Correcting Godwin Obaseki Error with Osagie Ize-Iyamu: Why Edo Should Vote APC for Governorship (3)

By Sebastine Ebhuomhan

Okunbo remains unfazed. “Obaseki has dragged me from my comfort zone to the market square. I love my state and would always advocate for its progress, which can only be guaranteed by capable and responsible leadership. I want Edo citizens to use their votes to actualize this on 19th September, 2020,” he says.

Obaseki’s attack on Okunbo marked a continuation of his hatred for the progress of Benin Kingdom and citizens of Edo State. Suffice to say the governor underlined this agenda with his public opposition of Dr Pius Odubu’s nomination as NDDC Board chairman.

Obaseki and Shaibu invaded and led the vandalization of Enahoro House to stop 17 APC majority lawmakers from sitting after his seven stooges were reduced to four before taking his violence to Apana in Edo North and Igueben in Edo Central: where they left sorrow, tears and blood.

Meanwhile, a Benin High Court (Vacation Court 1) has remanded seven armed gunmen nabbed with five rifles and live ammunitions by the Nigeria Police Force during the invasion and destruction of Edo State House of Assembly on 6th August 2020. Named as: Festus Agbonreren (25), Odion Osayande (23), Ogbewi Wilfred (52), Morgan Uwagboe (47), Osayomore Salami (25), Ifeoluwa Oladele (36) and Igbinobaro Collins (26), Hon. Justice Efe Ikponmwonba remanded them in police custody. Police sources disclosed that the suspects confessed to being armed by two senior aides of Governor Obaseki to provide cover for vandals that removed the Assembly’s roof. Expectedly, the APC is seeking the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the governor’s aides.

Read Also: Correcting Godwin Obaseki Error with Osagie Ize-Iyamu: Why Edo Should Vote APC for Governorship (1)

Scared of issue-based campaigns that would expose his lies: like adopting anachronistic crime-fighting strategies against N700m increased monthly security votes, Obaseki has focused his campaign on Oshiomhole instead of his much-touted MOUs. His pitilessly ridiculous situation has reinforced the failure that made his campaign director-general and ex-Edo PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, to score Obaseki F9 in all critical sectors of economy before PDP ‘tax collectors’ sold its tickets to the governor and his deputy.

When they are not calling Oshiomhole names or reeling on his grandiloquence, they are busy writing, posting, sharing and commenting on inanities such as: tagging pictures of Hon Gani Audu (Ize-Iyamu’s running mate) to false claims of drinking Heineken just because a community youth that chaired the table offered the politician his chair and table during a campaign tour; or claiming that Obaseki built a hospital in each of the 192 wards as Barrister Kenneth Imansuagbon, who is yet to erase the allegation of being paid to step down for the defector, shamelessly lied on Channels TV; or making wild and fallacious ownership claim of Edo Refinery and Petrochemical Company, owned by AIPCC Energy Limited, a joint venture of AFCOM and Peiyang Chemical Equipment Company of China, built at $10.2m, for which Edo Government invested land worth N700m just as the FG granted duty waivers.

Obaseki and his aides criticised, ridiculed and mocked the conferment of a traditional honour on Pastor Ize-Iyamu by the revered Otaru of Auchi Kingdom even when there is neither a contrary directive nor a prima facie rejection in the Bible. After making a mountain of the molehill, the governor rushed to an unknown village shrine to buy one for himself and his deputy.

“I was in Auchi to campaign. I visited the Otaru of Auchi to solicit for his royal blessing and support. I had thought after seeking for his royal blessing and support, he would ask me to go. But to my greatest surprise, he said: give him a chair to seat down. They brought out their traditional attire, saying: dress him up. And the king pronounced that as from today, you are given the honour to be called: Our Own.” Since then, Okpojenaga of Ora conferred on Ize-Iyamu: The One Who Will Wipe Our Tears and Oliola of Uzanu: One Who Has Come To Take Away Our Loneliness.

If the governor’s handlers had done a little research before talking, writing and posting, they would have known that the Senior Pastor of Dunamis International Gospel Church, Dr Paul Enenche, was honoured in 2016 with the chieftaincy of Kurityau U Tiv (the Warlord of Tivland), owing to the successful crusade the medical doctor cum preacher held in Gboko to save and empower lives, spiritually, physically and materially.

Incumbents run re-election campaigns on achievements. But Obaseki and PDP have nonchalantly been distributing comedy, laziness, promises, abuses, lies, threats, deceits, hypocrisy, blackmail and violence wrapped as Akara. But the game is coming back to haunt them. How? You may ask. Esan people are the most marginalized in Edo State.

