Obaseki and his “wake and see” development narrative in Edo
Much has been said about political leadership in states of the federation and in the Nigerian nation-state in the contexts of good and bad leaderships. The essential prisms through which to appreciate leadership could be philosophical or ideological, spiritual or temporal, economic or political, social or cultural. Whichever it is, the important thing is that one of the marks of leadership in all its variegated nuances is mentoring. The leaders galvanise the led or the followers and provide the critical force in the exploration and voyage of administration for the good of the collectives. A leadership that cannot galvanise followership will not only be deprived of the benefit of loyalty which is a quid pro quo element between leadership and followership, but will also miss its place in history and its connection in posterity. That is the reason leaders at different intersections, especially in the political sphere in Nigeria, are wont to show more than scant interest in those who succeed them. A body of arguments exists to support this thesis. One which enjoys cosmopolitan resonance is the idea of continuity of programmes, projects and policies. The situation supra is the fons et origo of the outlandish macabre dance that has maniacally engrossed opposition homo sapiens in the country.This is the testy and tricky moment that the federal government and all APC governors must keep their eyes on the ball and this is exactly where Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki has become an exempli gratia of good governance and thus not only quickly writing his name in gold,but also defining his place in the pantheon of fame. Obaseki is building on the solid infrastructural development foundations laid by his predecessor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, in a deliberate bid to reinforce the essential validation that the Oshiomhole-Obaseki government in Edo is a continuum. This is the point I made earlier about mentoring. The present administration has not only embraced continuity as a directive principle of state policy, it has also imbibed the audacious spirit of Oshiomhole to embark on ambitious projects, one of which was the construction and reconstruction of over 500 kilometres of roads across the state in the first year of the administration. Importantly, the scope, shape, contents and texture of Obaseki’s development narrative in Edo state are grandiosely overwhelming. The trend presently is that one sleeps and wakes up to see one development initiative or the other taking place in the state. This is now a common feature that has earned the Obaseki administration the sobriquet of “wake and see” development. Indeed, the philosophical underpinning of the present luminous epoch of development in Edo state was the forging of the Edo State Investment Summit Alaghodaro 2017 with the apt theme: “Envisioning the Future.” In fact, a government that is forward-looking and committed to rapid transformation of the state must envision the future and chart pragmatic trajectories to get there. In the administration’s commitment to ensure the crystallization of its goals and objectives of development, the focus on institutional reforms is in apple-pie order. The key to such reforms and development are institutions. It is in this context that the administration must be commended for embarking on processes that have made the civil service reform more efficient and productive to ensure smooth service delivery. This is in pari materia with the programme of capacitating the state’s workforce on how to deploy the computer in service delivery. Significantly, the administration had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Training Institute on the capacity training initiatives. This is already having some direct positive bearings in the area of revenue collection wherein technology had been introduced. By the introduction of technology, coupled with the use of persuasion, education and enlightenment, the administration has been able to accountably and transparently increase local government revenues collection by over 500 percent in recent times. With a robust background in business investments and development economy, Governor Obaseki has sharply directed one of the focuses of the administration on industrialization. He is thinking along the lines of utilizing the state’s natural endowment, particularly the available energy and logistic advantages, to make the state an industrial hub. If there is a striking similitude between Obaseki and his predecessor, Oshiomhole, in their style of governance, it is the gravitas that they bring to government. They both talk and do (described in local parlance as Otokinado). This is not the time to play opposition politics. We will benefit more by being in accord and on the same page with the federal government. The APC platform offers that possibility. The national chairmanship of the APC, which Oshiomhole custodies, is an added advantage in building the requisite political rapprochement that will conduce to rapid development of our state. While Oshiomhole will continue to strategically wet the ground in Abuja, Obaseki will move in to do the planting of the seeds while the state will collectively harvest and benefit from the good of the land. In rounding off, I must commend the frequent investment-inclined trips by Obaseki within and outside Nigeria. The restlessness that has been demonstrated underscores the passion of a man who is interested in statewide infrastructure development that will reposition the state for the competitive journey by states in a restructured Nigerian federation in the future. Honourable Obahiagbon, former member of the House of Representatives, writes from Benin.