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How Obaseki Became A Different Person After 2020 Election – Emwanta, Ex-Commissioner

Says Lagos Bred PDP Ticket Out Of Sync With Edo People



Ighodalo voter's card

Andrew Emwanta Adaze Esq who served as Commissioner of Information to the outgoing Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki is Convener of Edo Generation X Movement, a body he is using to articulate the interests of the younger generation in the political space around Edo State.

One position Emwanta and his group have adopted is that Obaseki and his technocrat friends from Lagos have failed to develop Edo State. In an interview, he further asserts that the Edo 2024 governorship election will be an inter-generational contest between the generation of technocrats from Lagos represented by the outgoing governor and that of his generation made up of young Edo men and women.

He concludes that only an APC government under Senator Monday Okpebholo and Rt. Hon. Dennis Idahosa can give Edo State a new lease of life. Emwanta further notes that  Edo has retrogressed beyond people’s expectations under Godwin Obaseki.

He said:

What is the purpose of Edo generation X movement?

The Edo Generation X movement is an ideological group within the Edo political class. I remember in 1999, when Chief Lucky Igbinedion came on board as Governor of Edo State, it was people of his generation that formed the core of his government, though some people from the younger generation were later included.

In 2019, when the present Governor, Goodwin Obaseki wanted me to work for him, he made a pledge to me saying that his own generation have played their part and should leave the political scene with him in 2024. He said the next government that will come on board will be people of my generation. He even told me to get people to work for him. Eventually, the promise he made of me bringing people to work for him was unfulfilled, as after he won the 2020 governorship election he became a different person.

But, in fairness, I must thank him for appointing me as a commissioner in his government. When I later heard he was projecting his business partner and friend, Asue Ighodalo, which he later made the PDP governorship candidate, I said this is not what he promised, because Asue Ighodalo and Godwin Obaseki are contemporaries. I also heard they were planning to make the present SSG, Osarodion Ogie as the running mate to the governorship candidate, which they eventually did, also. Ogie is almost their age mate, because Ogie was with Obaseki in Eghosa Grammar School, Benin.

According to the impeached deputy governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, Ogie is 66 years old, and the former Deputy calls him Epa Ogie. These people who are our fathers’ and uncles’ age mates should be ready to contend with people of my generation.

Having these senior citizens as governorship candidate and running mate is grotesque, a misnomer and anti-youth. Tell me, how does that play out for the generation x, particularly in the light of the Not too Young to Run Act?

When we say the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, do they think that truism is a joke or something like a utopian idea? It therefore means that Obaseki, Ighodalo, Ogie and their fellow Lagos technocrats don’t believe in our today. They don’t even believe in our tomorrow. For them, the office of Commissioner, Assembly member, and aide to the governor is the highest people of my generation can aspire to?

We can’t be deceived by the robbing Peter to pay Paul appointment of a Deputy Governor, few months to election. We saw the deceit and it was that desire for a change in the status quo that inspired the setting up of the Generation X Movement, that will champion the cause of those of us from that generation known as X, consisting of those born after 1964 and before 1980.

We have also incorporated Generation Y and those whom we call Gen Z, into the Generation X movement. Of course, those within the Generation Y category, are those born between 1981 and 1996. The underlying idea is to insist that it is not for us to argue along ethnic lines alone, but we must talk of zoning along generation lines too.

We must seriously consider the need for a generational power shift. Thankfully, the governorship candidate of the APC is 53 years old. He falls within the Generation X age gap. The running mate is my contemporary, I am even older than him, as he is 43 years at the moment.

These are the kinds of people we need in Osadebe Avenue at this time and not those who want to stay in Government House as a retirement package. We are presenting to the Edo electorate these two young men with vigour and confidence, not people who are struggling with their health and true identity. Not people who cannot do the kind of work people of our generation can do, because the youths of Edo are saying they want to be the leaders of today and not tomorrow. The tomorrow the generation before us promised is not sure.

Like they say, if not now when? If not us, who? So we are thanking the likes of Senator Adams Oshiomhole and other leaders across party lines, who have promised that they will allow us to have a free hand in developing our State. I believe they are speaking on behalf of Godwin Obaseki, Asue Ighodalo, and Epa Ogie. So we believe that now is the only chance Edo people have of ensuring that they support people from the Generation X category, which is the driving philosophy behind our movement.

