Godwin Obaseki, Father Christmas and Edo’s bellicose Critics
By Cephas Onaivi Cephas
As recent as last week, the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in the company his Deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu, and other government officials of the state, paid a visit to the state’s Internally Displaced Persons camp where he dressed like and acted father Christmas by giving gifts to the children and wearing smiles on their faces.
This gesture, championed by the Wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki and supported by the Wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Maryann Shaibu demonstrated the fundamental essence of governance which is to protect and defend the welfare of the most vulnerable in the society.
Besides, it was a demonstration that governance is not and should not only be formal all the time but could indeed have a human face to the extent of the first citizen of a state connecting directly and physically on ground with the most downtrodden and deprived in the society, and giving individualized attention to each and every one of them.
It would be recalled that at the advent of the Yuletide season the governor himself sent the public a Christmas message in which he admonished people to use the festive period opportunity to reflect deeply on the sacrificial life of Christ and try to live same by not forgetting to reach out to the less privileged like widows, the physically challenged, the hungry, the economically disadvantaged and the internally displaced.
That the governor, just few days afterwards, undertook to visit the IDPs in his own constituency is a testimonial to leadership by example which is the most central feature of good governance but unfortunately very lacking in this part of the world.
Having set the example, he call on both individuals and corporate bodies to contribute their quotas to the IDPs’ welfare and this has been commended both home and abroad.
But to my chagrin and bewilderment, there was a diatribe against Mr. Governor – and guess who and what – one Nosa Omorodion questioning the moral propriety of the governor’s visit and for showing Christ-like love to neighbors among other issues.
The said critique is purportedly driven by a concern for Edo Children and people generally – but a deeper reflection on it does not only reveal that it is a publication which reeks of the PDP’s unending agony of defeat in the last gubernatorial election in Edo State, but also represents a futile attempt by Nosa Omorodion to help his party vent the agony through relatively quiescent channels as the insinuations therein could not have been conceived by an emotionally balanced state of mind.
In pursuit of his dubious agenda, this PDP agent reduced the Christmas narrative from one of a sober reflection on the birth of “Our Saviour” from sin and his sacrificial life for mankind to one of mere sharing of gifts in preferential order of our people first before others who are supposedly strangers – a mentality by which PDP as a party promoted nepotism in government circles to the detriment of merit and other ideal parameters in the affairs of the people while they ruled and misruled the state for an uneventful ten year period.
His suggestion that the IDPs are not deserving of what the state can sacrifice hence should have been ignored or offered what could only be spared by Obaseki is not only out of tune with the Christian precept of giving priority to the needy and destitute who are not likely to ever be able to pay back, but also smacks of amnesia to the fact that the current national challenge of the existence of IDPs is a direct consequence of his party’s cumulative misrule for 16 years, diversion of security allocation funds for materialistic pursuits by his party members at the federal level.
In addition, it was that period of progressive destruction of our value system through the subtle institutionalization of corruption by the PDP elite resulting in a sense of loss of belonging among a section of the populace which found expression through terrorism. We are glad the APC led Federal Government is crushing together with its attendant IDP phenomenon which the Obaseki-led APC government in Edo state has to care for till the circumstances are set for them to be taken back to their home states and reintegrated.
Given the joint scenario that any average Edo child is more fortunate than a Boko Haram IDP, and that these IDPs’ stay in Edo is very temporary, it becomes obvious that only in PDP’s warped value system can it be morally wrong for a state governor to, in just one Yuletide period, temporarily deny the more fortunate Edo children just a negligible part of their resources to take care of a set of fellow humans living with them in a condition of acute deprivation which was not a fault of theirs.
This is a striking testimonial to the PDP’s philosophy and ideology to always strive to sustain the economic disparity between the privileged and non-privileged in the society. No wonder the gap between the rich and the poor could only widen in PDP’s sixteen year misrule, while at the same time the middle class became progressively endangered.
It is appalling and highly disturbing that a party professing Christian values could even conceive of such a self-centered approach to addressing a social problem.
In another unchristian utterance Nosa opines that the IDPs in Edo don’t deserve any sympathy from us on the premise that they have been indoctrinated to hate Christians. Then what does the Christianity-professing Nosa makes of Christ’s commandment to overcome hate with love?
Has Nosa heard or read of Mahatma Ghandi’s admonition that an eye for an eye will make the whole world go blind? What about Richard Nixon who said that people begin to make mistakes when they begin to return hate for hate?
If we must give to our fellow Christians alone, then in Christ’s words we are not better than the ‘Pharisees who also love those that love them only’.
Nosa is obviously preaching ‘Phariseeism’ and not Christianity.
