OSHIOMHOLE'S MISGOVERNMENT IN EDO
THE replacement of false head with fake tail may not have found its proper description until Mr. Adams Oshiomhole becomes the governor of Edo State, the former vanquished Bini Kingdom by the British Empire in 1897, Southern Nigeria. His governorship bid; assumption of office and reign — still reigning — was like a rainbow arched down to the people and state from the heavens, a rainbow like an angel’s breath, like an answered prayer.
Mysteriously, the integrity of the idol of the Nigerian mass movement has waned. Now, he comes across like the darkened star of that momentous epoch of political liberation. Nigerians never knew he is a pathetic personality, a half reconstructed mimicry slime. His government is more or less a ghostly affairs as if in a state visited by death. The apropos of his vacillating style whose convictions are not matched by his readiness to give effect to his actions remains largely his undoing. He veers daringly from the slapstick to the melodramatic, as a fiendish genius damnably entertaining his locomotive audience.
As a comic genius and idiosyncratic personage, Mr. Oshiomhole is a ready comedian to watch. Spread-eagling himself against his corrupt peers across the political divide, pitting levity against gravity, his evolution is like a see-pod giving up its spores, an egg yielding its mystery. For all he cares, the quick-witted, twitter-pated former labour activist jettisons the timeless axiom that the worth of a man is certain only if he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his conviction.
He was here a few days before in Boston, US at the annul Edo National Congress forum, bouncing, clowning and evincing leadership; wraparound by a woman of unbearable sweetness and beauty whose name ‘Iara’ vaguely shy away from his late first wife’s Clara. As he does his goddess of beauty nightly, Mr. Oshiomhole have been embracing air, hugging shadow with his arms and legs so as to engrain himself to the outside world. But out there in Nigeria, the story is different, tellingly shattering.
A check for instance at the once blood-sputtered former Empire; much more ruined by the previous Peoples Democratic Party’s, PDP, governments gives disappointing expression. The former labour leader’s conscious incursion into the state’s politics, his attempt at restructuring the state to equalise it to the state of example like Lagos has faltered. It was a classic case of masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull manifests. It’s a terror of political destiny for the people.
Seven years down the lane; all the promises, all attempts, all policy thrusts, all the initial manifest hopes are merely ventilated, symbolically, through eloquent public preachment. As the governor of Edo State, Oshiomhole smothers the hope of rebuilding the ancient city and the entire state by placing a great oceans between himself and those lofting ideas he once propounded about governance when the shoes were in the other foot. That is the difference between labour activist and solid governance.
After militantly establishing Edo State Traffic Management Authority, EDSTMA, which was passed into law by the State House of Assembly and assented to on August 5, 2010, the governor turned violently against the established institution. It was a case of “na mi born an, na mi give an belle”. Similar instances are replete were the rule of the thumb prevails over the rule of law. How about the tax payers money that went into the training of the EDSTMA officials? What happened to the efforts of Lagos government and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA whose initiative brought about the establishment of EDSTMA?
Mr. Young Arebamen, the former Lagos Police henchman retired, and Edo indigene who restructured LASTMA on the auspices of Lagos state government in 2004 and help to burnish EDSTMA must have been writhing in righteous indignation over the abominable bedlam Benin roads have become. That is if it is ever reported, or he ever chanced upon the horrible places like the New Benin, Oba Market, Mission, Akpakpava, Ekenwan, Airport and Ring Roads that exhibit the dirty old city’s dumps.
What happen to EDSTMA? Politics? The former unionist contracted out traffic maintenance, management and operation to his following for political patronage and expedience. One Rev. Ojo Patrick sits atop traffic regulations at the King’s Square; Ikpoba Hill area is now controlled by Mr. Alile Osaretin, Mr. Monday Ogiegor is in charge of Aduwawa axis, Siloko Zone is being operated by Mr. Ephraim Odobo, Ugbowo Zone is controlled by Mr. Israel Osato, Ogbemudia Ben and JohnBull Edenazogie, while Sapele Road is under the supervision of one Mr. Eke Elvis.
