Happy New Year! This annual ritual of celebrating triumphant entrance to a new year brings unquantified joy that cuts across ethnic and religious leanings. In Edo State, 2016 is much more unique as it is a year for gubernatorial election. How well the opportunity is managed by the politicians in the state will determine how far Edo State will go in her quests for development and socio-political emancipation. The people of Edo State, to say the least, do not have the choice but to insist on a candidate that has the intellectual capacity, political acumen and courage to introduce policies that will ultimately change the heightened political terrain, embrace rule of law in a manner that does not suggest preferential treatment, revive the ailing industries as well as encourage investments that will dignify the state.
Calculations and permutations on who emerges the next governor of Edo State are already generating squabbles among contenders and even within their political parties. Whereas some still believe that Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole has performed very well, majority and in particular the youths, are copiously getting agitated to have a more credible individual to take over from him. Aside, some have clamoured for continuity by supporting the idea that the outgoing governor endorses the particular candidate to succeed him. Yet, many others are of the view that the governor has not truly done very well, despite his propaganda machinery, to deserve the exclusive right to determine who succeeds him. They further opined that Governor Oshiomhole had earlier vowed to dismantle any form of godfatherism in Edo politics and it would be double-talk and disappointing to see him play that role.
What is more paramount to the people of Edo State and by extension lovers of democracy in the country, is to have a suitably qualified individual who is well grounded with the aspirations of Edo State; who is not just well educated, experienced and matured, but genuinely determined to transform the state for the benefit of all.
Edo State desires a governor who understands the needs of the state far beyond selfish desires and manipulations. The state is looking forward to having a visionary individual who will not betray leadership trust or abandon the masses after he had been voted into office. If nothing else, Edo State is known for his homogeneity and anyone who can change or turn-around hate politics and promote social harmony to further strengthen our cultural affinities among the geopolitical zones of the state, will be the right man for the job.
The emergence of APC-led Federal Government has changed the political equations in Edo State. But for that outcome, the choice of who becomes the next governor would have been easier to make. Many are agitating that the two major political parties get their gubernatorial candidates from Edo Central as both Edo North and Edo South senatorial districts have had their fair share since the state was created. Unfortunately and for strategic reason, it appears the Edo South holds the ace on who becomes the next Governor of the state. The process for the emergence of the gubernatorial candidates must not only be cerebrally handled; it must also be transparent and credible, devoid of selfish sentiments. It is expected that political leaders in the state, irrespective of the political parties, will encourage balance of power among the senatorial districts in order to give each of them a sense of belonging to promote social harmony.
All hands must therefore be on the deck to identify and encourage most suitable individual to embark on the rescue mission of Edo State. Power must not be left with mediocres who have questionable characters and lack attitude towards the development of Edo State. We need a governor who will respect the fundamental rights of the people as well as circumspect in his comments and raising allegations against individuals in the state. The time is now for everyone to resist sentiments, rivalries and all other social vices that had in the past influenced the emergence of candidates. Edo State desires to have a governor that will, by his performance in office, unconditionally encourage the indigenes to sustainably clap their hands in appreciation of his development all through the tenure in office. Politicians in Edo State should stop throwing caution to the winds in their choice of gubernatorial candidates because of selfish and limited benefits, bearing in mind that such actions have, in the past, worked against the expectations of the people of the state.
Edo State yearns for a governor that will be consistent in his policy direction, developmental plans and promote environment devoid of atrocious tendencies and calculations that can discourage investment. Our political leaders, irrespective of their political leanings, must be ready to save Edo State from hoodlums and urchins. This will save the state from deliberate efforts to scandalise and pull-down individuals for political relevance and advantage in the state. Therefore, the incoming dispensation should be an era of transformational leadership in Edo State.
For the avoidance of doubt, James McGregor Burns, in his book titled, “Leadership” opined that “transformational leadership is the engagement of leaders and followers in a mutual process of raising one another to higher levels of morality and motivation. The transformational leader appeals to the higher ideals and values of the followers in an unselfish manner to achieve collaboration and collective success”. We must therefore be conscious to ensure that only individual with the right qualities and capacity is nominated and voted into office this year.
The incumbent governor has performed within the limit of his ability and capacity, hence the need to have someone who will raise the bar beyond rhetoric. We need a governor who will walk the talk irrespective of the environment and external influences on him. The outgoing regime of Governor Adams Oshiomhole has witnessed a mixture of activities that partly remind us of Aristotle’s political philosophy and Machiavelli’s leadership belief as encapsulated in “The Prince”. The people of Edo State, no doubt, look forward to seeing a system or process that will help the Local Government Councils to deliver dividends of democracy to their respective areas.
We need a governor that will project inclusiveness in governance to stimulate trust, give sense of belonging, promote unity and love in our polity; all geared towards purposeful leadership and sustainable development in Edo State. We must play down on politics with bitterness, distrust, acrimony and uncertainty that seem to have beclouded the land of Edo State. What we do prior to the emergence of gubernatorial candidate and voting in 2016, will determine our readiness to turnaround the socio-economic fortunes and quality of life in the years ahead.

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. Aligbe, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja