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Edo 2024: Okpebholo And His Crumbling Sandcastle

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By George Etakibuebu

 

Though the September 21 governorship election in Edo State is 101 days or more than three months away, Senator Monday Okpebholo’s sandcastle has begun to disintegrate in earnest. This is not entirely surprising. Any structure built on a false and fraudulent foundation, no matter how beautifully designed, it is bound to collapse. Okpebholo’s edifice has started unraveling much sooner than expected.

 

In February, Okpebholo, the senator representing Edo Central, was declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the coming governorship election in the state in a rather controversial circumstances that left political observers trying to understand the real meaning of the word ‘abracadabra’. Within a space of seven days or so, the APC managed to weave a stupendously entertaining political acrobatic display in a re-run primary election that overturned the result of the one held six or seven days earlier.

 

Bassey Otu, governor of Cross River and the chairman of the APC supplementary primary election, declared Okpebholo winner of the election on Friday, February 23, in Benin, the Edo State capital. Otu said the candidate polled 12,433 votes to defeat 11 other aspirants in the contest.

 

Earlier on February 17, Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, who was the former chairman of the primary election committee, had announced Hon Dennis Idahosa, a member of the House of Representatives, as the winner of the primary election. Idahosa, who led in the first ballot with 4,483, ended the rerun with 6,541 votes.

 

In a quick reaction, one of the party’s stalwarts, Kassim Afegbua, a former commissioner for information in the state, declared that the governorship primary that produced Okpebholo “never took place”. Afegbua, who spoke in a chat with a popular online news medium, described Okpebholo’s election as a “gang-up by the national leadership” of the party. During the rescheduled primary, Okpebholo suddenly scored 12, 433 votes and was declared the winner ahead of 11 other aspirants.

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Afegbua, who was also a governorship aspirant, insisted that Okpebholo and his allies were nowhere to be found on the day of the primary which produced him as winner. “That is how they wanted it and we say good luck to them. The national headquarters of the party should go and deliver the candidate they have ganged up to produce. We will just sit down here and watch.

 

“Since they say Oshiomhole is their problem, they should leave him out of this and go and deliver the man (Okpebholo) during the election. We all knew that there was no primary conducted on Thursday by Okpebholo and others. We never saw the representative of Okpebholo and the others on the field,” he had argued.

 

Observers started getting a bit concerned and skeptical about the suitability, competence, capacity and preparedness of Okpebholo for the task of leading one of the most sophisticated states in Nigeria after the party pulled another ‘master-stroke’ that made Idahosa the running mate to Okpebholo. The senator started displaying ‘absconditus’ tendencies. Avoiding any engagement during the day and only managing to crawl out at night once in a while; almost becoming a recluse or hermit. He would however, never fail to cause a public commotion whenever he manages to come to the open through series of gaffes, palpable display of a lack of self-confidence, incoherent and unsynchronized deliveries and his annoyingly lack of basic knowledge needed for a high profile office like the Governor of Edo State.

 

 

In May, for whatever reason, his handlers packaged for him a tour of the USA with a view to engaging Edo citizens in the Diaspora. The result was a colossal failure. There, he displayed such naivety, ignorance, palpable inferiority and an unambiguous verdict that he is not a governorship material. He could not differentiate between a museum and a zoo. At best, those who had hoped to burnish his image, succeeded in portraying him as less than suitable for even a counsellorship position, politically.

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The US trip was followed by another engagement with the Akoko-Edo Development Association. The result was a spectacular fiasco. It left an indelible conclusion that the APC has only manage to present, most possibly imposed, the least candidate with the requisite competencies, capacity, vision, self-assuredness, the basic and general knowledge, social-awareness and the presence of mind to be the governor of a 21st Century Edo State out of the 18 political parties.

 

Disturbed by the discovery, many well informed citizens of Edo State began wondering why a big party like the APC peopled with brilliant minds and controlling the federal government would saddle the voters in Edo with an impossible choice of a vacuous, dour and completely incoherent and unconvincing candidate for the election?

 

In the last two weeks, those who feel they could no longer bear the shame of being led by the nose are voting with their feet, leaving the Monday Okpebhole sandcastle and fleeing to safety in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which parades Dr Asue Ighodalo, the best candidate by far for the coming election.

 

In Uromi, the administrative headquarters of Esan North East Local Government Council, a chieftain of the party, Alhaji Musa Isiwele, a former National President of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), led over 3000 members to dump the APC. In Uwessan, the community of Okpebholo, defectors from the APC numbering over a 1000, in a carnival-like reception, embraced the PDP. The crowd was described as “a massive, organic, spontaneous and unprecedented.”

