Edo :Governance by Intimidation By Michael Ovienmhada

Edo :Governance by Intimidation By Michael Ovienmhada

When I first met Osagie Ize-Iyamu in 2016, he said to me, “I have read several of your articles. I need you to come and get involved in the politics of the development of Edo State.” He did not offer me money. I did not ask. We began the work as I dug in trying to write his Biography. On the day of the launch of his campaign, people thronged his house. As buses and cars filled up, I watched him as he made the rounds making sure everyone, young and old had a sit on the buses allocated. He did not enter his car until everyone was situated. As we drove in a convoy through GRA to Ring Road and Akpakpava to First Circular, where we had the PDP Secretariat, people lined the streets, waving, running aside our convoy all the way to the Secretariat.

I was blown away by the depth of love displayed by the crowd.

The crowd was a willing one, not rented. On the stomp on that day, he said—- “I was born in this town, just down the road, in a house that became a tourist attraction, because it was the first Storey building in Benin City. I went to school around the corner at St Joseph’s. Further down the road on Third Circular, I went to Edo College and then the University of Benin. I got my first job in this town. I married in this town. I cut my political teeth in this town. This town knows me and I know this town. There is hardly any house in this town where I cannot stop to eat and drink.”

Now, let us look at Obaseki. He too comes from a family with a long history in Benin City. He has no friends in the town. He acquires friends by paying for their friendship. To him, everyone is a commodity that can be bought, used and dumped. What further evidence do we need than the recent defection of over 47 government appointees?

In a country where everyone is hungry, by now, we should have seen thousands of defections from APC to PDP where he has now gone to pitch his tent after famously dribbling the ball into his own goal post in the APC whic was his to lose if he knew how to manage relationships. Part of the art of governance in Nigeria today is the ability to manage a godfather and govern at the same time. He had to issue an ultimatum to all his appointees to defect and follow him or lose their appointments. Many chose to lose their appointments and bade him Godspeed.

Last Sunday, a big fish from Esan land, a leader and a man being groomed to be a future governor, the likable Peter Esele wrote the governor a very polite letter. “Bye bye sir,” he said. “As for me and my political family, we shall remain in APC.”

In 2018, the entire city of Benin was thrown into darkness. Obaseki summoned the Chief Executive of BEDC. He tongue-lashed her thoroughly for her inefficiency. When the woman got up to speak to explain what had happened and her plans to remedy it, he screamed as the cameras recorded the encounter—-“Get out of my office,!!!” he roared. Please be reminded sir that the office belongs to the people. Governors come. Governors go. They were colleagues in the financial sector in Lagos. Shortly after this outburst by the governor I was appointed as Chairman of a Committee set up by the Edo body of Parliamentarians to study the issue of electricity and propose solutions. In the process, I interviewed major players in the industry. I sat with the same woman, Mrs Osibodu whom the governor had publicly humiliated at the Wheatbaker hotel in Ikoyi as she explained what troubles they were having as an Electricity Distribution company for 6 hours. We came up with short term and long term resolutions for implementation by the State government.

One of such short term solutions was the immediate availability of a Transformer in Irrua which could be used in the interim as it had not been activated to work in Esanland.

As Chief Executive, one would have expected the governor to drive to Esanland and engage the Okaijiesan, the pre-eminent Onogie in Esan Kingdom to explain the immediate need and do a trade-off for the people. With Obaseki, there are no people, just his way. He does not negotiate. He does what he wants to do. Needless to say that he refused to grant audience to the pre-eminent King in Esanland. He refused to see the King when he paid a visit to explain why his people were resisting the forced transfer of the Transformer. All other Enogies and Enigies watched in silence. Who will his next target be if he gets a second term? Your guess is as good as mine.

On the day Obaseki concluded the transaction to join the PDP, we were all witnesses to the first speech he made. Inter alia, he said—— “I have read the Constitution of the PDP very well. As governor, I am now the leader of the Party.” I shook my head. What planet does this man come from? This guy has a lot to learn about human relationships. If I were to write that speech for him, it would go —- something like this. “Ladies and gentlemen of the PDP, it has been a few long nights. The journey has been arduous. In the past few weeks, as the APC sought to humiliate me by denying me a second term ticket, many times, as I wandered at Sea like the old Ancient Mariner, I wondered if I would ever find dry land. I thought of throwing in the towel but my wife urged me on. She made me Eba and Banga soup one fine afternoon and whispered sweet nothings in my ears. “Eat my darling,” she said, remember the great Yogi Bera, a yankee Baseball pitcher. Remember what he always said——It’s not over till it’s over. I was encouraged and fired up by her kind words. There and then, I decided that I must soldier on. My people, I have come here as your student. Show me the way.” He would have received a standing ovation. Sir, governor sir, that is how you make a speech that will be remembered in the annals of time. You did not have to rub it in the faces of the people that the ticket was handsomely paid for. Or was it?

Michael Ovienmhada. I write because I am involved.



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Edo :Governance by Intimidation By Michael Ovienmhada Edo :Governance by Intimidation By Michael Ovienmhada Reviewed by Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah on July 29, 2020 Rating: 5

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