Governor Adams Oshiomhole, in what is akin to setting bail conditions, has listed two qualities an APC gubernatorial aspirant must have to qualify to be the next governor of Edo State. According to the Comrade Governor, the preferred aspirant must be someone who believes in the state as well as have the capacity to manage it. Comrade Oshiomhole says “from my inner insight of what this job entails, I belive we should look for people who believe in the state and have the capacity to run it”. This is coming from someone who should know what governance of development entails. Having served the state for almost eight years now, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole knows the state and its people so well as to seek to bequeath to them a government that can reasonably be expected to sustain the tempo of development in the state. There is no doubt that Edo State has, under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, witnessed a high tempo of infrastructural and human capital development thereby setting a standard which must not only be maintained but be improved upon by the succeeding administration.
It is common knowledge that every governor, being leader of his party in his state, has a high interest in who succeeds him in office. This interest is not just for the reason of self preservation but for the preservation and sustainability of his legacies. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has legacies which must be protected, sustained and imbibed by all for the peace and development of Edo State. For example, he has always been very passionate about transparency and accountability in governance, insisting that state funds belong to the people and must, therefore, be used to provide for their good. His commendable and exemplary application of state resources in the prompt payment of workers monthly salaries, including state pension obligations; the massive infrastructural development in education, health, road, water, urban renewal and beautification, electricity as well as the ingenious tax administration and collection regime require sustainability.
The vision which has driven and propelled the Oshiomhole administration to this laudable achievement may be that of the Comrade Governor himself but working with a team of knowledgeable aides who not only share in the vision but have the capacity to translate and implement programmes and policies envisioned. The success achieved by this administration should, therefore, be rightly attributed to the visionary prowess, managerial wizardry and selfless disposition of the Comrade Governor as well as the commitment, dogged and energetic implementation of policies and programmes to meet set goals.
It may not be public knowledge but much of this shared accolade should go to the State Economic Team put together by the Comrade Governor at the start of his administration to act as think tank to formulate, articulate and implement (where appropriate) people oriented programmes which would impact positively on Edo people. This team, headed by the charismatic catalyst and progressive technocrat called Godwin Obaseki, has in the last seven years, worked tirelessly behind the scene for the rapid infrastructural resurgence in the state. In the face of dwindling oil revenues, Godwin Obaseki and his team have had a herculean task in assisting the Comrade Governor focus emphasis on alternative sources of revenue which has in no small way stabilised the state economy.
It may not be enough for Edo people to pray, as Comrade Oshiomhole admonished recently, “for God to give us a governor that will put Edo people first, respect the traditional institution and that will work for the unity of our people across the 192 wards”. Edo people must look at the contenders, sift the serious from the pretenders, shun sentimental and primodal interests and focus on the serious issues of passion for development of our state and the ability and capacity to harness and utilise most creatively the resources available to the state. This is where Godwin Obaseki who has shared in the Comrade Governor’s vision and mission these past years stands the best chance in keeping hope alive that the legacies of the Oshiomhole administration of which he has been a significant part will be sustained.
Hindsight informs us that the most development in our state has been achieved when it was administered by technocrats with little or no discernible political background. Brigadier-General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia (rtd) was a military officer when he ruled Midwest Region (now Edo and Delta States) and wrought so much infrastructural and industrial development on the region. He was not a politician. Late Prof. Ambrose Folorunsho Alli was holding a professorial chair in morbid anatomy at the University of Benin when he became governor of Bendel State in 1979. He was not a politician. His administration recorded monumental achievement in both infrastructure and human capital development. Till date, Edo and Delta people cannot forget him and the administration he headed. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was not an active politician when he became governor in 2008. In fact, he may still not be rightly described as one in the strict sense of it. He joins the league of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia and Prof. Ambrose Alli as those whose administrations have done the greatest good to the greatest number of Edo people. Others who can be labelled hardcore politicians failed to deliver appreciable dividends to the people.
In our search, therefore, Edo people must look beyond those who have remained on the political dance stage for some time without visible meaningul contribution to our march to progress and development. We must search out the new breed leaders in the mould of Comrade Oshiomhole who have the qualities enunciated by him. All those jostling for the APC ticket are good people in their own right but we must pick the one who, after winning the election, will deliver the greatest good to the majority of Edo people. The Comrade Governor must lead while we the people follow in this ultimate search for a brand new and stainless governor for Edo State in 2016. Godwin Obaseki is it.
COMRADE NASAMU JACOBSON, A PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR, LIVES IN BENIN CITY.