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Chief Francis Inegbeniki, the APC state vice chairman, has also dumped the party. He insisted in a video that has gone viral that APC is not ready for the September election.

 

Okpebholo’s media team also suffered a major setback as its arrowhead, John Mayaki refused the position of Director of New Media. Earlier, a media entrepreneur sympathetic to the APC, Chris Osa of the Chris Osa Media fame, had also dumped the party. There is also Saint Moses Eromosele, popularly known as SME. Three days ago, Akim Zibiri, a close associate of the State Acting Chairman of the APC, Jarret Tenebe, also dumped the party. The list is endless. There are indications that those few members who recently left PDP are on their way out of the APC to rejoin their former party.

 

Political observers are predicting that this may just be the beginning of a coming Tsunami and exodus from the Okpebholo sandcastle and that many more will vote with their feet the moment he is further exposed to the public. And for this, they also predict that the leadership of the party will do everything humanly possible to shield and hide him away from any forms of public engagement.

 

It is therefore the duty of the Edo people to demand a public scrutiny via public engagement and interaction with the people by Okpebholo to avoid buying a black-market commodity with potentials regrets for the next four years

 

Etakibuebu writes from Benin City

 

 

 

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Opinion

Edo 2024: POI sir, Ighodalo doesn’t need to be constantly spoon-fed

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By Thompson Eferakeya

The late British fiction writer, Edward Morgan Forster, once stated that “spoon-feeding in the long-run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” In other words, a person who is being constantly spoon-fed, in the long run, will never be capable of doing anything on his own.

 

Indeed, in a seminal article titled “Spoon-feeding is bad for students – and their countries” in 2022, jointly authored by Michael Antwi and Eric Fredua-Kwarteng, they argued that spoon-feeding has many negative consequences for students’ present and future learning and job performance. Hear them:

 

“Since the lecturer does everything, a sense of intellectual dependency is perpetuated among students. Eventually, such students develop a culture of intellectual laziness, making them vulnerable to manipulation, deception and media propaganda. This situation is very serious in this era of digital technology, with the multiplicity of information sources and information overload.

 

“Students who grow up in a spoon-feeding environment lack problem-solving, problem-identifying and problem-posing skills. This is in sharp contrast to students who are allowed to learn how to solve different problems, real or imagined, and to experience the intricacies of decision-making, analysis and synthesis of information and to engage in critical reflection.”

 

The above brings us to what happened few days ago when Pastor Osagie Ize-iyamu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, in a bid to portray his party as having an edge in the run up to the September 21 governorship election in the state, argued on a television programme that while leaders and elders of his party are always with their candidate, Monday Okpebholo, the case is different for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Asue Ighodalo, because the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has not been seen campaigning with him.

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Unfortunately, it was an own goal for Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu, popularly called POI, because he only succeeded in exposing the soft underbelly of his candidate, Okpebholo.

 

 

The truth of the matter is that Governor Obaseki has performed well and everybody knows this. The problem is with POI’s candidate, who is not equipped with the requisite capacity or competence or the ordinary general knowledge needed to be able to stand alone. And the good people of Edo State know this for a fact that Okpebholo is not a governorship material.

 

What are we talking about? Call Okpebholo to address a gathering or a Town Hall meeting? Honour an invitation for interactive sessions physically or virtually? C’mmon, are you kidding me?

 

How many of such public addresses has he engaged in as a sitting senator in the last 12 months representing Edo Central Senatorial District? Nil. Nobody gives what he doesn’t have. So, it’s no wonder leaders and elders of APC in Edo are strapping him to their back everywhere like a mother would do a toddler so that he wouldn’t fall and be fatally injured.

 

 

It’s no wonder his contact with the microphone in any public engagement is jealously guided and regulated to avoid those involuntary gaffes and regrettable performances. But be that as it may, he still manages to disgrace himself and the party elders nearly always.

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His recent USA Diaspora engagement which ended in a spectacular fiasco is a case in point. He was tightly policed that day. But the only few minutes the microphone was in his hand, he did what he knows how to do best – displaying so much ignorance in everything. In this instance, he failed to differentiate between a Museum and a Zoo. It was such a disaster!

 

Let it be said, and in very clear and unambiguous terms that it is not for lack of popularity or due to poor performance that Governor Obaseki hasn’t been seen campaigning with Ighodalo as claimed by POI. No. The demand of state duties may not have allowed the governor the luxury of time to feature in the kind of hectic and extensive engagements Ighodalo has been involved in recently.

