Perils of Oshionmole’s monetisation of Edo State democracy
By – Charles Omorodion
The crisis bedevilling Edo State of Nigeria political scene today can be attributed to Oshionmole’s monetisation of the entire democratization system. Worst of all, political offices have become source of money that APC politicians invest to recoup their investments at a later date. The major cause of political violence in Edo State of Nigeria is financial.
Oshionmhole has made political offices to become very attractive and lucrative and opulence in style. Hence, those APCs in political office, including Oshionmole’s are fighting a do or die war to perpetuate themselves and their puppet protégé Godwin Obaseki in office by all means and at all cost possible.
The nature, extent and magnitude of the Edo State elections monetisation are posing serious threat to the Edo Nation quest for stable democratic transition, and attainment of long term goal of consolidating democracy. Regrettably, Edo youths hoping to be future leaders are being used by the puppeteering Adams Oshionmhole and his marionettes for their selfish desires.
This phenomenon is fuelling the preponderance of electoral violence, which has grown and assumed monstrous cyclical proportions or vicious circle in our dear state. There can be no doubt whatsoever that some of the causes of election crisis in Edo State can be attributed to manipulation of decisions and activities at various stages of the electoral process by the APC government and politicians, as well as rigging through stuffing, snatching, and destruction of ballot boxes and falsification of results.
There is a growing empirical and anecdotal evidence which suggests that Edo State APC elitists are funding the acquisition of voters PVCs and dangerous arms of various types including locally made weapons like den guns, machetes, bows and arrows, cutlasses, among others, which were freely used before, during and after elections.
What APC stalwarts failed to appreciate is that election violence does not select whom to consume, it consumes all, the high and low, the rich or poor, man or woman, adults and children, and it negatively affect all. Since electoral crisis affects all, therefore all hands must be on deck to bring a solution to the heightened tension posed by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole antics and vestige.
Similarly, many astonishing things are happening in Edo State, which ranges from the strange to the absurd and from the weird to the ridiculous. Edo State in the last seven years has become a place where the APC led government will often be seen engaging in acts that are prejudicial to the peaceful cohabitation of the diverse and mutually antagonistic people and interests in the State one moment, only to appear in the next moment at another public forum where the same person will be seen mounting the rostrum to remonstrate and condemn in strong terms the pervading ogre of violence in the society then pontificate and moralize on ways necessary to enthrone peace in the land.
The Comrade Governor that exhorts the people to live a modest lifestyle, lives ostentatiously himself. In the pace of just 7 years, we are witnessing the APC fanatics, puritans, unrepentant tribalists and ethnic chauvinists simultaneously parading themselves in high places as peace ambassadors and local terrorists.
An African proverb says that when a naked person promises you a cloth look at what he is wearing because nobody can earnestly give what they don’t have. There are in fact, two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practise, and another which we practise but seldom preach (Bertrand Russell, 1872 – 1970).
All indicators show that Comrade Oshionmhole is suffering from a medical condition that can be summed up as a Dissociative Identity Disorder Syndrome, formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder Syndrome. This is a condition wherein a person’s identity is fragmented into two or more distinct personalities. Sufferers of this rare condition are usually victims of severe abuse during their childhood or people who are highly dependent on hard drugs or substance abusers.
For example, this man started by preaching one man one vote four years ago. He was hailed as a progressive democrat, as such, he was able to idealised himself over his ardent loyal followers who were cajoled into believing a political messiah has come to Edoland. Barely four years after positioning himself as a champion of progressive democracy, he went on to unleashed his despotic dispositions and individualities on Edo State APC and people. He tried to assassinate his Deputy Governor for daring to put his hat in the Edo state gubernatorial election ring. He went as far as sacking every political appointee that was sympathetic to his deputy governor just to substantiate his tyrannical demeanour. He spent over N1.3 billion of Edo State money to secure the primaries for his puppet and protégé Godwin Obaseki. He did not stop there, he is now spending the state money to bribe and intimidate the oppositions and electorates.
Oshionmhole has bastardised Edo State politics through the deployment of state finance to sweeten and monetise both the APC party selection and campaign processes. It was sad to see ardent PDP stalwarts like hon. Samsom Esemuede fallen prey to APC enticement. How are the mightily fallen in the midtst of battle and the weapons of war perished.
The monetisation of Edo state democracy can’t be right in the 21st century? In a properly function system, a governor of a state should not be allow to spend state money with impunity as though it is his personal money. We have teachers, local government staff, pensioners etc with salary arrears of up to 3 – 6 months, yet the money earmarked to pay their salaries and to provide a minimum standard of living to these people has been siphoned by one man to fund his APC political party with a sole aim of ensuring his third term in office, yet many of us are just simply bemused and shell-shocked without any counter responses.
Emperor Oshionmole’s uncanny behaviours must be condemned as an affront to Edo State nascent democracy and progressive development. The monetisation of Edo state politics by Adams Oshionmhole must be denounced because it can only create a dysfunctional political system that breeds scoundrels to occupy high public offices. This archaic political philosophy is in dire need of overhaul in Edo State. Too much money in the political arena can have adverse effect on the entire political system.
Unfortunately Emperor Oshionmhole has failed to realise that money does not make a man. What make a man are his character, integrity, learning and attitude. Kelvin Stewart a clergyman noted that “What makes a man is not money but mercy; not gold but the glory of His grace”. The cost of contesting an elective position in Edo State has placed a huge financial burden on the candidates and need to be scaled down drastically to encourage all who possess those salient leadership attributes required to move the state forward at whatever level they choose to operate from to come forward or submit themselves for elective positions.
