By Erasmus Ikhide
IT’S exactly 10-months now that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State barely escaped INTERPOL’s arrest and detention with humongous state’s taxpayers’ money amounting to $2m (N900m) laundered in far away France in a single trip. His Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Osaze Osemwingie-Ero who walked side-by-side with the Governor on the said trip with foreign currency neatly stuffed in briefcases wasn’t so lucky!
The trifling and absconding Governor Obaseki has since been declared a persona non grata in France, America and the rest European countries for laundering illicit and dirty money meant for the development and wellbeing of Edo citizens. Money laundering offence, as it were, is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions or outright hauling of physical cash into a foreign land, as is the case with Governor Obaseki and Mr. Osaze Osemwingie-Ero.
The detained and abandoned Mr. Osaze is said to be one of Governor Obaseki’s several channels of corruption through which the Governor funnels Edo State Common Wealth into Europe and America to sustain his numerous business interests. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have severally be invited to investigate Governor Obaseki’s fraudulent and MOUs administration for money laundering. That call has yet to provoke the needed probe of the Governor by the anti-corruption agencies, even when it became public knowledge recently that Mr. Obaseki actually opened the state resources for PDP to have a field day as “Tax Collectors”!
Nigerians who have little or no faith in President Muhammadu Buhari’s capability in retooling the anti-corruption war are further disappointed at EFCC’s tardiness to intervene in Governor Obaseki’s laundering case. The anti-corruption agencies have a duty to save Nigeria and President Muhammad Buhari’s administration from looming international embarrassment since major national and international newspapers already reported the discovery of the dirty $2m (N900m).
On top of this crisis of money laundering charges against Governor Obaseki, there are two additional concerns for a pessimist generation of Edo youths who deliberately avert their gaze away from the documented fraud against the state governor. First, the government has been unable to fix its solvency problems which Governor Obaseki created by borrowing too much money from foreign financial institutions. The Governor has been round tripping with the dollars for personal profits at the expense of the general public. Second, these loans have failed to stimulate the economy of the state since the interest rates are beyond normal and the details of the loans are shrouded in secrecy.
There’s no better or appropriate timing than now to investigate Mr. Obaseki’s litany of corruption cases and maladministration in order to save the country from international embarrassment following the arrest of his Commissioner and the Governor’s subsequent banishment from stepping his foot on the shores of Europe and America. The Governor’s shameful outing did not only damge his poor governance structure and his MOUs-induced administration but also destroyed the public trust vested and invested in him, going forward.
The haphazard response from the Edo State Government over the money laundering scandal and the attempt to conceal the dirty money while also denying and abandoning Mr. Osaze Osewingie-Ero in France further indicted Governor Godwin Obaseki’s malfeasance as he inadvertently owned up to the crime.
Now the conundrums: will Governor Obaseki be allowed to escape the wrath of the law even when his accomplice rots away in prison in France? How did we get to this sorry state of absolute absorbent and state of unshockeability to the extent that criminals in government have become heroes of our youths? How might we extricate ourselves from the shackles of political minds manipulators?
The Governor and his minders, as expected, have been clutching stoically at the straws, hiding behind broom stick of immunity for the governor while committing financial crimes with reckless abandon to evade arrest, not knowing that the anti-corruption agencies are obligated, constitutionally to investigate and bring under scrutiny the financial records and dealings of any state governments who violate their oaths of office to administer states resources for the greater good of everyone.
But even with these obvious fraud cases of deliberate looting of the state’s treasury by the Governor, the populace seems stock with frivolities and fantasy as against reality and amateurish propaganda by the Governor’s internet madrassas. It’s needless Mr. Obaseki is bailed out by the people and his criminal government or rewarded with a second term in office – like old-line retailers. To do so would merely create “zombies,” out of the people, ultimately limiting dynamism and growth, as perfectly outlined by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in his Simple Agenda manifesto.
The Governor’s folly, foolishness and political naivety has costs the state government several billions of naira he squandered to purchase the PDP’s governorship ticket, thereby paving the way for the state to decay in all fronts. For instance, the Governor couldn’t raise the money to pay the COVID-19 front line health workers who daily protest non-payment of their salaries and allowances eventhough the Federal Government’s more than N6billion COVID-19 palliatives has been received by the Governor.
It’s obvious from the sudden rot and rust in Benin City and its environs that Governor Godwin Obaseki has abdicated and jettisoned governance in the state. Any wonder the state is practically submerged under water each time it rains. As we speak, most parts of the ancient city is overtaken by garbage dump; schools overgrown with weeds and taken over by reptiles amidst preparation for school resumption, markets around Benin metropolis burnt down with midnight infernos without fire-fighting equipments.
This is the moment of truth. Governor Godwin Obaseki has walked himself unto the crucifix. He has led himself to his own political Golgotha like a notorious sacrificial lamb. As we say in my own part of the world “Ovbiukhor yase eguaikute chie”. Loosely translated to mean that the He Goat does not retreat from the shrine’s slaughter slab.
(To be continued)
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