OBASEKI’S EDO, CITADEL OF ROT, SCHEMES, AND DECEIT

OBASEKI'S EDO, CITADEL OF ROT, SCHEMES, AND DECEIT

Last weekend, the APC leadership alerted the Edo public of the fraud and underhand dealings of the Edo State government, on issues relating to the finances of the state. The issues raised bordered on corruption, financial malfeasance and the profligacy of the Governor Obaseki-led administration. Of particular mention was the furtive and suspicious acquisition process and method of the Radisson Blue Hotel; the process is thought to be fraught with bogus financial claims and charges in the name of consultancy fees. In his response, the government’s publicist parried the meat of the accusations and segued to explanations of their digital governance, diverting attention from the heist, which they claim was bona fide. It looks though like an effort to digitalise this corruption and promote opaqueness as the new normal in Obaseki’s Peoples’ Party-OPP.

 

Still in that rebuttal which was esoteric and rarefied, the current government identified itself as an open government buttressed by her so-called digital technology. Nothing can be more dubious and deceptive than such a ludicrous claim from a farrago of missteps who have kept their people in exercebated consternation for eight years. It is clear even to the visual impaired; they are running from pillar to post cooking up documents to explain their prodigal life. They have taken to jejune explanations, for they cannot today, point to any concrete legacy projects that can justify their humongous expenditure over the years, with added salt to our injury of over N539b debt hanging a noose on the neck of Edo state. The level of degeneration to which Governor Obaseki has plunged the state is appalling, to say the least. One wonders whether they think that Edo State citizens are a conquered lot, who have been reduced to simpletons. In its chequered ruination of the lofty heights which Edo state had hitherto attained, Governor Obaseki plundered the finances of Edo state, and is leaving citadels of rot, decay and profligacy in his trail; and we ask, why is it always a matter of “war” everytime the public demands simple accountability, probity and transparency? Is it too much to ask one’s government to make her finances and account of her stewardship open for public scrutiny, considering that the purse is the people’s collective patrimony? The harsh response in itself is curious. They act like children in the dark daunted by every object around them with the thinking that the objects are sentient and will attack them in their sleep. Obaseki and Co., we come in peace!!

 

Even extent to which the government prides itself of the gains of her MOUs, many of which never saw the light of the day, presents an anachronistic interpretation of a government swamped by subterfuge and cover-ups. They talk about contemporary governance with inbuilt digitalisation of their activities, yet they remain mortally frightened to simply lay the books open for all to see or grant access to them. Do you not smell a rat? Why should a government that prides itself as being in sync with contemporary discourse on open government be hiding figures and contractual obligations if the government does not have something to hide? With all the statutory allocations and palliatives collected on behalf of Edo people, how did our debt profile rise to N539b from an inherited level of N45b? Even as we cannot point at any legacy project from the eight years of the Obaseki-led administration, since when has it become out of order to demand accountability and transparency? Ingredients that are contributory to why a government is called an Open Government. Analysing all the documents at our disposal, we have come to the unassailable conclusion that Governor Obaseki has mismanaged Edo’s resources and is now trying to supplant his godson and business partner, Asuen Ighodalo to cover up his tracks.

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Talking about pepping up Edo’s hospitality sector by coming up with the Radisson Blue initiative contradicts the contemporary discourse, that government has no business in business. However, would a government that cries about”paucity” of funds pay a humongous N1.6b to a firm in the name of consultancy fees for the Radisson Blue heist? Then this same firm, parades a candidate that has been globe-trotting telling Edos in the diaspora that he is running for election to salvage the state. It is obvious that the consultancy fees story was just a conduit to provide Asuen with money for elections, with the pretext that they are trying to salvage a state that they hitherto proclaimed is on the super highway of development. Does such contradiction not confirm the very issues that the APC has raised, which has drawn the ire of government and their vuvuzellas? Or is it the Agricultural development the government boasts about where the only item on its menu is her so-called investment in oil palm production; in a state that has huge arable land for rice farming around Agenebode, Anegbette, and Udaba axis? It has huge banana cultivation owned and run by private individuals in Sobe area, as the government did not explore that window to increase the stakes for more productivity. Edo is also fertile for cassava production, but the Obaseki Government chose to pay billions for consultancy with a fake interest in hotel business, where he plans to feed the guests on maybe air or very expensive imported food. As we speak today, Edo boasts of Okomu and Presco oil palm production, which are independently owned by individuals. The Sobe Maize Farm which they campaigned with in 2020 is most unkempt, overgrown with weeds and has become a habitat for kidnappers and armed bandits. Not a single Maize tree is standing on that farm.

