DECEPTION AS A TOOL OF GOVERNANCE IN EDO STATE
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives the ordinary meaning of the word ‘Comrade as a person who is a member of the same Communist or Socialist political party as the person speaking. Is the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) a Communist or Socialist party? Is Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole a communist or socialist? Has he ever been one? He was a founding member of the Labour Party in Nigeria. Why did he abandon the party? It is common knowledge that when he decided to come into partisan politics his first port of call was the People Democratic Party (PDP). When he was told that the governorship ticket was not for sale, he rushed to the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He found no space. He founded the Labour Party (LP), but soon discovered that he could not build a structure that could win any election. He then crawled to the Grace Group, a dissident PDP group that was rebelling against its mother party. He was received with open arms. With other groups across the country, the movement metamorphosed into the ACN. Today, ACN is an amalgam of strange ideological bedfellows, struggling under the iron fists of external manipulators.
Is Oshiomhole a communist or socialist? Has he ever been one? Is he not the wealthiest labour leader Nigeria has produced? Does he compare with any of his predecessors in his primitive acquisition? His country home in Iyamho, Edo state, is enough example. Michael Imoudu died without any house anywhere. The government hurriedly built a three bedroom flat for his burial ceremony. Mallam Ciroma, Hassan Sumonu, Paschal Bafyau and co. are sterling examples of comrades and they are still alive. Is Oshiomhole a comrade? Ideologically, can he stand where these great patriotic Comrades stand in our contemporary history?
Nobody has caught Oshiomhole reading any book on any subject, not even the Holy Bible. Of course, he reads newspapers very voraciously in the early hours of every morning, when serious guests are waiting and crucial files are also waiting. He cannot trust his media aides to read them and give him the summaries of the important articles he must be aware of. His over sensitivity of criticisms compel him to want to know the good or bad things that have been said about him that day. That determines his mood for the day.
Definitely, Governor Oshiomhole has not read Nicolo Machiavelli’s, The Prince. He must have been tutored on it, out of its historical context. Machiavelli postulated that ‘the end justifies the means; that fear rather than love is the best weapon in the hands of a ruler or leader; that successful rulers or leaders have no business keeping to their promises, that in fact, the best ruler or leader is that who is a master of lies and deceit. Above all, that a good and successful ruler is one that is very ruthless with his subjects. In Edo state today, Oshiomhole has exceeded the imagination of Machiavelli. Those who saw him to power are now all licking their wounds: the party leaders, the financiers, the Okada riders, the market women, the farmers, the students, the workers, the Road Transport workers, etc. They are all weeping now in Edo State.
Every group has its own painful story to tell. They are all wondering if this is the same Comrade they risked their lives and their all to get to power. They finished all the broom in our markets and they defied the sun and the rains for his sake. If Governor Oshiomhole has taken a little time off his “very busy” schedule to read and study Machiavelli, he would have detected the cynicism and satire that characterized the writings of that great philosopher. Oshiomhole would have long applied brakes in driving the Edo train into a sure and solid rock of destruction.
Oshiomhole told his story himself. He arrived Kaduna as a small kid, after a modern school education (the equivalent of today’s JS3), with a small wooden box. When he married Clara, (that woman of great virtue, may her loving soul rest in peace), they had only a one-bedroom apartment. Poverty was not only his neighbour, it was his closest companion. Today, Oshiomhole hates to hear of poverty and has no patience with the poor, yet it is that history that endeared him to the hearts of millions of Edo people.
In his very brilliant article in some national dailies, Okharedia Ihimekpen asked Oshiomhole if, in keeping with his promise, Edo people are the ones leading today? It is a rhetorical question because Edo people, with the possible exception of the ones in the Diaspora, know the answer. The answer is a capital ‘NO’. You can’t even point at a cabal that is ruling Edo today. Government means Oshiomhole and Oshiomhole means government. Those in government today are suffocating. For self respect, endurance has become their motto. We rejoice with those who are sacked or those who have the courage to resign. Governance in Edo State is today one huge DECEPTION.
The State Exco of the party literally operates from the State House. The Chairman and his team are mere puppets. Heads of parastatals are mere prefects. Commissioners, with the possible exception of one or two, are mere messengers, sent out periodically to deceive Edo people about government misadventure; Permanent Secretaries are mere stargazers and are tired. The caliber of workers who make any meaning to Governor Oshiomhole are those who either assist in getting in money or assist as conduits for the evaporation of the scarce resources of the state.
Governor Oshiomhole’s adventure into power rests on three main planks: “let the people lead” “one man one vote” and “end of godfatherism”. Are the people leading? Have we so far witnessed one man, one vote and are we likely to witness it in the forthcoming Local Government Elections, if it pleases his imperial majesty to organize one? Have we in Edo State actually witnessed the end of godfatherism or are we now experiencing the rule of a very ruthless godfather?