 

In anyway, if Governor Obaseki has been everywhere with Ighodalo, POI would be the first to shout on mountain tops that Obaseki has abandoned governance for campaigns.

 

The truth is that Ighodalo’s competence and capacity for this office is beyond doubt. He doesn’t need to be constantly spoon-fed. He doesn’t need to be guided or tutored at critical moments on what to say and what not to say.

 

 

His ability to articulate, process and clearly communicate his thoughts and ideas is top notch and guaranteed. This has tremendously endeared him to Edo people across party lines. He doesn’t need to be policed to avoid committing blunders, no. That’s the difference between Ighodalo and Okpebholo. Whereas Ighodalo is unquestionably a gubernatorial material fit for purpose; Okpebholo is simply not ready and doesn’t have what it takes to aspire for this position.

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That Obaseki hasn’t been seen publicly campaigning for Ighodalo also establishes the fact that Ighodalo is his own man. It is instructive to note that APC keeps crying that Governor Obaseki is Ighodalo’s godfather, a claim that Ighodalo has debunked times without number. They keep shouting Governor Obaseki is working towards a Third Term, how can that be? Is he on the ballot. Must everything be the subject of lies, manipulation and propaganda?

 

The happy thing is that there’s nothing that is hidden to the good people of Edo State. They know that all these frenzied engagements by APC leaders and chieftains are designed to cover Okpebholo’s massive inadequacies and shortcomings.

 

 

The aim is to impose a puppet on the people while they go back and play the puppeteer. If they succeed, which Edo people will never allow, they would certainly become the de facto governor.

 

And in a situation where you have several people calling the shots, the ship of state will probably forever remain in the doldrums because of the pursuit of individual interests, personal agendas and different tendencies.

 

Edo state, however, cannot afford that situation because it would mean an unmitigated disaster and retrogression. Edo people are rather poised and determined to move forward and progress with Ighodalo from November 12, God willing.

Eferakeya writes from Benin City, Edo State

 

 

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Ringing endorsement for the Asue/Ogie ticket

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By Michael Ovienmhada

 

Once every 70-80 years approximately, the periodic Halley’s Comet blazes a truly spectacular trail across the heavens in a majestic confluence of power and glory that portends uncommon brilliance.

 

Just such a confluence can be personified in one person, with duty, on a mission to shape and change things beyond seasons in timeless, fundamental ways.

 

Over 70 years ago, we had all these qualities come together in one man, Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo.

 

He was a man on a mission to tell and to show us that possibilities existed which most others could not wrap their heads around. He looked at the Western Region, and he saw the wealth of extensive arable land and flowing waters where others simply saw bush.

 

He looked at the teeming population as far as his eyes could see. In his boundless imagination, he thought to himself—-“if only I could put these men and women to work, nothing would be beyond our reach as a people.” He did. Western Region was first in everything. As the world went at the time, if the Western Region were a country, it would have been rated a First World nation. Awo’s work was a gift—one that keeps on giving.

 

In Edo State today as things stand, a candidate in the image of Awo may be here with us. I had a one-hour meeting with him in December 2023, as a friend of mine for 30 years introduced me to Asue Ighodalo, his friend of 50 years. Our paths had never crossed even though his younger brother, Ituah, had also been my friend for 38 years.

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It was quite easy to immediately recognize that we would be fortunate as a State to have Asue Ighodalo as our horse in the race for Governor. Beyond great upbringing, great education, and great leadership skills, this man brings a certain level of camaraderie to the room, an attribute which is rarely found in people like him whose work has been crowned with outstanding achievements.

 

I found myself sitting in a meeting with the Comet Haley of our time as we finished each other’s sentences. There was hardly any daylight in our ideas and concepts and possibilities of what could be done with the vast arable land in Edo State that stands at 19,000 sq km, an expectant population of 5.2 million people, and 3 million thick vibrant youth population who yearn for jobs, and a safe and secure State where they can express themselves and reach for the moon.

 

Asue Ighodalo had no doubt in his mind that the best way to grow our IGR from a paltry N48 Billion a year to N1Trillion a year would be in the ability of the State to establish a connection between man, machinery and land.

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When I heard him speak, at one point, I stopped him and I said—“Man, you are almost as smart as I am!” He replied, “That’s arrogant.”

We had a good laugh as our mutual friend interjected—- “I told you, you would love his brilliance. You both think alike.”

