Oshiomhole to Obaseki: A baton well-passed
Today, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole has crowned his phenomenal success in the governance of Edo State, by producing a competent successor. As the clock ticked towards political renewal in the Heartbeat of the Nation, the Comrade Governor has been honoured in moving eulogies by those who worked with him for the realisation of his lofty vision for the state.
It was all emotional listening as party faithful, fans, and well-wishers paid glowing tributes to this great mover of people. It was fitting that this man, who stubbornly insists that we must work for the collective good, had the final say in who takes the baton from him. All expressions about him did something to me; they knocked some more sense into me about hard-work, integrity, character and humility.
All who knew him personally spoke stirringly to an audience about an illustrious Edo son who has handed the baton of state-craft to another quintessential eminent son – Governor Godwin Obaseki – a humble, selfless, compassionate, humorous, and religious man with high moral conviction. Sure, we all will miss the Comrade – because, sooner or later, in a new administration, you start to miss the preceding one – however, in all we shall miss of him, we shall receive in manifold, from Governor Godwin Obaseki in terms of participatory and people-driven governance, free speech, and accommodation of alternative opinions as elements of democratic governance.
Those who know the man to whom the baton has been passed are unanimous that the first part of his life was dominated by the triumph of his unique gifts, which include the capacity to challenge others to think in terms of lofty ideals. Every single one of us have gifts of mind and heart; what ingrains greatness in men is the ability to find ways to release such good gifts for the benefit of humanity.
Pointedly, Edo people credit the stream of knowledge that constitutes the concept of “Oshiomhole’s finishing well” to Governor Godwin Obaseki. It was his school of economics and governance that provided the verve and lifeline with which workers in the state never failed to go home monthly, with their pay-cheques to date. This also provided the basis of my understanding of values in governance and service to the people for which the Comrade is now famously known in Nigeria.
We owe a debt of gratitude to him – Obaseki. His brilliance and selfless service to fatherland and common sense illustrations of how governance should work during retreats is unparalleled. He has been an inspiration to all those who came across him. What about his tradition of clear thinking and simple exposition? No doubt, he has influenced our modern generation positively.
It is pertinent to add, that the development of specific ideas which the Oshiomhole administration has successfully implemented and of which we are better today as a state, was enhanced by discussions at the various retreats. Obaseki’s careful and methodical analysis of the ideas make him a perfect fit to be the torch bearer of the next phase of Edo ascendancy.
Thus far, Obaseki has proven that his love for the growth and development of the state and her people is worth every sacrifice. Quietly, too, he made more sacrifices for the state than most people can ever imagine. For others who are yet to meet him, let it be said, even for the umpteenth time, that he was an invisible but prime player in the Oshiomhole administration. As head of the Economic Team, Obaseki introduced the policies that shaped the administration’s enviable economic management, which produced its highly commendable development initiatives. He is here today with a mind that understands prudent fiscal management required to further propel Edo State to shared prosperity and inclusive development in which no citizen is left behind.
His contributions were instrumental in steering the state away from recession despite the debilitating national financial malaise that rendered more than 70 per cent of the states in Nigeria practically unable to meet monthly obligations. And he did all these without receiving a salary throughout his service – this is as good as he gets with sacrifice. By his personality, Obaseki is not the type to hurl insults. He is not the type to attack to score cheap points. He is not bombastic and fierce but rather humble, pensive with eyes-fixed on the goal. His essential humility and succinctness simply defines his charisma and persona – a man of self-control and determination, who is prepared to collaborate and foster his team’s confidence.
With an intimidating resume, and as an insider in government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, he parades a huge record of achievements alongside his can-do-spirit. The views of those who know his qualities, based on their privileged heights, should suffice. One of them is the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who described Obaseki as resourceful and intelligent. Continuing, he said: “Obaseki is the software while Oshiomhole is the hardware that regenerated the state into a national development yardstick”.
As head of Oshiomhole’s economic team, the same structure that acted as the administration’s celebrated brain box, Obaseki engineered a number of key and strategic investments already operating around the state. As an investment banker of repute who has the eyes and ears of those with the resources to pump in funds into the Edo economy, Obaseki’s push for a prosperous Edo will receive further boost with executive powers in his hands. Indeed, it goes without saying that more investors will feel secured to have their investments in the hands of a man they have learnt to trust, particularly now that he has the powers to call the final shots on and supervise the implementation of sensitive policies.
On several occasions, he made it clear that governance is not and cannot be an avenue for making money. Instead, it is one for rendering selfless service. This is where he is different from career politicians whose major interest lies in replenishing depleted personal resources, leaving the people as the ultimate losers.
Even President Muhammadu Buhari can testify to Obaseki’s personality. The President described him as a seasoned technocrat. “I assure you and I recommend him to you so that you will continue to grow”, said the President. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos also weighed in describing Obaseki in these words: “He is reliable, he is trustworthy, and above all, he has the fear of God. You all need Godwin Obaseki now. He will bring his financial expertise to turn Edo State around for the better”.
As if to verify what his successor attested on the character of Governor Obaseki, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing said, “Godwin Obaseki is truly a remarkable figure with limitless talent, a big heart. His self-effacing, down-to-earth personal style gives no indication of his extraordinary accomplishments.
“The essential Godwin Obaseki has shown that true greatness can only be achieved through a life of purpose and service”, he said. For business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, “after over three decades in business, I have learnt that personal integrity is as important as executive skill in business dealings, and Godwin has both in abundance.
“Godwin is a thoroughbred financial expert. His work with Afrinvest – and as a member of several government committees – speaks volumes of his abilities. Whether in private enterprise or public administration, I have absolutely no doubt that Godwin will make a success of any venture he aspires to.”
In his testimonial, the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar Onyema stated: “Godwin is a sound professional who understands the linkages between business and the economic well-being of the people. Perhaps, his strongest quality is his high integrity. His ‘can do’ attitude and friendly personality also make him a great and dependable leader.”
We are convinced in Edo state just as we can bear witness to the testimonies above that Governor Obaseki has the credentials and needed qualities – the Godwin Obaseki gift especially those needed in these days of recession and economic downturns by helping to redefine and assist, to ensure the little resources of the state will be creatively redistributed for the good of the people. With him in control, we can, with great hope, look forward to a greater future for the state and its people.
Mayaki is the Executive Director, Media and Public Affairs to Edo State Governor