May 29, 2024

Obaseki Betrayed Edo Peoples’ Right to Accountable Governance

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Osagie Crusoe

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By Osehobo Victor Ofure

Pastor Crusoe Osagie in, “The Primacy of Truth (Part 2)”, very disappointingly, failed to comprehend the response to his earlier outing, of the same title. “The Primacy of Truth (Part 1)”, was a fallacy in its entirety. Written long before now, with a plan to release them in phases, it lacks currency and deprives the beleaguered author of the rare opportunity of getting needed feedback for his otherwise wasted effort.

Nevertheless, in the second article Crusoe again attempted unsuccessfully to stand truth on its head by claiming that the Edo PDP government led by Mr Godwin Obaseki’s “success” is due to his refusal to succumb to the pressure of corrupt practices and his insistence on holding individuals accountable for their actions, even if they hold political power.

Gov Godwin Obaseki

He erroneously credits Obaseki with commitment to justice and fairness, particularly in addressing corruption and promoting empathy in governance. How he came to this conclusion remains a mystery.

Crusoe’s talk about Mr Godwin Obaseki bringing an end to corruption in Edo state is laughable because the regime is well on track to bagging the Most Corrupt State in Nigeria award.

Talking about ending corruption, what about Edo billions allegedly locked in Sterling Bank and Obaseki’s Afrinvest, and the piled up Edo resources in their many offshore companies like EMOWAA (or MOWAA) – conduit after Crusoe’s boss failed to grab the Benin artefacts.

Add the Emotan Gardens, Gulf Mews, Benin Enterprise Park, Edo Petroleum Refinery, the Ossiomo Power Plant, Ford Mart, ShopRite and Jara Supermarket among others.

Pastor Crusoe knows, as he told some of Obaseki’s friends in the past, that the governor’s crime is selling away the fortunes and future of Edo State.

He also abandoned the welfare of Edo people who voted for him, in particular, in 2020, and failed to care for the health of the underprivileged in Edo. If he has forgotten, we must remind Crusoe to tell his boss that empathy is when a government deplore the resources it receives for the purpose it was designed for.

In this regard, Obaseki should tell Edo people when the CNG Buses he claimed to have bought with Edo State palliative funds will be delivered.

Whereas Crusoe said that: “A good example is some politically connected farmers who got loans from the commercial agriculture credit scheme and somehow expected Gov Obaseki to write off the loans just because they have political access.”

Truth is, the ‘big farmers’ that benefited from the loans and have refused to repay are notable Obaseki political advisers, his portfolio farmers made up of a palace chief, PDP senatorial leaders as well as serving commissioners.

Crusoe failed in an attempt to contrast the expectations of those he calls politically connected elite, who I said are the governor’s sycophants and praise singers, in seeking impunity for their actions, with Obaseki’s dedication to enforcing consequences for misconduct.

He mentioned instances where Obaseki’s decisions, such as demanding repayment of loans from politically influential farmers, as have drawn criticism from those accustomed to unchecked privilege.

But he was scared of mentioning any of these farmers.

The question is, who else but “farmers” by the Edo state government definition could have benefitted from its political loans?

He should ask Asue Ighodalo for what happened to the Edo State farmers’ N5billion loan reportedly paid into Sterling Bank. The advice is for Crusoe to tread softly on the messy details of Edo state many agricultural loans that are allegedly locked up in Sterling Bank PLC.

No doubt, Pastor Crusoe is not aware that in the last seven and a half years of his reign, with the godfather Mr Godwin Obaseki and his godsons, Mr Asue Ighodalo and Mr Osarodion Ogie, at the helm, Edo state government and the 18 Local government councils have never at any point, announced, published or publicized tenders for Contractors, Consultants, Service Providers or Vendors to bid for contracts in Edo state.

He must also be in the dark of the fact that all the contracts, many of them on paper, were actually awarded to ghosts – unknown to Edo tax payers and at costs that was kept away from the public.

As a result, Edo state lost billions of Naira in fake contracts, a situation that accounts for the present huge local and foreign debts of the State.

