As soon as he was declared successor to Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion as governor of Edo state, Professor Osarhiemen Osunbor was in Lagos for a meeting with a cream of the country’s media. He seemed sure he could use their wide reach to win the people’s confidence by assuring them that his administration would distance itself from the acclaimed profligacy of its predecessor. His speech was eloquent winner and the atmosphere was heavy with expectations.
At the end however , there was a snag. Virtually everyone present wanted to know how quickly he would go after those who almost ran the state aground with a view to retrieving monies stolen from the people. His assurances in this direction were vague. “I will not chase black goats in the dark”, he said.
Like a lot of other newsmen around, I was not persuaded by the law teacher’s answer. I decided to prod him further. “If you won’t chase black goats in the dark, what will you do when it is day time?” The over-crowded venue erupted into a loud guffaw that drowned his response, conveniently.
Today, the governorship election in the state is here again and politicians are already up in arms trying to outdo themselves in wooing the electorates into supporting their bids to succeed incumbent governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has set an unprecedented development standard.
But the biggest challenge is that while those who mean well are doing so with direct fact-based contacts, the black goats, agents of the state’s dark past, are at it again, creating false tales and twisting facts in a bid to undermine, particularly the incumbent administration.
Bent on hitting the bull’s eye in their nefarious desire, they are finding some unwary allies in a section of the country media. This is evident in the publications written by one Solomon Ibharuneafe, in one the national dailies on Monday, December 14, 2015 and Monday, February 8, 2016, titled respectively, Ugly Denouement for the Comrade Governor and How Oshiomhole Mortgaged Edo’s Future.
While the first piece is a brazen and reckless misrepresentation of the true state of affairs under the Oshiomhole administration, the second is a travesty and an abuse on the people’s intelligence. Against available evidences, the writer concocted an imaginary scenario, similar to that operated by his sponsors when they held sway in the forlorn hope that they could walk the streets without people sneering at them. He had to create such scenarios particularly now that the mood of the people towards the governor is upbeat which is very evident in the manner they relate with him whenever he goes out on inspection of on-going projects which he vowed to complete before his exit in November despite dwindling resources.
Indeed, no lie can be greater than the claim by Ibharuneafe that the governor achieved nothing after his first tenure. In both the state capital and everywhere else across the state, evidences abound of people-oriented projects currently being undertaken by the administration.
In Benin City alone, projects currently being undertaken by the Oshiomhole administration are in legion. Though it will not be possible to name all of them for obvious reasons, it is imperative to mention a few. Notably, there is the2nd East Circular road, which tees off from Akpakpava and ends in Sapele road. It is not only being reconstructed, it is also being dualized to ease the perennial traffic bedlam on Akpakpava road, There is also the Siluko road and the reclaimed Queen Ede gully erosion site which, before its reclamation, had swallowed everything on its path, including buildings. Not least is the new Central Hospital, an eye catching edifice that leaves heads turning for its sheer beauty and grandeur?
All of them are high profile projects for which the governor is receiving plaudits from everyone except of course, the writer and others like him who are angry that completing them successfully exposed the ugly sides of the Igbinedion-led PDP administration. So, if the writer cannot see any of these on-going projects, his state of mind is better imagined than being put under the radar here.
Ibharuneafe gave the impression that the people of the state are suffering untold hardship. His assumption, deliberately reached, is that the alleged hardship is as a result of the administration indebtedness, which he puts at over N200b. It would have been easier to dismiss the claim as false given where he is coming from.
However, the writer must be reminded that though he represents a group that lacks credibility, there is always the need to tell the truth because even robbers still crave honour. At least, he should be kind enough to himself by restating the fact that if anyone is going through hard times in Edo state, it cannot be unconnected to the national economic malaise arising from the fall in international crude oil price. It certainly cannot be as a result of his ill-conceived allegation of financial recklessness.
The truth about the loan obtained by the Oshiomhole administration is that alongside other states, including those governed by the PDP, it applied for a $21m World Bank loan, divided into three tranches of $75m.
The request received the bank’s approval on account of the transparent manner it handled all its transactions while no PDP state was deemed worthy even when the party held sway at the national level.
Remarkably, its interest is one per cent compared to the double digit interest others are paying for same. At the moment, the state has received only the first $75m due to the politics of the then PDP federal government to approve the release of the second tranche.
For obvious reasons, Ibharuneafe also failed to indicate that the global bank does not grant frivolous loans, a reason for which it grants only a few requests based on known records of transparent transactions.
For the record, the state is sixth in the continent and second, Lagos being first in the country, to be so favoured.
Ibharuneafe also mentioned that the state raised N30b bond from the stock exchange for the on-going storm water project and another N10b from the capital market. The writer needs to explain where he got his figures because the state applied only for N25b and received same from the stock exchange. More importantly, it has been servicing the repaying agreement without default. It has already paid over 80 per cent of the bond and will have it liquidated before the end of the year. But it is not servicing loans with the whooping N1b monthly suggested by the writer as common sense should tell anyone that it is impossible for a financially constrained state to pay service loans with that much and keeps paying its workers without fail while still carrying out huge on-going projects.
It is clear that Ibharuneafe is playing the devil’s advocate for agents of our dark past.
Omoarelojie contributed from Ekpoma, Edo State

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