The first response we expect this statement to elicit from the gasping opposition party in Edo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is that the Edo State government is trying to attack an innocent Edo citizen, for genuinely exposing the suffering of the masses, in order to bring them succor. Far from it.
A recent video of the dilapidated Holy Aruosa Primary School, which drew the attention of a lot of Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, was posted by one Pharez Okpere, and this action was in bad faith.
Pharez Okpere is a member of the Edo State PDP, and former aide to the former Minister of Works in the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration, and his reputation for unwholesome acts in the social media space precedes him.
Without trying to pass the buck of governance, right from the administration of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the APC government has demonstrated verifiable commitment to the transformation of schools in the state. The Red Roof Revolution is visible in all parts of the state as proof of this commitment.
The Obaseki administration has taken the transformation of public schools to a higher height with the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo-BEST) initiative, elevating the standard of teaching in public schools to the level obtainable in developed countries.
These and several other initiatives have been designed to raise the quality of teaching in public schools, much of which we cannot parade here for lack of space.
However, we are aware that a day before Pharez Okpere went to Holy Aruosa Primary School, a car rammed into the school and brought down the walls. The next day, he claimed he drove into the school, in his search for a parking space and was moved to record the video message.
Thereafter, he reached out to members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, with request for money, else he would post the video, which in his thinking would embarrass the Obaseki-led government. Proof of his communication on a new video he is working on is attached.
We had initially decided not to expose all the shenanigans of Pharez Okpere and his cohorts, but we are constrained to release the facts of their plan to embark on a campaign to smear the image of the government, using contrived videos.
For the records, the Holy Aruosa Primary School was founded in 1945. That makes the school 73 years old today. If you analyse further, you will find out that this school existed for 54 years before the PDP took office in 1999 and for the over nine years the PDP was in power, there are no records that the PDP bought a single bag of cement to renovate that school.
For the period the PDP was in power, the opposition party refused to pay the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) counterpart fund and did not access a dime for the development of schools in the state.
We are also aware of Pharez Okpere’s plan to post more videos of the Central Hospital, Benin City after he failed to secure any deal with the APC. The Central Hospital was taken over by the Mid West government in 1963, and has since been managed by the state government. We will not fail to reiterate the state government’s commitment to reposition the hospital. We will not do this in a rush, as plans are underway for a well-thought-out, sustainable arrangement to make the hospital work for Edo people.
We need to put on record that the Obaseki administration will not yield to subtle blackmail by Okpere or other members of the opposition party that destroyed the country.
For the 16 years that the PDP ruled the country, two Edo indigenes were ministers of work, who controlled billions of naira and could not fix the Lagos-Benin road despite the economic value of the road. Edo State lost thousands of her citizens to needless accidents, not to mention the material losses running into billions of naira.
Mr. Okpere and other hirelings of the PDP top echelon in the state, who were part of that government and under whose watch the state recorded the height of infrastructural decay, are in no position to use the result of their negligence and misgovernance to curry favours and sympathy or even incite the public.
By now, the PDP ought to know that the Edo State government cannot be threatened with contrived videos. The transformation of the state is on course and each sector has a grand plan with clear timeline for project execution.
Watch out as we name clergymen and politicians and their roles in this saga, in part two of this report.
Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Edo State Government.