Finishing Well In Times Like These
By John Mayaki
Our man is encumbered in a three-pronged battle, if other, not to my knowledge. But according to him, “there is no battle anywhere”, he was quick to dismiss me the other day. Call it whatever, three basic issues are under discourse; a bastardized economy bequeathed to us by the former behemoth in Africa; the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), a gang of disgruntled blackmailers rooted and domiciled in the state with a hand-full of decimated allies scattered abroad and lastly, the succession project to finishing well.
From bottom-up approach, the now famous concept of finishing well was born from one of the several retreats organized by Edo State Government Economic and Strategy Team and the last one in the series the year ended, harped more on this concept.
It would not have been possible to develop this simple concept without the formation of this Team at the outset of this administration where a dozen major economists whose careers span the last two decades were assembled by Governor Adams Oshiomhole and this was not without inaugural lectures from Lagos State Government, being the first retreat in 2008.
My single greatest torchbearer in the area of rational thought is a great orator whose innovations in the field of volitional science, and his penetrating analysis of current societal issues offered me my first glimpse of the simple, natural laws that govern human behavior. I would have preferred him go unnamed but I did mentioned him earlier.
Addressing his audience during courtesy calls and other state functions were like lectures for me; though I would normally select the ones I would show appearance, but they provided me with the most profound intellectual experiences in my life, and permanently altered my view of the world. Although most of my writings has been influenced by him, (paying the piper, dictating the tune) he would not necessarily agree with all my arguments, nor with my ultimate conclusions but we have come along to this finishing line; the last mile of the way.
I credit the stream of knowledge which constitutes the concept of finishing well to the Chairman of the Team, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. It was his school of economics and governance which provided the verve and lifeline with which workers in the state go home monthly, with their pay-check till date and this also provided the basis of my understanding of values in governance and service to the people for which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is now famously known in Nigeria. Iron sharpeneth iron.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to him. Obaseki. His brilliance and selfless industry to father land and common sense illustrations of how governance should work during retreats is unparalleled. He’s been an inspiration to all those who came across him.
What about his tradition of clear thinking and simple exposition? Aren’t they admirable? No doubt, he has influenced our modern generation positively though I cannot vouch if others who came across him have imbibed these core values wholly.
Let me add, quickly, that the development of the specific ideas for which this government has successfully implemented and which we are better for today as a state, was enhanced by discussions at the various retreats. The Team leader’s careful and methodical analysis of the ideas and achievements today, not only made it more imperative for a perfect compliant successor but will make these policies more consistent and cohesive, thereby helping us to better understand the larger picture that Oshiomhole espoused abinitio.
So, there is therefore, no gainsaying the fact that he started well. He came. He is focused. He saw. He is finishing well…..he is conquering. I had wish this is an advertorial, it would have provided me the opportunity to give detailed achievements of this administration, both in what I termed “tangibles and intangibles”.
However, how can you finish well, when the odds seems rising, not against you, but against us; the people, the ultimate beneficiaries and your yet-to-be completed projects? This takes us to the next sub-issue; In Times Like These.
“These are the times that try men’s soul,” said Thomas Paine in Crisis. Some, especially Prophets, say its Doomsday or better put, end times.
“No salaries”, majority of Nigerian Governors told their workers. No money anywhere, everywhere. Economy in doldrums, Boko Haram still around the corner, militants up in arms, crash in price of crude, acute short in production of crude, Biafra unrest, increase in pump price, inflation, among other enemies like these here and there.
The people of Edo State just as Nigerians, are undergoing and enduring agony in times like these. The finishing well Governor is not immune from these harsh economic realities. In fact, but for foresight, he could be affected by “these times” to finishing well, since government also faces an anxious, uncertain struggle for economic security.
He is doing well for the people, no doubt. He wants to finish well. Yes, he is on track. He increased workers’ salary and Edo State stands out among others in the Country, when it comes to minimum wage; while other states in the federation pay N18,000, Oshiomhole’s Edo is N25,000.
In finishing well, the sum of N3 Billion would be invested into school infrastructures in Edo just as small and medium scale businesses got N2 billion as loan. Yes, we know. No second term fatigue, our man is still working without fainting. Roads are being constructed just as governance is running at full throttle. All these in times like these!
Will we survive financially after Oshiomhole? If our man finishes well without a credible successor, can he be said to have finished well? Will we enjoy the style of governance with human face after Oshiomhole? What about the democratization of governance and collective responsibility? Or will the future, after Oshiomhole mean less of those, and more hardship and sacrifice as the probability for turbulent times seems certain?
Back home, an average citizen in our most politically enlightened state today can’t help but feel uncertain about the future after Oshiomhole’s tenure. From every Newspaper, Magazine and bookstand, from every newscaster and commentator and from every politician, civil servants and market women to civil societies come agitations for a successor that will built on a predecessors’ legacies just as warnings of dire peril for our future, if we miss this golden opportunity for the best.
We are told most states can no longer run the affairs of governance. This is not from history books or tales from moonlight but before our very eyes, we have a sense of empathy for workers in other states whose nine months salaries and above are being owed. We learn of layoffs in times like these but not in Oshiomhole’s administration. Isn’t these not a source of worry as we approach the finishing line of this administration?
This anxiety gripping us is not unfounded. There really is a crisis in our lives and the future really does hold economic trauma. In fact, the future is far less safe than most people imagine but even in this anxiety, the typical worker in Edo State has a far more optimistic view of the future than is warranted. How then do we secure this future after Oshiomhole? We all have a role to play towards finishing well, especially as the All Progressives Congress primary election is about two weeks away.
We owe it a duty to relocate to our roots, units, wards and constituencies to educate our party men and women on the inherent dangers of casting a vote for persons capable of worsening our woes. The future depends on whether enough people understand the urgent need to take action to defend themselves and the legacies of this government in times like these.
Finally, the last sub-issue is the never-do-well politicians who want to draw us back; this is a pitfall we must guide against. They are there both in and out. In the intra-party contest, they abound just as inter-party. You are not new to their antics, I suppose; I mean the PDP capers. They white-wash and make-belief to blackmail just to hijack our future and derail the ship of progress. We must be eternally vigilant and remain focused because, ultimately, we are all losers, if we give in to them.
Summarily, in times like these, we need a successor, no doubt but that must be among the believers and disciples of the finishing well Leader. A successor who is an anchor and repository of all the ideals of this administration. Be not idle. Be counted; it’s a joint project and we shall all meet on the other side of historic victory in times like these.
John Mayaki is Executive Director, Media and Public Affairs, Governors’ Office, Edo State