By BY DAN OWEGIE
As we move closer to the end of the tenure of the Edo State Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, over seventeen(17) aspirants are said to be warming up in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to take over from him. In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we understand about seven (7) aspirants are equally warming up to vie for the party’s flag for the gubernatorial polls that is likely to hold in July this year. This development is already warming the political firmament in Edo State.
The debate as to who succeeds him got to a crescendo recently when the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole at a meeting of APC faithful, assured all governorship aspirants within the party that a level playing field would be provided while all aspirants should be ready to slug it out at the party’s primary where the Standard bearer and his successor would emerge. As a human, he was honest enough to state that he will exercise his right to support a candidate of his choice.
Since his comments at the meeting, tongues have been wagging and opposition voices have been making all sorts of negative commentaries. There is no incumbent anywhere in the world that will not take interest in who succeeds him or her. There are some governors or incumbents who will surreptitiously support whomsoever they wish to succeed them without people knowing . But Oshiomhole was honest enough to say his right to support a candidate will be exercised just like any other party faithful. To that extent he is right. Every party man and woman are exercising their preferences and Oshiomhole as a party person cannot be excluded from exercising his right to elect a successor. His desire to exercise his right is clear in the APC constitution and nobody can prevent him from exercising it.
What is important is that the process that throws up his successor guarantees justice, fairness and equity. Other considerations from the peoples’ perspectives for the successor are: competence, pedigree of the candidate and readiness to serve as a servant- leader and not a Master or bossy leader.
Edo people know that the PDP cannot produce Oshiomhole’s successor because of the way the PDP decimated Edo State for ten years and how they destroyed Nigeria. Today, everybody is disgusted with the PDP particularly because of how they siphoned all the monies that would have been enough to develop the country for their selfish ends through the mind boggling corruption that are now being unearthed daily by the Buhari administration. So, Edo people are united that the PDP cannot produce Oshiomhole’s successor.
It is, therefore, important for Edo people to understand where we are coming from before looking ahead to a successor of the Comrade Governor. We need someone who will build on the successes of Oshiomhole, not someone who will come and destroy all his lofty legacies.
Adams Oshiomhole touched all sectors of the state since assumption of office. Just as President Muhammadu Buhari was accused of being too slow to commence action in government, that was how Oshiomhole was accused by the opposition PDP that he was too slow and ‘planting flowers in ring road.’ Some said he was talking too much. It was not long into his first one year when bulldozers and caterpillars started speaking for him. The urban renewal project had gone underway which now cuts across all the 18 Local Government Areas of the State showing massive modern road networks with all the latest walkways , drainages, street lights, and flower lawns. Massive drainage projects of the Oshiomhole-led administration has helped to control flood and erosion menace that was almost going to submerge the cities of Benin City and Auchi. But for the Benin Water Storm project and other drainages embarked upon by the present administration, perhaps Benin city would have been swallowed up by floods. Where would people living around five junction or Tomline would have been by now? The environmental sanitation situation has been energised and made quite functional . The street cleaning and maintenance programme has also provided employment for thousands of Edo people. The Five Junction in Benin which is now a beautiful sight to behold used to be a den of armed robbers and car snatchers. It is now a modern ring road, well asphalted with massive underground drainage, walk ways and street lights. Almost ten roads in the neighbourhood have been reconstructed to add to the beauty of the area.
Water has been roundly provided for Edo people. Edo North and Central which used to experience guinea worm outbreak as a result of citizens relying on unwholesome sources of water now have water flowing from modern boreholes fixed by the Edo State Government under Oshiomhole’s leadership. This has drastically reduced water borne diseases which use to be prevalent in Edo North and Central.
Realising that education is one of the biggest industry of Edo people and that it provides the foundation for the development of any society, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole undertook a major educational revolution in the state code named “the red roof revolution” as a cardinal objective of his administration. The red roof revolution must be sustained by any successor of Adams Oshiomhole. Besides the massive reconstruction and renovation of public primary and secondary schools across the state, they have been equipped with modern instructional materials and equipment. Qualified Teachers are being hired to boost teaching and learning and give private school proprietors a run for their money. The educational system is being sanitised in a way that it would compare to international standards.
Even the tertiary institutions are getting bigger and better deal than it used to be. The subventions to the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Chief Tayo Akpata University of Education, Ekiadolor and the subventions to the College of Education, Igueben and Michael Imoudu College of Physical and Health Education, Afuze have been consciously jerked up while the Institute of Management and Technology , Usen as well as College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi have been upgraded and their courses accredited by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). A new University of Science and Technology has been established in Uzairue and will soon kick off academic work as more efforts are on to keep education at pace with what obtains in developed societies in Edo State. The next governor of the state must ensure that these universities are well established and made to function optimally.
The Health sector has witnessed massive transformation as well. Hospitals are being upgraded across the state. The Central Hospital along Sapele Road in Benin City is home to multi-million Naira modernization project, which when completed would compare to any modern hospital in the world. It targets bringing an end to Edo people travel overseas for medical treatment. Government has assured that the project will be completed this new year, 2016 before the handover date. The next governor must replicate the same quality of hospital in the other two senatorial districts of Edo State.
The Oshiomhole Government has done excellently well to support security agencies to combat crime and other vices in the state. It has continued to support the Nigeria Police Force, Army, Air force, State Security Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp as well as Neighborhood Watch and vigilante groups massively to discharge their functions. We are thankful to God that our own Son, Solomon Arase, a man of great integrity and professional to the core is helping to deal with crime in the state. The next governor must work to provide adequate security for all Edo people irrespective of their status or where they live.
There is no doubt that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has upped the stakes for all those jostling to take over from him at the completion of his tenure. It is also heartwarming that the same Oshiomhole would be a strong determining factor on who succeeds him. What people are keen to see is a man with the charisma, wisdom, courage, determination, expertise and selfless will to serve as a servant-leader. A man who would build on the solid foundation laid by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and not those who want to make money for themselves.
Mr. Dan Owegie is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State.