 

To assess governance deficit in Edo state does not require any crystal-gazing. The rains tell it all; Benin City and its environs have come under heavy flooding and erosion. Benin City and major towns and villages in Edo state are coping with the hardship of bad roads. Health facilities are in a state of comatose. The Governor promised to provide one health centre for each local government when he was campaigning for election, I wish he would take us on a tour of these facilities. He also promised one stadium in each of the eighteen local government in the state. Not a single one has been built or commissioned. Ditto for failed Auchi Airport and the six-lane road he promised to build from Gelegele to Okpella. So, each time questions are raised about failed promises and financial profligacy, government publicists and their paymaster should just quietly hide their tails between their legs. These are just cowboys who have come to milk the state. A mere look at their visages tell the state of their hearts. What is diversionary in asking a government to be accountable and transparent in its transactions? It is a material requirement when you are dealing with public funds and the collective patrimony of Edo citizens. Why does the question elicit conflagration every time the issue is raised. Is the government saying Edo people do not deserve to know how their monies have been spent?

 

Let us even interrogate the government’s bogus claims about e-governance. Is there anything novel about Edo e-governance other than a mere ingenious way of upping corruption and financial malfeasance? If they have nothing to hide, they should open the books for all to see. It is the least the great people of Edo state can ask for. We are happy albeit, that the government appears confused about our tourism potentials across the state, and describes it as “nascent.” Little wonder, it has not been able to deepen and expand tourism with all the tourist sites we have in Ososo, Igarra, Somorika, Agenebode, and many other places of interest scattered all over the state.

Orisha Alugba:
Their understanding of developing tourism is to develop schemes to rob the state; like the one to reloot the recovered artefacts from Sweden, Germany, UK and Italy, by denying the Benin Palace of being the sole custodian of the recovered artefacts. A serious government would have promoted and enhanced the sanctity of the Benin Palace, and the place of the Benin Kingdom in the historical evolution of Edo state; but Governor Obaseki, is binary- all he knows is money and no money. Every move and initiative of his hovers around monetary value for him and his cronies- the cowboys from Lagos!That is why his company, Afri-Invest has grown in leaps and bounds, while Edo state remains in utter decrepitude.

 

While Edo people are lamenting the deplorable state of roads, health care and education, government publicists are telling us about nebulous macro-economic intangibles that have pauperised the ordinary folks in the state with underperformance staring us in the face. Edo people are lamenting the floods and erosion, and the government’s response is that the rain will soon stop. What a twisted logic! Truly, we concede to the fact that Governor Obaseki is a “creative genius” when it comes to corruption and profligacy; an era of the more you look, the less you see kind of. But Edo people are no fools and will act decisively on 21st September. They told us Edo state has optic fibres everywhere, and that e-learning is now a new norm in a state with dilapidated school buildings begging for government’s attention. How corrupt can a government possibly be? Optic fibres, where? Governor Obaseki and his cronies should please fear God.

 

Be that as it may, with gratitude to God that we are akin to seeds, even when we are buried, we grow! Now is the time to insist that our democratically elected Governor must be someone that is of the people, elected by the people, and FOR THE PEOPLE. Any of the candidates who has not in his trajectory and antecedents showed interest in his people at the local level or state level, we dare say is HIGH RISK. Most of the contestants are just cowboys who can smell money in the hole; but Senator Monday Okpebholo is different. He is the right man for the office. For many years he has showed active interest in Edo development even in his capacity and small place as a private citizen; to the extent of applying his personal resources repeatedly to help develop Edo. It goes to show his ingenuousness, and how altruistic his intentions are. Edo state has been failed and it is obvious for us all to see. The roads are bad, the hospitals have become mere dispensaries, and the people are anxious once the clouds are unfurled; the schools are in bad shape. The anger in the land is palpable. Every other Edo man and woman is praying to God for 21st September to come at the speed of light, so they can get rid of Governor Obaseki and his annointed godson with their thumbs. We are in a hurry to see the exit of Governor Obaseki and his excesses. Senator Monday Okpebholo has more than what is required to retrieve Edo’s lost glory and when it’s down to the wire, we will join hands with him and Edo people, to sing a new song of Edo Rising Again.

 

 

PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA.
MEDIA CONSULTANT
EDO APC CAMPAIGN COUNCIL.

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