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It is bad enough to be plagued by a federal government that has left no one in doubt about its mission as a regime that is excitedly committed to ensuring that the once truncated dream of Shiekh Uthman Dan Fodio (conquering and Fulanizing the territories which is collectively known today as Nigeria for the Fulani nation) is brought to fruition within the relatively short lifespan of its constitutionally allowed tenure in office.
It is however double jeopardy for any people under such a terrible situation in Nigeria to also be bedevilled with the misfortune of a State governor like Godwin Obaseki at such a time as this. Since 2016 when the immediate past Governor Adams Aliu Oshiomhole unilaterally rammed his personal choice of an obscure mediocre element down the throats of the people in the most despicable electoral process in the history of Edo democracy as his preferred successor, Edo land has continued on a steady slide from one degree of ignominy to another in every facet of governance one can think of.
Though one could easily cut him some slack in his first outing which terminated on 12 November, 2020, considering that he might have only been trying to learn the ropes of managing a socio-politically complex State like Edo, his second coming has been nothing short of a disaster of epic proportions. The last nearly one year in office has seen him carry on like Edo State government is his private enterprise which he could run as he deemed fit!
Edo presently has no Legislature! According to the 1999 Constitution from which the present Edo State Government derives its very life and right of existence, there cannot be deemed to be a government in place where there is no complete tripod of the Executive, Judiciary, and Legislative arms of Government. But somehow, the Edo State government has managed to carry on since June 2019 without a functional Legislature.
The crisis that saw the State House of Assembly comatose was born out of the move by the State governor to subjugate the Legislative arm of government; a move that was vehemently resisted by some of the newly elected honourable members. That very resistance has since seen the entire State Legislature eviscerated and the Anthony Enahoro Complex their designated place of duty perpetually locked up, with its keys tucked inside Obaseki’s back pocket ever since!
Though reports have it that he has had a handful of the “honourable” members loyal to him operating from one of the guest rooms within the State Government House, that is definitely null and void both in the eyes of the law and those of right thinking members of society. Whatever shenanigans they have going on there could at best be referred to as tomfoolery, pending when we are formally told that what we have in Edo State is any other system of governance but Democracy.
Another reprehensible fact is that Edo presently has no local government in place! Right from the moment the tenure of the immediate past local government administration in Edo State wound to an end on 5th March, 2021, the State governor has failed to take any visible step that shows he has any intention to give the people access to their constitutionally guaranteed third-tier of governance in the State. This is in an obvious violation of a recent supreme Court ruling where State Governors were forbidden from circumventing the constitutionally created local government systems in the country. Somehow, the Edo governor has managed to observe that ruling in breach, with brazen impunity.
Yet another disturbing fact is that Edo government is presently run without a cabinet! The Edo State government under the hands of Godwin Obaseki has since broken all known records in the history of the country as the only democratically elected government that has stayed the longest without appointing commissioners or constituting boards to oversee the running of MDAs in the State. Even military Administrators in the past, upon assuming duty, wasted no time in appointing civilian commissioners and military task forces to help drive home their policies. But Governor Obaseki has since his return to Dennis Osadebe Avenue on 12 November 2020, been running Edo State by his personal whims! Little wonder he has been seen coming out with obnoxious and completely irrational policies like the plan to forcefully enforce Covid-19 vaccines on the people from the middle of September, 2021.
By these acts of Obaseki’s, the 18 local governments of the state are presently alienated from the Edo State government sitting in Benin City because there is no nexus whatsoever between them and the governor they so wholeheartedly ensured his return, even when he was faced with his most challenging political adversity in his efforts to return for a second term in office as Governor.
The education sector in Edo has not been left out amongst the segments gasping for air since the governor decided to introduce chaos into the administration of some of the State owned institutions like the College of Education, Ekiadolor and the State School of Nursing in Benin City. These once thriving institutions have remained locked up over some bogus rehabilitation plans with no hope in sight as to when they will be reopened.
Besides the fact that there is hardly any significant physical construction project going on in the State presently, Edo has become a very safe haven for Federal government-empowered Fulani herdsmen under the Governor’s watch. The forests between Benin City and Ekpoma have become a theatre of kidnapping in the last few years of Obaseki’s administration. Just yesterday morning, Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters fame, reported a heart-wrenching account of how Fulani marauders snuffed out the life from his immediate younger brother who was returning to school at Igbinedion University, Okada where he was studying Pharmacy. This dastardly act was carried out unchallenged within the precincts of Edo State. The governor as usual could only muster some empty statement about how he would mobilise the Abuja-controlled secutity agencies to go after the culprits. Of course he has nothing else to offer besides empty rhetorics. But for the modest efforts of the vigilante groups across various communities of the State, movement from one end of the State to another would have become completely grounded already.
While other State governors within Southern Nigeria are working round the clock to set up security outfits that are independent of the ostensiisibly compromised federally controlled security agencies, Obaseki is completely unperturbed about the situation in the State he claims to be Governor over.
This horrendous security situation which began as soon as the Buhari junta took over power in 2015 and has seen many southerners and middle-beltans go into panic mode was what necessitated a relatively recent Southern Governors Forum (SGF) meeting where the entire 17 member state governors resolved on behalf of their governments that affirmative action to protect the lives and property of their people should be implemented by promulgation anti-open grazing law on or before Wednesday 1st September, 2021.
Today is 5th September, 2021 and there is no evidence that Governor Obaseki has even spared a thought, let alone doing anything to implement any item on the communique of the SGF to which he is a signatory. Even if by any chance, he desires to implement it, he has no proper institutional framework in place to drive home the plan.
Going by these tragic developments in a State that had suffered so much neglect under Lucky Igbinedion and his band of looters, which was beginning to enjoy some sense of rehabilitation under the eight years term of Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki seems to not only have set the State on a deadly motion of retardation, but also exposing the people to an unhinged invasion of the marauding Fulani expansionists, who are now leaving the forests of those neighbouring States like Ondo and Delta where the anti-open grazing laws are being drafted and signed into law, and are now looking for conducive operational atmosphere like Edo where there is scant governance in place.
It is however not too late for Edo people to rise to the occasion to demand from Obaseki, the quality of leadership they shed their sweat and blood to vote for in the lastat gubernatorial elections. Let the Civil Society and pressure groups wake up to their responsibility. Let the media snap out of its current hybernation mode. Let the youths and other stakeholders in the Edo nation arise to legitimately demand responsibility from a governor who has twice taken the oat of office with a solemn pledge to uphold the interests of all Edo People above his personal idiosyncrasies. Governor Godwin Obaseki is our servant and not the other way round!
By Duke Imevbore Aigboje
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK