IN the last one week, Edo people have been treated to what charitably may go for a circus show. Adams Oshiomhole, the Comrade-Governor and gaffe impresario, who is better known for his provocative, if not outright inane public utterances, came from the blues and declared as unaccepted, the opposition parties’ proposition that youth corps members serving in the state might not to be fair umpires and therefore should not be used as electoral officers in Saturday’s governorship election.
They argued that in their place, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officers and federal civil servants be used as electoral officers to conduct the election. Oshiomhole denounced the electoral officers and the federal civil servants as members of not too credible organisations, which on one hand, have taken to the futile flight of fancy while on the other hand, have constituted a serious threat to the election as well as the security of INEC’s avowed commitment and assurance to conduct a free and fair election in the state. He then made some lame threats about making the state ungovernable if his wishes were not complied with.
Barely 24 hours later, Senator Bola Tinubu and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, governors seemed determined to invest Oshiomhole’s latest pronouncements with credibility value, which is higher than that reserved for the utterances of a court jester. At the ACN’s mega rally in Benin, the state capital, Tinubu referred to the 3,500 soldiers being deployed to Edo State for the election, as being deployed by the Federal Government against the Edo electorate, a statement that was quickly condemned by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as politically dishonest and hypocritical.
In between is located the role of the media as paid agents and as demonstrated by the several serial reports of one Simon Ebegbulem of the Vanguard newspapers. Ebegbulem, in his report of the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan to the Benin monarch, threw caution and the noble ethics of the journalistic profession to the winds.
The contradictory ways in which his reports were idealised, woven together and served to the public, betokened a broader contestation around the meaning and purpose of a reporter. His approach, however, suggested that the issues were not binary information or entertainment, serious or trivial, objective or subjective, facts or comments, accuracy or misinformation, democracy or demagoguery but were arrayed over a complex matrix of sometimes antagonistic reportage.
His editors must have been taken aback to know later, after the serial reports that the Benin monarch did not snub the President; instead, the Oba gave the President and his entourage the rare honour to welcome the President into the inner chamber that was strictly reserved for very special senior citizens. They may also have realised too that this was the same Oba that waited for over two hours to receive the Vice President about two weeks earlier before the President’s coming. The prediction of how Edo people will vote in his Sunday Vanguard report of Sunday July 8, 2012 was the most vexatious.
If the truth must be told, the reality is that the PDP will win with over 65 per cent if a free and fair election is held in Edo State today. Then how is it that the Ebegbulem enjoys to desecrate the high record of the Vanguard? Investigative journalism may provide reporters with a rallying point around which to range the ideology of journalism, but it connects only tangentially with a public that idealizes it substantially differently. This is where Ebegbulem must periodically be advised to regularly go for referential causes to realign them to modern reportage.
In the melee, only a few can take Oshiomhole seriously on the matter. In recent months, nothing seems more dramatic a proof than the fact that his administration is inexorably committed to taking this election as a do-or-die affair; whereas, he would turn round to level spurious and unsubstantiated accusations against the PDP.
After a disappointing campaign outing at Otuo in Owan East Local Government Area, Oshiomhole jumped into a waiting vehicle and drove himself only for him to have a collision with a tipper vehicle which led to the death of three journalists in the convoy. He accused the PDP of arranging the accident to terminate his life and that proposition was taken as pro-Oshiomhole elements as plausible until the police had to come out with the findings of their investigation that the PDP was innocent.
Moreover, it was discovered that the tipper owner and the driver were card- carrying members of his ACN. At another rally, Oshiomhole alleged that the 14-kilometre Amekhodian Road at Uromi does not exist and that it was smuggled into the Federal Government’s budget. A week later, the Federal Government flagged off the construction of the 14-kilometre road which is costing the Federal Government N1.4 billion compared to the expansion of the 6.82 kilometre Airport Road on which Oshiomhole is reportedly spending a huge amount of public funds and tax payers’ money.
Second, the face-off between Edo electorate and Oshiomhole over the legitimacy of the continuous stay in office of the local government caretaker committees has been nauseating to the sensibilities of those who genuinely see our political development as an opportunity to deepen our nascent democracy. Since this administration came on board, Oshiomhole has been pulling pranks here and flaunting authority there; he has carried on as though he is a law on to himself. For Oshiomhole, there is no respect for the rule of law, even the one passed by his House of Assembly.
His lawlessness that is brazenly perpetuated in the full glare of his ACN leaders who must have endorsed it has been nothing less than infectious. Only the other day, a High Court declared the local government caretaker committees illegal and that they (the committees) should be dissolved but the Comrade-Governor, our modern day patron-saint in government, has since snubbed the court over the issue.
Well, I could go on and on; but they claim that in spite of all these obvious shortcomings and demonstration of impunity and executive rascality, their gods have spoken in favour of Oshiomhole’s re-election and I say, let the real and unbiased gods of the land truly speak!
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Category: Benin City