The Word Continuity And the Edo State Election - Tony Iredia

The word, “continuity” seems to be central to the campaigns of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the forthcoming governorship electio...

The word, “continuity” seems to be central to the campaigns of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state. From the way the word has been severally bandied around of recent by leaders, officials and members of the party, the latter are no doubt convinced that the out-going governor, Adams Oshiomhole who belongs to their party has done well and as such should be succeeded by another APC man. What does not appear to occur to the party is that there are so many things that have happened in the state that many citizens never wished for and never expected.

As a result, people are not likely to pray for a continuation of such things making it obvious that continuity as a campaign strategy is not full proof. And because negatives stick more easily, there are likely to be many people who are not happy with the party. Therefore, the APC has a big burden to disabuse the minds of voters concerning certain negative issues. Unfortunately, rather than constructively use the current period of electioneering to undertake effective public enlightenment and voter education, it has embraced mundane political rallies which feature singing, dancing, acrobatic displays and defamatory statements.

Edo is not among those states of Nigeria that are described as educationally disadvantaged. Its people are therefore different from those that are usually led by the nose. Such a population needs to be told what exactly the coming government would specifically pursue towards improving the living standards of the people. If therefore a political rally is allowed to function as an opera as has been seen of recent, those in attendance would be merely entertained but not persuaded to make informed decisions on voting day.

There is also the rather frightening feeling that the APC is pursuing a third term agenda considering that the dominant person in all its rallies is the out-going governor. So, who really is the APC candidate? It certainly cannot be the outgoing governor since our constitution forbids a third tenure for any individual. It is therefore likely to be someone else, but can that person take control and sustain governance if he cannot function as the rallying point in the several appeals for votes? If the out-going governor is serving as a godfather; that is a greater pity because it means that god-fatherism which the APC government says it came to stop 7 years ago has actually been nurtured into a monster. So is godfatherism part of what those coming are to continue?

Edo State has had one federal university in Benin, one state university in Ekpoma and at least 3 popular private universities in Benin, Okada and Ogwa which clearly shows that what the state needs is not additional universities. Surprisingly, the APC government hastily constructed another state university in Iyamho-the outgoing governor’s village and “earmarked” another at Ekiadolor. Whereas there is nothing wrong in establishing a major project in the governor’s village because Iyamho is an Edo location that also deserves to be developed but a university, which the state has in at least 5 other locations, cannot be a well thought-out priority of the state at the point of building one in Iyamho.

Instead, the state would have been the better for it if Iyamho had been made to house some other employment yielding and development-oriented projects like industries. In other words, it is either that the government did not put on a thinking cap or it did not have one for proper public policy formulation. As it is now, no one can blame a new APC governor if he decides to build another university in his own village when he comes to power because his party has helped him to canvass continuity before his election. Meanwhile the state government owned Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma is begging to survive while the Tayo Akpata University Ekiadolor which was conceived along with that of Iyamho is yet to take-off.

Edo as a state is reputed to be the cradle of African civilization with an intimidating cultural heritage. It is a mono-ethnic state whose people are raised to respect others especially elders. A cursory look at the relationship between the current APC government and other people would reveal that there is no former indigenous governor of the state that was not at one time or the other publicly tongue-lashed. Even elder statesmen are constantly abused in the media by the current governor. Some of them are alleged to have committed some offences which are reportedly documented in some books that government says it is opening or will soon open.

Many months back, Governor Oshiomhole at a media conference, promised that a few days after the conference, the documents would be deposited with security agencies in Abuja while those indicted would proceed to detention. Every Nigerian has a right to report any crime but no one including a governor has a right to find suspects guilty before they are tried by a court of competent jurisdiction in a country which says everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. It is also offensive to publicly abuse elders and thereby desecrate Edo culture. By holding on to the files which allegedly contain reports on corrupt activities only to brandish them occasionally to gain political leverage, the APC government in Edo stands the risk of becoming an accomplice. So will the policy of continuity be used in future to blackmail suspects?

With continuity as a selling point, would Edo people continue to experience discrimination in governance in which for instance roads in the GRA are not maintained because according to government, it is rich people who live there? Again will other political parties be allowed to use the state owned stadium as well as the Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS)? What about multiple and increased taxation, will they continue? Would local government funds continue to be manipulated while the salaries of their workers remain unpaid? Will pensioners owed several months pension remain in penury? If all we have said so far will or will not happen, the people deserve to know the nature of continuity to expect.

Mr Tony Iredia
Former DG of NTA


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