●Says candidates should emerge on the basis of competence, capacity and pedigree
●Slams Obaseki for presiding over the retrogresion of Edo State
IMMEDIATE past Commissioner for Communication and orientation In Edo State and Convener of the Rescue Edo Movement (REM),Hon Andrew Adaze Emwanta, says that parties governorship candidates should emerge on the basis of competence, capacity and pedigree and not on the basis of zoning.
Emwanta, who addressed a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, under the aegis of Rescue Edo Movement (REM) said that marginalization of senatorial zones, which zoning should have cured, was not a peculiar problem in Edo State.
According to him, “On the issue of zoning, it is the view of the Rescue Edo Movement that in the past, we have had a Benin (Edo South), Esan (Edo Central) and Etsako (Edo north) person elected into the office of Governor, without any form of marginalisation recorded.
“The seat of Government in our dear State is located at Osadebe Avenue in GRA Benin city. The following is the breakdown of how the governorship position has moved among the three major ethnic groups in the State: Prof. Ambrose Alli (Edo Central) 1979 – 1983; Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia (Edo South) October 1983 – December 1983; Dr. John Odigie Oyegun(Edo South) January 1992 to November 1993; Chief. Lucky Igbinedion (Edo South) 1999 – 2007; Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor (Edo Central); May 2007 to November 2008; Comrade Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North); 2008 – 2016; Mr. Godwin Obaseki (Edo South); 2016 till date.”
He said that an analysis or a breakdown of how the critical stakeholders in the state had benefitted from the governorship showed that Edo South had so far produced 4 governors, Edo Central had produced 2 while Edo North had produced 1.
Emwanta said that the REM would heavily discount the proposal for the 2024 guber slot to be ceded to any particular zone, maintaining that the group was calling on relevant authorities and stakeholders to provide a level play-field to all governorship aspirants.
“We should all emphasize competence, capacity, and pedigree. These and others should guide us to make the right decision in 2024,” he said.
He expressed concerns that Edo State was at a crossroads, looking for redemption, even as he called on men and women of goodwill that the Almighty God had inspired to stand up to provide leadership for the people.
“We will search for a person who has what it takes to lift Edo State from its present state of arrested development. It is our considered and well-thought-out position that it is time for electoral renaissance in Edo. We cannot be held down by the primordial fault-lines. We will do everything that is possible, within the constitutional limits, to reclaim our State from the jaws of those who have tried to swallow it up,” he stated.
Emwanta had decried what he described as the state of “arrested development”, saying that “As we move into the electoral season of the 2024 governorship election in Edo State, it has become imperative for us to address the press on certain topical issues that will help Edo people to make a right choice.
“As of today, it is sad to note that the security and welfare of the people, as envisaged by the drafters of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, are no longer the primary purpose of government in Edo State.
“Edo State now operates a single tier of government, as what is supposed to be a democratically elected Local Government system in the State has been reduced into a bunch of glorified political appointees of the governor.
“While other states in Nigeria are celebrating visible development in critical sectors, Edo State is experiencing visible underdevelopment in almost every sector.
“The only visible development is the renovation of the abandoned civil/public service buildings and the digitisation of the work environment of civil/public service offices within Benin City.
“Over fifty billion naira of Edo taxpayers’ funds was spent on this project, with only one foreign building contractor engaged in the entire exercise.”
Emwanta continued: “Arising from the foregoing, it is worth emphasizing that from the time Edo was known as Midwest, the State has never been as backward as it is under the present regime of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who has been Governor since 2016.
“Mr. Obaseki has no doubt set a new benchmark of underdevelopment within the subnational sphere in Nigeria, when the economy of Edo State is x-rayed without the aid of the propaganda lenses of his Alaghodaro summit organizers.
“The annual Alaghodaro summit has become a propaganda vehicle for marketing the fraud behind the underdevelopment of Edo State. It is a sad story of public funds being converted into private investments by the aid of publicly funded private consultants.
“The current state of underdevelopment in Edo can best be x-rayed from the angle of four out of the six thematic pillars of Governor Obaseki’s 2020 MEGA Agenda viz: economic revolution; social welfare enhancement; infrastructural development; arts, culture, and tourism.”
He claimed that the economy of Edo State had not attracted any major investment since 2020 when Mr. Obaseki launched his much-touted and celebrated MEGA manifesto.
“Rather, what we hear is that the governor is signing MoUs to bring in investments into the State via PPPs. The Ossiomo power plant that was one of such PPPs that were MoU-created supplied darkness to both its public and private subscribers for one whole week non-stop in the month of October this year. The reason for this ugly trend was due to the failure of the management of the power plant to pay for gas that was previously supplied.
“Edo Petroleum Refinery is another PPP of the Obaseki Government, whose economic and social benefits are only visible to the organizers of the annual Alaghodaro summit.
