RATHER than cast this discourse in the mould of a “rejoinder” to Godwin Obaseki’s interactive session with the Vanguard newspaper edition of Sunday, March 13, 2016 (Pages 38 and 39), this piece should be read from the perspective of a “reminder” that an inveterate undertaker cannot metamorphose into a giver of life or a harbinger of good tidings especially considered in the fact that Godwin Obaseki has been at the epicenter and vortex of the retrograde economic measures and woes of Edo State. It is not hard to decipher where Obaseki is coming from given his prominence as a veritable major domo in the Oshiomhole administration cacophony of bilious propaganda machine that virtually ran an omnibus campaign that dwelt more on a diet of theoretical postulations than those that will physically uplift the average Edo person from the doldrums of despondency, not unworkable Keynesian economic theories that Obaseki tried to domesticate in Edo State.
Obaseki’s reactions give the impression that there, literarily, exists a “Tabula Rasa” (or virgin land) in Edo State that is traceable to the abject lack of initiative by previous administration which has resulted in a state of arrested development in many areas of governance which only a re-invented Obaseki can set right. This messianic illusion has driven himself (and by extension his major cheerleader) and the unwary and brain-washed horde of party faithfuls that have been fed on a sour staple of the “super human and divine mission “of a “Saint Godwin”, to a state where the resolution of Edo State’s economic malaise is tied to the emergence of Obaseki as a “natural successor” to Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. Weighed against the prevailing engagement of the “economic guru”, Obaseki, as the all-powerful and omniscient Chairman of Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, one is surprised that he is just waking up to the reality of resuscitating a “comatose” state economy when he and his team were only interested in churning out anti-people economic theories that divested Edo State of worthy investors and entrepreneurs since 2008. Obaseki struggles through a litany of half-truths and blatant lies to position himself as a “worthy successor” to Oshiomhole and a strong purveyor of good economic governance and resurgence among those clamouring to be governor of Edo State from November 12, 2016.
His avuncular statement that “The economy of Edo has improved significantly since we took over in terms of GDP ranking, we have moved to be among the top ten states in Nigeria, in terms of IGR, we are among the top five. In terms of attractiveness to business our ranking is quite high; you can see business trying to locate Edo because of the quality and nature of infrastructure which we have created”, dissolves in the mix of the realities on the ground, with many A-list companies and organisations either divesting or relocating their capital base. Any serious-minded economic analyst or the average Edo person who is currently buffeted by the Obaseki-inspired economic voodooism, like a Battering Ram, peruses the so-called panaceas that has been unleashed on Edo State since November 12, 2008, he or she will wonder why Obaseki, actually, wants to be the Governor of the state on November 12, 2016. His economic prescriptions and timelines has over the years defoliated the emerging green flowers and fauna gradually blossoming on the state’s economic realm to the extent that commerce and industry indices of Edo State has assumed as all-time nose-dive, in spite of the much-self-hype “correctness and soundness” of Obaseki and his team of dreamers. In deed, many legal action have trailed the actions of the Economic and Strategy Team which are designed to stifle and asphyxiate business enterprises and industries in the state, in the first place.
Obaseki’s grandiose emotional attachment to series of unworkable ideals and ideas that have ended up reducing Edo State to a shell of its former self, than a strict adherence to the seamless functionality of good governance and accountability, is the crux of the matter, economy-wise. Oshiomhole/Obaseki’s adoption of the “Ten percent Carrot, Ninety percent stick” module as a disciplinary tool on a largely-harried Civil Service, has left many either dismissed or retired prematurely to pave way for codified Man Fridays in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Edo State. The present Governor Oshiomhole’s administration and the economic ideologue and prime enforcer, Godwin Obaseki, have continued to garner negative reactions to their unpopular and anti-people economic measures and actions. It is no gainsaying the fact that rather than lay down an enduring and easy-to-follow-and-implement economic resurgence plan, the Obaseki Team has spent the greater part of seven and a half years pursuing wild-geese theoretical policies that delivered divestment and capital flight at both the macro and micro economic realms in the productive and services segments in Edo State. One really needs a semantic barometer to gauge the actual sense of Obaseki’s usage and deployment of the hide-all phrase “over-borrowing”, to fully comprehend the desperation of a man seeking justification and refuge for the almost-eight years of years of Economic Incubus foisted upon all Edolites by the Oshiomhole/Obaseki aggregation, through an uncontrolled borrowing binge. In actuality, Godwin Obaseki is the architect of Oshiomhole’s borrowing binge and the gale of age-long indebtedness that has become the enduring legacy and “common patrimony” of all Edolites.
A legacy Obaseki wants to elongate. As an undertaker who has metamorphosed into one seeking to govern a state that he has helped to mismanage, Godwin Obaseki should find urgent answers to the following nagging questions among others:
(a) Which Economic and Strategy Team will recommend the rehabilitation of the six-kilometre New Lagos/Akpakpawa Road Junction that was awarded to RCC Nigeria Limited at a cost of N5,006,774,298.97 (Five Billion, Six Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Four Thousand, Two hundred and Ninety-Eight Naira, Ninety-Seven Kobo)?
(b) Which Economic and Strategy Team will recommend the rehabilitation of the six-lane Airport Road, Benin City that was initially awarded to Servetek Construction Company at an industry record-breaking cost of N4,401,101,722.50 (Four Billion, Four Hundred and One Million, One Hundred and One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Two Naira, Fifty Kobo) and thereafter re-awarded to Setraco at a new contract sum of N2,987,807,990.20 (Two Billion, Nine Hundred and Eighty-Seven Million, Eight Hundred and Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Naira, Twenty Kobo) with a subsequent revision to N3,165,614,217.89 (Three Billion, One Hundred and Sixty-Five Million, Six Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventeen Naira, Eighty-Nine Kobo) and further variations?
(c) Which Economic and Strategy Team will recommend the Turnaround Maintenance and Upgrading of the Musical Water Fountain at the Kings Square, Benin City that awarded to Hoslyn Habitat Limited at the contract sum of N200,000,000 (Two Hundred Million Naira) on November 13, 2015?
(d) Questions, Questions and Questions!
If the chief undertaker-in-charge of the Edo State Economic and Strategy Team, George Obaseki, now has a brainwave and suddenly aspires to morph into one imbued by a regenerative zeal to re-engineer and re-position Edo State from the morass of economic retrogression and controlled by the master puppeteer himself, no one will be fooled by his new-fangled aboutface. The economic theories he proffered to “solve” Edo State’s myriad challenges will be recycled and the people will be the worst for it with Obaseki as the major domo. God forbid! Osazuwa Imariagbe, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.
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