By Sufuyan Ojeifo
SIR: About four years ago, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as a sitting governor, was traversing the nooks and crannies of the state, marketing a relatively unknown product. That obscure product was Godwin Obaseki. Against reasoned advice by people who, from what is clear now, had the benefit of hindsight and, perhaps, foresight, to boot, Oshiomhole opted to support little-known Obaseki as his successor in Edo State as governor.
That fatal miscalculation exposes the weakness in every mortal. Regrettably, there were other more qualified candidates who the Comrade had known for much longer periods, and who were even more loyal to Oshiomhole. But, because the former governor was thinking more of his state and the collective welfare of Edo people and less of his own self, he thought an Obaseki, who was his Chief Economic Adviser, would be in the best position to adopt and run with his continuity philosophy.
Alas, he was wrong and, in humility, Oshiomhole has courageously raised his hands to acknowledge that. While it is easier to condemn the former governor for his error of judgment, it is also necessary to advert our minds to the Shakespearean injunction that “power changes the nature of men”.
Indeed, Obaseki changed. The first sign of this was his gruesome assault on the most important arm of democracy, the legislature. Obaseki, without any regards for the rights of Edo people whom he is now begging for votes, blatantly refused to inaugurate 14 elected members in the state House of Assembly, thus denying the people representation in his government. So, for four years, Obaseki has been governing Edo State, stricto sensu, without a legislature.
Obaseki has been strutting around the state, shooting himself in the foot and lying to himself by claiming that some respected sons and daughters of Edo state contributed nothing to his election as governor four years ago. In fact, he had challenged the likes of Comrade Oshiomhole and business mogul, Captain ‘Hosa Okunbo, to mention just a few, to a wrestling match like the proverbial over-fed Nwanza, the bird. Beyond that, he had gone further to blackmail Captain ‘Hosa, encouraging his aides and hirelings to call him all sorts of unprintable names; he had boasted of ending Oshiomhole’s political career and even insinuated that tomorrow Saturday, the people would decide who owns Edo State.
The good thing is that Oshiomhole and other worthy sons and daughters of Edo State have graciously accepted Obaseki’s challenge. These people know what they went through four years ago marketing a hard-sell like Obaseki. And they also know how difficult it was defeating a grassroots person like Ize-Iyamu. Now that the table has turned, they know that they have the popular candidate and require less hard-work (though they are not resting on their oars) as against four years ago given the likely trajectory of the votes this weekend. And so, truly, on Saturday, we, the Edo electorate, will vote our conscience as Odigie-Oyegun advised.
Our conscience as Edo people is governed by a sense of gratitude as we do not recompense good with evil. The four years of Obaseki in Edo has been defined and typified by gross ingratitude both to the people that elected him and to some respected Edo sons and daughters who facilitated his victory. Again, we, Edo people, respect our traditional institutions, especially the Oba of Benin. This weekend, we will speak in no uncertain voice that we do not want a governor who wants to compete with our revered Oba by transforming himself into another monarchy. Tomorrow, we, Edo people, will decide who truly owns the land by electing Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, resoundingly, as our next governor.