A rejoinder with the above title, published in the December 22, 2018 edition of the New Telegraph, fell short in addressing the weighty evidences cited in a previous article, titled “Alaghodaro as a metaphor for Edo’s poor governance” written by me. In that piece, I had posited that the Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has performed dismally in his about two years stay in office, hence I admonished him to turn a new leaf, so as to worm his way into the hearts of Edo people.
Instead of taking a genuine advice for a change of attitude, Governor Obaseki ostensibly detailed one Isaac Aimurie, an aide of his, who claimed to be a journalist, to deploy their usual deficiency and tactlessness that most of his media handlers and hangers-on are known for, in handling issues.
Regrettably, by the ungainly conducts of the likes of Aimurie, the governor has again openly justified that as crucial as the business of information management of the state is, he could freely leave it with upstarts and incapable hands, without qualms. This translates to executive carelessness where neophytes and roamers are placed in public offices and let loose on responsible citizenry, as done in most other areas of Obaseki’s wobbly government.
Edo deserves the best for her vibrant populace. When charlatans and misfits are freely left with statecraft and information management, which are ordinarily reserved for thorough-bred professionals, it is unsafe and counter-productive, at the backdrop that the people are portrayed so negatively.
Obaseki really needs to carefully rework his media ensemble, just as he has a lot to learn from the example of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, his immediate predecessor in office, who hired some of the best media hands, in his eight years in the saddle. In the true fashion of media propagations, no one could easily fault Oshiomhole’s Louis Odion, Eric Osagie, Tony Iyare, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Peter Okhiria, Jacobson Nasamu, Erasmus Ikhide, Musa Ebomhiana et al.
In elementary journalism, descriptive allusions often demonstrate a claim to actuality or objectivity of a report or article. This, Aimurie, who called himself a “journalist” failed to do. So, if in his article, he could doubt the existence of Tony Erha, who is a reputable member of the journalism profession he claimed to belong, it therefore means that he should not be taken seriously in the undue defence of his boss.
When he cannot get his primary information right, what is the assurance that all the other claims of his rejoinder are authentic? Alas, the skelectal information about Aimurie paints a drab picture like that of the bat who calls itself a bird. The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the referee of the profession, will insist that the fact that one once worked in the public relations unit of a company or crashed in and out of a media house, is not all it takes to be a journalist. This is one of the reasons impostors and quacks have taken over the noble profession..
I am not in any identity contest with Aimurie, in a profession that I have traversed for about 40 years. Without sounding immodest, I also have had a 38-year similar devotion to humanitarian activities pertaining to the environment, socialization, democracy and good governance; freedom of information/media and some other aspects of human rights.
For the record, I humbly assert to having been a valuable benefactor of Aimurie and his principal, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. As the arrowhead of the Edo State chapter of Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), an engine room that greatly assisted Comrade Oshiomhole’s election and the stabilization of his government, Obaseki would not have been made Economic Adviser in that government, let alone becoming a governor.
Faced with a difficult electioneering, with the popular notion gaining acceptance that he was actually an ‘unripe mango’, a euphemism for his incompetence for the governorship position (apology to Chief Evylin Igbafe) my intervention, not long ago, was by assembling the entire civil society practitioners for candidate Obaseki, at Bibi Hotel, Benin City, a big plus to his subsequent election. Before the election in 2016, I was moved by the perception that of all the vague candidates paraded in that election, Obaseki was seemingly the best.
Once I worked alongside Obaseki in the Agric-Business Committee, established by the ex-Governor Oshiomhole, I came to realize that the touted notion of the governor being urbane in business intelligence was after all a decoy to railroad incompetent hand into power. But, for the great contributions of a much competent Abdul Oroh, as Commissioner of Agriculture, the programme under the present governor, then Economic Adviser, would have collapsed, because of his sheer ineffectiveness. Then the solace (but now frustration) of all discerning Edolites was that the governor, though average in ability, could do better if only he listens to quality advice and appoints capable aides, who would make up for his limitations.
Aimurie, Obaseki’s spokesperson, has no sufficient grounds to defend his boss, as having delivered the gains of good governance to Edo people. Indeed, he had no tangible projects that are acceptable to the people, done since his over two years stay in office. Is it not surprising that all the projects Aimurie could name were most of those just approved, with mobilization yet to be given to contractors, an indication that the projects may soon to be abandoned like before? Twice before now, Obaseki had advertised for the various construction works only to stop them all.
On my account of the failure of Obaseki at meeting his bogus electioneering promise of creating 200,000 jobs, Aimurie sheepishly came to his master’s defence that he has created non-existent 77,200 jobs. For a governor who had laid off medium level jobs for stranded graduates of higher institutions and had not raised the employment embargo placed by his government, it is doubtful which jobs he has created overnight, although Obaski’s government has failed to explain with statistical and documentary proofs.
Still, Obaseki’s government, with its notorious disposition to acting first before thinking, is sold on providing the personnel, procurement of exhorbitant movable vehicles and security equipment to fight crime in the state, with billions of Naira, which should have been invested in farming and other ventures to reduce crime, poverty and unemployment. Obviously, like the few white elephant projects he established in the Benin City capital, the latest security scheme is a gambit that would not be far from the usual slant to pecuniar enrichment.
Aimurie cleverly dodged my accusation of his principal being overbearing and not giving due attention to his aides and party men and women, who had labored to bring him to power. He also avoided the lack of patronage to businesses and business men from the state, in preference for others whom he the governor brings from outside to wrest government contract jobs. He did not also dwell on the deep-seated resentment by his Edo South Senatorial District, that their marginalization is a retaliatory punishment for their stiff objection to Obaseki’s governorship bid.
Instead of thanking me for a very useful advice, Obaseki artfully ate the humble pie by travelling all the way to his acclaimed origin and constituents of Uhunmwode Local Government Area (LGA), to beg them to pass a vote of confidence in him. If Obaseki had actually done well and is respected among his people, one would have expected his good work for his people to give him the needed vote of confidence, and not the one he has forcefully extracted.
The poor showing of the governor in his hometown and LGA is a sour taste in the mouth of the locals. A prominent indigene of the governor’s community of Isi, who had all along called off Obaseki’s bluff, had bitterly remarked: “What confidence did Governor Obaseki give to his Isi people and Uhunmwode that he wanted them to give back to him? They should not have given him the confidence he did not give them, because a people do not give what they do not have. If a dancer could make mockery of his dance steps those drumming for him could as well sleep off on the instruments.”
Tony Erha is a journalist and rights activist based in Benin