By Ebomhiana Musa
This piece was first published on this column June, 2014 . Almost two years after, some of the issues raised then are still very relevant. Moreso, as the political atmosphere in the state is getting charged by the day. Reason for this not farfetched . The politicl parties are on top gear preparing for their primaries to pick their flag bearer for the September governorship election.
Dear Comrade, going by our relationship which dated back to your days in the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, I would have met with you to discuss these issues instead of using this medium. By virtue of your present status, security operatives have built a human fence around you, making it practically impossible for commonners like us to see you and discuss “mundane” issues. But I find them germaine and urgent to save you from the after-office embarrassment and of course, our dear Edo State, hence my resort to this channel. Please sir, take no offense because my burning passion for our dear state may ignite me to be too blunt for your liking as you may find some of my honest advice unpalatable. It may interest you to know that I do not leave in Edo but I am in constant touch with my roots, my parents and some of my siblings are in the village. So , I am not an Edo man in the Daispora.I registered in the village and I take time off to be involved in campaigns and sensitization of my people leading to every election . I cast my votes in the village, so, whatever I say here is from the point of knowledge.
Permit me sir to first commend you for making some of us walk tall and be proud to say we are from Edo State. This was not the case in the years before 2007, which some people refered to as years of the locust when our children learned under ramshackled and roofless buildings, when our state capital had no touch of modernity, when flood sacked residents from their homes, when health care centres were mere consulting centres, when civil servants and retirees were owed backlog of salaries/pension, when crime and criminality were the order of the day and above all, when governance was reduced to mere family affair. With God on your side, coupled with sheer determination and dint of hard work on your part, you have been able to raise the bar of governance in our dear Edo to the extent that the state has become a reference point for shrewd resource management .
Beyond all these sir, there is need for you to complement this politics of development with that of the stomach. You cannot de-emphasise one at the expence of the other. My strange but humble proposal may shock you sir given your background, more so, as someone who is thirsty for infrastructural and human capital development in a state that has suffered so much neglect in the hands of past leaders.I beg you sir not to dismiss this seemingly strange proposition with the wave of the hand because the reality on ground today across the length and breath of our dear state is that of uneasy calm. Don’t be carried away sir by lip service, let no one deceive you sir. Permit me to whisper this to you sir: There is hunger in the land and the people murmur against your government. It is a silent and subdued complaint. I plead with you sir not to allow this murmur degenerate into noise in the land. Unfortunately sir, those you claim to be close to you only tell you what you want to hear, they are sycophantic in their advice to you so that they can continue to earn their meager pay. As a leader, you must have a discerning spirit to enable you sieve the wheat from the chaff.
You have been in the saddle for close to six years in our dear state and billions of Naira have gone into reviving decayed infrastructure for which the people and indeed Nigerians hold you in high esteem, they sing your praises for turning around the political and socio-economic fortunes of Edo State. But these same people who sing Hossana today will say crucify him tomorrow if you fail to put food on their table. The importance of stomach infrastrcture cannot be over emphasised in the Third Word party politics due to the pervading poverty among the people. I belive you would have heard the real story from Ekiti State as to why your governor brother and friend lost his second term bid to arrogance and endless needless battles with civil servants, student bodies and the utter neglect of his aides’ welfare. He never recruited one civil servant in his four yreas in office. I hear the last time recruitment was made was during the brief reign of Segun Oni. They say he talked down on his cabinent members at meetings, claiming to have monopoly of knowledge. Yes, he has it because he is a doctor of letters, no aguement but big grammar do not translate to electoral votes. I hear the take home pay of his aides cannot take them out of the Government House!. They had the last laugh at the polls having resolved that since the tree they lean on could not guarantee their protection, it’s as well not capable of killing them when it falls on you. It was that bad. When it downed on Mr Know-All that he has offended critical segments of the electorate, he embarked on a desperate damage control moves. Alas!, It was too late in the day. They asked the roads, schools and other development infrastructure he relied on at the expence of the people’s welfare to cast their votes for him on the D day. The people turned their back on him when he needed them most. I pray sir, that this will not be your potion in 2016.
The year 2016 is just by the corner when you will face the electorate again to sell your successor in office. Learn from the Ekiti experience so that the people do not reject your candidate when you need their support. For now, that is the surest road to a celebrated 2016. Please sir, I want you to be concerned on how you end this race that started in 2007 and this is very crucial for a leader who has sacrificed so much for the state and his people. This is why you must learn from the Ekiti experience and start to set machinery in motion that will make you remain connected to the people and remain on the same page with them. You must know sir that the civil (Evil) servants are not happy and teachers still bear grudges against you, they are bitter over the controversial competency test saga.However, you still have ample time to make amends and make genuin peace with these critical segments and put smiles on their faces .You were quoted in the media sometime last year to have said that your aides are about the poorest paid in the South South region! What have you done sir to rectify this anomaly? Enough of politics of infrastructure developent, because your footprints in this regard will remain indelible and history will surely record you on the positive side.It’s high time you directed your attention to people’s welfare, put food on their table, put smiles on their faces. I plead that you do 0not misunderstand me sir. I am not saying that you should empty the treasury to takecare of the people. You are on the driver’s seat in Edo, so, I believe you understand perfectly well what I am saying here. Aside God, you are the only one who can decide the outlook of 2016 through your actions or inactions. It will amount to a costly mistake if you give room for the wrong persons to occupy the Government House, come 2016. I believe the collective prayers of people of good conscience will not allow that to happen .I pray to God Alighty and the gods of our ancestors not to allow our state slip into the hands of the hawks. Never again!