Edo 2020: Why Edo youths need to rally round Odubu/ Dr. Pius Odubu

As a child in the primary school and as a teenager in the secondary school in the then Bendel state, I was taught with other children to be proud citizens of the then Midwestern State, later Bendel State, and now Edo state. We were also taught to contribute our quotas to the development of the state, particularly in terms of exhibiting the professionalism we would later in life equip ourselves with. Luckily enough, I was fortunate to have participated in the compulsory morning assembly sessions held at the then Niblick Grammar School, that was later renamed Oghada Grammar School before I later transferred to Uhi Grammar School, at Uhi in order to perfect my School Certificate Result until  I finally passed out from the school.

In all of these schools, we were taught to religiously observe some national rituals, of which, one of them was to sing the national anthem at the assembly and recite the accompanying national pledge with undeniable nationalistic pride. Today, with the proliferation of private schools I doubt if this ritual is still being exercised as most of them are located on road-sides, and therefore lack enough space to do that.

Again, we were taught how diversified Bendel state was and the need to see ourselves as brothers and sisters; irrespective of ethnic or religious differences. I grew up with all the foregoing civic education that presently in Lagos where I have migrated to for more than 36 years I am wont to see those that are affiliated to other ethnic groups in Edo state like Ishan, Bini, Etsako, Igbanke among other ethnic groups as my brothers and sisters as well as friends. In my days as a bachelor anyone that sincerely identified himself to be a Bendelite was immediately accepted as a brother and friend and immediately allowed to squat with me without any condition attached. Then, Bendelites were admirably hailed by people of other ethnic groups or tribes as “Up Bendel!”. The reason for the foregoing manner of greeting cannot be farfetched as Bendelites then want to excel and want to carve niches for themselves in any given enterprise.

I must confess at this juncture that at a point after my secondary school education that I thought of joining any of the Ministries, Departments or Agencies (MDAs) under Orhiomwon local government area that was (and still) headquartered in Abudu to enable me have a platform of expressing my unalloyed citizenship for the state as I was taught by my teachers. But my ambition then was fruitless as I was pessimistic of scaling the hurdles that were literarily placed on the way of selection process, and more so did not even know who to help me as joining the civil service then was basically on the grounds of “man-no-man.”

Also, at a point in my career as a Garment Sorter in a dry-cleaning company, and later as a Security Guard in Lagos, I thought of resigning my appointment to enable me further my education on full time basis. Due to inadequate savings as a result of poor salary, I was cowered considering the fact that I would likely be faced with crushing hardship given the fact that the governments of the then Bendel state government would not have granted me sustainable bursaries; that is if I were to be considered lucky to be a beneficiary. Then, I had no option than to go for part-time studies which I brilliantly concluded but not without pitiable struggles as daily leave Victoria Island after the day’s job to meander through heavy motor traffic to catch up with lecture at University of Lagos that is far flung at Akoka. I initially nurtured the ambition of graduating from either University of Benin or Bendel State University (Now Ambrose Alli University). But my dream of graduating from any of the foregoing universities did not come true as my ambition of studying on a fulltime basis was completely ruled out due to my status as a self-sponsored student on a low salary scale.

Be that as it may, I was able to acquire the university education I yearned for at both University of Lagos and Olabisi Onabanjo University on part-time basis. Regrettably, I was not given the opportunity to serve my state, Edo, as I dreamt of; even right from when I was a teenager.

The foregoing narrative that can also be said to be a vicissitude of life is not all about this writer but it epitomizes the journey of life which thousands of Edolites; particularly the youths, have passed through or are passing through as a result lack of opportunities in the state. People have been taunted with John F. Kennedy’s motivational quote that says “…ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” I must confess that I wanted to do my best for Edo state but I was never given the opportunity. Most Edolites that are today in Lagos, Ghana, Germany, France, Italy, U.S.A and U.K dreamt of doing something for the state but they were denied the platforms or opportunities.

It is very easy for some readers to begin to disagree with my views but they should realise that it is psychologically unhealthy for anyone to be in a strange land, so to say, without experiencing discrimination in whatever form. The discrimination may be subtle and not pronounced but it is damaging. Which parents would be happy when their child was denied admission in a university owned by the state they have been living together and paying their taxes to as couples for more than 30 years? Who would be happy when he is eligibly qualified to occupy a position in any of the ministries, departments or agencies in a state where he has been contributing his quota to but was denied employment on the grounds that he is not an indigene of that state? I must confess that many Edolites in diaspora equally share the feelings that I am expressing in this piece.

As it is now, the level of commitment to the state by many youths that are denied opportunities in our state is fast waning. One can even say that it is because of this reason that the level of insecurity in the State is getting worse. People are no more committed because the politicians are seemingly not investing in their lives. No doubt, lack of commitment as citizens is making the youths to be vulnerable and some mischievous politicians are cashing in on it. In my view, rallying round a tested and trusted leader such as Dr. Pius Odubu that has what it takes to create opportunities for the citizens remains the way out. At this juncture, it is germane to ask how long can Edo youths continue to live a life of deprivation that has seen most of them engaging in unimaginable endeavors and travelling out to settle in the diaspora?

To me, the power to change the status quo is in their hands. They are the ones that have the power to choose who will be their governor in the next political dispensation. Against the foregoing backdrop, I am very optimistic that if they rally round Odubu by supporting him at all stages of his race to Osadebey Avenue that he will not disappoint them. Odubu has all the qualities that are required to make the State to be more attractive by creating jobs and enabling environment that those in diaspora would be attracted to come back home with their children in manner that is reminiscent of the Israelites when they started coming back from captivity to Jerusalem after Nehemiah rebuilt it.

This piece was written to sensitise Edo youths about the leadership qualities that define Odubu’s personality, and that he should be supported in his race to Osadebey Avenue. He is not the kind of leader that will relent in providing the necessary “dividends” of democracy for the people.