Edo people escaped the invading and importuning clutches of severe misrule and diabolic maladministration by the whiskers when the spirits of the ancestors and the provisions of the law booted out the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to usher in good governance under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
PDP had been in power for 10 excruciating years and had bled the soul of the heartbeat state dry, looted the exchequer, and done enough damage to undo the exemplary works of the late Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia.
Again, the desire for good governance and economic justice prevailed on September 28, 2016 as Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, the All Progressive’s Congress (APC) candidate earned a resounding victory over his PDP rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu at the Edo Gubernatorial election and thus earned the confidence of the people to be their governor for the next four years. He was true to his middle name – Nogheghase, ‘a man whose time has come’.
That victory demonstrated the people’s yearning for continuity in governance. Since then, there has been no let-up in the pace of development in all sectors of the state’s economy. A key pillar of that administration was Mr Godwin Obaseki, who was the Chairman of the State’s Economy and Strategy Team that midwifed many meaningful programmes to the Edo people. It was therefore no surprise that as Adams Oshiomhole’s tenure ended, the popular choice for his successor was Mr Godwin Obaseki, who, as political experts rightly predicted, swept his way to power and assumed office as the state’s Executive Governor on Nov 12, 2016.
Not all, however, appreciated the gubernatorial election victory. Desirous to resume its baulked buffet at the State’s exchequer, PDP alleged that its candidate was short-changed in the election.
Nice enough, the legal tussle took its full course and a verdict was given by the Edo Election Petition Tribunal, which unanimously validated Governor Godwin Obaseki’s claim to the office of service at Osadebe Avenue, Benin City.
The judgment was clear and unambiguous, underscoring the imperative for the governor to serve out his 4-year tenure without hindrance. The victory certainly is an impetus for the governor to stride on with the accelerated tempo of social and infrastructural development of the state.
The baneful virus of godfatherism had greatly crippled and perverted the electoral system in the state while also limiting the state’s development in many ways. The administration of Adams Oshiomhole battled the state’s godfathers fiercely to the point of ‘retiring’ them from active politics.
His campaign mantra of one-man-one-vote was effective enough to stop the state’s godfathers in their nefarious strides. The Edo people keyed into the mantra, and when it mattered most, they ensured that their votes indeed counted. The radical shift from the beshrewing spectre of godfatherism pleased Edo people, irrespective of their political leanings, especially with the acknowledgement that a government that truly earned the legitimacy of the people will be careful enough to safeguard their interests through responsible governance.
Notwithstanding this, the PDP opposition exercised its right to legal redress over perceived wrongs and as the tribunal judgment has shown, such standpoint was misjudged, ill-conceived and misdirected.
Perceptive political observers think that it is time that Nigerian politicians began to re-orientate themselves in matters of electoral contests such that, in a reasonably transparent and credible election where only one candidate out of many will emerge winner, they must learn to accept political defeat in good faith and with equanimity.
It is also beyond dispute that needless legal wrangling in the face of obvious electoral defeat impedes smooth governance.
The nation’s extant constitution prescribes a term of four years for elective offices and that period is quickly exhausted for working governor. Four years is not an eternity, for which our attitude to electoral defeat must be ‘do or die’.
Irrespective of political affiliations, the Edo electorate consists people from the same stock; hence, prolonged electoral acrimonies must be avoided, as it can certainly not help meaningful development. Opposition in partisan politics is a healthy phenomenon, but immoderately executed, it becomes an anathema to a society’s progress.
Why ‘fight to quench’ when another opportunity could present itself to fight another day? The Christian Holy Scripture teaches that the race is never to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that time and chance happens to them all.
Though we may disagree with candidates for election, once the results of an election are announced, we should become one again until the next election. We should support the victor, who could even pick some of his cabinet nominees from the opposition for the good of the state and for the furtherance of democracy.
Governor Godwin Obaseki is a well-tested and reputed technocrat and Edo state is fortunate to have him now. Since his election, fundamental measures for the state’s economic growth have been implemented. He may not be a loud governor, but he is no less effective as he is quietly working and things are going. Everyone, including the opposition knows this; hence, there must be no room for distractions.
It would be recalled that Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia passed on last month, and in death, he was celebrated like no other Edo man in recent times because of the legacies he left behind as a two-time governor of Bendel State. Such legacies are what Edo State desperately needs, and Governor Godwin Obaseki is a man with prospects, vision and determination and any further legal wrangling over elections should be jettisoned. 2020 is not far away! Let Edo people think wiser and let Governor Godwin Obaseki be!
John Mayaki, Chief Press Secretary (Interim) to Governor Obaseki writes from Benin