On the April 11, 2015 governorship, state assembly elections
THE March 28 Presidential election outcome has thrown up an interesting dimension to the nation’s march towards greatness. The people now have the ability to vote in, and vote out a president as they wish. It has shut the doors against the traditional political rabble-rousers who decimated the socio-political environment for their selfish advantage. The presidential poll has put forward a cream of Progressives that are expected to give Nigerians a clean break from the past and usher in a more robust positive change laden with economic growth and prosperity at the federal level.
Clearly, the progressives are out to fight corruption and mindless thieving of the nation’s vast resources, which the reactionary forces have promoted for well over sixteen years. The progressives are out to improve rule of law and enhance human rights of citizens and finally, they are out to commence massive people-centered development projects at the federal level just as it has been happening in states controlled by the progressive governors namely: Edo, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Rivers among others.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the state of infrastructural decay and institutional neglect in Edo State rose to some worrisome dimension prior to the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Edo people were living witnesses to the deplorable state of roads; to the primary, secondary and tertiary schools that had been left to rot and decay; and to the utter neglect of all sectors of the Edo economy. Therefore, if Edo people were unwilling to alter the course of their lives, they wouldn’t have taken the radical step of voting in Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in 2007 – but they were – even though the elections that ushered the Comrade Governor to power in 2007 were rigged in favour of Osarheinmen Osunbor of the PDP, it took the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City to nullify an illegality based on several irregularities. It also took the Comrade Governor a little less than three years to turn the fortunes of Edo State and of the Edo People around. He has been dogged and committed to repositioning Edo State for greatness this past six years and he deserves the support of all citizens in Edo State to consolidate on the gains achieved so far.
Oshiomhole, just like any human being has his weaknesses which enemies of the state are busy blowing out of proportion, but his strengths far outstrips his weaknesses. He is deploying his positive sides for the rapid development and advancement of Edo State and it is crucial to emphasise that Edo people will for a long time remember Comrade Oshiomhole, even long after his tenure next year for a number of positive changes which are evident all over the state. From all intents and purposes, Oshiomhole mean well for Edo people.
Between 2007 and 2008 when external revenue to Edo State declined significantly; with internal revenue just only a little near N200million monthly, the administration of Adams Oshiomhole struggled with a burgeoning monthly wage bill. So how did Edo State rise from the backwaters of economic and social development in the first phases of the millennium to become a major player in the larger political landscape of Nigeria? First, it all had to do with the personality, drive, and passion of the Comrade Governor himself. He was a strong advocate in league with the Nigerian workers. Nationwide, he represented the interest of the downtrodden and had no love lost for political godfathers and their ilk.
The huge success ascribable to his first tenure as governor of Edo state, and which led to his landslide victory in 2012 was not personal charisma alone. There was a strategic plan of action based on a tripartite framework – people, infrastructure and production – developed by the Comrade Governor himself. The vision behind the framework, and which the Development Alliance of the Niger Delta, DAND endorses, is a vision rooted in macroeconomics and critical policy priorities – water, health, education, power, housing, transport, road construction and rehabilitation and commerce.
On the eve of the March 28, 2015 presidential, senate and House of Assembly General Elections, antagonists of the comrade governor went to town with a documentary of the ‘failures’ of the Comrade Governor. The documentary, to say the least was defamatory, ill-conceived, character assassination and a hatchet delivery by his detractors who were hell bent on stealing victory again from the back door by deceiving the electorates with deliberate falsehood and half-truth.
Interestingly, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that of the 36 states of the Federation, only 14 of them generate revenue internally, with Lagos producing income equivalent to 36% of the entire income of the entire country. Of these 14 states, Edo state from 2010 till 2013 has been consistent with generating revenue and without increasing taxes, from an economy that was left to rot by his predecessors Therefore, it would have been an impossible task for the Comrade governor not to have encountered some challenging moments.
Revenue accruing from Crude oil has been on the decline which has made many states controlled by the reactionaries not to meet with the most basic responsibilities of making overhead payments. Salaries of workers in such states have climbed into 6-7 months. But in spite of the declining revenues, Oshiomhole has continued to pay salaries and meet all obligations to public servants. In July 2013, the FRAAC shared N1.014 trillion among Nigeria’s federating units.
•Reverend Ugolor is Convener, Development Alliance of the Niger Delta, DAND.
‘But by October the same year, the income accruing had plummeted to N568.413 billion, the lowest for many months. Last November, the FG, states and LGs received an uncomfortable N675.650 billion between them, which again nosedived by a miserable 581.14 billion in December 2013. In January 2014, only N629.12 was available for sharing to the three tiers of government’, so writes Inwalomhe Donald with The Nigerian Observer, in its 20th November 2014 edition.
Therefore, if the antagonists of the Comrade Governor arrogate the apparent loss of certain positions in Edo State to the ‘failure’, of the Comrade Governor, they better think again. The March 28 Presidential Election was not about Adams Oshiomhole, even though his party the APC was in the race. As a matter of fact, owners of the documentary that preceded the election of March 28, 2015 merely exploited the ignorance of certain Edo people and unsuccessfully tried to poison their minds to the unparalleled achievements of the APC under Adams Oshiomhole.
The combined Urban and rural state consumer index, 2009, of Edo State for the Edo people maintained a 127.5 figure as against that of Abuja (136.6), Enugu (141.2) and Imo (138.7). These are the issue-s, issues of sustainable development already introduced by the Oshiomhole administration, that should be the issues that Edo people should consider. But what really influenced the outcome of the March 28 General Election in Edo State against the APC was a combination of factors. One of them was the same crude methodology that the PDP used in the Ekiti Election of 2014. On the eve of the election, stern looking soldiers acting on the orders from Aso Rock invaded Edo North, abode of the Comrade Governor. They quarantined him and shut down his electioneering machine with brute force. Then they used the same soldiers to negatively influence the outcome of the elections in their favour.
Second of them was that the antagonists of Adam Oshiomhole began to descend as low as preaching the sermons of ethnicity, religion and bigotry. They said that incoming president Muhammadu Buhari was going to Islamize Nigeria, that he is a brutal dictator and a Northerner. They pitched the relatively moderate Edo people down the brink of political participation of intolerance. But what these pundits were not aware of is that the principles of political participation are not one-sided.
Political participation assumes many forms – there are arguments for and arguments against. Just as the antagonists of the Oshiomhole miracles in Edo State have participated in the process by preaching against the achievements of Adam Oshiomhole, we are persuaded that in the coming elections in Edo State, what would influence the decision of the Edo people will not be raw and uncooked issues, but it will be based on a firm and established legacy of his infrastructural goodwill, success and pragmatism. We are convinced that the outcome of the coming elections in Edo State will determine whether or not the people of Edo State are desirous of going back to the chaos and dilapidation of Oshiomhole’s predecessors, or that they want to join the march forward to greatness.
With the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as President-Elect, the Progressive forces in Nigeria are determined to demonstrate their prowess to offer Nigerians positive change which will endure the test of time. Edo people must, therefore not make the mistake of allowing crisis to dominate affairs of the state when other states will be coasting home with massive developments. As we approach the April 11 House of Assembly elections, the wise thing for Edo people to do is to cast their votes for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates to avoid the pitfall of the past where people-centered budgets were not approved by the opposition- dominated House of Assembly. A word is enough for the wise.