Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Comrade-Governor in Edo state

FOR all those who believe that hope is lost and that change can never come to Nigeria - I have news for you. Change indeed is coming to Nigeria, change that will be fundamental, change that will be basic and structural, and change that will be all embracing and liberating.

A glimmer of that hope of change was seen on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 when the courageous and determined Justices of the Court of appeal led by its President Justice Umaru Abdullahi upheld the verdict of the Edo State Election Petition tribunal and reinstated Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole as the authentic governor and winner of the April 14, 2007 Edo State gubernatorial elections.

Before we celebrate Comrade Oshiomhole's victory, it is pertinent we celebrate and savour this judicial victory and breakthrough. This is because we all saw what happened in Ekiti and Osun states. How justice was openly diverted in Ekiti State as the former President - Chief Olusegun Obasanjo personally led a very high-powered delegation of PDP stalwarts to the state on the eve of that painful judgment. And till date the judicial master-stroke that out-schemed Rauf Aregbesola is still as fresh and current.

If the truth must be told - the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) never won any election in the 2007 elections as confirmed by President Umaru Yar'Adua himself who admitted that the elections that brought him to power were greatly flawed. But to confirm the President's hypocrisy, the Chairman of this flawed Electoral Body is still sitting very comfortably in office, after almost two years, even with more confidence and Presidential patronage. But to God be the glory that God Almighty Himself personally re-instated Nigeria's truly first peoples' Governor.

Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole is not the typical Nigerian politician. He does not fit into the cast and mould of the new bourgeois and elitist Nigerian political genre whose only idea of service to fatherland is the vilification and bastardisation of those guarded and time-honoured creeds and fabrics that the founders of this great country hold dearest to their hearts. Governor Oshiomhole is the new breed politician of change that Nigeria needs so badly. In a world where change and hope are the twin magic epithets, it is certain that the likes of Adams Oshiomhole will sell and win more friends for Nigeria in the comity of nations than all our Federal Ministers put together.

Adams Oshiomhole has a wonderful antecedent, an intimidating profile, a fantastic reference point and record as a successful labour leader of repute, who like a captain, never abandoned his ship and crew. While his predecessor Pascal Bafyau hobnobbed with Presidents, and powerful Government officials, Comrade Oshiomhole like his "uncle" Comrade Pa Michael Imoudu, resisted being bought over by Government with such unprecedented determination and gusto at a time when the failed Obasanjo regime needed labour to shore up its popularity and third term agenda.

I have an unwavering and unflagging confidence in the ability of a highly committed Governor Adams Oshiomhole to turn around Edo State in the two terms of four years each which the constitution allows him. Blinded by my unprecedented zeal, I have turned deaf ears to friends who caution me about the frailties of human nature. Oshiomhole's confidence in himself is self-manifesting and re-assuring. His policy of the "Hood does not make the monk" has for years made me one of his greatest supporters. He has shown depth and substance by an orchestrated and a sustained demonstration that man must not be judged merely by expensive and expansive togas but by the strength, dept and content of his character.

But I am sure I would have done a great disservice to my great Comrade if I do not sound a note of warning as he takes over a state that has been pillaged more than any other state in Nigeria. Most Nigerian Government Officials demand money for any service rendered. The People's Governor has to do an internal cleansing within the Civil Service before looking outward. Man by nature is very conservative, slow and averse to change especially when this change reduces his economic power.

For the first time in the history of Edo State, starting from its creation in 1963 as Midwestern State, Governor Oshiomhole will be shocked to find that there are areas in Edo State which have never ever felt the effect of Government. Go to all the riverine areas of Edo State and the Governor will know that a pro-Bini cabal has cornered power and made Benin and its immediate environs centre stages of development.

We thank God that some of the legacies of Prof Ambrose Alli will be allowed to flourish. Prof. Ambrose Alli wanted decentralized development but the powerful Benin Kingdom (which still believes that all non-Binis in Edo State are slaves in the 21st Century) wanted a Unicentral Development around Benin alone. A visit to the Riverine towns of Okomu, Jide, Safarogbo, Ekenwan, Inikorogha etc will shock and jolt the Governor back to life. For instance in Okomu, which has never had a secondary school, only about 5% of children are educated beyond primary school. The town has no graduate till date. The Governor can find out for himself.

It is very good news that there is a bipartisan working arrangement in the PDP dominated Edo State House of Assembly but the Governor should be wary. The Governor's inauguration speech was characteristically frank, down to earth and kept no one in doubt what his intentions were for Edo State. His greatest emphasis was on qualitative and compulsory education up to secondary school level. The Governor's emphasis on qualitative education is like the case of a man who is very hungry for change. With such responsibility I am confident that Governor Adams Oshiomhole will offer every Edo State child, high quality education as his or her birthright. This new generation of students will pave the way for a new wave of literary and academic consciousness and excellence the like of which Nigeria has not seen since the historical free education days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the 1950s in the Western Region of Nigeria.

At a time when most of his colleagues believe that heavy personal bank accounts is the most patriotic way to serve their fatherland, Oshiomhole is investing in the high capital intensive sphere of human capital development. Education is the only way by which we can give our children the best possible chances in life if we want to open doors of opportunities for them even before they start their education. Governor Adams Oshiomhole has a lot to draw from the inspiring examples of the late Tai Solarin, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehinmi, Prof. Tam David West and others like them who have tirelessly fought for good governance in Nigeria at great risk to their lives and those of their dear ones.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole should accept this historic challenge to be Nigeria's "catalyst for change" with a determined vigour and unprecedented zeal because this opportunity is rarely bestowed on man. Henceforth Governor Oshiomhole must start setting high standards and inspirational examples for our other Governors, Government officials and Nigerians in general to follow. It is possible. It is achievable.