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Between Career Politicians and Plagues


Between Career Politicians and Plagues

Ernest Omoarelojie

Plagues seasonal bad news, harbingers of death that render everyone practically helpless and hapless. Until a benevolent knowledge intervenes they leave all afflicted holding on to even the most forlorn and unreliable pseudo-panacea, comforted only in the belief that somehow hope would conjure up a magic wand that will wipe away all tears.

However, the impact on the people is better imagined than said if allowed to happen a second time.

Like plagues, career politicians are seasonal illnesses that can afflict a people. Across the country, their destructive impact is practically the same except that in Edo state, the case is unique and very peculiar.

As Bendel state, development was so painstakingly widespread. Most of the roads that criss-crossed what is now Edo state received adequate attention and gave the people the impression that government had them in mind. But it must be stated here that the feat became possible mainly because then Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, a military administrator, was in charge.

One must also add that at no point was he compelled to consider political patronage above the need to create an enabling environment for the people. By the time Ambrose Folorunso Alli, a professor of anatomy became civilian governor, he left indelible marks in at least, the education sector so much so that people generally look back with nostalgia when talking about the state under his command. In more ways than one, he was an academician, a non career politician with less attachment to sorting out political patronage before acting in ways that put the people first.

Until Oshiomhole, a renowned labour activist and non career politician, assumed power in 2008 and went on to put up brilliant regeneration performance, every vestige of development was on a hold. All interests in meeting the people’s yearning in terms of development flew out through the window.

Indeed, the era before his magical performance was that in which career politicians took firm grip of governance and went on to establish pursuit of selfish aggrandizement as an official state policy. By the time the scavenging regime left the scene, they succeeded in leaving the state in financial ruins having robbed it blind. Unfortunately however, elements of the same regime, notorious for undermining the essence of governance, are resurrecting wearing the toga of saints.

The race for who succeeds Oshiomhole is on the high. While the opposition is busy creating the impression that it holds the magic wand to making everything right, the ruling APC is committed to ensuring that the enviable development legacies put in place by the incumbent administration is not left in the hands of an opportunist successor.

Little wonder its leaders and zeroed in on Godwin Noghoghease Obaseki as the party’s flag bearer. The reason behind their choice cannot be lost on any discerning mind. However, they provided further insight on Saturday, July 16, 2016, when they rolled out party machinery to formally unveiled him alongside Hon. Philip Shaibu, his running mate for the September 10 Governorship election. The event, which had the Samuel Ogbemudia filled to capacity, almost literally had Benin City, the state capital, on a lock-down.

Promises aside, the real reason the party opted to have Obaseki, above his other co-contestants to the post, as its flag bearer, is that he is a non career politician. His antecedents put him in the stead of an administrator with a strict concern for ensuring that the people of the state continue to get a fair deal from those they elected to run the affairs of the state as made evident during his tutelage under Oshiomhole.

For those who may have chosen to ignore some facts about him, a reminder may be imperative here. For APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Obaseki was not close to being the right man for the party. The reason had nothing to do with any qualification deficiency on his part.

It was more with the need to come up with a performer that can up the ante in terms of the successes recorded by incumbent governor. It was important that the candidate must have something close to the same presence of mind that made Oshiomhole different. It did not take long for the former governor to find out that beyond politics, Obaseki had all the trappings or pre-requisites.

Little wonder it did not come as a surprise to those in the know when he referred to the investment banker as the brain box from which Oshiomhole dished out the outstanding development spread across the 18 local government area of the state.

Hear him; “Obaseki is the brain box in which APC is well pleased. Obaseki is resourceful and intelligent. He is the software while Oshiomhole is the hardware…” that regenerated the state into a national development yardstick.

The same facts were rekindled by the governor himself when he copiously cited the qualities that made Obaseki the choice he prayed that party delegates would also see the same qualities he saw long before the primaries was held.

But the real choice to be made is before the people. It is one between opting for a certified brain box and software that is intelligent and resourceful. Put differently, the people must look at the first choice as that which puts up a man who will, assuredly, not steal from them.

The other choice is as plain as daylight. It is that which projects a career politician reputed for rhetoric and dubious association. It is a choice that seems to put before them someone with the nature of a recurrent and resourceful plague decked in the toga of sainthood. There is hardly any reason going into details about the other things on offer.

Suffice to state here however, that Obaseki himself provided practical insight into what he has for the people. In his acceptance speech, he was unambiguous about his plans.  Among others, he was emphatic about the fact that his administration will create 200, 000 direct jobs and that it will pay a lot more attention to attracting investment in the industrial sector.

Obviously, beyond boosting employment, a national malaise, investment in the sector will go a long way in putting the state on a strategic development pedestal that will further make Edo, under APC, a reference point in how to be people-oriented in focus.

Obaseki also added that his administration will produce a program or development template that is accessible to the people through civil societal organizations. The implication here is that as eyes and ears of the people, civil society organizations will be privy not only to what is to be done but also how it is to be done. That way, they can raise suggestions and or ask questions and basically inform the people about what is going on with a view to making them part of the process.

That is transparency in governance.
The opposition is already feasting on the issue of how practicable his plans are. Unsuccessfully however, it has not been able to hide cynicism as its motive. Be that as it may, there is need to provide a little education for them here.

As head of Oshiomhole’s economic team, the same organ that acted as the administration’s now celebrated brain box, Obaseki engineered a number of key and strategic investments already operating around the state. That is in addition to the fact that as an investment banker of note who has the eyes and ears of investors that matter within and outside the shores of our great country, more investors will have faith in him with executive powers.

Indeed, it goes without saying that they will feel secured to have their investments in the hands of a man they have learnt to trust, particularly now that he has the powers to call the final shots on and supervise the implementation of sensitive investment policies. Certainly, a man of that mold cannot be a rabble rouser whose life is dependent on the fallout of political patronage.

On several occasions, Obaseki made it clear that governance is not and cannot be an avenue for making money. Instead, it is one for rendering services…selfless services.

This is where he is different from career politicians whose major interest lie in replenishing depleted personal resources, leaving the people, the ultimate losers. Unfortunately, those who made governance a “work-chop” in the state are the same set creating the impression that a proven achiever is a fluke while struggling to create the impression that the people of Edo state ought to celebrate a certified kleptomaniac as John the Baptist from whose precursory achievements one of them is emerging as a political Jesus. No moral fraud can be more self defining.

All said and done, there is hardly any doubt that governance is no longer an issue that should be left in the hands of career politicians. From experience, there is no question that they betrayed the trust of the people by paying more attention to selfish aggrandizement and adding more values to the interests of their godfathers and political patrons at the expense of the interests of the common man.

The example in Edo state before Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole assumed office is still fresh. But like an illness better avoided, the people of the state cannot afford to be plagued again by the destructive presence of career politicians. They mean no good.

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