Governance in Edo is politics gone awry. The plight of the people has clashed with the ostensible greed of the power monsters. The fate of Edo people is utterly sealed by cultists and denizens unleashed on them by the former revolutionary leader turned governor. When the structure of democratic institution is eroded the end is usually predictable. Wheeler-Bennet told of it with utmost definiteness in The Nemesis of Power. “Excessive exercise of virtual paramount power leads to descent and total defeat, both politically and spiritually”.
What with Oshiomhole’s creation of “State within the State”? How did Oshiomhole become the Gravedigger of Nigeria politics and succeeded in undermining democracy, but failed completely to build any sort of stable structure in his mangrove Delta area? That question has been answered in my book titled: “Oshiomhole’s Revolutionary Pretence”. By a mixture of cunning, intrigue, and inept manoeuvres Oshiomhole assertively paves his way to political reckoning. Is President Muhammadu Buhari aware of this? The question will be answered in the second phase of this piece.
Back to the traffic. These quacks, hardly educated traffic managers who allegedly help to furnish terror before and during elections received the blessings of the former labour leader and a pillar of democratic strength, who has become blindingly grandiose; a vile, vituperative maniac and disingenuous political trimmer.
The purpose for which Mr. Oshiomhole destroyed people’s home, constructed world class Roads, drainages and sidewalks has sunk back into the bemired ghetto where traders, taxi and bus drivers, pedestrians and mendicants with begging bowls converge in an ungrateful manner.
That brings us back to the “Go and Die widow of Oshiomhole’s ignominy and street trading. The widow, Ms. Joy Ifije later dined with the governor, received the sum of two million naira, a public apology and scholarship for her son and was appointed the Special Assistant on Environment Matters to the state government. Showmanship? It’s yours to guess. The sights of thousands of people spreading and sprawling their wears on major streets, taxi and bus drivers and street hawkers taking over the Roads to the middle convinced you.
Mr. Asemota Osarodion of No 32, mission Road, a retired civil servant lightly trashes Mr. Oshiomhole’s directionless management of traffic crisis in the state. “A more radical approach is needed to reduce rush-hour traffic levels. Taxi, bus drivers and Streets traders have to generally be routed from the streets. That, in itself, will also impinge on the people’s rights. But without park-and-ride facilities for commuters and others, the city will remain as messing as ever”.
A shop owner who deals on phone accessories at 10 Oba Market Road, Mr. Clement Obasogie was more sweeping in his criticism against the state government. “Acquisition of lands around those traffic-prone areas and building of ultramodern car parks and Market or outright relocation of markets is the only respite to decongesting the Roads around the city centre. Embankment can also be erected, as you have them in China, separating the walkways from the Market where such proximity constitutes menace to traffic. But the governor is now more interested in intense name calling than governance now.
The essence of authorised traffic management outfit is synonymous with intermodern transport system across the globe which supports business development, attracts jobs, and enhance quality of life by creating a transportation network that minimizes congestion and emissions, while improving safety and reliability. Modern urban transportation help to predict, manage and integrate traffic operation which in turn helps emerging market cities to stabilise.
My one week experience on a visit to Benin City last month reveals bleak devastation of souls. What can the Edo people do now that Mr. Oshiomhole has created an Empire of dung and filth? How different was the ruins he inherited from the PDP government to the one he is about leaving behind? What happen to his supernal entity posited between the mortal and the divine?
As Oshiomhole’s riotous government rabbles to a terminal end, the people are now so terrified, so much so that his appearance could melt rifle barrels and turn journalists’ pen to rubber in a moment, even when no tyrannicide is contemplated.
One last hope: never again shall any marginal mind, mere creature of surfaces, an elephant headed illiterate with a larger-than-usual oversized ego govern the land of the death and leaving heroes.
***Dearborn Ojomon, a Communication Specialist writes from Boston, US. 792 Broadway Everett, Massachusetts