THE COMRADE GOVERNOR AND THE PATH OF HONOUR
A FEW weeks ago, the relative cordiality that has existed between the Federal and State governments was punctured and the citizens' attention drawn, albeit temporarily away from the robust debates that has been generated over the future of the country.
This distraction coming from a state which has in the last couple of months been lifted from the doldrums, so to say is of concern and therefore it deserves a speedy correction to avert an unnecessary drift away from more critical issues of development.
The subject of laying claim to the construction of the stretch of road leading from Dawson junction/Akpakpava down to Uselu, Ugbowo and Ofosu in Edo state need not generate the furore that Nigerians have been entertained in the past week or two.
This is for the incontrovertible reason that that road reconstruction/rehabilitation is ostensibly for the benefit of the people of Edo state and the numerous vehicular traffic that commutes that region, each day.
Before now, several federal roads across the country have suffered 'gruesome' neglect. The implication is obvious - loss in human lives, loss in revenue to businesses and incongruent social and political development across the length and breadth of the country. This was the situation before the appointment of Architect Mike Onoliememen as Minister of Works mid this year.
Faced with the herculean task of bringing back the once celebrated good road network in the country, the Honourable Minister has set out to deal with the task pragmatically within the resources available to the ministry.
And with the support of President Goodluck Jonathan and various stakeholders in the road project including state commissioners of Works who share completely the vision of the Federal Government to resuscitate roads in the country; this massive drive which has turned the country into a massive construction site has commenced in earnest.
One of such roads which was earmarked for this critical intervention programme is the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road. And part of the long stretch is the contentious Benin-Ofosu section. It should be noted that up until now, the Ministry of Works' willingness and commitment to rehabilitating this road has not been in contention.
In fact, on September 6, 2011 while the Honourable Minister of Works, Architect Onoliememen addressed the media on the first 100 Days in Office of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, this same road was conspicuously listed as priority by the ministry.
Equally of note is that the contract for this road was awarded to one of the nation's most reputable road construction companies, Messrs RCC Nigeria Limited at the sum of N24 Billion and work has since commenced on the project with commendation by the road users who have before now suffered untold hardship due to its neglect.
Given these facts, ordinarily there ought not to be any reason whatsoever for contention on such an economically beneficial project as the Dawson/Akpakpava road project. Especially that the Comrade Governor of the state, His Excellency Adams Oshiomhole himself at several times in the immediate past has expressed his happiness at the Ministry of Works intervention efforts on the deplorable roads in his state.
The fact that the Federal Government through the ministry began the rehabilitation of the said road is the only reason the Edo State Government could commence the construction of a Parking Lane, Walkway and Drainage which is an added value to the on-going reconstruction work.
The fact that the same RCC Nigeria Limited is Edo state government's choice for its segment work on the road is seen as a compliment and a commendation to the right choice of a contractor made by the Ministry of Works.
A few years ago, an unpleasant experience took place in Lagos state between its road maintenance officials and men of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) during the tenure of Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe as Minister of Works.
The two agencies were engaged in a barbaric fight that left some of their personnel with severe wounds. In spite of the claims and counter claims by both agencies, in the end, the ultimate losers were the road users who had to suffer immense hardship while the fray lasted.
As a people, we must shun such re-occurences between officials of the state and federal agencies. Removal of the Sign Board erected by the Ministry of Works in the Edo project could engender such unpleasant past experience and must be avoided, at all cost.
There is no contention over the pedigree of the Comrade Governor of Edo state. Such pedigree that only emanates from years of consistent hard work and dogged fight for the liberation of not just the people of his state but, for Nigerian as a whole, must not be smeared with an ill-advised pavement construction.
For those who may not be aware, as leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress for several years, most of which were in hey days of Military autocratic regimes, his tracks are strewn with glorious garlands of an achiever. Edo people are therefore favoured to have him as their Governor and there is no doubt that this has been reflected in the stupendous works he has done in the last four years.
However, this path of unbridled service to humanity and sacrifice which only a few living mortals have made for their people, must not be allowed to be soiled by petty political gains. Such pressure can reach pitch height on the eve of an election such as the people of Edo state is facing, presently.
There is no doubt that His Excellency, Comrade Oshiomhole has the interest of Edo people and indeed of Nigerians uppermost in his heart in all his dealings. This he has displayed in the past and in the present. And it is only advisable that he does not allow himself be sucked in by the political mongers that are swooping Government Houses all across the country.
Edo state given its giant strides in the last couple of years of Oshiomhole's administration does not need such an unnecessary rancour and acrimony in its system. Otherwise, His Excellency would be distracted from focusing on the objective of his people's given mandate. This must not be allowed to happen.
Quarrels like the type that was exhibited in the Dawson/Akpakpava roads are quite wasteful and could only lead to a dissipation of energy and most of all, loss in the most of valuable resources - money and scarce time.
Good works on both sides of the divide, that is Federal and States, must not be allowed to be diluted with parochial politics even in the face of an impeding election in Edo state. If the past experience in Edo state is anything to go by, the people of the state would not be judging their candidates based on what happens between Dawson road or the stretch covering Benin - Ore - Shagamu, it rather would most likely be based on verifiable, tangible performances that have impacted the people's lives.
It is time to sheath the swords and let the works be seen to be completed.
Mr. Omoniyi, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Benin, Edo State.