By Ebomhiana Musa
I did say last week that this year, 2016 is a year of decision for the people of Edo State, a critical year when they have to collectively decide their fate as a people.
Yes, its a critical year of decision for the people given where we are coming from, where we are today and ofcourse, where we are heading from here which is the kernel ( the koko) of the matter, hence, the critical decision.
So far, on the side of the ruling, All Progressive Congress, APC, six eminent sons of the state have thrown their hats in the ring, they want to succeed the Comrade Governor, Adams Aliyu Eric Oshiomhole come November 12, 2016.
On the side of the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, four prominent Edo sons have also indicated interest in the number one seat in the state.
I would not want to mention the names of the aspirants here because I may be unfairly labeled as having taken side, regardless of the order in which they appear.
However, I must say here that both parties have put forward their first eleven for the battle to occupy Osadebey Avenue. By all standards, they are all men of timber and caliber, a la K.O Mbadiwe of blessed memory. But the ultimate choice rest with the people of Edo state. Hence, a critical year of decision for the people.
Whatever decision they take at the poll, primary and the main election, they must leave with it for at least, the next four years, whether good or bad. This is why the decision is critical, this is why they must shine their eyes.
It’s either they make the sacrifice now and secure their tomorrow for their children and generation yet unborn or they mortgage it for a mess of porridge. Because it’s how well we manage our today that determines what the future holds for us. There are no two ways about it.
Given our past bitter experiences as a people, I believe Edolites will not mismanaged this great opportunity that becones.
According to a popular adage, once beaten twice shy. However, the starting point here is the party primaries where accredited delegates are expected to elect or affirm the party’s flag bearer for the general election slated for July/August this year.
This is why it behoves on the delegates across the 192 wards and in the 18 local governments to put the state first and not their personal interest in deciding the flagbearers of the political parties.
If by omission or commission they make the mistake of deciding on the wrong candidate for the state, collectively, we have to manage it in the next four years because it’s only the parties’ flagbearers that are eligible to stand for election and they must emerge through the primaries of the parties.
The 1999 Constitution as amended, has no room for independent candidacy. So, it’s a heavy burden placed on the delegates by the constitution.
This is why they must be persons of good and clear conscience who would put the state first while the party and self become secondary in taking the critical decision.
So, this brings us to the vexed issue of critical stakeholders supporting aspirants of their choice. It’s share hypocracy for anybody to say or think that these stakeholders, some of whom have spent the better part of their lives in party politucs, have no right to support candidates of their choice out of the lot jostling for the number one seat in the state?
Every leader/elder or critical stakeholders would want to give million reasons why he/she prefers aspirant B and not A or C to fly the flag of the party at the general election.
Hence, the avalanche of criticisms that have been trailing Oshiomhole for “daring” to say Godwin Obaseke is his preferred aspirant is uncalled for. In all fairness, I believe that Oshiomhole as the APC leader cum governor of Edo State has not remove the fact that he has the inalienable right to express his preference for one of the aspirants to succeed him in office.
Like any other leader/elder or critical stakeholder, nobody can take away this right from him. So far, while some leaders/elders have gone to town marketing their choice aspirants Oshiomhole has done his own surreptitiously, apparently so as not to offend the political sensibilities of other critical stakeholders.
I must say that this is one of the hallmarks of leadership and an expression of political maturity on the part of the governor.
Permut me to say here that even those who have chosen to campaign openly for their preferred aspirants well ahead of the primarlies, are still within their constitutional right.
However, some persons may fault it as though constitutionally right but morally wrong. I must say that this is neither here nor there because a man must not be crucified for freely exercising his right of choice in a political contest, morality notwithstanding.
But where the governor victimises any of his aides or government official for freely exercising his or her right of choice, within the ambit of the law and code of the work ethics, then, the governor can be accuse of being biased and vindictive.
As a time-tested labour leader, I would not want to believe that Oshiomhole will attempt to victimise any of his aide or official on the account of his or her choiced candidate as we count down to the D-day.
The irony of this, is the fact that those crying foul are on this wild campaign of imposition of candidate because their own preferences are sharply different from that of the governor.
Yet, they are shuttling from one ward to another wooing the delegates. Any focused leader who means well for his people should be interested on who succeeds him in office. He may not know clearly who takes over from him but he should be very clear of the kind of persons who cannot succeed him, sentiments aside.
As a leader who has been in the saddle for close to eight unbroken years, I believe the governor is in a good position to decide who succeeds him amongst the aspirants jostling for the Osadebey Avenue within his own party.
That does not necessarily mean he is thinking for the people of Edo State as some mischief makers may want to sell to the gullibles. Rather, he is merely guiding the people towards a safe landing, arriving at a choice of credible, clean and above all, a candidate with the utmost interest of the Edo people at heart.
Only a foolish leader would want the kind of monumental development legacy we have in Edo State to go down the drain.
A good leader would always crave for continuity and preservation of his legacy, especially in the developing clime like ours. So, leadership and succession in Edo State cannot be different from this time-tested module.