His article painted and very erroneously, Obaseki as one who empowered marginalized groups, into his government. It also applauded Obaseki’s many hyped initiatives to alleviate the impact, socalled, of national policies on the people of Edo State.

Some of these initiatives no doubt include the Religious Feeding program of the state government, for which the #9Billion projected was not captured under any guise in the 2024 Appropriation Act.

Does the law allow the Godwin Obaseki government to unilaterally take the sum of #1billion monthly or #3billion per quarter, for the first phase of the Feeding programme without recourse to our sleeping State Assembly?

What of the Phase 2 from August to October 2024 and another illegal #3billion to feed another 180,000 Edo vulnerable Christian people?.

If Governor Obaseki’s party, the PDP lose the September election, which it will, will food for these vulnerable christians still be available in October? No.

There will be no phase 4, from November 2024 to January 2025, as a result. Is Pastor Crusoe aware that the government plans a Muslim Feeding Program to select 180,000 vulnerable Edo Muslims to feed in 3 phases too?

For a governor who saves cost, #3billion will go into feeding 180,000 Edo vulnerable people who are neither Christians or Muslims in three phases.

What kind of cost saving device is he talking about or transparency that allows Governor Obaseki to spend a record #9Billion from May to October this year to feed only 540,000 vulnerable Edo religious?

What of the other 4,500,000 Edo citizens are not religious, vulnerable and do not eat? Were they not affected by the National policies of fuel subsidy removal?

I recall that in December 2023, Governor Godwin Obaseki signed a budget of #342billion as the State Appropriation Law.

Is Crusoe aware that the total percentage of the budget allocated to the agricultural (food) sector in this 2024 appropriation law is approximately 1.32%?

That is like #3billion for all the outgoing Obaseki government agricultural activities in 2024. Crusoe and Obaseki should know that empathy is when you distribute grains from Federal government strategic grains reserve to Edo people, without repackaging same in the colour of PDP.

When Crusoe questioned the Edo populace support for Obaseki’s dubious principles in attempting to foist a successor on the State in the face of opposition particularly in the upcoming gubernatorial election, he also provides the answer himself and rightly blamed the prevalence of official misinformation and the challenges of communicating the truth to Edo public as the hurdles.

Take for example the fact that whereas the laws of Edo state rightly provides that the governor shall appoint Boards of Directors for following agencies and parastatals in Edo State, Pastor Crusoe’s boss has since he rook office in 2016 been functioning as Chairman and Board of directors and in many cases, the Management of the following agencies: Edo State Oil and Gas Minerals Producing Areas Commission, Edo State Emergency Management Agency, Edo State Public Procurement Agency, Edo State Agency Against Human Trafficking, Edo State Traffic Management Authority and Edo State Transport Services.

Others are Edo State Property Development Authority, Edo State Fire Service, Edo State Water Board, Edo State Waste Management Board, Edo State Post-primary Schools Board, Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, EdoState Board of Inland Revenue, Edo Public Complaints Commission, Edo State Rural Electricity Board, Edo State Agricultural Development Programme, Edo State Civil Service Commission and Edo State Law Review Commission.

The list includes Edo State Local Government Service Commission, Edo State Teaching Service Commission, Edo State Hospital Management Board, Edo State Primary Healthcare Agency, Edo State Pensions Board, Edo State Assembly Service Commission, Edo State Library Board, Edo State Sports Council, Edo State Bureau for Public Procurement, Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, Edo State Scholarship Board, Edo State Health Insurance Scheme, Edo State Rapid Response Agency, Edo Broadcasting Service and Bendel Newspapers Company Limited.

He actually admitted and very erroneously, that these agencies do not need Boards as today, they are functioning well with the Governor Godwin Obaseki as their Sole Administrator.

He claimed that the idea was to cut costs but became mute on the illegality of the governor’s action.

For us in the APC Campaign Council, it is obvious that the Obaseki administration has scored zero on transparency and accountability in all facets of governance.

He has murdered public confidence and buried the culture of trust between the government and its citizens.

All that is left for him to vacate the saddle. Anything less would be a disservice to the people of Edo State and a betrayal of their right to accountable governance.

Osehobo Victor Ofure is APC Assistant State Publicity Secretary

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