In my search for a fitting description of the way and manner the Edo Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ravaged Edo State while the party was in power in the state, the Biblical years of the Locust came to mind.
Wikipedia describes locusts as “certain species of short-horned grasshoppers in the family Acrididae that have a swarming phase. These insects are usually solitary, but under certain circumstances they become more abundant and change their behaviour and habits, becoming gregarious.”
The years of the locusts is however beyond the physical appearance of locusts. Biblestudy.com defines the Biblical plague of the locust as the eighth punishment that God sent upon the Egyptians, because they would not let the children of Israel go, as he commanded; and it was a very terrible one indeed.”
Explaining what the locusts did, biblestudy.com quoted the Bible as saying: “They covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field through all the land of Egypt.”
By the time the court declared former Governor Adams Oshiomhole as the duly elected winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election in Edo State, the PDP, like the locusts, had caused so much ruin across all sectors of the state, so much so, that hopelessness, bleakness was the order of the day. Edo youths, men, women and even the aged were emigrating in their millions to Italy via Morocco and Libya.
Basic infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals were in shambles, graduates roamed the streets without jobs and the lack of job was sufficient disincentive not to go to school. Key institutions of government collapsed and thugs reigned supreme. Motor park thugs served on the management boards of government parastatals and agencies and the destinies of over four million Edo people and residents were bastardised by a group of incompetent and visionless rulers.
The high profile of Edo State in sporting competitions, education, arts and crafts, healthcare services, nosedived. Edo was akin to the land the locust had ruined occasioned by the human locusts and vampires that ruled the land.
Roads in Edo State were rated as the worst across the country. Floods sacked millions of people from their homes. The billions budgeted for roads and the Ecological fund the state collected were looted by government officials.
Dumez Road junction by Upper Sokponba Road, Teachers’ House in Ogida area and Queen Eden and several other areas across the state were ravaged by floods.
Not even the interventions by the Niger Delta Development Commission in the form of tractors and other farm implements were spared by the rogues in the PDP as the tractors meant for poor Edo farmers were diverted and found in the farm of one of PDP chieftains, Pastor Osagie Iyamu.
Buses that were bought to boost the fleet of Edo City Transport Service were diverted to a private university owned by a PDP chieftain. While medical students of Ambrose Alli University were not allowed to use the Central Hospital Benin for their practical, students of Igbinedion University, a private university, owned by the father of the then governor, were allowed to use facilities at the central hospital free of charge.
Civil servants were owed several months of salary arrears and many of them laced their shoes and headed to Europe through the Sahara Desert where some died en-route Libya and Morocco.
While the PDP inflicted pain and hardship on Edo people, members of the political class became multi-millionaires and billionaires, depending on how much genuflection, personality worshipping, crooked loyalty the PDP members exhibited before their Lord of the Manor.
Hope dimmed for young ones with ambitions to work hard to live a good life as the only way to live such a good life was not through hard work or industry, but through ‘loyalty’ to looters of our common patrimony.
But things changed with the restoration of the mandate given to former governor Adams Oshiomhole. Edo witnessed eight good years of massive infrastructural development with well paved roads and red roof schools springing up in all the local government areas of the state. Salaries of civil servants were increased and promptly paid amongst other achievements.
After Oshiomhole came the technocrat who headed one of Nigeria’s investment banks for years. Governor Godwin Obaseki has translated his knowledge and board room experience into investment deals for Edo State, ranging from a N200 billion Benin Industrial Park project, a 5,500 modular refinery, a fertiliser plant, and the development of the Gelegele Seaport in Edo State. The educational sector is undergoing reforms, roads are springing up daily in Edo State and Obaseki has demonstrated that what Edo lacked in the eight years the PDP plagued the state was capacity and a high sense of responsibility in public office.
Yet, as if the eight years of resource plundering by the PDP were not enough, we hear that the party of rogues is on the streets of Edo State trying to deceive Edo people into investing faith in them so that they will take us to our dark ages of the locust plague. They do not deserve our reception.