Nigeria: Why Must Edo People Be Impoverished?

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I had, in a number of published articles in recent times, raised salient issues covering various aspects of Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s approach to governance in Edo State. The Governor has failed to provide answers to the critical questions raised.

This failure to explain to the people is taken as a confirmation of the antics created by his administration to further impoverish the people of Edo State, not only by robbing Peter to pay Paul but also by leading them into a state of financial servitude.

Instead of concrete responses supported by facts, all we could see on the pages of newspapers were lies, subjective propaganda and hire men and women singing the Governor’s praises and attacking the personality of his political opponent, Gen. Charles Airhavbere (retd) of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The issues raised were deliberately ignored and this shows clearly the attitude that the Governor does not owe the people of Edo State explanations for his maladministration.

The desperate intention to sustain a dictatorial regime in Edo State is quite evident. Consider how the Governor unethically coerced labour and trade unions in the State to adopt his candidacy for the July 14 election, even when he was duly restrained from doing so by a court of competent jurisdiction. It is an affirmation of the disrespect, which the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, administration in Edo has for the rule of law.

The Comrade-Governor has also dragged the much-respected traditional leadership of the State into the murky waters of politics by insinuating in the print media that the royal fathers have endorsed his candidacy for the July election. These antics cannot coerce the people of Edo into blind obedience and debt bondage.

Edo State is abundantly endowed with both material and human resources, needed for economic sustainability, growth and infrastructure development. However, my greatest worry is that we have a governor who does not consult or seek the consent of the people and who indulges full tilt in the use of propaganda and media hypes, even in such important matters as the procurement of loans and contract awards.

At the inception of the administration, the Governor told Edo people that all the projects to be executed by his administration would be funded by the tax payers’ money. Even the sign posts and bill boards he displayed in various locations of the state were self- evident. The Governor did not tell the people that he was putting Edo State on hire purchase, which is now implied by the heavy loans he has acquired from the World Bank and other financial institutions.

I am constrained to urge the Federal Government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, to, please, take note. The Governor cannot pretend ignorance of what has happened and what is happening to many ex-governors, including that of Bayelsa.

The Governor could not have forgotten that he told the people of Edo that he symbolised the rule of law and that there would be no sacred cows and godfathers in his administration. Is it not apparent that the Governor has failed to live up to his promise as we have seen in the series of recent employment into the Edo State Health Management Board and Civil Service? The list of the people employed is mainly ACN loyalists, selected basically on party basis whereas the YES scheme employees are deliberately kept as intervention staff on temporary employment.

Whereas, it was the YES scheme he used as one of the antics to convince the World Bank to approve the loan facilities, whereas the government programmed the YES scheme as a political strategy; and whereas, the government regarded the YES beneficiaries as political and administrative expendables.

I posit that the Governor’s antics was to deceive the people of Edo State into believing that he was a godfather killer, whereas his hidden intention has always been to install himself as the new godfather of the State. This has become evident from the way ACN primaries were conducted in the last general elections and the subsequent series of political adoptions in Edo. If the Governor sees this as demurring, I need to quickly remind him that he has failed to allow the local government councils and people at the grassroots full participation in the democratic dispensation by his refusal to conduct LGA elections in the State. Rather, he favoured the unconstitutional method of creating and appointing transition committees and appointing chairmen, with himself as the super chairman of all the 18 local government councils.

The people of Edo State have observed that the roads on which the Governor claims to have expended 40 per cent of the State budget or N80 billion in the Benin metropolis are all Federal Government roads. No Benin person has a motorable street road to his or her residence. Indeed, all residential roads in the Benin metropolis are impassable. The truth is that the roads constructed by Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, were almost at completion stage and they include Second East Circular and Imuentiyan Street, off M.M way, which Oshiomhole deliberately abandoned.

Rather, the Governor prefers flexing muscles with the Federal Government by claiming to be working on Federal Government roads. Residents in these areas, including yours sincerely, would want to remind the Governor that, at the inception of his administration, when he went for an on-the-spot assessment of projects, he expressed satisfaction at the quality of the jobs executed by PDP contractors. But he abandoned the jobs at the level of surface asphalt overlay. Now, these roads are among the worst of the hazardous road networks in the Benin metropolis.

Is it not notable that the billions of naira so far wasted on subways and beautification in Benin City could have been more than enough to sand-fill, double drain and asphalt 80 per cent of the major roads in Benin City? Even the iron (rods) and concrete wasted on the subways are enough to secure decent housing estate for, at least, 10 per cent of the city’s teeming population.

Since the inception of the administration, no banking institution has purchased a plot of land or laid any foundation for the establishment of branch facilities in the State. This is obviously due to the practice of over-taxation by the administration and insecurity occasioned by deliberate negligence.

The unwillingness or inability to complete the facilities initiated by previous governments in the state is also worrisome. This administration has deliberately ignored the revitalization of the Cassavita Plant at Uromi and the Fruit Processing Plant at Ehor because it did not consider them to be viable projects that can be used for pecuniary interests. These plants have the potentials of generating as much as N1.1 billion 1GR annually. Yet, the Governor has chosen to abandon them and their economic dividends. The same was done to the Ewu Flour Mill and the Edo Line Transport Service, both of which could be made viable.

The Governor went to the Nigeria Stock Exchange, NSE and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to borrow billions of Naira in the name of the Edo people. He manipulated and mobilized the people and the media to applaud and support the actions. The truth is that the Governor did not show the people the implications of these heavy loans.

Permit me to point out here that the betrayed Edo people have realised their mistakes and resolved that they can no longer be fooled; and that most people in Edo were ignorant of the negative implications of unrestrained borrowing. Instead of enlightening them, the administration employed all sorts of rhetoric and antics to mesmerize them into believing that all that glitters was gold.

Additionally, Edo people were not aware that the government receives a monthly subvention of close to N5 billion from the Federal Government; and it was not brought to the knowledge of the people that over N1.2 billion is made monthly through tax and that this money was enough to fund all the roads constructed since the past three years.

The wind has now blown and the people have seen the rump of the chicken. They have refused to be mesmerized by the smooth rhetoric.

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