“The refining, marketing, and distribution of petroleum products from this PPP facility is one of the latest wonders of the world. No single local petrol or gas station in Benin City has ever purchased petroleum products in commercial quantities from this mystery or grotesque refinery that was partly built with Edo tax payers’ money.”
In the area of Social Welfare Enhancement, Emwanta said that the social welfare of Edo residents had gone from grace to grass within the last three years of the Obaseki (second term) administration.
According to him; “The reason for this is not far-fetched. The three key sectoral indicators for benchmarking social welfare enhancement in any society are; education, health and affordable public transportation.
“Public tertiary education is experiencing an all-time low under the present administration of Edo State. Mr. Governor, as Visitor to the state-owned Ambrose Alli University, has donated the running of the institution to an amorphous entity known as “Special Intervention Team”(S.I.T).
“Due to the high-handedness of this strange entity, within the last three years, the University has lost more than one academic session, owing to protests by students and strike by unpaid university staff members. The story is not different from that of public secondary and primary schools in Edo State.
“There is no visible evidence of the billions of naira that have been sunk in the infrastructure renewal of the Edo BEST Programme. What is visible are school children sitting on the floor of dilapidated school buildings in both urban and rural areas.
“Just recently, the State Government was compelled after a public outcry by Edo people to relocate primary school pupils from a dilapidated building that is not fit to house poultry birds.
“The story of the Edo State health sector is one of suffering and shame. The electoral promise of the governor to build at least one Primary Healthcare Centre across the 192 Wards of the State has become a proverbial tale by moonlight.
“As we speak, the Governor is still struggling to complete the renovation of Stella Obasanjo Hospital, after appropriating close to twenty billion naira for the project.
“It is sad to note that the hospital project has become a cash cow for A & K company Ltd, the foreign company handling all public building projects for the Obaseki-led government.
“Today, the only viable and credible public medical facility is the Edo Specialist Hospital built by the Adams Oshiomhole-led administration.
“Due to the failure of the transportation policy of his government, the Governor was compelled to scrap the Edo State Ministry of Transport. Recently, while other State Governments were inaugurating newly acquired high-capacity buses to ease the transportation burden of their residents, a top official of the Edo State Government was seen inaugurating old Comrade buses, that were acquired by the immediate past administration of the State. What a shame!”
Emwanta condemned the current state of public infrastructure in Edo State, saying the dilapidation could only be attributed to the problem of corruption.
According to him, “Not too long ago, sixteen billion naira was refunded to the Obaseki-led administration by the Federal Government for federal roads fixed during the regime of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Till date, the Governor and his media aides have refused to explain to Edo people how this money was spent.
“Edo now has the best network of bad roads, with almost all entry and exit routes into the State impassable. Most State roads under construction have been abandoned by contractors. Also, roads in communities like Evboutubu, Uwelu, Edaiken, Ewah and Iwogban within Benin City are not motorable. Sadly, these are State roads for which billions of tax-payers money have been appropriated and collected.”
He spoke on Arts, Culture and Tourism subsector of the state economy, pointing out that the Obaseki-led administration in the last two years had been struggling ownership rights of the age-old stolen artefacts with the highly revered Palace of the Oba of Benin.
According to him “Having lost the ownership battle, the name of the museum built with tax-payers money was changed and the ownership of the uncompleted white elephant is still shrouded in mystery.
“The promise by the Governor of building a cultural district that will attract tourists from around the world has suddenly become a pipeline dream meant to be displayed during the annual Alaghodaro investors hangout.
“This is not different from the Governor’s electoral promise of building an airport in Edo north, a seaport in Edo South, and a two megawatts power station on the premises of Ambrose Alli University in Edo Central. There is no better way to scam a people than this.”
Emwanta stated further: “From tomorrow, which is the 8th day of November 2023, the Governor will assemble some members of his government, fellow technocrats, his consultants, his Lagos paddies, business partners, fellow golfers, his political party members, some family members and in laws in Government House Benin city, to celebrate what he named some years ago as “Alaghodaro summit”.
“May l take this opportunity to appeal to the governor to save taxpayers’ money by going straight to the point in his planned Alaghodaro media jamboree for this year. His main plan for this year’s Alaghodaro summit is to unveil and get endorsement for the Chairman of Alaghodaro (Nig) Ltd (or LT/GE), Mr. Asue Ighodalo as his preferred candidate for the Edo 2024 governorship election.
“Edo people are too sophisticated to fall for the lie that Mr. Obaseki prefers, with utmost sincerity of purpose, that the governorship of the State should shift to Edo Central. The truth must be told, no matter whose ox is gored. It is Mr. Asue Ighodalo that Mr. Godwin Obaseki is planning to zone the PDP governorship ticket to and not to governorship aspirants from Edo Central.
“It is one thing to zone the governorship ticket to a senatorial district and it is yet another to zone the same to a particular individual.”
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