At the gate of political hell, godfather’s last gamble – By Louis Odion, FNGE

Godwin Obaseki
Ordinarily, the choice
before Edo voters on September 10 should not pose a burden heavier than the
simple ceremony of sieving the grain from the chaff. The contention is between
APC and PDP.
But given the
ongoing legal cockfight in PDP resulting in its iconic umbrella being literally
torn in the court of law between Markafi and Sheriff, it is safe to assume that
a fatal preliminary own goal is already scored against the Edo branch of the
once “biggest party in Africa”.

Barely a week to
the election, no one is able to answer with confidence yet a very simple
question: PDP’s votes on the D-Day is for Markafi’s Osagie Ize-Iyamu or
Sheriff’s Mathew Iduoriyekemwen?
If the foregoing
observation is legal, the second test is material. From 1999, PDP ruled the
acclaimed “heartbeat of the nation” for 114 months, while APC has
administered it for 94 months so far.
However, looking
back, whereas the majority of Edo people will ascribe to APC under Comrade
Adams Oshiomhole plaudits for improving the human condition appreciably with a
surfeit of monuments across the state as further proofs, PDP’s testimonial is
hideously scanty besides the cultivation of a small oligarchy whose hierarchs
have either successfully completed jail term for colossal looting or are today
luxuriating in obscene wealth amassed solely through the grace of Tuketuke
politics.
Louis Odion
Based on these
verifiable facts, it will not be out of place to submit therefore that PDP is
already too morally fractured, facially disfigured to stand a chance in the
coming election. But drawing the curtains on the debate there so summarily
would rob distant observers the opportunity to fully understand the shape and
nature of the real forces now at play, ferociously angling for Edo’s political
soul. It is actually a titanic battle between defenders of a movement that
boasts of delivering something to the society regardless of its own
imperfections and the barons of a discredited past plotting a return to power.
The historic
challenge before the intelligentsia today therefore is to help bring some
illumination that the people can make informed choice in the leadership
recruitment process. For clarity, yours sincerely does not only hail from that
section of the country but also privileged to have served as a commissioner in
Edo until one’s resignation last November. During the period, one gained
sufficient insight as well as had one-on-one interactions with the key players
across the divides.
So, as a writer,
one is not shy to admit one has a professional interest, and as a native a
civic responsibility to share one’s perspective for Edo’s advancement.
True, no one will
say incumbent Adams Oshiomhole is perfect. All known angels will be found in
heaven. To me, whatever personal inadequacies the Comrade Governor may have
pale into insignificance considering the weight and value of his contributions
in the past eight years. Really, it is impossible to change society without
making some enemies. The tale of transformed physical landscape under his watch
is now all too familiar to warrant a recap here.


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Osagie Ize Iyamu
This leads us to
the next question: so who is better equipped among the gladiators on the field
to extend the frontiers? From all the candidates have said, shown or promised
in the last three months of campaigns, I make bold to say Godwin Obaseki
represents the best hope for Edo tomorrow. For the four years I spent in
government in Edo, I happened to have interacted closely with him.
To be sure, he is
not as gifted as Oshiomhole in terms of oratory. He is decidedly a man of short
speech whose few words however carry deep intellection and almost evangelical
zeal to follow through ideas from conception, incubation, implementation to
evaluation in an otherwise treacherous environment where most people view tasks
only from the naira and kobo that comes back to their pockets.
In these
economically perilous times, Edo surely needs a conscientious steward who can
think and act on his feet to chart a new course, irrevocably committed to
working for the poor and not the coven of famished godfathers feverishly
seeking to regain a paradise already lost.
Such sterling
qualities are however in acute deficit in PDP, the bastion of Tuketuke
politics. For non-speakers of Bini, Tuketute is a generic name for any vehicle
on the verge of falling apart, but still commercially exploited by the owner by
being forced on the road.

