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2024 governorship: Edo cannot afford to reinforce failure

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Today makes it a whole year since Nigeria’s 10th Senate was inaugurated. It is a fitting and appropriate time to review the performance of Senator Monday Okpebholo, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 21 September governorship election in Edo State. Has he performed well enough to want to be the governor of Edo State? Has his voice been loud and clear in defence of the Esan people who occupy the five local government areas of the senatorial district of Edo Central? What is his scorecard like?

From all indications, for the whole year that he has had the opportunity of sitting in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, Okpebholo has been a monumental failure. The last 12 months has been marked by abysmal performance and it is like the good people of Edo Central Senatorial District have no senator at all. This review has become necessary because Edo State cannot afford to be saddled with an incompetent, non-performing and bungling senator as governor for the next four years. If he has not performed as a senator for 365 days, what is the guarantee that he would perform at Dennis Osadebey Avenue, where the state Government House is located?

On 2 April 2018, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, warned Nigerians, saying: “Don’t reinforce failure by re-electing incompetent government”. He stated this while playing host to the New Nigeria 2019 Group, led by the Convener, Chima Anyaso, in company of Moses Siasia. They met the retired Army General at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State. According to Obasanjo, one of the often repeated warnings in the Army during training is that care must be taken not to reinforce failure. “Let failure be failure, leave it alone”, he had warned Nigerians ahead of the 2019 elections. The rest as they say, is now history.

For the good people of Edo State, there is no better time to examine and reflect on Obasanjo’s warning. In 99 days, eligible voters will troop out to elect a new governor, specifically, on 21 September 2024.

From all indications, Okpbholo has performed woefully in the last one year of being in the Senate. Out of the 109 senators, it would seem that he is at the National Assembly just to warm the seat, mark present in the register, then watch and listen in cold silence as other people present bills, move motions, support motions and contribute robustly to debates.

On Tuesday, 11 June, Vanguard newspapers had as its lead a seminal report of the performance of each of the 109 senators. Titled ‘NASS: 24 Senators Have No Bill in One Year’, the report exposed what the senators have been up to individually.

Lo and behold, Okpebholo happens to be one of the 20 senators who could only manage a bill each, throughout the whole year. His bill, presented on Wednesday, 18 October 2023 is titled ‘Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill 2023’. There is nothing to show that it has gone beyond the First Reading stage. It is a crying shame that the good people of Edo Central could be represented by one of the non-performing senators of the 10th Senate.

In a sharp, painful contrast, right there in a neighbouring Ekiti State, Senate Leader Opeyemi Bamidele, also an APC senator representing Ekiti Central, dazzled like a million stars. According to the Vanguard report, Bamidele has 23 bills, the highest in the year under review. When you put the two senators side by side, the glaring contrast can only mean one thing – it is either Okpebholo does not know why he is in the Senate or he does not have the requisite competence to represent the good people of Edo Central. The primary means of measuring productivity and performance in the senate is the number of bills a senator sponsors. Without a doubt, Okpeholo is far from being among the performing senators.

Today, it has become imperative that we tell those who are pushing for Okpebholo to be the governor of Edo State in very clear terms that: No sir, Edo people will not reinforce failure. No sir, a non-performing senator cannot be the governor of Edo State. No sir, a senator who does not know the difference between a zoo and a museum cannot be the governor of Edo State. No sir, a senator whose public appearances are marked by embarrassing gaffes and unforced errors cannot be the governor of Edo State. No sir, a senator who is unsure of himself cannot be Edo State governor. Edo people will not reinforce or reward failure or non-performance.

Edo people are too smart, sophisticated and enlightened and can only be led by a man who is sure of himself, bold and courageous. A man who can clearly articulate his vision and coherently discuss the same in the gathering of Edo people. A man who is compassionate and accessible. A man whose track record speaks for itself. A man who will attend the Council of State meeting and will confidently and eloquently contribute to national discourse and be able to influence projects in favour of Edo people.

Edo people are ready and will go for the man who ticks all the boxes. They will vote for a man who packs all the three Cs as the former Edo APC vice chairman, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, who dumped the party about a week ago said in a video that has now gone viral. The next governor of Edo State must be the man who has Competence, Capacity and Character. And that man is Dr. Asue Ighodalo, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Etakibuebu, a strategic communication expert, writes from Benin City, Edo State

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