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Gov Godwin Obaseki of Edo State

By Isaac Asabor

There is no denying the fact that Godwin Obaseki’ age-long search for commissioners can be likened to searching for virgins in maternity wards. To those that may find it difficult to grasp the proverbial meaning of the foregoing, it is expedient to say that anyone that has listened to a Nigerian veteran musician, Bongos Ikwue’s in his musical track, “Show me a virgin in a maternity ward” which was released in 2010 will incontrovertibly come to terms with the perspective of this piece.

There is no denying the fact that no governor in the remaining 36 states of the federation would want to work with any commissioner or assistant that is not affiliated to the ethnic, religious and political group he or she is affiliated to. The foregoing challenge, no doubt, has been the bane of governments in making political appointments since Nigerian embraced democracy on May 29 1999.

In the bid to reinforce the foregoing view, permit me to cite Section 192 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which provides for the appointment of State Commissioners.  The objective is to enable the Head of the Executive branch of government to appoint some citizens to assist him in the onerous task of governance.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the reason why the appointments of commissioners is expedient in a state is that they generate ideas that would propel the speedy growth of any given state, particularly from the sectors that made up the sectors of such state economy, to which Edo cannot be said to be an exception.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is pragmatic to say that in as much as a governor, in line with Nigeria’s marque of politics, has the prerogative to appoint the Commissioners he chooses to appoint and disengage, Edo State and Edolites should not in any way be made to face the consequences of the governor not doing the needful. This is as Edo State does not belong to any individual or political party. Also, there is an urgent need, just as been done in this context, to remind the governor that governance is a shared responsibility grounded in the ancient wisdom that no man is wise enough or smart enough or competent enough to know and do everything. The gods never conferred omniscience on human beings. It is futile to make claims on what the gods have not given to human beings.

Worse still, it is a tactless denial of the rights of Edolites to be part of the ongoing Obaseki-led government through the appointments of commissioners; irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious affiliation (s). Again, in as much as it is constitutional that the state governor has a free hand to appoint whosoever he wants into the state cabinet, that should be done without bias or resort to bigotry and primordial sentiments, and it should be altruistically done with the progress and development of Edo State at the back of his mind.

Given the foregoing,  it is salient to urge the governor to as soon as possible appoint commissioners for Edo State as by not doing that may be synonymous with substantially derogating from the importance of the office. To start with, Edolites are not unaware of the fact that a commissioner gets appointed on the basis of political expediency only. Whether or not the appointee has a track record of achievements or indeed any cognate service experience does not seem to matter. It is no more news that everyone gets engaged simply to attract or reward the support of his sponsor otherwise known as “godfather”. So, for the governor to be impressing it on Edolites that he is searching for Angels or Saints tantamount to searching for virgins in maternity wards.

In fact, it is sad to be expressing this view in this context, particularly when seen from the fact that after running Edo State for about a year without a cabinet, the governor is still dragging his feet towards the appointments of commissioners in the state.

To this end, it would be recalled that immediately after the governor was sworn in for a second term in office at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, on November 12, 2020, that he announced the reappointment of Mr. Osarodion Ogie as Secretary to State Government (SSG). He went further to say that all other political appointments would be made by February this year.

With his promise, expectations were unarguably high, especially for those nursing the ambition of becoming political appointees. Even at that, members of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who initially raised eyebrows eschewed from being acrimonious and gave him the benefits of the doubt.

But when the month of February came, Edolites were told that due to the spur-of-the-moment alliance the governor had with the PDP after being chased away by his former party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), he needed to understudy the new bride so as to live in harmony with her and avoid a repeat of his experience in APC.

Just as the people were waiting, another excuse in the guise of harmonization was invented to justify his delay in constituting the much-awaited cabinet.

The governor said there was need to harmonize positions in the PDP since his government was a combined efforts of breakaway members of his former party, APC and his new party.

To actualize this, he muted the idea of collapsing the party structure to elect new party executives across board. Although the move did not go down well with the party leadership, it was however, forced to swallow its pride so as not to be seen as rocking the boat too early.

With this conclusive argument, the goal post was further shifted to the end of April to allow the harmonization committee finish its work and come up with an acceptable position so that everyone would reap from the bountiful harvest.

Before this could be achieved, the state Chairman of the party, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi was suspended by same persons that signed a protest letter prevailing on the party National Working Committee (NWC) to call the governor to order over his suggestion of collapsing an already constituted wards, local government, senatorial and state party executives to integrate his own loyalists from APC.

Realizing the futility of his motives, Obaseki hurriedly asked all those interested in political appointments to approach a screening committee, chaired by a former Vice Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Prof. Dennis Agbolahor, for screening.

To make the entire process look democratic, prospective applicants were also asked to get endorsement from the various political leaders in their domain as part of criteria for consideration. But alas! Till date, the governor is yet to constitute the Cabinet.

At this juncture, it is pragmatic to urge the governor to constitute the Cabinet for the benefits of Edolites as the somewhat trial balloon may be detrimental to the well beings of Edo state and Edolites, and moreover, as not constituting the Cabinet as been expected by the good people of Edo state; both at home and in Diaspora, may tantamount to searching for virgins in maternity wards.

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