I am a politician. We all are at one point or the other of our social, cultural and political endeavours. Presently however, I don’t belong to any political Party in Nigeria. If you ever want to amount to anything today, and you’re not hobnobbing with the politicians then you’re not ready. I want to amount to something and therefore have tried to hobnob. I even made the attempt to join one of them some time ago but the arrangement was a bit cumbersome for me. To that extent, I have decided to be my own political party and try to dissect happenings from an impartial perspective. But the point must be made very quickly that politics must not usually be a dirty game, only to be left with those which the predilection for garrulousness and for peddlers of calumny. From what I have seen in Nigeria’s experiment with our version of democracy, it looks as if all politicians, no matter which country they come from always seem to thrive on their ability to talk, to network and always ready to apply the principle of the first law of life – self-preservation and self-aggrandisement. These elements are not negative. The only thing wrong with ours and the way we run things here therefore is that all three elements which I highlighted above always seem to be put to three purposes – self-aggrandisement, self-aggrandisement and self-aggrandisement.
To that end, it is usually a bit difficult to see anyone of those in public offices today not seeking a perpetuity of their temporal antecedents for self-aggrandisement. What is even harder is that if you were to run into any one of them and you deign express your satisfaction with them, you risk being branded a supporter of that political party, and the individual representative of that party. But the times must come and come as soon as possible wherein we can look achievement or the predilection to it in the eye and say so no matter whose ox would be gored or whatever brand we are slapped.
Having said this, I also want to say that despite not being an Edo person, the capital city, Benin is a dear place to me and members of my family. We grew up here and attended primary school and university here. My brothers and sisters are defacto Bini sons and daughters – their mastery of Bini language is almost flawless, and my younger brother’s mastery of Bini proverbs and aphorisms can match that of the dejure Bini sons or daughters. We take more than a passing interest in the key actors on the political stage. We cannot say we do not fight over our interest for some of the politicians, but all of that is more to promote the good for Benin City. From when I began to be able to express myself publicly, I have not shied from offering my thoughts concerning the welfare of this our second home.
If you are widely travelled, you could easily ascertain that Benin City, among the other capital cities in Nigeria was the dirtiest. Not so anymore. You may not agree but the facts on ground attest to that assertion. Benin City and its Ring Road seems to be the only capital city in Nigeria with a market which creates a critical hub of commercial activity and generates refuse at the speed of that same hub of commercial activity. I remember during the Adams Oshiomhole administration that efforts were made to clean up the city but none worked.
It was Winston Churchill who said that anybody who has ever achieved relevance with the parameters for the measurement of achievement usually goes against the rung of individuals and of tradition. And I really must say that so far, the chap in charge of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has begun to apply that principle in theory and in practice. The man has two ears and two eyes and a brain and knows how to use them all. Sometime ago, I had cause to draw the attention of the Oshiomhole administration to one of the oldest roads in Benin, Ibiwe, with craters resembling a miniature Grand Canyon. Instead of considering getting the attention of their principal to working that road, some of the governor’s aides sent me threats, asking me to go to my state and ‘complain’. But to my surprise, that same road was one of the first which Mr. Obaseki decided to refurbish. The man took time to go there and see things for himself before embarking on some measure of action.
Some of the greatest things being said about Mr. Obaseki today is that he seems every inch of the technocrat he is said to be. He has said that there is no free money in Edo, telling rabble rousers using tv and radio to access government house that the party for the collection of a largesse is over. Mr. Obaseki has banned Edo Omoniles, and recently took on certain individuals seen to be untouchables in Edo state. And therefore, the Ring Road in Benin City is beginning to be spick and span, and I guess Mr. Obaseki achieved this by moving the source of the generation of waste from the Oba Market axis to another location.
I am happy with Mr. Obaseki, and most Edo people are, even though some may be a bit shy or political to say so. We have two prayers for him, and for Edo state and they are based on the projections and imagery of Edo state or Benin City in the next decade. One, we hope that these steps are not flukes, and that he sustains them to the very end. We also hope that the other actors on the national stage would have the courage to take on even members of their party with the Obaseki example if the interest of the state and its people is at stake.
Written by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku