Chief Nathaniel Momoh is a man who has earned my unconditional respect for a number of reasons, chief of which is that, he says what he means, and means what he says. If he gives you his word, you can go to sleep. And there are few men today in the Nigerian political space that we can say the same about.
The role he played during the launching, in 2019, of my book “Ososo; Our Place, Our People and Our Patrimony”, a book about the scenic town of streams and rocks caught in between the undulating Somorika hills in northern Edo State, registered this fact in my head.
Long before Adams Oshiomole’s suspension, before Godwin Obaseki’s disqualification from participating in the APC gubernatorial primary, and his subsequent defection to the PDP, before all the drama began to play out in the APC, before our very eyes, I had had this soft spot for the governor, for the singular reason that he loves Edo State and her people, a thing we can all verify from the actions he has taken since he took office.
In the same vein, I started having reservation for Adams Oshiomole since the day he took on APC’s major trait, long after he discarded his NLC spirit of activism, and developed a penchant for saying one thing in the morning and another at night. And keen observers of the man and the unraveling events in Edo State these past weeks, can attest to this.
Chief Nathaniel is like a father, and for this reason, not only do I visit often, I also try to support and answer his call anytime, any day. So when I got wind of his plan to set up a movement in support of Obaseki’s re-election bid, I made a mental note to take him up on his reasons, when next I visited. Though the governor has my undiluted support, I decided to play the devil’s advocate. And so, the first question I put to Chief Nathaniel was why he decided to form the Obaseki Mandate Forum, FCT and lend support to a man who some have argued “promised to construct the Ososo/Okpella road and failed”.
The Ososo/Okpella road was the responsibility of Adams Oshiomole who spent eight years in office. The road is barely twenty kilometers to Iyamu, Oshiomole’s home town, why did he not do it? In any case, he insisted, there is still a chance for Obaseki to fulfill his promise to the people of Ososo, that is why we must all support him.
Four years ago, in the build up to the Edo State governorship election that ushered in Governor Obaseki, Adams Oshiomole explained to the people of Edo State and Nigeria why he settled for the man.
“I know my limit”. He said, and “He knows his limit. Godwin Obaseki has worked for seven and half years for the people of Edo state, using his brain, creativity, quietly, not making noise,” he added.
Rapping on, he continued, “He sits in the office of the economic team which he built using his network of friends inside the heart of government house without demanding one naira…
A man like that who will not ask me to give him contracts, but will promise me, ‘comrade, you just do the thinking, we will create the means to actualize your thoughts’. And to his credit today, check the books of Edo state, we did not build new structures in government house with government money. That economic team office was built through Godwin’s network. Today, it remains a permanent asset of the state government.
I want us to be calling that building Godwin Obaseki building…” If you think that was all, hear Adams Oshiomole.
If you have to look at Godwin and his credentials and you look at a man whose only work, by his CV, was a student and rusticated for two years, he read law but he is not a barrister. That is his foundation. I never gave him government job. Lucky Igbinedion’s mother was reported to have slapped Ize-Iyamu for misleading her son. He tried it with me, but we kept him away. Nothing near government circle. No access to public funds.
Look at the road to his house, in our books, was dual carriage way. They took the money, constructed the road to his house and stopped. Although we have liquidated the godfathers politically, the entire political family will be liquidated.” He concluded.
At different forums, to different audiences, on radio, television, newspapers, at campaign rallies, just name it, our man Adams Oshiomole went on telling the entire world who the man Obaseki is, how impeccable his educational qualifications were, how he, as head of his economic team, contributed to his success as governor and even raised his hand up to heaven at a campaign rally on one occasion, and swore in the name of God, that he was bequeathing to the people of Edo a man after God’s heart, and that he had destroyed “godfatherism” in Edo State, that he would allow Obaseki be his own man with no interference. He didn’t stop there, he went on to tell us how much of a thief the current flagbearer of the APC was and how he could not even trust him with a board appointment, pray people, what has changed in four years?
How many of the people who, today, oppose Governor Obaseki’s re-election have accused him of incompetence? Instead, we hear words like, “he’s disloyal to his godfather” in 21st century Nigerian politics, even though these same people know what it means to pander to the will of godfathers in Nigeria! Lagos is not far from Edo State, former governor Ambode is still alive and we are not blind to the recent history of that state.
It is on record that when Governor Obaseki took office, he told the party chieftains and foot soldiers of Oshiomhole that he remained a technocrat who believed that the allocation to the state and its internally-generated revenue were meant for the development of the state, and not for sharing among politicians. Do we still need to look far to see the real reason for the rift between the two men?
For the first time in our history, in Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, we have a man who loves and cares for his people, who rules from among the people, who listens, who decided the resources of the state are meant strictly for the betterment of the lives of the people.
From welfare and security, through education and healthcare, to infrastructure and industrialization, we have seen a man who is fulfilling campaign promises and bringing hope to the people. A man who is not only committed to fixing roads, rebuilding schools, facilitating the expansion of existing businesses and ensuring a vibrant, boisterous state that all residents will be proud of, but a man who has started a process that will see the State take its rightful place. Are we to talk about Ossiomo Power Plant, Edo Best that is offering employment to our youths, Edo Festival, or the Ogbemudia Stadium that can conveniently host world Olympics games today? The list is endless.
Thousands of Edo youths trapped in the Mediterranean in search of greener pastures abroad are back home and many are engaged, those who were trafficked as sex workers are home and ones again, there is hope for our people, our children, despite Covid 19, are doing well and so on.
Abuja has a large collection of intelligent, hardworking and vibrant Edo indigenes, among them, a group of like-minded friends came together and decided that Edo State must takes it pride of places among other States. When they realized that the very man who boasted of having crashed godfatherism in Edo State, had turned around to try to establish his own dynasty, they decided all such moves must be resisted. That was how the Obaseki Mandate Forum, Abuja, OMF FCT was born. OMF exists to support good governance in Edo State, this is why it has thrown its entire weight behind Obaseki’s re-election bid.
Across the entire Edo State, among ordinary people, the mission is clear, come September 19, 2020, we shall together speak with one voice, through our votes, loud and clear, that Edo People Deserve Obaseki Again.