Adams Oshiomhole
Tuketuke therefore
describes rent-seeking politics where the provincial godfather continues to
milk a dysfunctional order in self-aggrandizement at the people’s expense.
People famish for the godfather to flourish.
To sustain the
hero-worship of the godfather, Tuketuke politics abhors men of ideas or
intelligence or other evidence of demonstrable independence of the mind. In the
new world otherwise driven by big ideas, the only skills required in Tuketuke
politics are not more than rigging, seamlessly sharing bribes and bottles of
Schnapps gin on election’s eve and maybe suborning of the most pathetic species
of the media running dogs, eager to plant articles praising the godfather in
the newspapers but too ashamed to affix their real names on such panegyric.
Only the Tuketuke
magic could have explained the transmogrification overnight of Chief Tony
Anenih. Between 1993 and 1998, it is public knowledge he had fallen on hard
times, only surviving on crumbs from the table of Chief Tom Ikimi (who was
quite influential during the Abacha junta), and maybe the little return from
his “short time” hotel Nova in Uromi. But after just a short career
as PDP’s “Mr. Fix It”, Anenih had become so stupendously rich he
could by 2014 now afford to lend hundreds of millions to sitting President
Goodluck Jonathan! (At least, that is his claim in a statement to EFCC earlier
this year when asked to account for his N260m share from Dasuki’s $15b loot).
It is in this dim
light that Anenih’s desperation to have PDP restored to power in Edo today
should be situated. Having had his political oxygen mask abruptly demobilized
in Abuja, he now seeks rehabilitation at home. As for the other PDP campaigner,
Ikimi, parables have been made about an old Chevrolet jalopy, which guzzles 10
litres of gas for a mere kilometer. That Tuketuke contraption is obviously
in dire need of affiliation to a big depot for sustenance.

Anthony Anenih
At corporate level,
the Tuketuke spirit is what also manifests in PDP’s continued obsession with
building new industries as key campaign promise (as if the chain of phony
industries Igbinedion claimed he built ever functioned for a single day)!
In the
market-driven economy of the 21th century, you allow the private sector to take
the driver’s seat. On account of its structure and orientation, government no
longer has business running businesses. Rather, its remit is to create the
enabling environment – like durable social infrastructure and formulate
coherent policies – to help businesses grow.
One can therefore
relate with Obaseki’s promise to create 200,000 fresh jobs. The bouquet of
durable social infrastructure – including more than 1,000 kilometers of roads –
delivered by Oshiomhole in the past eight years already offers a solid
foundation to build on. Vast opportunities surely abound in the agriculture
sector where the state has comparative advantage. The big mechanized farms will
accelerate urbanization of our rural communities, particularly in Edo South,
thereby helping to curb rural-urban drift.
Requiring
sustenance is the land reforms started by Oshiomhole which has removed swathes
of land from the control of old political godfathers who only use same to
secure personal bank loans or sublet to tenants. Genuine agro entrepreneurs who
benefit will certainly deliver more jobs.

GABRIEL IGBINEDION
Only last Monday,
Pat Utomi, the renowned professor of Political Economy, flagged off a $136m farm
project located in at Ugbokun Community in Ovia North East in Edo. This will
deliver thousands of fresh jobs. It is perhaps instructive that Utomi hails
from neighbouring Delta State. In choosing Edo to locate such gigantic
industry, the discerning intellectual must have noted Edo’s comparative
advantage.
Apart from Utomi’s
Integrated Produce City, there are no fewer than a dozen other mega agro-allied
companies including the $750m farm promoted by Idahosa Okunbo that have either
taken off or nearing completion stage under an investment-friendly climate
Oshiomhole has created in the last eight years. Really, these are the terms
Edo’s economy of the future should be discussed, not fantasizing over the new
“sharing formula” likely to be approved by the godfather for the
state’s next monthly allocation from Abuja as suggested by the incoherent
economic agenda so far touted by PDP – high on utopian promises but short on
how-to.