And we are ready to support our candidate financially, spiritually, morally, and otherwise. In a manner of speaking, our driving philosophy is in sync with the Not Too Young to Run Act of the National Assembly. And the reason why that law was passed was to encourage youth participation in elective positions in government. At what age did the late General Samuel Ogbemudia become the governor of the Midwest? He became the governor of the Midwest at the age of 35. At that time, persons like Ogie, the current SSG would have passed as his father or big uncle, because Ogie, according to Philip Shaibu, is 66 years old presently. We feel it is our last chance. I am calling on people of my generation to rally around and fully support the APC candidate, Monday Okpebholo, and his running mate, Dennis Idahosa.

What are the chances of APC winning the Edo 2024 governorship election?

I think the people of Edo are being hoodwinked to think that Obaseki as a governor has performed to the extent of producing a successor. In terms of the three indicators of a growing economy, you ask yourself what is the state of our local economy. A situation where virtually all the contracts are given to foreigners, is that smart? You want to organize an event like Alaghodaro and you take the printing jobs to Lagos. You need people to advise you as consultants and you bring majority and if not all of them from Lagos. All the consultants that operated in the Ministry of Communication and Orientation were all from Lagos. And I had a serious issue with that. The consultants were even competing with me as Commissioner.

You saw all kinds of bogus amounts that they brought for projects that will involve Edo taxpayers’ money. There was the issue of huge capital flight. Under Obaseki, the local economy didn’t improve at all. That is one. Then what of the health care system?

I place emphasis on this because when you work in a place and you fall sick, you must use the healthcare system. The only standing hospital that we can point at that meets mordern standard is the one at the beginning of Sapele Road. Adams Oshiomhole built and equipped it. The ultra modern hospital, which was initially shut down by Obaseki, was later given to private individuals to manage. In terms of healthcare, I will score this government 10% over 100. They have performed abysmally in that area.

Today, we now talk of road network without drainages and walkways. As we speak, Benin City has the best network of bad roads. You go to Okhoro, Ewah Road, Medical Stores and other erosion-prone areas, there is really nothing to write home about. Even within the GRA, when it rains you need a speed boat to get to your destination. Is it Ekenwan Road that was started over 4 years ago, or Evboutubu, Mechanic Road, or Uwelu in Egor? All these roads are in a terrible state. So what can this government now showcase?

Is it in the education sector? Private schools are closing because of excessive taxation. The Governor didn’t build schools, but spent the last 7 years organizing seminars on what he calls Edo Best. During Oshiomhole’s time, we were talking of the red roof revolution. How many schools have teachers as we speak? There are many communities in my local government without teachers. They have very limited teachers. You see where a teacher is teaching both junior and senior secondary school students simultaneously. Which school in this state meets national standard? I went to Annunciation Catholic College Irrua, whose Old Boys Association now fund the school after the Edo State government under Obaseki abandoned it.

So for me, I don’t think this governor has performed well to say he wants to produce a successor. And besides, Asue Ighodalo was part of his government from the start as a chief economic adviser. Is there any project in Edo Central that Asue Ighodalo can beat his chest that he has attracted to his own senatorial district? What economic benefits did Edo Central people gain under this present government he is serving in as Chairman of Alaghodaro? So talk is cheap. Unlike Asue, our APC candidate has touched the lives of Edo people in many communities within his senatorial district. Schools there have been impacted positively by him.

During the time of the Red Roof revolution of Oshiomhole, he had empowered young people with instructional materials. They talk about the fact that he is building boreholes. There is no water in Edo Central and you know that is a major challenge for them there. When the Edo Central security network Atalakpa was formed, he was a major contributor. The PDP candidate was offered a place on the board of trustees, but he rejected it. And I challenge him to list any significant contribution he has made towards the security network of the people of Edo Central, where they are still having kidnapping issues and all that.

Senator Okpebholo prevailed on Mr. President for work to start on the Benin Auchi road leading to Okenne. As l speak to you work on that road has commenced in earnest. So, the incoming APC government in Edo State, by the grace of God, will give a human face to governance. We will give serious respect to our traditional rulers and institutions. We will not go into competition with the Oba of Benin, because this is a kingdom that has existed for centuries. Even before Nigeria became a country, the Benin Kingdom had existed. So you have to give great respect to our traditional institution.

Instead of competing with them, we will collaborate with them. Our APC candidate as a Deacon of the Winners Chapel Church enjoys the support of majority of religious leaders in Edo State. So, Edo people will give the APC 18 over 18 votes at the governorship election this September.

So how will your candidate achieve the cultural renaissance you spoke of?

Our candidate if elected, will endeavour to see how he can enhance the prestige of our traditional rulers, by inaugurating the Edo Traditional Rulers Council, headed by the Oba of Benin, in order to see how we can strengthen and showcase our rich cultural heritage. I say this because there is no better way to market tourism than the culture of the people, which is also reflected in traditional treasures like the Benin artifacts.