Yet, the most fraudulent slogan of the Obaseki’s campaign is ‘Esan Agenda,’ supposedly promising to transfer political power in 2024 to Edo Central District, the most disadvantaged population, developmentally. Before PDP campaign began, Obaseki and his aides sang about the agenda.

However, with the rumour of a secret pact pre-existing between Obaseki and Shaibu, anchored on the claim of buying Esan agenda during negotiation for PDP tickets, Obaseki has become tight-lipped at campaign grounds in Esan land, where leaders of PDP have demanded he openly commit to Esan Agenda, if re-elected.

In reality, Esan agenda is at best, an unintelligent scam by Obaseki to get votes from a people his government has shamelessly relegated and marginalized for four years. Pointers? Almost all of the most senior positions of the government are owned by recycled politicians, stunted professionals and incompetent technocrats outside Edo Central District. Correspondingly, all those from Esan land that committed their intelligence and resources to install Obaseki had nothing till today to show as appreciation. Worse still, there is no tangible infrastructural development in Esan land under Obaseki and Shaibu.

Beyond politics, Edo State economy has not fared well under Obaseki. Placed on a time bomb, it survives on borrowed time. A 2019 Report of the Auditor-General of Edo State indicted the government for excess expenditure of N122,793,925.03 hidden as Personnel Cost: N83,680,804.30 administrative expenditure and N39,113,120.73 economic expenditure.

Latest Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) report, which marked seven states as insolvent, didn’t list Edo among states with impressive IGR in 2019. Whereas monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) peaked at N1.6bn from N300m in 2008 under Oshiomhole (over 500 per cent leap), it has remained marginally stunted at N1.8bn (12 per cent increase) in four years of Obaseki.

Furthermore, Obaseki failed to attract any capital investment to Edo State in the second quarter of 2020, as National Bureau of Statistics newly reported.

From being a sound and impressive economy in 2016, the state economy has slipped into debts fuelled by puerile, costly, barren Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs). While the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Quarterly Review tagged Edo State with N94.54 billion debt as at December 2016, the Debt Management Office (DMO)’s External Debt Profile of States and FCT puts Edo State Multilateral indebtedness at USD $275,926,866.66 million as at December 2019; and its Domestic Debt Data at N84,763,453,988.79 billion as at March 2020. These figures put the total debt profile of Edo State under Obaseki at: N216,380,569,385.61 billion at the exchange rate of N477 to $1.

Riled by Obaseki’s unfulfilled promise of 200,000 jobs made during his 2016 campaign, Edo people have been stunned by conflicting figures of unseen jobs from its blind government. Governor Obaseki’s recent claim of creating 157,000 jobs since 2016 conflicts with reality and that of his spokesman, Crusoe Osagie, who claimed 174,000 jobs. Both relied on Edojobs, the state agency that is yet to support its figures with facts. Facts supporting figures such as: how many employees have formal employment letters; how many of its entrepreneurs are registered with CAC; how many trained artisans have been set up; how many beneficiaries have TINs; and how many of them pay PAYE, are yet to be provided.

While waiting on Edojobs to support its figures with facts, the people are, instead, insulted with equation of skill training of a few youth to dubious and fallacious job claim. The web of government lies made ex-Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki, Mr Taiwo Akerele, to ask rhetorically at a recent national webinar, “Where are the jobs”? Akerele, Obaseki’s long-time ally, said he resigned to end the shame of not identifying acclaimed job beneficiaries in his constituency.

With regard to infrastructure, many rural and urban primary and secondary schools red-roofed by Oshiomhole now boast of just a teacher or two in the face of Obaseki’s Edobest. Although he promised to build a cottage hospital in each of the 192 wards, he has not only failed to fulfil this promise but also refused to commission the General Hospital Federal Government equipped in Otuo after ceding Benin Specialist Hospital to private contractors.

The monthly subvention of Ambrose Alli University, largest employer of labour in Edo Central, has plummeted from N250m under Oshiomhole to N96m under Obaseki, forcing the institution to take bank loan for July 2020 salary.

Obaseki has perpetually shut more state institutions than he has rebuilt. Examples are: College of Agriculture, School of Nursing, School of Health Technology, Tayo Akpata University of Education etc. In the former’s case, the governor shut the school for “three months” since 8th August 2017 with mere oral pronouncement; sacked all staff without pay in May 2018 and disobeyed the National Industrial court that voided his actions. He boasted in his alumni lecture at Ibadan in 2018 that he was “restructuring the curriculum, rebuilding the institution and upgrading the facilities.”

