By Michael Ovienmhada
We have seven days to go until elections are held in my beloved Edo State, home to a long history of a great people and great Kings who by sheer brute strength and wisdom grew a small city into a large empire, stretching through the entire present-day Yorubaland, except for Ijebu Kingdom through Dahomey and Togo to present-day Southern Ghana.
Think about this for a moment: where did the name Osagyefoh Nkrumah come from? Osagie. Where did Dahomey come from? Isidahomen. Our peoples have never bowed down to any Empire. At least, they never did, until the British Empire appeared in the horizon with gunpowder, bayonets and huge canons with the capacity to inflict many casualties.
A people are a microcosm of their past and present and future. The core of the character of a people never really changes. It is inscribed in the DNA of its people.
It is in this light we must see the recent award given to Captain Hosa by Forbes Africa. It is instructive to note that there are over 1.3 billion people on the African continent stretching from Cape Coast to Algiers. To be singled out as worthy of honour is a great feat worthy of celebration by one’s own people. Instead, what do we have?
How true resonates the timeless words of the all time Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of glory, when He said — a prophet is never without honour except in his own country and among his own people.
As Captain Hosa Okunbo is being honoured by foreigners who have seen and have evaluated him to be the kind of man who needed to be allowed to shine that he may shine the light on the coming generations —that they too can do it — we have his home state government actually maligning him and pulling down industrial structures he has built over thirty years in business on the altar of political expediency.
This brings my mind to a larger Nigerian problem where individuals who are not schooled in the intricacies and complexities of power over a state or country are handed the task of governing a people.
In Edo State, according to the last population census, there are 4.2 million inhabitants. What this means is that a man charged with the responsibility over such a great number of people must first of all recognise that there are 4.2 million individual opinions that will be expressed everyday and all of these 4.2 million opinions are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic.
These opinions are expressed not because any of these individuals hate the governor, but because they are breathing and moving entities each of who is a stakeholder in the overall well-being of the state. Only a man who is not prepared for power would say over and over — as the Executive Governor of Edo State and as the Chief Security officer of the State— as the number one citizen of the state (who dey follow you struggle)?
Let the imposition of Obaseki as governor in 2016 be a lesson to all of us in how not to choose a successor. We must have a process that allows people come forward to speak freely to a man’s character before we give such a man responsibility over millions of lives.
It beats my mind why anyone who is already governor would still feel so small-minded enough to want to remind us that he is governor. As the governor makes one unforced error after another every single day, I just wonder. The other day at the Palace, as the world watched in real time, Obaseki had a chance to seize the moment but clearly, as the saying goes, if you don’t ‘garrit,’ you don’t ‘garrit’.
Governor Godwin Obaseki simply does not ‘garrit.’ As he took that microphone, he could have spoken differently. Like ‘Your Royal Majesty, May the God of heaven establish you on the throne of your fathers and establish your generations forever. You have spoken well. I have heard your admonition very clearly. This matter ends today. Oshiomhole is my political father. Osagie Ize-Iyamu is my younger brother’.
And there would have been no further contestation for Osadebey House. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki does not ‘garrit’.
There is a stuff, a cloth from which great men are cut. When you look at the list of things Captain Hosa has been involved in and the number of successes he has recorded, you must doff your hat for this ‘Okunrin meta’. I should know. I started business in 1978 long before he made his first investment in anything. He is older by one year and three days. We share a common history of evolution. Most of all, we share a certain level of courage that you only find in men who have walked where Lions fear to tread.
I am talking about real ‘Elephant’ men. Hosa is an Elephant man. He creates a road in the forest. We have a saying in Esan— Egie Eni mu uhomo ee olè odé (anywhere an elephant enters is a road). I have great admiration for men of courage. This is why it would be an honour for me to meet him. I congratulate you, Captain Hosa on the occasion of this award from Forbes.
As governor, a man like that should be your friend. You need him. He does not need you. As governor, Hosa should be at your Sunday lunch at Osadebey House every Sunday. Imagine if Hosa brings 10 billionaires to Edo State in the course of your four-year administration? You would have started an industrial revolution in Edo State.
It is sad that as the world honours Captain Hosa, the governor of his state works up a frenzy to sponsor a new article to demand that Okunbo should disclose identities of 3,000 Niger Delta militants, who work for him as security personnel for pipeline protection in the creeks of the Niger Delta. Captain Hosa is not a candidate for election in Edo State. Oshiomhole is not a candidate for election in Edo State.
The Obaseki propaganda machine has run its course. The day of reckoning is a mere eight days away. One thing is clear. When the smoke clears and the thunder abates, only one man will be standing next week Saturday.
Only the man who ‘garrit’ will be standing for only one big reason. The man who ‘garrit’ knows one thing. You don’t fight City Hall. I write because I am involved.
Ovienmhada, is a farmer, author, playwright, poet and public affairs commentator.