In life, there are times when one takes a bold stand against certain actions, behaviours or relationships. One reaches this decision after careful, soul-searching reflection. This state of mind – the breaking off from old ways – most often happens after one must have navigated a bend and encountered a better deal, a more promising future, one that ensures that evil is not just kept at bay, but that the change is assured, visible and convincing.
It was at this exact juncture that the people of Edo State found themselves when they parted ways with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and are now sailing into the promised land on the wings of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, formerly driven by the giant-killing Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and now by the indefatigable Godwin Obaseki. The sheer speed of turnaround anchored by the purpose-driven leadership of Governor Obaseki since he took on the saddle has left the PDP flatfooted.
The PDP’s uncoordinated and wobbly efforts to pose as a stumbling block in the march to development in Edo State since experiencing the purpose-driven governance style of Governor Obaseki has left much to be desired. They have not only shown a poor grasp of governance, but have also proven that if they were ever to be given another chance at the Dennis Osadebe Avenue, they would continue to foist their warped, inglorious and dim-witted governance model on the people, the hallmark of which was looting, deceit and blackmail.
This can be seen in the way they have tried to engaged or frame the development strides of Governor Obaseki during various public engagements. After the governor had deployed his network to satiate investors with the investment prospects in Edo state and indeed engaged some of these in developing monumental projects, all the PDP could put up as an opposition was weak, infantile attacks and diversionary rhetoric that obviated from the task of proffering solutions to the problems they inflicted on the people for many years.
For many, the years of PDP’s reign is likened to the years of the locust, where not only was there despondence and dejection as signpost in front-yards on the streets of Benin, anger, frustration and regret was vividly plastered on the battered faces of the people who had yearned for progress in the wake of the return to representative democracy in 1999.
But the PDP came in and frittered away state resources, stifled hope and sold despair as the dividend of democracy to the people, so much so that the people yearned for what many have described – quite shockingly – as the ‘glory days’ of military juntas.
During those days, there were several instances that proved characters in the PDP to be bare-faced liars, looters in government and deals-men who traded in the future of their brothers and sisters for morsels of instant gratification in form of tokenisms such as cars, hotels and moments in the warm embrace of escorts procured with state fund.
One of the hallmarks of those times was the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) scam. It was a grand, elaborate plan. Since the popular refrain at the time was for states to grow their IGR, the state was unsure of how to generate money since it had practically robbed the people of all revenue-generating ventures. So, it struck a deal with some bank managers. The plan: get loans at exorbitant interest rates, post it as the state IGR and make no clear-cut arrangement to pay off. A lot of those in government at the time deployed this trick to fool the people, celebrating what never was and plunging the people into bad debt.
Another dimension of deceit was the use of fronts to set up companies that were doomed never to produce items. This was the case of the Edo Fertilizer and Chemical Company in Auchi as well as the Ehor fruit juice factory. These factories should have been built to boost productivity and provide jobs to teeming youths in the state. But because the intention was never genuine, the companies never really kicked off, further worsening job crisis and leaving youths in worse despair. Today, these companies are ghost structures, except for the Edo Fertilizer and Chemical Company, which Governor Obaseki made a personal commitment to revamp and has now done so. It is today producing fertilizers because of the determined focus to ensure that it doesn’t remain as an object of regret for the people in that axis of the state.
At the coming of the PDP government in 1999, they had a well-oiled strategy to loot and it appeared that having a ‘big’ civil service at the time was going to serve as stumbling block to this plan. So, they thought of the best strategy to whittle down the civil service to make room for enough money to be shared among the boys and godfathers. The PDP administration proceeded to enforce mass retirement of civil servants in the state and thereafter refused to pay gratuity and pension arrears of those they retired and others. Instead, they used the funds to satisfy their pet peeves and outrageous lifestyles while the people wallowed in suffering, with bad roads, decrepit health system and bleak future for youths, who resorted to taking to Libya than continue in a debauched environment the PDP sustained.
With these atrocities, it is curious that the PDP is faulting the governance model of Governor Obaseki, who has practically changed the narrative of the Edo in a short while, building on the achievements of his predecessor. The PDP, in all fairness, has no moral justification to raise a voice to disparage the efforts of Governor Obaseki. So, when the party in the state comes out to disparage the governor, we know exactly what they are capable of, and would never pray for such a fate to befall innocent, hardworking and upright people of Edo State ever again.
Prince Abubakar Ilavbare