 

I left the meeting saying to myself, “Hey Meekey, you made a promise to ‘Esan Okpa,’ an Esan Cultural Group. You told them that if you found a candidate of superior quality, intelligence and firepower, you would gracefully bow out of the race and work to ensure that the candidate makes it to the finish line.”

 

In fulfillment of that promise, I am today making a happy decision to shine a spotlight on a candidate of very high quality, great pedigree, and first class education, in the Edo Gubernatorial race for 2024.

 

In assessing the three major candidates in the Edo Governorship race, it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that—Heads and Shoulders, he is without peer.

 

At a time like this, when we are fortunate to be presented with a candidate of transcendental credentials, what would be ground-breaking is—-great minds coming together to create a grand coalition across parties. It is my proposition that 2024 should be a negotiated compromise. Let all the major parties come together. Let them bring their best men and women for consideration into the different commissionerships and parastatals and let us speak with one voice and shoo in this uncommon aspirant at the top of the ticket.

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Add to that the selection of a gentleman, loyal Party man, a man focused and knowledgeable in administration with an unbroken stint in government since the beginning of the current political dispensation in Osarodion Ogie, and Edo State will undoubtedly emerge as the State with the greatest potential to be an insurmountable number one as history has ever assembled.

 

Oshiomhole needs to huddle with Igbinedion, Dan Orbih and Obaseki in a mini conference of Edo elders for the sake of the future of Edo peoples.

 

It’s time to make a deal.

 

Let’s put our best foot forward. Our State is bigger than any combination of parties, personal grudges or interests.

 

Politics aside, grudges aside, Obaseki nailed this.

 

Without equivocation therefore, I am today endorsing the candidacy of Asue Ighodalo, (Batman) and Osarodion Ogie, (Robin) to be our Pilots for the next four years.

 

From one Edo man to another, my friends, I wish you both God speed. God bless Edo State, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Michael Ovienmhada
Author, Poet, Playwright,
and Public Affairs Commentator.
[email protected]. Former aspirant for Governor.

Culled from theconclaveng, June 6, 2024.

 

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Restoring the Glory of Kano Emirates: A Commendable Decision by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf

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In a landmark move that has captured the hearts of many, His Excellency, Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State has reinstated His Royal Majesty, Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano, four years after his controversial dethronement. This decision, coupled with the dissolution of the additional emirates created under the previous administration, signifies a significant step towards restoring the historical and cultural integrity of the Kano Emirate.

 

His Excellency, Governor Yusuf’s bold action not only honors the rich heritage of Kano but also reaffirms the traditional values and unity that the emirate has long represented. By reinstating His Royal Majesty, Lamido Sanusi, a respected figure with a distinguished career in banking and public service, the governor has demonstrated a commitment to preserving the dignity and legacy of the Kano Emirate.

 

His Majesty’s ( Lamido Sanusi’s) previous tenure as Emir was marked by progressive leadership and advocacy for transparency, which resonated deeply with many Nigerians. His return is anticipated to bring renewed vigor and integrity to the emirate, fostering a sense of continuity and stability.

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Furthermore, the Kano State House of Assembly’s decision to repeal the Kano State Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) Law, thereby abolishing the newly created emirates, is a confirmation to the assembly’s alignment with the governor’s vision. This move consolidates the emirate under a single, respected ruler, which is expected to strengthen the traditional institution and promote cohesion within the state.

 

The dissolution of the additional emirates and the reinstatement of Sanusi are seen as necessary corrections to past decisions that were viewed by many as politically motivated and divisive. This restoration not only respects the wishes of a significant portion of the populace but also aims to heal the rifts that have emerged in recent years.

 

His Excellency, Governor Yusuf and the current assembly members deserve commendation for their foresight and courage in making these decisions. Their actions reflect a deep understanding of the cultural and historical significance of the Kano Emirate and a commitment to upholding its esteemed traditions.

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This move is likely to have positive ripple effects, boosting morale among the people of Kano and reaffirming their trust in the state’s leadership. It underscores the importance of governance that is responsive to the cultural and historical contexts of its people, a principle that other states can learn from.

 

In conclusion, the reinstatement of His Majesty, Lamido Sanusi as Emir of Kano and the dissolution of the additional emirates represent a commendable effort to restore the glory of the Kano Emirate. Governor Abba Yusuf and the Kano State House of Assembly have shown exemplary leadership, and their actions will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the cultural and historical landscape of Kano. This decision is a beacon of hope for preserving Nigeria’s rich heritage and fostering unity among its people.

Hon. Adeboro Onibalusi
Write from Akure Ondo State.

 

 

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