This is a good question, coming from Oghogho Omoruyi, who writes from Benin. I grew up in Benin. I saw the names listed on The Who is Who of Edo State, former Midwestern Region, former Bendel State, now, Edo and Delta States. I was filled with pride as he listed all those names. I knew all these men as my father was friends with them. I knew their children as I went to school with them from Primary school all the way to University. I was contemporaries with their children as my parents were contemporaries with these men of immense wealth who also loved our State.
Those men were men but let us put their times and these times in context.
Edo State has never been this bad.
That is the difference.
Even though they all stood and spoke up for good governance, they did not have much to say in their time about governance because we had great governance. Do we want to look at infrastructure? We had drinking water from taps that dotted the streets of Benin City. Do we want to look at education? All you have to do is read an article written by anyone who is over 55 and grew up in Benin. We had great teachers. We had teachers who knew their tenses because they were well trained.
Where are the Teacher Training Institutes today? We have consultants in their place who have a mission— not to educate but to act as conduit.
Do we want to talk about health care? None of these illustrious men listed in Oghogho’s article ever needed to travel abroad for healthcare needs. We had brilliant medical personnel who were well paid and we had primary health care institutions spread out in all villages of Midwestern region.
In my remote village of Ohordua, we had a dispensary as far back as 1967, when I was a little boy. The hospitals functioned as hospitals and there was a bottom up feeding system through which the well organized primary health care delivered.
Let me tell you a story. In March 1967, one day, at about 8 pm, I was involved in a domestic accident that tore my head in two after I hit my head on the sharp edge of an iron bed. There was blood everywhere. My father rushed me to the General Hospital, now called Central hospital. At the time, emergency meant emergency. They took me in without asking my father to go and purchase a card, cotton wool or needles. They stopped the bleeding and stitched me up. They gave me candy and nurses smiled at me. Today, that 8-year old boy dies in Godwin Obaseki’s Five Star hospital.
I grew up first in Sparta Lane in New Benin, then Igun Street and eventually my father built a house in GRA. We never had a fence in any of the three homes in which I grew up. Today in Godwin Obaseki’s Edo, after four years in power, kidnappers have multiplied. Armed robbers roam the streets of Benin, unchallenged. Everyone now hides behind a fence that totally obscures the house in which they live. Young men and women, after getting sloppy education are unemployable and unemployed and so, they become internet fraudsters. Nature abhors a vacuum. Where are the 200,000 jobs Obaseki promised?
The governments in those times did their job with very little resources. Obaseki’s monthly security vote of N1b every month needs to be explained if Edo State is the only South-South State that has no tracker to track kidnappers. Obaseki’s N1b monthly security vote needs to be explained if the Police commissioner only gets N5m out of N1b every month. These are questions that Oghogho needs to interrogate.
What therefore does Captain Hosa want?
Captain Hosa is as much a stakeholder in the present and future of Edo State as the poor woman who sells pure water for her daily survival. Hundreds of Edo people are employed in several companies he has established in Edo State. He wants nothing but the best for our beloved Edo State, a State in which his own father served as clergy and an educationist.
Captain Hosa, just like the boy who is a Keke driver, wants to be able to walk around the streets of Edo State without being afraid of kidnappers and armed robbers.
Captain Hosa wants our hospitals to work so that he can safely go to Central hospital. Captain Hosa cannot sit by having been so endowed and not be involved in some way. He was involved with Godwin Obaseki, funding the governor’s trip to China to help bring investors into Edo State. He quietly advised the governor about his ill-advised fight with Oshiomhole, a situation which was bound to hinder development, and it has.
For the last three years, Godwin Obaseki has spent the resources of Edo State in a scorched earth war against Oshiomole and Edo business owners like Captain Hosa by using his connections with certain people to threaten his Oil security contracts which had nothing to do with Edo State.
Obaseki sent a message to Captain Hosa in no unclear terms by sponsoring articles full of innuendo and outright falsehood to denigrate a man who just wanted to help. Captain Hosa’s charity works in Edo State have been carried out quietly without making noise.
There are some relationships that money cannot buy. He placed his enormous goodwill at the disposal of the governor for the sake of the State. He may have palaces around the world but there is no place like home. His house in Benin is his castle. Obaseki drew first blood.
Was Captain Hosa supposed to turn tail and run? I sent a message to Captain Hosa at the beginning of this whole saga advising him that he needed to stay out of Edo politics because Obaseki fights really dirty. This was his reply. “I cannot keep quiet when I can see our State being destroyed. That would be an act of cowardice.” I said to him, ‘you are indeed a Bini man.’ We are warriors and children of warriors with a long line of history of never backing down.
Captain Hosa has never been one to boast about his accomplishments, all of which he credits to Almighty God. He has no siblings running for office. Even when he has been offered an opportunity to run, he has declined.
All the men listed by Oghogho lived in times when Governors were servants of the people. We live in times when governors have become Emperors. For Godwin Obaseki, it would appear that anyone who dares to advice him becomes an enemy of the State.
Ought this be so?
Oghogho, I would therefore ask you to go and ask Godwin Obaseki— what does Godwin Obaseki want?
I write because I am involved.
▪︎Ovienmhada is a poet, author, playwright and public affairs commentator. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org