If the current state of extravagant political spending or funding anomie continuing unabated in our state, soon nobody should be surprised if the operatives from some government agency get so desperate as to accost members of the public on the road and in the street like highwaymen to demand payment for some repair work done on the infrastructure if not for the air they breathe as Edo State citizens under the unfortunate leadership of emperor Oshionmhole who continues to allow our state to slide down the path of moral abyss.
We must not remain mute and indifference to this obnoxious political manifestation in Edo State because according to an Edo adage, when you see your neighbour eating a rat and you fail to caution him by insisting it is none of your business, when he begins to cough at night you will not be able to sleep yourself. The time for all to rise with one voice and demand an end to the unbridled corruption of the political system in Edo State is now.
PISO is seriously concerned about the use of Edo State government money by Governor Oshionmole’s APC politicians to unduly influence voters during the Edo State 2016 gubernatorial elections because this situation can only result in the election of incompetent persons into public office, which we believe could go a long way to stall our state’s progressive development.
Sadly in just over seven years in office, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has heightened the levels of poverty and unemployment in Edo State, which is the main reason encouraging the monetisation of politics in the state. Politics is now seen as an end rather than a means to an end or an opportunity to bring about positive change in society. The level of unemployment, particularly amongst the teeming youth population since Adams Oshionmhole came to power in Edo State is shockingly alarming. The evidence shows that when most students leave the university and higher education, their confidence of gaining full employment or jobs years following their graduations has evaporated.
Worst of all, Governor Oshionmhole of Edo State has not created jobs or inspired jobs creating or enabling enterprise policy or initiatives in the last seven years in office. This has furthermore exacerbated the unemployment situation in the State. It has also created an army of willing recruits or lieutenants for APC electoral atrocities and mayhem.
The heightened poverty in Edoland has also jacked up the need for people to be settled politically. The truth is that today, it is more like survival for the fittest. Everybody wants to be a politician or to partake in the sharing of government funds or cake. It was not like this before but many of our underprivileged can see how some people have gone from grass to grace just by getting involved in Oshionmole’s type of politics. It has now become attractive to everybody on the fringe of economic prosperity including the youths. This is the major problem we have in Edo State politics right now.
Oshionmole’s APC led government is motivated by greed for money and lust for power. As such, they have made the monetisation of politics an attractive game. So much so that the majority of the APC representatives in government are not able to be part of the intellectual discourse about our nation advancement, or to give the people they purports to represent quality representation or to attract the dividends of democracy to them. Shamefully enough, the APC candidate for governorship, the much acclaimed technocrat was seen today at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium reading his manifesto from a book rather than eloquently verbalising his vision or logically explaining his plans for the future to the people. This can only mean that Godwin Obaseki did not write or contribute to the writing of his own manifesto. It may also imply that he does not care because he his deluded himself thinking all he simply have to do is hide under the shadow of his puppeteer. Even if the manifesto was written for him, shouldn’t he have read or study it before presenting at the main inaugural launch of his governorship campaign? This must have raised serious anxiety among his ardent supporters because they have mistakenly selected Godwin Obaseki, a political and public relations neophyte as their candidate.
We must also ask the obvious critical question. If this man does not know his own plan or vision at the point when he is asking Edo State to trust him with their lives, how is he going to implement this manifesto in office?
Most importantly, Edo State is quickly drifting into plutocracy than a democracy, where only the wealthy can afford to run for public office. This further suggests that no poor man can contest elections in the Edo State anymore due to Oshionmole’s monetisation of politics. Therefore, no meaningful election and democracy can stand if the aspirants cannot bear the cost of presenting themselves and contesting the poll.
In Edo State elections, a candidate, notwithstanding campaign expenses, is expected to pick up the bill of the party and campaign leaders, such as their children’s school fees, hospital bills, sponsoring wedding ceremonies, burial ceremonies and so on.
These gestures are small parts of the obligations of any person seeking elective office and not counted as expenditure. Edo State people of moderate means cannot afford these unending expenditures.
Only money bags or those they bankroll can win elections in Edo State particularly now that Oshionmole’s has spent over N1.7 billion naira of Edo State funds to finance the APC gubernatorial primaries alone. The kick of the APC gubernatorial party campaign has further witnessed up to N10 million naira to bribe and cajole each PDP top echelon to decamp in mass just for public gratification and flaunting of power by an insecure Comrade Oshionmhole. This should not be the case because the State is replete with intelligent men and women of moderate means, who can re-direct the ship of the state. Monetisation of politics poses dangers to our politics. There can be no doubt that in this precarious scenario any APC winner will use state resources to offset the electoral expenses they have amassed.
This is why Edo State masses must challenge this public administration misdemeanour and fraudulent abuse of office for sake of partisan politics. The State funds Governor Oshionmhole is dishing out to buy electoral votes and influences, means that many hardworking Edo State public sector workers and their families or dependents will go hungry during this period because there is no way the state can pay their monthly wages and salaries in the foreseeable future. This is a crime of an imaginable proportion against the hardworking workers, even the Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:18 that “Those who work deserve their pay! …” We must challenge and stop comrade Oshionmole’s recalcitrant behaviour towards the Edo State workers.
Edo State money belongs to Edo State public. Comrade Oshionmhole is only elected as a Steward who is entrusted with the power to judiciously spend Edo State funds on public services only. Funding the APC political party is not part of what the State government money should be used for and must be astutely and unequivocally condemned and overruled by good meaning democrats regardless of political party affiliations.
Sadly the APC duplicity of public policy on corruption in high public office is becoming even more worrisome because, at the Federal level, President Buhari is prosecuting PDP members that are alleged to have diverted money earmarked for defence to political campaign while paying lip service to the diversion of Edo state money to support Godwin Obaseki, an APC gubernatorial candidate. This duplicity of action and response is morally wrong and repugnant to equity and justice.
The future is now! Let’s take it.
Charles Omorodion FCEA, DMS, DipM, MCIM, MBA.