Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki appears is warming for next year’s poll. He is working to secure the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He has declared his intention to seek re-election. Last week, Obaseki was said to have formally informed his commissioners and aides about his decision to contest.
It is not yet clear if the APC would grant Obaseki right to first refusal as was done to his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, owing to the number of individuals interested in the race. Obaseki has, however, prepared himself to defeat any opponent propped by the Edo Peoples Movement, an APC opposition group, whose task is to unseat him.
As part of preparation for the battle ahead, Obaseki sacked over 250 aides. Those sacked were Senior Special Assistants and Special Assistants. It was gathered that the goal was to weed out those caught leaking information to the EPM.
A close aide said the governor has earlier programmed his second term campaign to start in October before the celebration of his third year anniversary. The aide said many of the sacked aides were discovered to be disloyal to the administration and capable of causing damage from inside.
According to the source, “Keeping them because of the election will amount to going into war with disloyal soldiers. It is better they plot against the governor from outside than do so from within.
“The governor has been conscious of the rebellious activities of many of them long before now, but because they were appointed with the influence of a party leader in the state he so much respected, there was little he could do about them.
“But, the situation is different now. The governor is now his own man, hence he can afford to flex some muscle. Between me and you, the governor is extremely popular in Edo; the only place he has a problem is the party.”
Besides the sacking of rebellious aides, the governor responded to cries of political leaders by constituting boards of the Edo Development and Property Authority, the Local Government Service Commission, Law Service Commission, Edo City Transport Service, Technical and Vocational Education Board, Health Management Board, State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, and the Waste Management Board. The appointment was meant to reward loyal party members and prepare for the party primary.
Speaking when members of the Bénin Unity League paid him a courtesy visit, Obaseki said he wanted second term because he deserved it. He assured them that he would prevail in the fight.
Obaseki said: “All that is happening is not only energising but confirmed my belief that what we are doing is the right thing to do. You may have wondered what exactly is going on. It is not difficult to fathom. Most of us grow up in this state. This is our home, but this is not how we grew up.
In 2016, I had no doubt in my mind to jump into the fray and continue what we have started. What I didn’t realise was that the rot was so deep and fundamental. It was not just a rot that expressed physical expression. It became cultural.
You come in here to Bénin you cannot drive through the city. You have warlords that have taken possession. When we came in here, they erected stores on Lagos Street. When I took over in 2016, it became clear there was a lot more work to do. I could not understand why Oredo could not earn more than N5m as taxes. Meanwhile, there were non-state actors who were celebrating billions of naira they made from the state and the banks they were lodging were coming to offer them vehicles.
He added: “When I came in, these non-state actors were almost physically threatening the state. I had no choice but to dislodge them. In good faith, I though this was something we have all agreed to do.
“Today, there is sanity. It is about building institutions. We will come and go, but institutions remain. How can we have a civil service where people work, you don’t pay or they retire, you don’t pay them.” How can people work in an environment that is unconducive and they were treated like animals?
I went to Palm House, the fire exits were littered with files and they were padlocked. If there is a fire there how will they get out. I went to the Bénin Technl College, the place was not what the Canadian built.