By Tony Afejuku
|Obaseki. Photo; TWITTER/GOVERNOROBASEKI
When Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State eventually quits office as governor, he may be remembered as the prober. The man has been examining, inquiring, questioning, and probing the activities and actions of his predecessor and the previous administration. He wants Edo people and other persons and democrats as well as non-democrats outside his state, to see and remember him in his post-governorship years as a man of probity. This is my own sensation of some of his actions since he assumed office as governor. And things came to a head especially after his quarrel with his erstwhile political master and god-father who has since ceased to be his political god – as we all know.
Before the election that ushered him to office as a re-elected governor, he announced to the whole world that he was going to examine the books of the contract of the state-of-art hospital his almighty predecessor built on Sapele Road in the premises of the popular central hospital in the state’s capital. Of course, his opponents and detractors dared him to question and re-question the contract books and the procedure he was part of as a prominent member of the administration or team that brought into fruition and reality the glowing hospital that he deliberately but wrongly called a white elephant. The detractors were fully and readily ready to see how Governor Obaseki would wriggle himself out of the deal that hammered the hospital into being. The noise of the expected probe has since run its course. Also, the sensation thrills in us of the expected probe have since been lost. All the governor’s sensations, confused, or known, or forgotten, I hesitate to say, as at then, have equally all been lost – until later when they have been re-ignited in another vicinity.
What do I mean? What am I up to?
On page 12 of Vanguard of Tuesday, February 23, 2021, I read this headlined report: “Obaseki threatens to probe N30bn Benin storm-water project.” Before I quote verbatim the governor, let me state very briefly that the storm-water project was a project by the governor’s predecessor that was intended to take stagnant water from a flooded area where there is lifeless life for the people, whose houses and property are lost to the vagaries of the elements. The governor has now called or described the storm-water project as a failure and “a ploy to defraud the people.” Clearly, if we must believe Governor Obaseki, the project put in place five years ago by the one and only Adams Oshiomhole could not and has not stormed water out of the affected area. No water has been drained from the affected area along Textile Mill Road in the state’s capital. Yet a whopping thirty billion naira was sunk into the project that has not taken “away from the suffering of Edo people.” Now let me give you some of Governor Obaseki’s fairly long direct words quoted by reporters Gabriel Enogholase and Ozioruwa Aliu:
“You can see for yourself that the so-called storm-water project was a fraud; it was a contract to defraud people. From what I can see now, the storm-water project in this catchment area was never designed to take water away from the area. The area was never drained. You can see the level of what we are doing now as compared to that of the previous administration.”
By gosh! Was Governor Obaseki not a key member of the previous administration? What is really going on? The past is the past and it belongs to the past. Everything, every bad thing, that happened in the previous administration belongs to the past now. Governor Obaseki should move on and carve out his own realistic and tangible identity in terms of laudable infrastructure we can cite as models of development in his post-governorship years as we did and still do for the late Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, a past two-time governor of the state (firstly as Mid-West and later on as Bendel State). Ghosts of Governor Obaseki’s immediate predecessor’s dear past are not and should not be recalled. We must not grope and keep on groping round them. By the way, what does he want to measure with his probe? What does he want to achieve? To jail his predecessor? That can’t and won’t happen. Governor Obaseki himself knows why it can’t and won’t happen. His intended probe would be another dead-on-arrival probe. (His eloquently loquacious and loquaciously eloquent immediate predecessor will sooner than later blow and shut his mouth with his bombastic defence!)
Let me try to awaken my fallen asleep memory. Former Lucky Igbinedion tried to dredge Ikpoba River from Ikpoba Slope in Benin, in the early period of his administration. All the money sunk into the dredging project came to nothing. Those who fleeced Edo State than in the name of the Ikpoba Dredging Project did so successfully and gleefully. Governor Igbinedion’s successor did not waste his pretty time examining what happened or what did not happen. I hesitate to say it, but I must allude to it. What happened to Lucky Igbinedion in court when he was judicially charged on account of his “atrocities,” as alleged, in his glorious years in democratic power and governance of Edo State? We all know the answer. Lucky Igbinedion’s un-sweet years remain un-sweet to this day. But nothing happened to prove anything to anybody. So I hereby charge Governor Obaseki to govern Edo State well by protecting his people security-wise and making it impossible anymore for Fulani Herdsmen to terror-rise Edo people and all those living in the state. He needs all members of the previous administration to drive criminally-minded herdsmen and actual criminals among the herdsmen from his state. Fulani herdsmen have waged war on his people. He cannot say he does not know this. How the criminal herdsmen are doing what they are doing is what he should probe urgently, and thereafter expel and excise them outright from Edo State without qualms. The criminal herdsmen must be stopped. He must be tough on them as a toughie like Governor Ortom of Benue State or like Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State.
As I am writing this, I can see that workers of the Ekiadolor College of Education have been owed salaries for a pretty long time. The money Governor Obaseki intends to commit to the probe of the storm-water project should go to parts of the salaries to be paid to the owed workers, academic and non-academic, who have been languishing and who Governor Obaseki should restore to life as he plans to restore to life those the aforesaid storm-water project was intended to restore to life.
Let me note finally: I don’t support thieves in government. What I am saying is that the government should wake up and know his true whereabouts in the current state of things. Have Fulani Miyetti Allah not stolen our monies in the South-South? The billions upon billions they have stolen from us, don’t they outnumber the storm-water thirty billion naira project that “drains… water to nowhere”? I don’t endorse kleptomania in government house. What I am saying is that the governor should question, probe himself and halt his intended probe. It will fetch nothing whether or not he “clearly” takes “the necessary precaution to recover all the money due to Edo people that was stolen through this project.” A prophecy this is.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
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