At this juncture, I must commend the Swedish government for agreeing to return 39 of the stolen artifacts back to the Oba of Benin. Sometime last year, under President Buhari, the Federal government had given full custody of the artifacts to the Oba of Benin through a gazette, that was issued on the 23rd of March 2023, precisely. Therefore, it was a complete misnomer for the Governor to be struggling  ownership or the custody of the stolen Benin artifacts with the Oba.

The stolen Benin artifacts are cultural properties protected under the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Properties of 1954. Under this international law, which has provisions that form part of what international law scholars describe as jus cogens of erga omnes character, only the Nigerian State can enter into negotiations with foreign countries for the return of cultural properties like the stolen Benin artifacts acquired from conquest during an armed conflict.

The role of the present Edo governor in the stolen artefacts conundrum was nothing more than that of a meddlesome interloper, who at the expense of Edo taxpayers, engaged in an unholy search of the proverbial golden fleece. Having failed in that search, he then decided to build a private museum with his Lagos business partners, in order to immortalize their failed mission to Europe and America. I must quickly pay tribute to the APC Federal government for resolving with finality the ownership dispute over both the recovered and yet to be recovered stolen Benin artifacts. So on the basis of this resolution of the ownership question, the incoming Edo State government of APC will collaborate with the Oba of Benin to see how these artifacts can be fully returned to the Oba of Benin. The incoming APC government of Edo State intends to fully support the Oba in building his Royal Museum that Obaseki and his band of technocrats from Lagos are now competing with him over.

Why will you be using public funds to build a private museum in a place a public hospital was once situated before it was demolished, just like they are doing with Alaghodaro? Does it make sense to establish a private company that will run a private museum that is publicly funded? For me, nothing can be more treacherous and dubious than that. I can assure Edo people that the incoming APC government in Edo state will return that place back to the status quo.

Is it true that zoning this ticket to Edo Central is partly the reason why you are supporting this candidate in APC?

Not essentially because he is an Esan man. My political philosophy on the topic is that instead of talking of zoning, we should talk of the three Cs, of capacity, competence, and character. I am happy that the PDP and APC eventually zoned their tickets to Edo Central. I supported the APC candidate Senator Monday Okpebholo, because of his capacity to communicate with the people, without the aid of an interpreter. His capacity to bring people together, because I took time to study his character and his story of people-centered development. Particularly, of how he sponsored the sinking of boreholes in his community and others. Why, because he comes from a very humble background. He once said that while growing up, after the death of his mum, he went with his older sister to fetch water from the stream in a neighboring community. The sister mistakenly ingested some washing soda-infested water, which led to her death at a tender age.

At a very young age, Senator Okpebholo imagined what it was like at that time for them to have travelled a long distance to fetch water. When he became privileged, though not yet a Senator, he put a borehole in his own village. He also did the same in the neighboring community where he went to fetch water and lost his older sister, so that young people there would not go through the harrowing experience of traveling long distances to get water. And you cannot compare the water from a stream to that from a borehole, especially in a place like Edo Central where the water table is very low. So for me as a person, I think it is not for us to argue that it is the turn of Edo Central to produce a governor, but it is also imperative for us to elect a person that has the capacity.

Someone that understands what the people want. A proper homeboy. Someone who can communicate in the local dialect and can talk to his people without an interpreter. When the PDP candidate went to flag off his governorship aspiration in his community, he went with an interpreter, reminding us of that old system when the colonial masters at that time used an interpreter in communicating with our people. That was the drama we saw of a governorship hopeful, talking in Queen’s English to his people and an interpreter in turn interpreting what he is saying to them. Is that not reverse colonialism? That is an act of total disconnect with the people and the height of political dissonance. If as a candidate in France you cannot communicate with the French men and women in in their mother tongue, French, then there is a big problem.

If as an Esan man, you cannot communicate with your people in Esan, it means that those of us from Edo South will find it hard to understand you. So at the moment we need a homeboy. And, I assure you that the APC candidate will govern the state without any ethnic communication barrier, because he personifies the new barometer for measuring who a true homeboy is. The way he will develop Benin City, that is how he will develop Uromi, Irrua, Auchi, and other towns in Edo State, because he sees the entire state as his constituency. And that is why he is called Akpakomiza. He is a man of the people. He is going to be a governor  that will put smiles on the faces of all Edo people, irrespective of their ethnic or religious background. I implore all Edo people to support and vote for the APC candidate this September.

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