Lucky Igbinedion
Under PDP’s
suzerainty in the past, the state’s land stock was only parlayed into primitive
feudal racketeering. In the twilight of Lucky Igbinedion’s administration in
2007, more than 120,000 hectares, representing more than 70 percent of Edo’s
reserved land stock, was released and not less than half of that allocated to
Esama directly or shell companies linked to the family alone under the guise of
utilizing same for agro-allied enterprises. The “His Excellency, sir,
chief, doctor of Okadaland” simply added his loot to the stock already
sub-let to Yoruba farmers who, in turn, would pay him royalties running into
hundreds of million yearly!
The culture of
predation perfected by PDP also explains why whereas state-owned TV/radio
station, the EBS, withered during PDP’s reign, Igbinedion’s ITV prospered. And
while state-owned Ambrose Ali University floundered, Igbinedion University in
Okada flowered.
On discovering the
land scam in 2012, an angry Oshiomhole issued an executive order revoking the
allocation. The imperial Esama has not forgiven the governor ever since.
Well, the
aforementioned illustrations are provided today to assist Edo people connect
the dots and realize where the rain began to beat them. The desperation to
re-foist PDP on the state is actually a disingenuous design to restore the old
thieving Tuketuke order.
How ironic that PDP
is now whining about the desirability of “a level-playing field” come
September 10. But when it had the fabled “federal might” in 2012, it
wielded it without the fear of God or man. When Anenih still had his finger on
the trigger, raw power and awesome financial war-chest were crudely deployed.
State institutions were openly induced and compromised. One of the few
exemplars was Major General Obi Umahi, the then Commander of the Fourth
Brigade, Benin City.

Pat Utomi
A thoroughly
professional soldier with steely Christian values (said to carry a small Bible
around in his pocket), Umahi (elder brother to the present Ebonyi governor)
consistently refused mouth-watering bribes and choking pressures from the PDP
godfather already assured by the “Niger Delta militants” they would
invade Edo and help orchestrate violence, thereby creating enabling climate for
the election results to be fixed, but only on the guaranty that the military
would “cooperate”.
The brave officer
threw the final bombshell at the joint-security council meeting held on the eve
of the July 14, 2012 polls when the time came for him to speak at the gathering
attended by heads of all the security and paramilitary agencies: “I’ve
told my soldiers to shoot to kill anyone who tries to do anything funny or rig
the election!”
Of course, it is
easily recalled today that the exemplary patriotic conduct of officers and men
of the Nigerian Army made the difference on the D-Day as all the thugs and
mercenaries imported into Edo to enforce the rigging plot chose to keep a safe
distance as the battle-ready soldiers kept vigil across the state. Oshiomhole
won his reelection by an unprecedented 75 percent.

Tom Ikimi
Expectedly, Major
General Umahi eventually paid a huge price for his principle. In a matter of
weeks, he was redeployed from Benin to an obscure post in Lagos through
intrigues believed to have been masterminded by the politically wounded Anenih.
A kangaroo panel raised by then clearly partisan leadership of the Army to
probe Umahi on trumped up charges soon recommended his summary retirement. But
apparently pricked by conscience, then Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike
Ihejirika, curiously chose to foot-drag on the implementation. But once
Major-General Kenneth Minimah, the favourite of PDP wheeler-dealers, took over,
Umahi’s retirement was one of his earliest actions. The rest, as they, is now
history.
Indeed, statecraft
remains a work-in-progress. Wherever Oshiomhole may have failed in the past 94
months, I am sure Obaseki has the wisdom, the depth, the range and, most
fundamentally, the integrity to make amends if voted.
So, at the dawn of
September 10, the Edo voter should appreciate the enormity of the historic rite
ahead. Voting Obaseki is the covenant. It is not a favour to anyone, but the
duty of every Edo freeborn to secure a better Edo tomorrow for our children.

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