Like everything done by handlers of President Goodluck(?) Ebele Jonathan, development-conscious Nigerians have had to watch in horror the embarrassingly vitriolic attack on Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Eric Oshiomhole, syndicated in several national newspapers. They are attacking the governor for daring to respond to a faux pas made by the president a few weeks earlier when he visited Benin City for a rally organized by the state chapter of the Peoples Demoratic Party, PDP. In the widely reported speech, the president said repeatedly that “Edo will fall.” But as part of the speech he delivered on the anniversary of his six years in office, the governor reacted to the president’s uncharitable prayers. Expectedly, he declared to the hearing of all that Edo will never fall. For emphasis, he added that instead, it will be Bayelsa and other PDP governed states that will fall to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
The governor also used the ocassion to size up the president in terms of his performance since taking up the mantle of the country’s political leadership if that is the reason for praying that Edo will fall. His performance, the governor summised, leaves no convincing evidence or compelling reason to suggest that the people of a state like Edo, with evident infrastructural development, will fall prey to the deceitful antics of the president’s party, having failed miserably before now and given general parlous state of affairs in the country. For daring to officially challenge the president on performance as a measure for winning votes, the president’s minders went berserk with publications dripping with invectives and gutter slurs against the governor. Rather than run through the gamut, I wil restrict my reaction a few incongrous claims in the publications. In so doing, I will restrict myself to the attack on the governor as published in the Vanguard newspapers of Tuesday, November 25, 2014, written by one (arguably phantom character) Francis Ehigiator and titled “Oshiomhole’s Assessment of Jonathan”. In it, the governor was the subject of a barrage of hateful tirade now synonymous with agents of the PDP.
I will begin by drawing attention to the fact that Comrade Oshiomhole remains the most visible and vocal member or supporters of the APC who had the presence of mind to draw a line between the office and person of the president. As a demonstration of this patriotic responsibility, he distanced himself from jumping on the badwagon of those with general negative assessment that situates the president as the worst political leader the country has had to live with. It is on record that for this reason, the president became the subject of debilitating criticism from watchers of the country’s political history, home and abroad. If not for any other reason, this is enough for any sane analyst to understand that for being able to differentiate between the president’s office and person, Oshiomhole amply demonstrated his ability to tolerate (my opinion) him by refusing to lend his voice in support of wholesale condemnation for his self evident poor performance. The governor held this position even as it appeared that it placed him on a questionable footing with his party as a number of observers, including PDP apologists, began to sell the notion that he was bidding time to join the president’s party.
The point being made here is that in the spirit of one-good-turn-deserves-another, the president ought to have summoned enough presence of mind to act with circumspect by avoiding issues that will put him on war path with the governor, politics or not. What he said on his campaign visit to Edo state is hardly a reflection of that expectation because he deliberately chose to stir the hornet’s nest.
The second point I wish to reiterate here is that those riling the governor on account of his reaction to the president’s faux pas are only using the excuse to vent their frustration over his refusal to promote “chopping” culture in the state. Little wonder Ehigiator took delight in questioning the governor’s moral authority to react to the president’s Edo-must-fall statement, given what he described as “after eating from Jonathan as well as his political enemies”. For that, the governor, according to him, is being clever by half. My take is that Ehigiator is celebrating his unfortunate grasp of today’s reality at a time the world has moved beyond base expectations, including his party’s “chop” mentality. Poor soul!
Sadly, Ehigiator aggravated his poor perception by attempting to compare Oshiomhole’s performance with the president’s. Sentiments aside, is there any basis for such comparison? Or is commissioning of one third of a road, as the president did with the Lagos/Ore/Benin City at a point in Ofosu, his yardstick for his comparison?
In a bid to hype “Mr President”, Ehigiator noted that Oshiomhole failed to mention the on-going 450 megawatts Azura independent power plant. The impression he wants the world to take from him is that it is the president’s project. If Ehigiator is not a phantom character without a hoot about the need to protect his honour, he ought to have remembered the encomiums the president Jonathan poured on the governor while commissioning the project not too long ago. Recalked, the president was full of praise for the governor for having the presence of mind to make Edo state one of the country’s one-stop destinations for direct foreign investment. Ehigiator could not have forgotten so soon that the president advised other state governors to emulate Oshiomhole’s proactively innovative ideas. It is on record and widely reported too.
I do not have any wish to advise phantom characters like Ehigiator who wrote comfortably from Benin City. However, those that are vulnerable to rubbing their honour with mud for pecuniary gains, the same way Ehigiator did, should not forget that support-seeking opinion is not the same thing as fact. The latter will always remain sacrosanct just as the former will remain subjective. Need I say more?