The gubernatorial election of Edo State is on September 10, 2016. Tempo of campaign has already escalated to feverish level. Worthy of note is that the contest is devoid of ethnicity. The two main contestants come from highly respected families in Benin City. As campaign rhetoric inundates the State which prides itself as the heartbeat of Nigeria, there is the need for the electorate to separate the chaff from the wheat. Outcome of the election shall be materially influenced by past performance of the political parties while in power in the state and the personal qualities of the contestants.
From 1999 to 2007, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with Chief Lucky Igbinedion as governor governed the State. PDP administration continued until 2008 when the court removed the then governor, Prof. Osarhiemen Osunbo. The re-election of Chief Lucky Igbinedion for a second term and election of Prof. Osunbor were made possible by the ‘do or die” politics under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The 2007 general elections had already gone down in history as the worst, a monumental fraud and national disgrace.
The PDP administration took office with high expectations, considering Chief Lucky Igbinedion’s success as Chairman of Oredo Local Government Council. But regrettably, the party left Edo State in ruins after nine years in power With a battered economy, misery pervaded Edo State in those years of misrule. several indigenes fled to avert the crisis that gripped the State.
Some policies under the PDP were so injurious that till date, the State is still reeling from their harmful effect. For instance, instead of boosting domestic rice production for which Ekpoma, Agbede, Lamkpese and other cities were popular, at a point, the PDP administration imported and dumped large quantities of expired rice on every local government in the State. As a result of the competitive disadvantage provoked by this wicked act, several farmers deserted their rice farms.
While PDP governed the state, roads, educational and public health infrastructure suffered serious deterioration as they were neither maintained nor improved upon. Insecurity escalated to unimaginable proportions.
The maladministration also extended to traditional institutions which were desecrated with impunity. Even the revered Oba of Benin was not spared from embarrassment. At a point, he was subjected to indignity of trekking barefooted to the High Court in a case with the reigning PDP governor. The nine years PDP governed Edo State can only be remembered with sad and unpleasant memories.
Following the Court judgment that declared Comrade Adams Oshiomole as governor, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) took over administration of Edo State in 2008. ACN later metamorphosed into All Progressives Congress (APC). There were initial apprehensions that being a labour activist, viability of Comrade Oshiomole as an administrator was uncertain. It was unclear how this erroneous notion took root that labour activists were only good as critics but bad as leaders. However, eight years of Comrade Oshiomole’s rule as governor of Edo State has demonstrated that labour activists can even be better as political leaders.
APC took over a state that was practically in destitution. In eight years, it has almost restored the glorious days when
Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia was military Governor of old Bendel. In the past eight years of APC administration in Edo State, the economy has been revamped, despite headwinds from an unfriendly PDP led federal administration. Within this period, several dilapidated roads and drainages in the State have been rehabilitated and new ones constructed.
Existing educational and healthcare infrastructure have been upgraded and new ones established. Insecurity has been firmly dealt with. As a result of the new enabling environment, Edo State has once again become a beehive of social and economic activities.
Now, there are no more tales of woe to tell about the State as things have moved from despair to hope for even a brighter future. Whoever wins the upcoming gubernatorial election will inherit an administration with a solid foundation that can be built upon.
The APC candidate, Godwin Obaseki is no stranger to the outgoing administration. He is credited with crafting of the economic plan that propelled the State into a success story. His opponent in PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is also experienced in Edo State politics, having served at various times in the State legislature and executive.
The APC candidate, an Investment Banker, Godwin Obaseki packaged and listed several high profile corporate issues including Dangote Cement Plc, the most capitalized company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This has enabled several Nigerian investors to share in the wealth created daily by these successful companies.
Due to his distinctive competence in economic policy formulation and capital formation, any promise made by Godwin Obaseki in the area of economic development can be taken seriously and regarded as achievable.