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Edo 2024: The Big Question Tinubu Must Answer

By Jane Uyi Orobosa

“I use the best hand, the best brain, the best experience for the job” – President Bola Tinubu, April 22, 2015

There is a big, pertinent question by Edo State indigenes concerning the coming September 21 governorship election begging for an honest and immediate answer from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And there are other related questions too. The big one is: “As the governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007, would a Monday Okpebholo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming election, have been in his cabinet?”

President Tinubu is reputed to be a stickler for excellence, competence, capacity and proven experience in choosing who works with him. It is an irrefutable fact that some of his cabinet members in 1999 have gone on to shine brilliantly like a million stars in their political career and some are still in the present federal cabinet. If they were not fit for purpose, possessed the requisite competence and capacity, would he have taken them aboard? Tinubu is about the only one in contemporary Nigeria political history with the largest number of political actors linked directly to him by virtue of their competence, capacity and excellent know-how.

Therefore, this question and related ones have arisen because of recent talking point about the September election that is just 78 or so days away. Though not unexpected, it is however curious that the President’s name is being bandied around with almost reckless abandon by chieftains and members of his political party as if he is the one on the ballot on September 21. It is so pervasive and disturbing that it is almost being taken for granted that the coming election has been won by the APC, courtesy of Tinubu’s intervention. It is worrisome that grown up adults have found it so convenient to boastfully drop Tinubu’s name at every turn and opportunity in Edo State in connection with the election. It has never been so bad, the rate at which the name is dropped by APC supporters and chieftains.

This is despite the public admission by the most prominent chieftain and leader of the APC in Edo State, a former governor and current sitting senator, Adams Oshiomhole, that Monday Okpebholo comes with “a slowed engine.” The public admission by Okpebholo himself in a video that has gone viral wherein he admitted in Pidgin English that “dem say I no sabi talk.” The general perception across the length and breadth of Edo State that Okpebholo does not have the requisite competence and capacity to lead a local government area not to talk of a state and which has been attested to by his woeful performance in the Senate so far where he could only manage one bill in a whole year. This is coupled with his inability to differentiate between a Zoo from a Museum. Now, would such a person have been given a chance to be in the cabinet of then Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from 1999 to 2007?

Going by his antecedents, those who knew his style of governance when he was governor of Lagos State have described him as a leader with a knack for headhunting the best of brains and those with the requisite competence and capacity to pilot the affairs of key government establishments. And he made it clear even as a President-Elect in April 2023 that “In selecting my government, I shall not be weighed down by considerations extraneous to ability and performance. The day for political gamesmanship is long gone. I shall assemble competent men and women and young people from across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria. To secure our nation and to make it prosperous must be our top priorities. We cannot sacrifice these goals to political expediency. The whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance,” he said in a statement he personally signed.

The other questions: Should the name of Tinubu be the APC campaign mantra in Edo State and not what the party has to offer? Is the President aware that an old video of where he gave the assurance that as President he would hand over Edo State to APC has been ‘resurrected’ by these people and are busy sharing it on all social media platforms across the state implying that come what may, the President would hand over the state to the APC on a platter? And those who had seen it are telling as many people as cared to listen that Tinubu has directed that every election result must be brought to Abuja to be announced? Is Tinubu aware that the perception out here in Edo State just now is that of “Tinubu made himself President against all odds, judiciary or not and so, there is nothing that can really stop him from making anyone a governor?” And as an encore, bearers of this salacious story add that it was a good and appropriate time for Tinubu to show Governor Godwin Obaseki that indeed Edo can be Lagos?

Four years ago in 2020, the sentiment was that “Edo nor bi Lagos” and Obaseki rode on that sentiment to a second term in office to the chagrin of Tinubu who had done a video calling on Edo people to reject the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and vote APC whose candidate then was Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. But it did not work as the PDP trounced the opposition APC.

This resurgent claim of a possible presidential intervention through the instrumentality of what is popularly called ‘Federal Might’ in Nigeria has expectedly raised concern and elicited resentment from stakeholders, civil society organisations and sundry individuals. They are asking the question, if Tinubu, reputed for headhunting the best brains and hands to work for him so he could achieve the best result, a stickler for competence, capacity and character will ever allow an Okpebholo to be in his cabinet as a governor of Lagos State. And if not, could he really be out to foist a well known mediocre on Edo State? To what end, retard its growth and development trajectory of the state or just to get even with Governor Obaseki as has been speculated? The answers to these pertinent questions from President Tinubu are needed now so Edo people would know what to expect and what to do.

Orobosa writes from Benin City.

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