“Continuity carry go
Adams Oshiomhole carry go
Oshiomhole ni Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole don come
Light don come
Food don come for Edo State
Oshiomhole don come
Better better don come
Development don come for Edo State
Put Oshiomhole aya ya
For governor aya ya
Oshiomhole for governor in Edo State”
These lyrics culled from the CD “Edo State in safe hands” encapsulates the moment, defines the mood and captures the euphoria in Edo State ahead of the governorship election scheduled to hold on Saturday 14th July 2012.
If job approval ratings, endorsements and popular acceptance were in themselves enough to conclusively call an election, then the July 14th governorship election in Edo State would long have been called in favour of Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole. But we are in a democracy and the rule of the game is that no winner is presumed until the votes are cast, counted and results announced. Yet, the antecedence of the People’s Democratic Party in Edo State is such that Edo people are not in a mood to hurriedly forgive and forget that era of anomy when for nine and an a half years the progress of Edo State, the cradle of civilization was put on reverse gear.
Edo people from all walks of life, both at home and in the Diaspora quite unlike 2007 when Comrade Oshiomhole first contested the governorship election, have come out to voice their support for his re election. What other reason can be adduced to this overwhelming support other than the fact that the people are satisfied with how he has managed the affairs of the State in the last three and a half years of his regime.
Many commentators, among them notable analysts, have labored, albeit erroneously, but not without reason, to define the forthcoming election in Edo State as the final battle between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Chief Tony Anenih. Whereas this battle of personalities does exist as a sub plot, it certainly does not compare in significance to the unfolding main plot which is, Edo people are united in their desire and resolve that performance, and not quasi ethnic criteria will determine who rules them henceforth.
This election is not simply about electing who will direct the affairs of Edo State for the next four years, more significant, but so far less discussed; this election will be a permanent yardstick on how Edo people wish to be ruled in the future. There are two obvious templates from which the people must choose from. One is to go back to that era we all know too well, by electing a puppet governor who takes directives from an all powerful party leader and thus secures assurances of uninterrupted looting and subsequent re election. The other is to elect a governor, independent of external manipulation, whose only guarantee to remaining in office is his ability to endear himself to the people by delivering on his promises to them.
While it will amount to mere hyperbole any suggestion that Comrade Oshiomhole has met all the expectations of those who voted for him in 2007, it is nonetheless undeniable that as his regime progressed, there emerged a clearly noticeable process of maturity in the way the regime approached the act of governance. Taking into cognizance the fact that no human being is perfect therefore, whatever the human foibles Oshiomhole may have betrayed as governor of Edo State, they become immaterial when measured with the zeal, determination and urgency with which he has repositioned Edo State in the Nigerian socio political milieu.
Performing politicians are rare in the Nigerian scene, and when a State like Edo that has seen the worse of governance in the not too distant past, is fortunate enough to have a governor who is truly determined and committed to the development the State, then it will take nothing short of Edo people collectively falling in to state of retrograde amnesia or contagious imprudence to vote out such a governor. What is urgently needed at this stage therefore, is continuity and consolidation of the gains recorded in the last three and a half years.
There is a near unanimity of opinion among Nigerians in general that Edo State is headed in the right direction, which means that the present rhythm of development and palpable peace should not be interrupted for any political exigency. Any contrivance that leads to a change of course at this stage in Edo State will certainly not be in the interest of Edo people or the emerging confidence that Nigerians are beginning to exude about our fledgling democracy.
Contemporary political campaigns are run on any of three basic themes; Hope, Change and Continuity. Whereas the ACN in Edo State was able to connect with the people by staying on its message of continuity, the PDP ran a pathetic campaign of experimentation, by expending time, energy and resources on throwing mud at the character, person and tastes of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Unfortunately for them, Comrade Oshiomhole came out clean and unscathed while they failed to put a message across that is capable to energize voters towards their candidate. The result is that, as the campaign draws to a close, there is no solid programme identifiable with the PDP candidate which makes change in the leadership of Edo State imperative.
The fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) throughout the campaign peremptorily argued that Oshiomhole has done nothing to develop Edo State only imply that their definition of development is at variance with what has been hailed by Edo indigenes and non indigenes alike as a marvelous transformation of the State by the Oshiomhole led CAN government . Even as the usually shy President Goodluck Jonathan, finally succumbed to party pressure and jetted into Benin City on the 30th of June 2012 to preside over an emergency PDP political rally, he could not have missed the transformational magic hand of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as he drove from the Benin Airport to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. Hopefully, when this season of chicanery ends, President Goodluck Jonathan should visit Edo State, not as a PDP member, but as the political father of the nation, truly committed to see that the long suffering people of Edo State enjoy the elusive dividends of democracy, only then will he freely appreciate and understand to what extent Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has touched and changed lives.
Perhaps the most banal campaign point among the Peoples Democratic Party’s repertoire of ineffectual balderdash this campaign season, and one more reason why they should not be entrusted with the leadership of Edo State, is the argument that the same personalities who as PDP members participated actively in the almost ten years that the party plundered and ran Edo State aground, are presently key players in the Oshiomhole led Action Congress on Nigeria government in the State. While the premise of this argument may be true, the conclusion is an indictment of the kind of leadership that the PDP would offer in the State if they were to be the ruling party. If good leadership is the ability to recognize, mobilize and utilize available human and material resources to achieve desired goal, then it is clear that Comrade Oshiomhole, championing a regime of performance and accountability, was able to effectively utilize those same personalities that a PDP leadership could not utilize to produce positive results.
Unlike many other States where the PDP is in power, the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State is structurally defective and until the entire architecture is dismantled, and rebuilt along democratic principles, the party cannot aspire to run a successful government. We operate a Constitution where the governor of a State is assumed to exercise executive powers, but a situation where erstwhile PDP governors in the state, perhaps by virtue of the process of their ascent to office, acquiesce to defer their executive powers to unelected, but ascendant party leaders, engendered an enviroment where commissioners, special advisers and other political office holders were imposed on a governor by party patriarchs. The consequence was that such political office holders owed their loyalty to the party leaders who engineered their appointments and guaranteed their stay in office, rather than to the governor who they worked with. This led to indiscipline, betrayal, mutual suspicion and the party ended up fractionalized along lines that it is yet to recover from. Today on the eve of another crucial election, the PDP in Edo State is reenacting the exact circumstances that put it where it is today. How can anyone expect different results?
Edo people are a librated people and there is no historical precedence of a people who freely choose to return to the same circumstances under which they were previously enslaved.
Watching the concluding live debate organized by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group, NEDG in Benin City on Thursday 5th July 2012, it became obvious that defeat is not an option for Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole in the July 14th governorship election in Edo State. Even with the latitude usually enjoyed by opponents challenging an incumbent, Gen. Charles Airhiavbere’s litany of promises failed woefully to match up Comrade Oshiomhole’s record of empirical performance in Edo State.