Obaseki: New era, new challenges

Obaseki: New era, new challenges

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Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole will bow out of office in two months’ time. Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU highlights the challenges that will confront his successor, Godwin Obaseki.

His victory at the governorship poll was a fulfillment of destiny. A year ago, he was not aware of what fate had in stock for him. As the leader of the Edo State Economic Team, he was a silent worker at the ‘Think-Tank Office, assisting his ‘boss’ in policy initiation and implementation. Godwin Obaseki was self-effacing.  As a professional, his colleagues felt that politics was a no-go area for him. Little did he guess that he will eventually emerge as Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s successor, following a historic contest between him and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Also, Obaseki’s victory marked the fulfillment of the governor’s dream to hand over to a competent successor. Oshiomhole had fought many battles in the last eight years in Edo. He waged a successful war against godfathers, who he claimed, had converted the state into their fiefdom. He also fought the infrastructure battle, earning an applause for an impressive performance. But, despite his track record, the recent poll was not a walk over for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The succession battle may have really affected the party, making some chieftains to subvert or undermine it at the poll. Although Obaseki was eminently qualified to be governor, there was a strong opposition to his emergence.

To the comrade governor, Obaseki was the right choice, giving the prevailing circumstances. Oshiomhole may have studied the succession pattern in Lagos State where the two governors who had come after former Governor Bola Tinubu-Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Akinwunmi Ambode-had lived up to expectation. Obaseki shares a similar trait with these successful administrators. They are technocrats like him. Having successfully laid a new foundation for Edo’s future, Oshiomhole believed that only a competent successor could defend the legacies of his administration and build on the foundation.

The joy of victory may have withered in the face of the daunting challenges. Much is expected of the governor-elect. Having succeeded in the private sector where he had worked in the last 30 years, Obaseki is expected to enact the success story that made him a man of pedigree.

As the people of Edo State anticipate a new dawn, the governor-elect is leaving no stone unturned during the transition period. He is conscious of the weight of responsibilities on his shoulders. His first priority is reconciliation in his party. After the poll, the governor-elect  has demonstrated his intention to run an all-inclusive government. He has been discussing with stakeholders, particularly aggrieved party stalwarts, who were upset by the selection process that produced him as the flag bearer. The goal is to pacify them, give them a sense of belonging and tap from their rich experience.

Besides, Obaseki, who has thanked the people for giving him the mandate, is seeking for another favour. He has urged the people from the 18 local governments to unite behind his administration. “Politics and elections are over. Now is the time to begin the task of development to move the state forward,” he said.

Obaseki added: “It is time to bury the hatchet and close ranks for the good of our state. Our state is superior to all other interests and we must as individuals subordinate our personal ambitions to that of the collective.’

According to observers, the governor-elect must have the courage of conviction to confront the challenges. A lot of pressure will be exerted on him in the course of the struggle for the distribution of appointments by stakeholders. Edo is a heterogeneous state. This makes geo-political balancing more compelling. Besides, the PDP factor in the state cannot be dismissed. The opposition party has two senators and some members of the House of Assembly and Representatives.

Obaseki, a financial expect, may not coming to play politics. During the campaigns, he had told the people that his priority was the economic survival of the Southsouth state. Many expect him to set up a cabinet of talents. A party source acknowledged that the people expect a mixed grill of tested professionals and seasoned politicians.  Obaseki is likely to bring his experience in the private sector to bear on governance. Fiscal discipline and frugality may be the watchword. “I will not have a large cabinet,” he told reporters in Benin, the state capital, shortly after his victory at the poll. This may have wider implications for the building of a new perception about governance. By planning to reduce the size of the State Executive Council, the governor -elect will be reducing the cost of governance.

It is likely that Oshiomhole may leave behind a number of uncompleted projects across the three senatorial districts. Since Obaseki will be presiding over a government of continuity, the onus is on him to complete these laudable projects. Its completion should be a core priority, having been part of their initiation and implementation from the beginning.

The financial expert will be assuming the reins at a critical time in history. The country is in recession. Reflecting on the economic downturn, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanayi once said that it is not the best of time to be governor in Nigeria. Thus, governance cannot be a tea-party. Oshiomhole has managed to pay salaries and financed the on-going projects. That feat were even difficult to foremost oil-producing states. Obaseki has to roll up his sleeves. Since the federal allocation to the state may continue to dwindle, he should adorn his thinking cap and explore avenues for income generation to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). During the campaign, he spoke on the need to maximise the opportunities for taxation. However, he also admitted that taxation should have human face because over-taxation may lead to uproar.

During the campaigns, the APC candidate made some promises to the people. These promises must be fulfilled. The campaign promises included more roads, more hospitals, jobs for the youths, increased funding for agriculture and industrialisation. As a big name in the private sector, Edo also looks forward to the fulfillment of the promise to attract local and foreign investors.

In his victory speech, the governor-elect reiterated his determination to implement his manifestos. He said: “Our promise to build a state anchored on a productive economy that will transform and empower our citizens is sincere. We promised jobs. We promised improved scial welfare services and a secured state. We will strive to deliver on all these promises. As we travelled all over our great state selling our programmes, we also took note of your concerns and problems, and I want to assureyou that we will do everything in our power to address them.”

Obaseki has a mentor and role model in Oshiomhole. But, he must strive to beat his performance. The new helmsman should also be sensitive to the mistakes the comrade governor may have committed that made some stakeholders to overlook his performance.

Also, in this dispensation,  predecessor-successor crises have always marred relations between former governors and their anointed candidates. The examples are the Kwankwaso/Danguge rift, Obi/Obiano conflict and Akpabio/Emmanuel crisis, although the later is been managed to prevent its escalation. These post-election rifts often divide the ruling parties and the states. They can be prevented through mutual respect, promotion of understanding, acknowledgment of limitations to influence, compromise and consensus building.


Source : Thenationonline

Thenationonline

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