The event was the swearing-in of a new commissioner for higher education in the Ministry of Education, Washington Osa Osifo sometime in year 2013. The occupant of the seat in  the state executive council had been sacked a week before as a result of what the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole called “normal change in life”, debunking insinuations by the opposition People Democratic Party, PDP, of fraud in the ministry. A group of young men and women were everywhere in the hall. The group, Edo in Safe Hands came to celebrate one of their own. That was about the first time I saw them in real action. Infact, Washington Osa Osifo was the immediate past leader of the group.
As expected, by the time the Comrade Governor arrived for the ceremony at about 1pm, the hall was full to capacity, all efforts made by the security personnel to clear the isles for easy passage was futile. The group was very visible; it instantly caught the attention of everybody as they waved miniature flags of the then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, intermittently shouting what I later understood to be the group’s slogan. “EDO IN SAFE HANDS, WLECOM TO THE FUTURE!” rented the air. They also broke into solidarity songs, eulogizing the various development strides of the comrade governor in the state. They are so passionate about this, an indication of their level of commitment and attachment to the course of the group. If you like call it fanaticism.
Their overwhelming presence on the occasion became clearer when the Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Phillip Shuaibu, in his usual style, sauntered into the hall, having brisk handshake with party members as he made his way to the high table. With military precision, the entire members of the group in the hall sprang to their feet, waving the flag while shouting their usual slogan as if it were an anthem. Not satisfied with the way he was welcomed to the hall, one of the leaders of the group who had just been elected chairman of Ovia South West Local Government, Morrison Okhuarobor and said to be a former chair of the group, stepped down from the podium and ordered the group for a repeat so as to accord their leader a fitting and proper welcome, describing him as the General Officer Commander (GOC) Of Edo In Safe Hands. Instantly, they stood, roared in unison their usual slogan with the GOC acknowledging the special salutation, waving his hands approvingly.
A perceptive mind needed not be told that a group within a group was in the making. If you like call it a political structure or a militant arm of a rampaging political party. Whichever way you choose to see it, you are dead right. But the Comrade Governor was quick to caution that “the ACN is undoubtedly the base of our mobilization”. In other words, the group should not be seen as the party itself and cannot take the place of the party in the unconsciousness of the people. I want to believe that the comments of the Comrade Governor may have been responsible for the inactivity of this group. But I know that the existence of a group like Edo in Safe Hands does not viscitiate the position and importance of the party, now APC as the coordinating umbrella body. So, this group should be given every encouragement. The youthful fresh blood running in their veins must be allowed to be in the interest of the party and the Edo people.
Apparently referring to the All Progressive Congress, APC, which has suddenly become the PDP nightmare, the Comrade Governor had said, “very soon we will offload into the APC  which  we believe will clear Nigeria’s headache. You also know what the Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC, can do. It will clear and bulldoze all the rubbish in the land.” About two years down the road, it’s clear that the statements of the Comrade Governor has become a reality. The APC has become a thorn in the flesh of the PDP. As a mega party making positive waves across the states and beyond, rooting for power at the national level, the APC needs a highly committed, non-violent but unarmed group like Edo In Safe Hands. Sincerely, I think this group should be encouraged to serve as the youth wing within the party, a microcosm within a macrocosm. There is this popular Yoruba saying that there is need to have someone in the house with some elements of madness because of the mad ones out there.  The Edo in Safe Hands already has its members across the 18 council areas of Edo state with a board of trustees. The members are young, vibrant and well educated while the board of trustees which serves as the conscience of the group is made up of credible people of capacity and means from across the senatorial district. Unfortunately, this group seems to have gone under after the July 2012 election of the Comrade governor. I plead that the group must not die. I know that the members who make up its board of trustees are all responsible persons of means and it will be their shame if the group goes into oblivion. My plea to Hon Phillip Shuaibu, Barr Osarodion Oghie, Prince Stephen Alao, Dr (Mrs) Amadasun and others is to stand and keep the dream alive. Posterity will never forgive them  if Edo in Safe Hands goes under. This is a group that has been nurtured to become the darling of progressive minded Edo people and the envy of the opposition in the state. This is why it must outlive its founding fathers.
My candid advice is for the board to ensure that the group admits only quality members into its fold. Quality in terms of education and socio-economic background. Any act of thuggery at functions should be visited with the harshest punishment. This is the only way it  will continue to command the respect of the people and the party. The moment its leadership allows miscreants and people with questionable characters to infiltrate its ranks; it will pollute the clean water fetched by the founding fathers and kill the noble idea behind its formation.
Card Reader and the Culture of Waste
Nodoubt, the best thing that has ever happened to Nigeria in terms of election management is the coming of Dr Atahiru Jega as the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. This academician cumactivist has brought a lot of innovations to the electoral body in the last five years he has been in the saddle. For these, some fraudulent politicians love to hate him. They see him as someone who has come to block all the leackages for electoral malpractices in the system. They have been waging war against Jega, they want him sacked and bring a clueless yes man who will do their bidding.
The man has tried to reduce to the barest minimum cases of electoral fraud with the introduction of these innovations. One particular area where Jega has beaten the electoral cheats hands down is the introduction of the card reader. The card reader is expected to eliminate cases of actual votes cast outnumbering the number of voters accredited. This has always been a sore point in election in Nigeria. Smart politicians have always exploited this loophole to manipulate the process. But Jega is determined to put a final check to this with the introduction of the card reader. Hence, the old political crooks are up in arms against it. They are working round the clock to discredit the use of the card reader, sponsoring write-ups in the print media and heavily biased discussion programmes on the electronic. These old crooks want to continue with their old habits of cooking up election figures! But Jega says our votes must count with the use of the card reader. Progressive minded Nigerians who love this country must be on the same page with Jega on this electoral revolution. So far, the commission has procured a whopping 172, 000 pieces of card reader to be distributed in all the wards across the country. Officers have been trained on how to use them and demonstrations on their workability have been done before critical stakeholders. So, what else? INEC included the cost in its budget for the year and this passed through the scrutining of all the relevant bodies before it was finally passed. Order for supply made and payment concluded. The cost of these card readers is better imagined than described, especially in this era of crash in value of the naira.. Now, these crooks want the equipment discarded for their own selfish reason without minding the cost implication in terms of naira and kobo to a sick economy like ours. This culture of wast must stop.