Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo state, has been doing so well in office that even his political opponents and critics in his own APC party admit they cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with him.
Nearing the end of his constitutionally allowed two terms, the governor is carrying on as if he was in his first term. He has refused to slow down. The energy and focus are still there.
In his first term, the union leader-turned-politician rebuilt public schools that the PDP administration before his neglected. He rehabilitated potholed roads and built new roads that opened up parts of the state that were inaccessible for decades. Benin City, the state capital, received a physical facelift that made it once more the envy of other state capitals.
In the nearly eight years that Oshiomhole has been in charge in Edo, the state has shaken off its old toga as the most violent in the country. The high crime rate has reduced considerably; armed robbery which used to be the state’s second nature has almost ceased. Girl trafficking for prostitution in Italy and other European countries, a booming industry before, has been stopped. Kidnapping for ransom has also disappeared.
For all that the governor has received commensurate praise, even from people not given to praise singing like former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was very cynical when Oshiomhole in 2007 threw his hat into the political ring to challenge for the governorship of Edo state. Obasanjo, then in the last days of his presidency, reportedly remarked that it was one thing to be an effective union leader, but another to be a performing political leader. Ohiomhole proved him wrong, however, and Obasanjo promptly offered his respects with a rare visit to the governor.
However, there is another face of Oshiomhole that is not good. It is his penchant for over-politicizing matters or his impatience with the opposition. In his first term, he killed off the opposition PDP through intimidation and distribution of patronage. Overnight, the PDP lost its majority in the state House of Assembly to the governor’s Action Congress (AC) party, now APC. Today the state House of Assembly is dysfunctional, having splintered into two irreconcilable subsets, one PDP controlled and the other controlled by APC. Then, the governor conducted a sham local government election that allowed the opposition no slice of the cake.
Now, Oshiomhole is into something utterly ridiculous. He is building walkways along roads that the PDP federal government is building in the state and putting up signposts giving the impression that it is the government’s project. This is political brinkmanship too far. Let the governor go and do his own roads if he feels outdone by the federal government. We also urge him to do things softly, softly. After all, he won’t lose anything politically since he won’t be running for a third term. Rather the people of the state stand to gain handsomely from the federal government’s road project.