Given their close relationship and circumstances that led to Obaseki’s emergence as the governor of Edo state in 2016, it is important for Oshiomhole to realise that Obaseki’s failure is also his failure and his success, also his success. Having worked closely for many years, the good and endearing qualities of Obaseki should be remembered in the present gang up to crucify him. He might have been wrong in some of his actions, inactions and utterances but as his focus and determination for a better Edo state remains unshakeable, they say that to err is human and to forgive is divine.
It is in this context that many non-Edo state indigenes that have intervened in the matter are concerned and imploring PMB, APC leaders, Edo elders and leaders of thought to increase their efforts in resolving the matter to ensure Obaseki’s second term. This is not the time to be on the fence or take sides, it is time to stand up for the good and progress of Edo state and Nigeria. That has been the overriding interest of many including one of our revered religious leaders that I must not fail to appreciate. Even though not from Edo state, he has selflessly and most commendably tried to intervene in Edo political crisis including the intractable faceoff between Oshiomhole and Oyegun.
If history and experience can be appreciated and used by Nigerian politicians and leaders, it is glaring that supporting candidates mainly on the personal interests of supposed god fathers is counterproductive. With instances in almost every state in Nigeria, it is time for our politicians and leaders to appreciate that what should be central in supporting a candidate is the observed capability and disposition of the candidate to the sustainable growth and development of the society. As Godwin Obaseki has convincingly proven that he has both the capability and inherent desire to make Edo state one of the outliers of success in Nigeria, I implore those he has offended particularly Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to forgive and support him! While Galatians 6:9, counsels us ‘’not to become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Philippians 2:3 tells us to ‘do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves”. Proverbs 29:2 also states that “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice but when the wicked rules, the people groan”.
Dr. Ngwu, is an Economist/Associate Professor of Strategy, Risk Management & Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum. E-mail- email@example.com.