ANENIH, OSHIOMHOLE AND DEVELOPMENT IN EDO STATE
NOW the balloon has been deflated, the bubble has burst and I can see clearly now. All my veneers of euphemism and dream like visioning have been washed bare.
In my write-up on Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole in December 2008 in the Guardian, I lifted the Comrade-Governor almost out of the human horizon into an almost perfect and faultless celestial hemisphere. But today I have never felt so disappointed in any human form, especially in recent times, as I have been in Governor Oshiomhole. This is so because I expected so much from the former labour leader who I conjectured would translate his idealism into realism in his governance of Edo State.
Rather than leave a lasting legacy for which every citizen of Edo State would be very proud, the Governor has dissipated so much energy fighting imaginary enemies like Tony Anenih who has done so much to put Edo State in the fore-front of progressive states in Nigeria.
Oshiomhole, rather than aligning with forces that will turn around the fortunes of Edo citizens, is hobnobbing with the likes of Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Atiku Abubakar whose only interest is the imposition of a Northern hegemony on Southern Nigeria.
For the first time in the history of its creation, Edo State has now been relegated to the opposition camp, thereby rubbishing the good works of people like Chief Anenih and Samuel Ogbemudia who have an impeccable record of sustaining Edo State in the radar of the Federal Government as progressive partners in the Federal / state symbiosis.
Oshiomhole will not achieve anything by having secret tea parties and ententes with the Buharis and Babangidas who will never forgive President Goodluck Jonathan just because he is from Southern Nigeria. Nigerians know that a cordial understanding and relationship flourishes between the disgruntled Northern political elite and Gov. Oshiomhole.
It pays the South Western states to be in the Nigerian opposition because of the solid infrastructural base they have built over the years through Nigeria's only avatar-the late chief Obafemi Awolowo. For instance, the Edo State student will not be admitted into the University of Lagos even when he scores much higher that the student from any of the South Western states.
Even though the University of Lagos is a federal university, its catchment area policy gives the South Western student priority over students from any other geopolitical zone of the country. The Governor should check this out. The South Western states can afford to be in the Nigerian opposition but not a developing state like Edo.
But by far the greatest disappointment I have in the Comrade-Governor is his lilly-livered approach to governance. I was one of the greatest admirers of Gov. Oshiomhole when he came to power because of his great vision and audacity of character. I took time to go through his inauguration speech over and over again and I convinced myself that it was a masterpiece.
His emphasis on qualitative education for every Edo State child has turned out to be qualitative education for only Edo speaking children. What about healthcare and employment opportunities. How about promises about environmental health. The promises are endless.
But today the Governor has lost his original focus and is only interested in a unicentral development around Benin City and its environment to such a ridiculous extent that he has in a macabre reversal become not only a mouthpiece but also a traditional ''Town-Crier'' for the Oba of Benin.
For the Governor, the fear of the Oba of Benin is the beginning of wisdom. To some extent, I pity him because of the Oba's dreaded curse of Oghinoba-'the king's enemy' which has been the undoing of some past governors.
Gov. Oshiomhole has refused to decentralize infrastructural development evenly into the riparian areas of Edo State where citizens still live as in the days of Aristotle, the great Greek Philosopher who even in ancient Greece knew that 'educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead'.
For instance, in Okomu town which is one of the coastal towns like Safarogbo, Gbelebu, Ejide, Ajakurama, Gilli-Gilli, etc, there is no sembleance of a government presence. Okomu has no secondary school, no road, no health centre or clinic, no Govt presence whatsoever.
The only primary school is sponsored from within. And Okomu has one of the largest forest reserves in Nigeria. The Okomu Oil Palm was almost taken over by the Oba of Benin but the Federal Government thwarted that move in 1990. The decay, the neglect and the rot is everywhere in the coastal towns of Edo State.
These riverine dwellers were emboldened when Gov. Oshiomhole first came. He talked tough and made flourishing speeches about the fundamental human rights of every citizen during his visit to Ajakurama.
But till date these wonderful speeches have not been converted into concrete infrastructural development.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole apart from neglecting the Ijaws has also shunned many attempts by the people and Elders of Okomu to have dialogue with him for fear of incurring the wrath of the Oba of Benin.
My advice to the governor is to stop blaming Chief Anthony Anenih for his woes and concentrate on his constitutional responsibility of evenly spreading infrastructural development to all citizens who live within Edo State territorial boundary.
This is because the Imoudus, the Enahoros, the Anenihs, the Ambrose Alis, and the Ogbemudia's have done their utmost best in lifting the status of Edo State to its present enviable state.
Whether critics like it or not these gentlemen have etched their names into stones of gold and it will only be reasonable and advisable for the Edo State governor to do same not by neglecting the Oba's perceived enemies but by bringing even and people- centered development to every nook and cranny of Edo State.
Mr. BEN NANAGHAN, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.