Between Edo and Ekiti

Just as well Edo has spurned a return to Eygpt, typified by the Lucky Igbinedion rot years (1999-2007); for a promise of Jerusalem, founded on the Adam Oshimhole years (2008-2016).

That is what it ought to be — for the electorate, if they were not to embrace self-ruin, must exercise the vote with reason.

The Edo electorate, by voting Godwin Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, over Osagie Ize-Iyamu, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seemed to have done just that.

But that is not always given, with the Ekiti experience.

Ekiti purportedly — purportedly because, latter information suggests that poll was manipulated by the then extant powers — jettisoned the noble exertion of the Kayode Fayemi years, for a journey to nowhere, which Ayodele Fayose’s present government-by-impulse suggests.

Indeed, between Adams Oshimhole and Kayode Fayemi, there are many parallels — beyond the fact that the one was pushing a protégée to succeed him after his constitutional limit of eight years; the other was seeking reelection after a first four-year term of hard and noble work.

Like Fayemi, Oshiomhole was adjudged, at least going by disinterested verdicts, to have done stellar work, after previous years of uninterrupted ruin — good work that presaged exciting new promises.

But like Fayemi too, Oshiomhole had an Achilles’ heel.

In Fayemi, it was a distant, elitist persona that, though taciturn, hardly suffered fools gladly. With razor-sharp intellect, he was Plato’s philosophical king looming over his commune of bemused country yokels.

On the eve of a crucial election, therefore, he got a millstone of “arrogance” hung on his neck. He was fated to sink in the electoral stream — and he did.

In Oshiomhole, it was a razor-sharp tongue and devastating wit that took no prisoners. Though puny of frame, not a few perceive him as the human equivalent of the belching battle tank, firing from all cylinders; and mowing down whoever is on its way.

And you can’t even bet which is more lethal: his prowess-at-war; or the ultra-painful sting of his post-war whoops!

To the Tony Anenihs and Igbinedions — father and son — of this world, the post-victory whoop was ringing and clear: we have tamed, slain and buried the godfathers!

To Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a former protégée turned opponent, a most provocative challenge: hurry to court so I can prove your purported vote tally is a grand farce. You’re just incapable of harvesting such number of votes!

The outgoing Comrade-Governor is a great talker, to whom piercing wit and searing gloating are game. But while people in his camp lustfully roar as he lands his verbal bazookas, those at the receiving end resent him to the death; and are sworn to unhorsing him as spectacularly as he had verbally bombarded them.

That was the grim danger in the Edo election. At a point, like Fayemi in Ekiti, Oshiomhole’s great strides (in stark contrast to the near-paralysis of the Igbinedion years) was counting for near-nothing on the explosively emotive street.

That suited the Edo PDP fine — anything that would divert attention from their own ruinous rule, when state resources were the exclusive pleasure of godfathers and their cronies.

Like Ekiti too, Edo was almost condemned to a wilful embrace of its political nemesis, so much so that, at a point, Lucky Igbinedion, convicted for sleaze, was even bragging the next governor (read Mr.Ize-Iyamu) would emerge from his political family!

If that had happened, that would have replicated Ekiti, where the people, at least by the result of that controversial election, merrily re-embraced Ayodele Fayose, a past ruin come to plague the present, and poison the future.

You doubt that claim? Just review Fayose’s infantile stunts since his second coming, the latest of which is his no-brainer that the 21 Chibok girls, just released from Boko Haram captivity, werePresident Buhari’s perfect ploy to deflect attention from the pains in the land!

But Edo didn’t choose the Ekiti option. By voting Godwin Obaseki, they chose the Lagos option of sustained development, that could only lead to prosperity.

The Lagos experience started in 1999, under Governor Bola Tinubu. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, built on that foundation. Now, Akinwunmi Ambode is doing so.

So, 17 years down the line — and still counting — the Lagos experience has become a national showcase.

That could be the fate of Edo, but only if Mr. Obaseki stays focused on a strict and rigorous developmental agenda.

For the first time in Edo history, a “progressive” agenda would power the state for at least 12 years, and if Mr. Obaseki wins reelection, 16 years. That has never happened.

In 1963, when the then Midwestern Region (now Edo and Delta states) was carved from the old West, the progressive Action Group gave way to the centrist National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). That was a development stall, for the new NCNC government could not match the old AGgovernment’s huge investment on social and physical infrastructure.

In 1983, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) electorally torpedoed the Ambrose Alli Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) governorship (1979-1983).

And in the aborted 3rd Republic, Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governor John Odigie-Oyegun (now APC national chairman) left office in November 1993, after the Babangida transition programme collapsed, under the weight the June 12, 1993 presidential annulment crisis. That was just 22 months, out of a 48-month tenure, barring reelection.

Indeed, before the Oshiomhole years, conservative or centrist-leaning parties (witness NCNC, NPN, National Republican Convention and PDP) had cumulatively exercised power longer than progressive-leaning parties (AG, UPN, SDP, Action Congress of Nigeria and APC), with PDP’s Igbinedion enjoying the longest stretch of eight straight years; plus 17 months of illicit rule before the election tribunals voided Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor’s election in November 2008, to make way for Governor Oshiomhole.

Contrast that to Lagos’ near-uninterrupted progressive rule: AG, UPN, SDP, Alliance for Democracy, Action Congress, ACN and APC and it could be validly argued that Lagos has gained far more from its progressive-leaning parties than Edo, with its centrist-conservative-progressive mishmash.

Indeed, Asiwaju Tinubu’s reengineering of the Lagos government, with all its proven developmental wonder, was built on the earlier foundation of the Lateef Jakande years, and the AG thinking that weaned Lagos from NCNC dominance, in the Lagos Town (later City) Council politics.

It could be validly argued that Nigeria is evolving into an ideological-neuter zone, with little definitive difference between political parties.

That might well be. But that is strictly from an ideologue’s point of view. From a pragmatist’s perspective, progressive-leaning parties (cant and all) would appear more development-savvy than their conservative and centrist-leaning cousins.

That is the legacy Mr. Obaseki is buying into. That is why he must, in policy, be even morerigorous and focused than Mr. Oshiomhole; but in politics, much less controversial.

Lest again, in the next season of elections, his opponents try to beam more on his perceived personal failings, in the cynical hope that would eclipse his stellar work as governor.

He owes Edo that much, if he performs well in his gubernatorial tour of duty.

Culled from:


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