To all these unchristian outbursts emanating from an agent of Edo PDP, one finds solace in recalling that PDP has always been a party of crass hypocrisy in Edo State and indeed nationwide. Out of the nine Yuletide seasons in PDP’s reign in Edo State, how many were dedicated by Lucky and his rapacious gang of fellow party members to visiting orphanages in Benin City or giving of gifts to Edo children let alone outsiders?
That Nosa and his party, PDP, still harbour the perception that only in Christmas period does the government have to visit orphanages, take decisions and make pronouncements, subsidize health, transportation and educational services, embark on some other peogrammes that bring economic succor to the people, etc, is a huge indictment on PDP’s idea of governance, otherwise these are all normal daily duties of any serious government.
That this is coming from PDP itself is a vindication for those of us who have come to believe that PDP’s idea of governance is not about a sustained daily attempt to solve the people’s fundamental problems by way of providing infrastructure and developing human capital, but by giving some measures of commodities like rice, sugar and kerosene, and then telling them, ‘see you again this time next year’.
Governor Obaseki’s provision for social welfare in the 2017 budget captures all Edo children both during and outside Christmas season, so why should he play to the gallery by organising separate parties for Edo children all over the state when a lot of media houses and other organizations have already done same? A serious opposition party should have rather been looking forward to the impact and performance of that budgetary allocation to the vulnerable rather than chasing shadows of Christmas gifts and visits in duplication of commitments.
The list of accusations made by Nosa against both the federal and Edo State governments underscores his ignorance of the fact that the current economic challenge was inherited from Jonathan’s liberalized corruption which saw government functionaries milking their parastatals dry on a daily basis and that only a strict and privatized oversight function can rescue the situation.
Also, his expectation to, within two years, see solution to a cumulative sixteen year national damage by his party leaves one wondering his level of grasp of economic restoration process. It is the height of confusion for Nosa to accuse the APC-led FG at a time more and more Nigerians are beginning to see genuine results already trickling in from the APC led FG’s genuine economic diversification programmes is a bizarre kind of self-delusion and nightmare which he needs to wake up from.
Nosa Omorodion’s claim that Governor Obaseki has no clear cut direction in fulfilling the yearnings of Edo People despite the accolades that have trailed his presentation of the 2017 is not only an insult on the sensibilities of Edo People but stands as a bold attestation to his alienation from reality and events in the state whose interest he claims to pursue – so much for a critic.
His preoccupation with Oshiomhole style of governance only suggests continued mourning over the latter’s success in demystifying the godfathers of his party who regarded the state as an estate of their fore fathers.
Nosa seems to have lost all sense of logicality by claiming Oshiomhole built cathedrals where mere chapels would do. One would love to know how many chapels or even mere altars his party’s godfathers could build despite having been in power directly and indirectly before Oshiomhole came on board.
Juxtaposing the claim that Oshiomhole danced more for the applause of simpletons, self-aggrandizing elite and wayfarers with the fact that he got not less than 75% of total votes in the two elections he contested in Edo State, it could therefore be inferred through syllogism that Nosa and Edo PDP seem to have condemned at least 75% of Edo State population as simpletons and wayfarers.
Sadly enough, that party is still hoping to be given a second chance to govern the state by the same people after throwing that expensive insult at them despite knowing fully well that most other Nigerians adjudge Edolites as the most difficult set of Nigerians to fool in any way and by any means.
Extremely laughable is the accusation that Obaseki increased transport fares for this yuletide period. One wonders when the governor not only became a transporter but also rose to the rank of overall head of transporters union thus empowering him to order a hike in fares. How come the masses have not staged a demonstration? This is a comic relief punctuating the dull moments of contradictions running through the article.
It is also a wondrous development that Nosa condemns the APC government as having no solution to the present challenges yet in another line he commends Lagos Governor Ambode in conjunction with Kebbi governor for having the vision to have cultivated rice which now sells for N12,000 per bag. How come the PDP has all the solution to the challenge yet no single PDP governor had a similar vision?
How come Oshiomhole and Obaseki told PDP that they planted rice in Edo North in 2010 yet Nosa waited till nearly 2017 to ask for the harvest? In which school was Nosa taught that rice is a perennial crop with 7 years gestation period?
Also, it is hypocritical for PDP pall-bearers to be expecting Dangote to flood Edo State with cheap rice at a time the same set of persons have mounted a huge propaganda war against Dangote’s acquisition of the lands for the cultivation.
For me therefore, there is almost no end to the incoherence and self-contradictions in Nosa’s article driven by a severely battered ego resulting from electoral loss and his party’s obviously blighted chances at the tribunal.
Cephas Onaivi Cephas, a public affairs commentator, writes from Benin City