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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Eight years of success

          Adams Oshiomhole exits after eight years: Handing-               over the baton of progressive governance to Obaseki 

           Adams Oshiomhole, outgone governor of Edo State may have left office yesterday, but his unique style of leadership cannot easily be forgotten. Oshiomhole remained popular in the streets of Edo till the last day because of the way and manner he endeared himself to the common man. Immediately he assumed office in 2007, he invited his security details and told them that he is not a governor that will like to use siren on the road.
His reason was that he cannot be using siren to chase away the same people who voted him into office. Apart from that, unlike his fellow ACN governors then, he removed the party’s flag from his official vehicle, pointing out that he was not only going to serve as governor of ACN members but as servant leader to everybody since even PDP members voted for him in 2007. And very significantly, Oshiomhole does not beat traffic light, a situation that has led to series of altercations between him and his security aides who see that as too dangerous for him.
And very unfortunately for some of the security aides, they have faced the wrath of the former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) each time they tried to push people off the road so as to pave way for the governor to pass. Oshiomhole had ordered that a security operative be detained for allegedly attacking a man they mistook for security risk at Ring Road. There were times Oshiomhole would sneak out of Government House. After frantic searches, the governor would be discovered somewhere in Benin in the midst of artisans enjoying alcoholic beverage.
One of the secrets why Oshiomhole succeeded as a governor was that he never relied solely on information given to him either by his aides or commissioners; he gets first hand information from the common people on the streets who will never lie to him. Oshiomhole goes to projects sites himself even at night to see what the contractors are doing.
Infact, this style exposed the capability of the Engineers in the state Ministry of Works to handle road projects which they are supposed to supervise. In 2011, one of the engineers in the state ministry of works was compulsorily retired, when Oshiomhole asked him to explain what the contractors handling a road project in Owan East were doing and he failed to explain the technicalities of the job. Rather, it was Oshiomhole who now educated him on how to supervise the Italian contractors handling the project. And because Oshiomhole can embark on the supervision of projects even at 12midnight, contractors handling projects in the state are always on their toes.
“Because I grew up the hard way, there is no kind of job I did not indulge in just to survive. There are times I go for construction work as a labourer just to assist the engineers and from there I learnt what is called, for example, stone-base, and many other things that have to do with construction. My local intelligence have helped me in life”, he once explained.
In politics, Oshiomhole became the master of the game immediately he assumed office as governor. He harvested PDP leaders into his party and the state was almost turned into a one-party state. His popularity soared more when he concentrated his developmental projects in areas where the middle class and the poor resided.
Today areas such as Isinurho road and Ihenya, not too far from the abode of Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, is more beautiful than the GRA. The people’s love for him soared every day. Each time he goes out, chants of Osho baba, Osho quake, rented the air. People may be forgiven to assume that Oshiomhole only fought and dislodged PDP godfathers; he also fought godfathers in his own party.
The moment Oshiomhole perceives any party leader in his party as becoming too powerful and trying to use his influence to undermine ordinary party members in any particular area, he would simply move, create another leadership that is expected to be more people-friendly, that will challenge that particular leader. He does not play politics of bitterness but he bites when taken for granted. He easily apologizes if he feels he’s had you on the wrong side. The case of the widow whom Oshiomhole caught obstructing the walkway with what she was selling and lashed at her in anger, saying to the woman that she could go and die was turned into political propaganda by the PDP.
But when he realized that he was too harsh, the comrade governor publicly apologized to the woman and was appointed Senior Special Assistant to the governor while her children was given scholarship. He can be ruthless if he intends to achieve any goal but the bottom line is that he does not take any decision that will negatively affect the masses.
That is why, one of the toughest decisions Oshiomhole made in his tenure was banning Okada riders. They fought with him throughout the tribunal days until he was declared winner by the Court of Appeal. But when security reports came that Boko Haram members disguised as Okada riders were moving to the South to build a camp in Edo State so as to use it as a base to launch attacks in the South South and South West, he had to take the drastic decision to stop the use of Okada as a means of transportation in Benin City and other cities in Edo state.
The governor was confronted with a choice of either allowing Okada riders to continue to operate and risk the destruction of the state or ban it and save the lives of Edo people. He took the latter option decision. It was a difficult decision for the governor to ban the activities of men he would out with once in a while to share a bottle of beer with; but it was a decision to save the state from mayhem. A lot of people did not know this but Oshiomhole wept profusely when he banned Okada riding in Benin City.
Oshimhole was also able to internally generate revenue during his tenure as never seen before in the annals of Edo State. And the revenue delivered dividends of democracy in the areas of social welfare, infrastructure, agriculture, education and healthcare. Unfortunately, by Oshiomhole’s own admission, he did not pay enough attention to sports – read Bendel Insurance Football Club.
And for his developmental strides in eight years, President Muhammadu Buhari summed it up during his visit to the state last week to commission some projects. The President praised the quality of the projects done by Oshiomhole, saying the Edo Governor has engraved his name in gold. According to Buhari, “the quality of the projects I was made to commission are very, very solid, whether it’s the roads, the educational institutions or the hospital. Certainly Governor Oshiomhole is lucky to last his two terms and to engrave his name in a golden historical plate.
I believe the roads and the bridges will bring more people to live more comfortably and securely. He has done so well for the people. He built a good hospital, again he served the people. I very much congratulate the Governor, he has shown a lot of foresight by the quality of infrastructure he has put on the ground. I stand here to congratulate Adams Oshiomhole for his foresight, for his hard work and for his personal integrity. I hope when he successfully hands over, he will take some leave away from the local problems maybe for a couple of months, before he comes back to square one.”
No attestation can be more rewarding.

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