Edo Guber: The Option Before Edo People

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Deliberately, the APC governorship candidate in the Edo State election, Mr.Godwin Obaseki, is being positioned as a ‘’technocrat’’ by some political elite, who had consistently made attempts to sell him to the electorate for the coming election.

By the tag ‘’technocrat’’, they assume that Obaseki is cerebral, hard-head, determined, deep, detail-oriented, uncompromising and no-nonsense in approach.

And because technocrat intellectualises and focuses on finding the facts and the right way of doing things, these seeming political jobbers believe Obaseki could without difficulty find solutions to the present socio-political and economic crises in Edo State.

Even Obaseki himself bragged with the technocrat’s tag recently, ‘’As an investment banker of 30 years standing, I have helped create wealth and jobs for many organisations, and with the experience I have garnered in the last eight years of working with the governor, I believe that I have all it takes to be the driver of Edo’s economic revolution’’.

But, what really qualifies Obaseki as a technocrat? In spite of the fact that his academic qualification is still doubtful, Obaseki had claimed he graduated from University of Ibadan with a Bachelor Degree in Classics; served as Managing Director of Afrinvest (West Africa) Limited, and served as its Chairman of the Board until June 2016.

Mr. Obaseki also claimed he founded SecTrust, the predecessor company to Afrinvest; and a Fellow of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers.

But, the question is not about whether he served in those companies or not, but how successfully did he manage those companies.  Information recently released by the apex regulatory agency of the capital market, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), show that the Afrinvest became insolvent under the management of Obaseki as Chief executive officer.

In fact, Afrinvest had acknowledged that the firm’s trading privileges were suspended at the opening of business on January 18, 2011 by the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) due to non-compliance with the minimum capital requirements.  And as a result of the suspension, the firm had been unable to execute any trades instructed to it by clients since January 18, 2011. Many aggrieved investors, who suffered huge lose had described Afrinvest under the leadership of Obaseki as clueless about how to offer their clients legitimate services.

As Head of Economic Team of Edo State Government for over seven and a half years, Obaseki was seen as the brainbox of Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole-led government. The governor himself had admitted that many times. When the government was sworn in nearly eight years ago, the hope of the average Edo people was justifiably raised to the zenith.

But, today, those high hopes have far dimmed as depression and hunger have been the lot of many Edo people. The local debt profile of Edo State has galloped from N4 billion in 2007 to over N700 billion in 2016, plus $242million foreign debt.

Obaseki has been bragging that his role as the Head of Economic Team under Oshiomhole-led administration had repositioned the state for economic growth; but experts have always agreed that some characteristics, which are typically associated with economic development include, low levels of poverty, of hunger and malnutrition, of serious infectious diseases, of homelessness, of crime, of corruption and high levels of income, of consumption, of saving and investment, of employment universal access to social safety nets for the unemployed and people on low incomes, to primary and secondary education, to healthcare services, to good public services etc. So, what informs Obaseki’s bragging?

In fact, a recent report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that more than 3.6 million Nigerians had been rendered unemployed since APC assumed office over a year ago, with Edo State occupying a very high position. When Governor Oshiomhole assumed office in 2008 — with APC governorship candidate, Obaseki as the Head of Economic Team, he promised to create 100,000 jobs in each year of his administration, meaning that 800,000 new jobs would have been created over eight years. Has Oshiomhole kept his promise?

And many respected institutions had said that the present high rate of unemployment in Edo State is largely responsible for the predominant incidence of youth restiveness, armed robbery, kidnapping and cult related activities. We can no longer be deceived: it is now clear to our people that Edo State is increasingly down because of the wide of the mark economic, social and political policies of an incompetent, inexperience, shambolic, thieving and empty government being led by the out-going self-serving and self-aggrandising governor Oshiomhole, aided by his Head of Economic Team, Obaseki.

With self-styled technocrat as Head of Edo State Economic Team,  youths unemployment and under-employment remain a huge horrendous—at the state, with eight out of 10 qualified youths unable to find jobs.

The technocrat’s tag does not fit Obaseki. One of the shinning features of a good technocrat is that he intellectualises and concentrates on finding the facts and the right way of doing things. Former APC and Accord Parties’ gubernatorial aspirant and cousin of the APC candidate, Dr. Pedro Obaseki, accused Godwin Obaseki recently of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the criminal offence of stealing the intellectual property of another and using same without the original owner’s consent.

Dr. Pedro Obaseki said that the obvious and blatant plagiarism of his intellectual property by his brother is symptomatic of his lack of ideas and outright dishonesty, wondering why the people should trust him with the future of their children. Dr. Pedro Obaseki, who narrated his experience in the hands of his brother, said that his ambition and programmes for Edo State tallied with that of Ize-Iyamu. ‘’I will rather support my brother, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu than go with Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s puppet candidate who is still going about with pampers”, Pedro Obaseki had said.

The choice before Edo people is between a pseudo technocrat and a true, trusted, sincere, accessible and humane leader—-represented by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Having served in the past as Chief of Staff to the Edo State government and later the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ize-Iyamu had piloted the engine of governance and would therefore need no induction course to swing into action from day one, just as no one can bamboozle him to derail good governance as can be done to a typical green horn, like his main opponent, Obaseki.

 — Omoregie writes from Upper Sakpoba, Benin-City

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