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Ethnic Irredentism In Edo Gov’ship Race

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We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the relationship between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki has gone sour so soon. From the lessons of history, the godfather/godson relationship travels only in one direction – sweet in the beginning but with time, the wine turns vinegar. Let’s take a short excursion into history:

At a time, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe were perfect bedfellows but in due season, tragedy struck and bitterness entered! Dr. Azikiwe summarised the bitter end of that relationship most succinctly: “It is a principal error in politics to trust a reconciled enemy”.

At the Western flank, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola must have thought that nothing would ever separate them from any day’s lunch but in due season, they were at bitter ends of the Wild-Wild West onslaught!

Back home in Edo State, during the ill-fated Third Republic, this writer was a Personal Assistant to Chief Tony Anenih. Perhaps unknown to many, Chief Anenih virtually emptied his bank accounts to bankroll Chief John Odigie-Oyegun into Government House as the first executive governor of the state. After the election, the governor needed just a small elbowroom within which to operate but the godfather was holding on to every space. The governor’s struggle for some semblance of independence led to the estrangement that was to last forever.

In his sober moment, Oshiomhole might admit that, no matter how short, time was when he was tied to the apronstrings of the Igbinedions but not any longer.

The most nauseating aspect in the Oshiomhole/Obaseki relationship is the diabolical ethnic twist, which some Benin elements are bringing into it.

One thing is clear, though – Oshiomhole has done for the Benins, more than all past governors combined (Benins and non-Benins) have done for them. That’s how far he could go in being a Benin man. Before we look at this in greater detail, let’s examine a few fundamental questions: first, who among the ethnic jingoists that now pretend to be fighting for Obaseki was not latching on the Oshiomhole government, collecting plump contracts and all forms of political largesse, till the last moment before Oshiomhole’s departure for the current national assignment? Was Oshiomhole a Benin man at that time?

Secondly, has Oshiomhole indicated to anyone – overtly or covertly – that he wants to remove Obaseki and replace him with a non-Benin?

Otherwise, why are these ethnic irredentists getting worked up? We agree essentially that performance is the antidote for success in government. If being a Benin is the only credential you are parading too bad!

The second-term bid for the governorship of a  state cannot be automatic – it must be earned!

Having followed Oshiomhole closely for eight years, Obaseki cannot feign ignorance of the fact that Oshiomhole endeared himself to the Benins through dint of hard work. A few examples will do here:

Before Oshiomhole’s arrival, the Five-Junction area of Benin was a no-go area, particularly when it rained. By the time Oshiomhole finished work on close to 40 streets there, plus all his great works at Okhorha, Lawani and Eko Sonorhue, which were already garbage dumps, Oshiomhole was adopted by the people as a son of the soil.

There were other bold initiatives on which Oshiomhole spent billions like the Storm Water Project which was intended to remove any sign of flooding from all parts of the Benin Metropolis and the solid road that runs through the heart of the entire Iyekorhionmwon. To all the inhabitants of the areas, Oshiomhole was indeed a Messiah.

Oshiomhole turned a totally erosion-devastated Igbanke to an Eldorado by revamping 31 kilometres of their township roads with unsurpassable concrete drains! He replicated the same feat in communities across Edo South and, indeed, the entire state.

What is Obaseki bringing to the table of the second tenure? He still has time to reinvent himself. For now, Oshiomhole must be allowed to redeem his image. This is where the second tenure struggles present a smiling opportunity, the antics of the rent seekers, notwithstanding. Later, there will be time enough for him to apologise to Edo people for his misplaced trust. Edo State deserves the best. And the best materials are not in short supply in Edo South or any other part of the state for that matter.

 

– Omorotionmwan, a public analyst writes from Benin City

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