Oshiomhole’s most fanatical supporters are today his worst victims. The students were ready to die for him. Today Oshiomhole is ready to kill them. With all the insults Oshiomhole is heaping on Chief Tony Anenih and the PDP in Edo state, tertiary education was affordable throughout the time the PDP was in power in the state. The children of the poor could afford it. Today neither the quality nor the quantity has changed, yet it is no longer within the reach of the children of the poor.
Governor Oshiomhole claims to be rehabilitating schools and improving their quality. He has not told Edo people what percentage of the funds came from Federal sources and the PDP seems unwilling to expose these facts. Edo people do not even know how criminally inflated the contracts for the rehabilitations are. We can say the same thing for the roads he is expanding. The opposition should wake up and save Edo state.
The market women were ready to die for Governor Adam Oshiomhole. What is their condition today? We were told that, for environmental reasons, they were being driven out of most of their locations. We have no quarrel with that. What affordable alternatives have they gotten up till now? Are their children not out of school today? What have they benefitted from their hero?
Teachers and pensioners were ready to die for the man who they saw as a Messiah. Today, instead of bread, Governor Oshiomhole is offering them stones and snakes. For daring to ask for their legitimate rights, our labour leader number one is set to sack all the teachers. For the pensioners, he has a budget for condolence visits, and not the money to pay their monthly pensions and the arrears of their gratuities.
The workers erroneously believed that one of their own was coming to power and so they were ready to die for him. Today, they know better. Oshiomhole is not moved by their strike actions. He is a master of the game. He is prepared to dribble them with the assistance of the National Leadership of labour that he installed in power. Even mad dogs do not bite their owners, and so the National labour leadership cannot call him to order.
Okada riders were ready to die for Oshiomhole because they did not know him. Every time his case came up at the Tribunal or Appeal Court Okada riders in Benin declared a holiday. They carried people free to and from the courts. Today, they know better. Where are their children? They are out of school and are waiting to collect the bikes from them to crush the bones of the poor like themselves. Rather than help them get syndicated loans to purchase taxis at very low interest rates, Governor Oshiomhole is driving them out of their daily bread with some dubious “Comrade Buses” of questionable age and cost. Edo line is being clinically killed so that the “Comrade Buses” can thrive.
People are agitating for State Police. We are sure that Governor Oshiomhole is just smiling, because he has long put his own state security in place. Several commanders of militant groups are employed by Oshiomhole as Special Advisers or Senior Special Assistants. Each of them is given enough resources to take care of their commandos, in readiness for elections in Edo State. He is doing all these in the name of amnesty. Who can fault that? Known and reputable cult leaders are also under his employ as Special Advisers. The members remain loyal because they are surviving on Edo tax payers, through the dubious security vote that is not accounted for.
Let no one be deceived, Governor Oshiomhole has infiltrated the security apparatuses of state in Edo, through the regular security meetings with the Joint Task Force of all the security structures in the state. We cannot exclude the Independent National Electoral Commission. The State Independent Electoral Commission is his toy. The opposition must wake up.
Most of the Task Forces operating in the state are peopled by thugs ready to do Oshiomhole’s bidding at any time. Many of them have known crime history, and are today terrorizing the innocent citizens of the state.
Governor Oshiomhole should tell Edo people how many aides he has so far employed. Over 70% percent of them neither have offices nor schedules. They only earn salaries. They were employed to deceive their people during elections, for their votes. What is the actual recurrent and overhead cost of running Edo State Government today? Oshiomhole should honestly tell us.
Edo people are bleeding from excessive taxation today. Private school owners, private hospitals, medium and small scale industries, workers, okada riders, road transport workers, hotel owners, traders etc. some are relocating from the state to more people-friendly states.
Edolites, who are expecting that Governor Oshiomhole will complete any of the major roads he is constructing in Edo State before the completion of his first term, must be ready for a shocker. The contractors will be forced to slow down until elections are around the corner. He is an actor. He will mobilize them to site when elections are a stone’s throw. He will rather spend the money compromising our poor traditional rulers, gullible youths and disillusioned party leaders, and cheap opposition leaders. After the elections, he will once again resume his governance by deceit and intimidation.
We should investigate what has happened to his well orchestrated youth Employment Scheme. How many youths has he really employed and how much does he pay each of them? Are they causal workers or part of the state bureaucracy? Governor Oshiomhole should tell the truth, apologise to Edo people, and start to pack his things from Osadebe Avenue. July 2012 is just around the corner.
Edo is tired of government by deceit. What is the debt profile of Edo State today? Can our children finish paying? Oshiomhole was the first Governor to boast on the National Television that he is going home to pay the minimum wage. Today, Edo is the first state where all categories of workers are on full strike, because the governor has reneged on his promise. He has resorted to threats. This is not surprising knowing full well the background of shenanigans and antics of the man who once led the nation’s labour force by stealth.
Charles Osaro and Lawal Enakhimion contributed this piece from Benin, Edo State.