My state governor and good friend of yore, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole recently shot himself in the foot. And as the sound of the shot resonated across my beautiful but rustic Edo state, it pierced the spirit and soul of the time-tested bond that had kept the people together since late Sir Dennis Osadebey led our people from the Western region of old to what was to become Midwest region and later, state.
History records that after more than two decades of selfless struggles by the representatives of the peoples of the region in the Western region legislature, Midwest state was created on August 9, 1963. The creation of the state is significant for the following reasons:
. It was the first state to be created in Nigeria.
. It remains the only Nigerian state to be created by constitutional means, and not by a military fiat.
. It’s creation facilitated a stronger voice for the articulation of minority rights in Nigerian politics.
However, by August 27, 1991, the land now known as Edo state, with Benin City as capital was created by executive fiat. That does not remove from the fact that the same land has a pre-eminent place in the history of state creation and administration in this country.
The people of the state too, are never short of words to boast of the uniqueness of Edo land, its peoples and positive peculiarities. After all, Edo people have a long history of civilization. Historians and researchers trace its existence to as far back as prehistoric times. Those days, it was, and I dare add, is still a well-organised unified community under a very formidable monarchical authority. Records posit that the people had verbal government machinery representing legislative, executive and judiciary, with some form of checks and balances more or democratic in form. The people were called Igodomigodos or what we refer today as the Binis.
Back to the present
Against the foregoing backdrop, I am jolted to realise that all the noise my beloved Comrade-Governor made all through last month, lampooning former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan as well as all that they ever represented during the latter’s presidency was for a sole hidden agenda. Yes, the objective of the governor’s bull-in-a-China-shop disposition against these people may have been mooted in some quarters ahead of its public unveiling recently. But who would have thought that as man from Edo state with its rich history of civilisation, honesty and openness, Oshiomhole was up to some game with the future of his state and its peoples?
Like every sore thumb that will eventuslly reveal itself, the unveiling of the governor’s sudden angst at Okonjo-Iweala and Jonathan became public when President Muhammadu Buhari implored the Senate on Oshiomhole’s behalf to approve a loan of $75million for the governor for some inexplicable Development Policy Operation.
Pronto, opposition against the move rose across Edo land with resonating echoes in other parts of the country.
One of such was the protest by some indigenes of the state resident in Abuja who last Wednesday held a rally in front of the National Assembly against the planned loan from the World Bank.
Their letter submitted to Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki titled: Re: Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s request for approval to borrow $75million from World Bank: Notice of our displeasure and disapproval, the protesters maintained that the said loan will further plunge the state into a deeper debt mess. In their letter jointly signed by Barr Friday Ojealaro, Ifaluyi-Isibor Ogbeide, Darlington Ray, John Ewah and Efumundan Augustine they alleged that from a debt profile of about N4billion inherited by the governor some seven years ago, it has ballooned to over N200billion through inexplicable, unjustifiable and reckless borrowing.
Here now is the big revelation… The protesters further disclosed that Oshiomhole’s request for the loan approval had been rejected on the expert advice of the Federal Ministry of Finance then headed by Okonjo-Iweala on the ground that Edo state is currently cringing under the weight of colossal debts and no infrastructures to justify them. They, thus maintained that if the loan is granted and received, the future and that of the people of the state and their unborn children will be further mortgaged.
Like one public affairs commentator stressed recently, “question a government policy, action or plan today and you will have a horde of ill-tempered officials swarming around you with insults rather than dealing with the issues raised”. He added: “one begins to wonder if, by the actions of these information managers, Nigerians have a right to question those they elected”.
With clearly less than six months to exit office, in all honesty no sane Nigerian resident in Edo state would expect a Comrade-Governor to contemplate increasing the loan profile of the state by a kobo, talk more of a whopping $75million. Even if he really needs it to manufacture oxygen needed for anesthesia in the state’s medical facilities, it would not have been pursued with the desperation with which Oshiomhole did on this questionable loan quest.
Perhaps too, the governor has some other developmental ideas so alien to the knowledgeable people of the state that comprehending its import would be needless. But even at that it still does not make sense. Which is why I am further tempted to align with some who argue that, like the former Rivers state governor did in the twilight of his tenure in office, Oshiomhole needs to assist his All Progressives Congress, APC’s bid to win governorship elections slated for Kogi, Bayelsa and his own state, Edo. In this wise, the loan in hand wiuld make the needed difference.
May be, now is the time to ask what Oshiomhole did with the first tranche of the loan draw-down of $75million.
Unless my beloved governor for whom many of us vouched in the countdown to the 2008 Court verdict that gave him victory at the governorship poll conducted earlier now wants us to believe that all his achievements at the Nigeria Labour Congress as President were self-serving; unless Oshiomhole can prove that his early romance with Buhari that culminated in the latter’s loan plea to the Senate was not an act of desperation on his part and unless he can prove that the state and its people will not suffer now and in the future for this additional servitude he plans to put us and generations of unborn Edo people through, he really does not need this $75million World Bank loan. To do the contrary would mean taking us all on a bumpy ride to nowhere, worse than the hopelessness that we the Igodomigodos currently face.