Reviewing the situation, Dean of Students Affairs and chairman of Academic Staff Union, Adorolo Michael Osikhena says, “Justice Oyewunmi gave judgment in favour of staff and students on July 2, 2019, asking Mr Governor to re-open the college and release its subventions for education of students. Up till now, he has refused to obey the judgment. The school situation has worsened. We have been protesting. We have lost many staff and students in the struggle.”

Before Obaseki obtained PDP tickets, the party beamed its searchlight on the college. In a statement: College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi: The Rot Created by Governor Godwin Obaseki, signed by Edo PDP spokesman, Chris Nehikhare, the party accused the governor of illegality; impunity, looting, vandalism and abandonment. After giving Obaseki its platform, a gluttonous PDP no longer remembers Iguoriakhi. Likewise, the non-existent Gelegele Sea Port, the audio International Trailer Park, the abandoned Benin Storm Water Project etc.

Before now, Obaseki often rushed to Lagos to beg traditional rulers, party leaders, hold town hall meetings, recruit new aides etc. Today, he turns to Port Harcourt for new agenda. With little knowledge of local politics, Obaseki never thought of strengthening APC against other parties in South-south. As an APC member, he gloated and celebrated at Edo Government House when APC lost Bayelsa governorship victory, an anti-party act. His greed and misplaced priorities have given all APC and non-party members in South-south the resolve to vote him out of office.

Obaseki had thought that by conspiring to remove Oshiomhole from office, relentlessly demonizing him and adopting a derailed, irrelevant Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) instrumentality to continuously taunt and ridicule him, Oshiobaba would recuse himself from leading Ize-Iyamu’s campaign.

An APC chieftain in Ughelli South LGA of Delta State, Mr Omote Edesiri Joseph, minced no word in predicting his defeat. Delta people, he says, are behind Ize-Iyamu, Buhari, and entire APC leadership. Edesiri, who berated Obaseki for doing nothing to build Delta APC, says: “We need a core progressive who will painstakingly build APC in the entire South-south like Oshiomhole did in his eight years as Governor and until recently as APC National Chairman. Only Ize-Iyamu can do that.”

An Outline of Obaseki’s Early Rebellion

(i)               Appointment and patronage of incompetent technocrats

(ii)              Rejection, shaming, arrest and detention of political leaders

(iii)             Abandonment of those that helped him to power

(iv)             Muzzling of dissenting voices

(v)              Abandonment of his predecessor’s policies and projects

(vi)             Loss of 2019 presidential election in his ward, local government area and district

(vii)            Nocturnal inauguration of Edo Assembly with nine legislators

(viii)           Imposition of Assembly Speaker

(ix)             Opposition of appointment of Edo sons into NDDC and other federal agencies

(x)              Masterminding removal, suspension and call for arrest of APC National Chairman

(xi)             Rejection of APC National Reconciliation Committees

(xii)            Open call for attack of political leaders opposed to his re-election

(xiii)           Demolition of properties and businesses of people opposed to his re-election

(xiv)           Threat, assault, violence, bombing and assassination attempts

(xv)            Attack on APC rallies held to receive new members

(xvi)           Initiating court cases and using APC platform to explore opposition

(xvii)          Celebrating APC’s loss of Bayelsa State

(xviii)         Lack of transparency and accountability

(xix)           Mismanagement of Edo economy

(Xx)       Shutting of College of Agriculture, Tayo Akpata University of Education, School of Nursing, School of Health Technology etc. and disobedience of National Industrial Court.

Seeing himself as smart, Obaseki has evaded or absconded from every debate till date, carved his path to perdition by lying against his benefactors, repudiated continuity and denounced those who suffered to achieve his victory. But as Indira Gandhi, the late Indian stateswoman remarked at New Delhi on 19th October, 1971, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.”

Obaseki desecrated APC and failed Edo people that trusted him in 2016. Even the wary PDP has become unsure of Obaseki, seeing his unpreparedness and discovery that he cannot win the election without rigging. President Buhari and NGF should distance themselves from Obaseki immediately while all lovers of democracy must unite to throw the ingrate out of Edo Government House. Vote Pastor Andrew Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a man who has family value, Godly value, social value, cultural value and party value. PAOI is prepared to make Edo great again.

Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is a multiple award-winning journalist from Edo State resident in Abuja. He can be reached at: [email protected] or 08037204620. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.