Tuesday, 21 May 2013
An Open Letter to Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of Edo State
Dear Governor Oshiomhole: I will like to congratulate you on your July 14th election victory and successful swearing-in ceremony for a second term as the Governor of Edo State on Monday, November 12, 2012. The Edo people have given you the mandate to continue the infrastructural development projects you started during your first term and they expect nothing less in your second term.
As an Edolite, I am writing to you to express my opinion and expectations for your second term’s administration. In one of your press interviews on assumption of office in 2008, you said “But in Edo State we are going to evolve a government that will be led by the people, by which we mean a bottom up approach in policy formulation, because there are so many things/challenges confronting our people. So the best way to get your priorities right is to ensure that you consult with your people so that they partake in the process of ordering your priorities, which is why we emphasis people in all we say and we do. I have also said that we want to demystify governance and by that I mean Nigerians for too long have come to believe that once you are in government, you are something special and that is why everybody will refer to you as ‘Your Excellency’, some will say ‘My Excellency’. But all of that is a Nigerian disease. Governance is about opening it up and letting the people see that it is a collective process. Also we must remind ourselves and myself that I am a governor not because I have all the wisdom but that I and I alone cannot make all the difference necessary for people to experience qualitative changes in their lifestyle. So, we need to engage, we need to involve the people at all levels. In other words, the people will not just be the object of development; they will be the means as well as the end of what we do. That for me is the difference between success and failure. What this means is popular ownership of public policy so that the people will own the programmes and policies. I think for too long, Nigerians have been reduced to spectators. But my government will engage with the public and that will make all the difference.“
During your swearing-in ceremony November 12th, 2012, you said “Our Government will emphasize human capital development, training and retraining of teachers and public servants; promotion of agriculture for food production, employment and increased income to our farmers and rural dwellers; small and medium scale industrial development. We shall continue to attract local and foreign investors to Edo State so as to create more jobs for our people. We shall continue with to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and ensure that all forms of waste are eliminated in the public service. In collaboration with the security agencies, we shall continue to work hard, to ensure and assure the safety and security of our people. Our goal is to ensure that Edo State becomes a major investors’ haven in Nigeria and that our small and medium scale industries are fed with products from our agricultural initiatives.”
I want to please crave your indulgence to keep all of those statements and promises in mind during your second term. The Edolites that I talked to in Benin during the election showered encomium and accolade on your first term’s performance. Obviously, there is a noticeable development around the eighteen Local Government areas of the State since your first term in office. You deserve to be commended! However, there are areas I think you can do more in your second term to make the state a better place to live. Now is the best opportunity for you to “demystify governance in Nigeria” as you have stated on several occasions. Edo State history books will judge you based on the differentiating factors between your governorship and the past governors that mismanaged and wasted the resources of the state. I will suggest that you take a closer look into these areas that I think need urgent attention:
Curb violent Cultism in Edo State. It was rumored that members of violent secret cults were given large sums of money (I cannot verify this but I heard 10 million naira!) during the election to help a political party. This is unacceptable. Edo youths are now good for nothing but to be used as political thugs. The barbaric, uncouth and anachronistic extra-judicial killings as epitomized in Uniport (the ALUU 4) are a quintessence of the kinds of activities perpetuated by these cults in several places around the State. Please do not condone these cultist activities in the state and remove government officials who belong to these groups. Let Edo youths know that being a violet cult member will do them more harm than good.
Create jobs for the youths. If they have jobs, they will most likely have no time to plan kidnappings for ransom. This will reduce the spate of kidnappings and youth gang violence in the State.
Ensure Government workers get the necessary training before being deployed to public service. It is opprobrious that most government workers I came across in Benin lack the communication skills or the right training to provide public service. For example, while in Benin, I observed the new traffic agency (popularly called “Oshiomhole Police”) workers acting against global traffic procedure. When they feel a driver has violated traffic rule, they will jump into the car and start dragging the steering wheel with the driver while the car is still in motion. I am not sure if that was what they were told in their training but that is not done anywhere in the world! Edo State workforce need to be trained for the new global reality.
Set measurable and achievable goals for your second term. Everyday think about “what will the people of Edo State remember me for when I leave office?” Constant and sustainable electricity? Availability of constant clean water? Repairs and construction of roads? Balanced budget? Non-looting of public fund? Poverty reduction? Funding quality education? And the list goes on. On a personal note, I remember Dr. S.O. Ogbemudia today because he built the only stadium I know in Benin as a child. I wonder where your November 12th inauguration would have taken place if Dr. Ogbemudia had not built the stadium decades ago. I do not remember any other governor in recent times for anything besides how much they looted from the treasury of the State. Please do not follow their path.
Ensure that anyone you appoint to serve in your second term understand his or her job responsibilities and have the interest of the Edo people at heart. They must be able to deliver. Do not appoint (and fire) those who see public office as the means to acquire wealth. I read that you are a workaholic (which is a rare characteristic in today’s Nigerian Public Servant!). So I expect that no weak-minded, pot-bellied lazy official should be allowed in you administration.
Build the bridge to move Edo State from being a consumer society to the future of a manufacturing and entrepreneurial society.
In your Inaugural address, you said “Our goal is to ensure that Edo State becomes a major investors’ haven in Nigeria…..” Governor, for Investors to come to Edo State, they must be convinced that “Community Youths” gangs will not extort and intimidate them as it is today. I have two potential investors (needless to say, they are Edos) in the United States that expressed this fear to me. They are concerned that they will spend more of their investment capital in assuaging multiple Community Youth gangs that run freely all over the State. Please curtail (at least if you cannot stop!) these Community Youth gangs nefarious and reprehensible activities.
Mandate the ministry of education to formulate policies and strategies to promote good education in the state. Our children must not see examination malpractice as the new normal. My unscientific research shows that more than 55% of secondary school students today pay large sums of money to individuals to write their exams for them. Others simply enroll in private schools and pay principals to allow them to cheat in the examination hall. This must be stopped. If nothing is done about this, we will produce another generation of un-creative and uneducated populace that lack the mental capacity to be productive citizens.
I do not expect you to change the world overnight but you can make your impact felt that others would be inspired to emulate. Also future generation will read about you with pride and respect.
Understandably, you might be too busy for me to express all my concerns and expectations in just one letter. So Comrade, I will end it here until I can write to you again. May God guide and give you the leadership prowess to “demystify governance in Nigeria”. God bless you and good luck!