Edo guber: Why Obaseki’s chances are bright, despite oppositions
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rolled out the timetable for the Edo State off-season gubernatorial election, the media have been awash with stories on whether Governor Godwin Obaseki would be allowed to re-contest It is not about whether or not he has done things that should merit him a second term.
The Edo electorates seem not to be factored into all these as regards their roles in selecting who governs them. It is about, ‘Will Adams Oshiomhole allow him? Will Ahmed Tinubu allow him? And the answer according to many analysts is, Why not? The thinking in many quarters is that Governor Obaseki deserves a return ticket from his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and by implication, an overwhelming confidence vote of Edo people on the election day.
Obaseki, founder and former chairman, Board of Directors of Afrinvest West Africa Limited (formerly Securities Transactions & Trust Company Limited (SecTrust), resigned his position in 2016 to join the murky waters of Nigerian politics. He contested the gubernatorial election of that year and emerged winner. He succeeded Adams Oshiomhole, who governed Edo State for eight straight years.
Obaseki heeded the call by many concerned Nigerians, who over the years, had clamoured for more private sector players to go into elective positions in order to change the flavour of politics in the country.
Since the return of Nigeria to civil rule in 1999, the political space has been dominated by career politicians, whose whole lives are woven around politics, without a second address.
The consequence has been that they see politics as an avenue to amass wealth to the detriment of the people. While they flourish as individuals, the country continues to grow leaner and leaner.
Over the years, they have changed the meaning of democracy to be ‘government of the few, by the few and for the few, as against the original definition, “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
As a technocrat in politics, his stomach rumbled on seeing how a few individuals were appropriating the wealth that belonged to the state. He was said to have been more disturbed as former political office holders instituted all manner of levies on hapless market women and small businesses. These illegal tax and levy collectors were said to be answerable to some political lords who are not even residing in the state, but in Abuja. It was gathered that these former “this and that” in the state established a parallel government. Not only that the state government was losing money, small businesses were not allowed to operate peacefully. It was a reign of chaos. BDSUNDAY reliably gathered that it was in his effort to block avenues of revenue leakages that pitted him against some interest in the state.
An official of the Edo State government said thatthere used to be wrong pricing in procurements and even in the award of contracts in the old order, resulting in loss of huge revenues. Obaseki believes that there was so much inefficiency in the system, which made the state to suffer huge financial losses. Moreover, there was also the allegation of “stepping on toes.” Some powerful individuals who believed they were untouchable and above the law, considered it an insult band an affront when asked to follow due process in whatever they do in the state. “They found it difficult to come to the simple realisation that a new Sheriff is in town,” that is a major plank of the issue, BDSUNDAY gathered.
“Some people who felt they were owners of the state empowered some boys who were going about collecting all manner of levies. They made life very difficult for market women and indigenes doing small businesses to eke out a living. Even in Government Reserved Areas (GRAs), they were very powerful; wielding so much power, extorting people all over the state. Some of them were said to have their counting machines in their homes. They impoverished the state by their activities,” a politician from the state said, on condition of anonymity.
The politician also said that the state had drastically cut the cost of building roads.
“We can build three roads now with even lesser cost than they used to build one road in the past. If there is no economic growth, we get stuck. Oil has run out. We must do things that could help us create wealth. As you cannot make an omelet without breaking an egg, there is no way we can build a new Edo without dismantling those negative things that hampered the progress of the state in the past. There are entrenched interests that are being dislodged and they are fighting back. Don’t forget that our governor is a private sector person, he cannot help but see that Edo is run and run very well,” an official of the state government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said.
The official further said: “There was this thinking in some quarters that those boys that went about collecting illegal levies were the backbone of government, but Governor Obaseki said no; it is not possible. He told them that they have created non-state actors and that they have become a threat to democracy. So, he decided to dismantle such illegal structures and the masters began to cry out. I must tell you that the well being of our people were threatened by the activities of these boys. If you want to change an old, negative order, you have to fight. To get peace, you have to go to war. That is the story of Nigeria today, and that is the crux of the matter in Edo today.”
Observers said that in order to engage the governor in an attrition war, some of the elements that felt wounded by the reforms instituted by the Obaseki administration tried to ambush him at the inauguration of the elected members of the state House of Assembly.
“They plotted to hijack the Assembly and use the members to impeach the governor. But their plot was uncovered. That was responsible for the crisis at the state House of Assembly following the inauguration of a few members on June 17, 2019. If they succeeded in taking over the Assembly, Governor Obaseki would have since been impeached, but for providence sake,” the official said.
Speaking on the campaign and alleged plan by Oshiomhole to deny the governor a return ticket, a big player in the oil industry, at a meeting recently, wondered why politicians always see themselves as a thin god.
“Some time ago, we were looking for private sector people that should go into politics. Obaseki left his flourishing business to contribute his quota in the development of Edo on political platform. Now, people are saying they do not want him to complete eight years, for no just reason other than that he does not allow them and their cronies to continue to plunder the state. It is really annoying. Nobody is saying, Obaseki has not performed well, but that he doesn’t allow them to chop. That is nonsense,” the private sector player said, asking not to be named.
According to him, “I don’t get it when people say Obaseki cannot get a second term unless he sees this and that person; does it mean the electorates no longer have a role to play in who gets victory at elections? If they are people of integrity as they trumpet, they should allow a level playing field and let people compete on equal footing.
“They are simply afraid of him. They fear that four more years would be brutal for them. So, they want to claw onto power in the state by all means. But I think their plots will fail. I am aware that people know what is good for them; they can no longer be hoodwinked.”