Election, it is said, is a contest of ideas but recent events in Edo State, as organized by key State actors, have shown that it is a contest of intolerance, intimidation and harassment. How could the forthcoming electoral event which ought to be a celebration of democracy, be turned into a sordid state of affairs wherein aside using State facilities i.e. the Edo State Civil Service Secretariat, to promote the political campaign of the political party which Governor Godwin Obaseki belongs to contrary to the Civil Service Rules which expects Civil Servants to be non partisan and neutral, the campaign bill boards of opposition parties like that of our party, the Labour Party (LP), is either being destroyed or carted away by agents of the Edo State government. These acts coupled with the harassment and unlawful arrests of our party members and sympathizers, does not only smack of political intolerance, they constitute a clear violation of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which grants the Nigerian people the fundamental right to hold an opinion, more so contrary opinions and the right to freedom of association.
For someone who ought to know better, do we need to remind the Governor to take lessons from history, to see how those wielders of power, who would brook no opposition, end up? Where is Josef Stalin? Where is Adolf Hitler? Where is Benito Mussolini? Where is Pol Pot? Where is Idi Amin? Where is Mobutu Sese Seko? Where is Sani Abacha? Where is Blaise Compaore? Where is Adams Oshiomole going by our not too distant historical experience? How did they end up?

Mr. Governor who ought to know better, should be told in clear terms that he should lead from the front, in upholding the letters and spirits of the Constitution for which he swore to uphold. If he has forgotten, the good people of Edo State, some time ago, came to his rescue when he was being harassed by his erstwhile boss, Adams Oshiomole for daring to hold a divergent political opinion. This they demonstrated when they massively voted for him to retain his seat as Governor for a second term, proving to the erstwhile Governor that only the people can decide the fate of any politician in any electoral contest. Therefore, it becomes regretful and ironical to see that the man whose hold on power, was retained by the votes of the Edo people, is the one turning around to fritter away the goodwill of the people he had hitherto enjoyed.

Like the animals in George Orwell’s famous book, ‘ANIMAL FARM’, were taken aback at the turn of events under the leadership of the pigs who had hitherto condemned and overthrown the leadership of man as represented by Mr. Jones, we are shocked to see the Governor who holds his office in trust for the people, committing on a high scale and in an horrendous manner, the very same ills he was once a victim of.

The act of adorning the the Edo State Civil Service building with the campaign banner of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of his Party, the PDP, aside negating the rules guiding Civil Servants, gives one an inkling of what these hardworking men and women, would be subjected to on account of the Governor’s fearful attempt of seeing his party being defeated at the polls. We are not unaware that his political fate is tied to that of the 2023 general election.

The Governor is not alone in this sad commentary of how public officers, use State apparatus and facilities to oppress their political opponents, he has accomplices in his cousin, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, the CMD of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) who in a nepotist fervour, had denied the Labour Party and it’s Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, the use of the hospital’s expansive football field. Same goes for the Vice-Chancellor of UNIBEN, Prof. Lilian Salami who gave out the university sports complex to the APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Tinubu for the use of campaign, a gesture she had initially deprived the Labour Party Presidential Candidate. A case of double standard and abuse of office which she exhibited when she forbade the LP and it’s members from campaigning within the university campus forgetting that there is nothing wrong for political campaigns to be done in the university giving the fact that the school is an agent of political socialization.
The names of these public officers, will forever be consigned to the dustbin of history for abusing their offices which are maintained by public money. They suddenly forget that power is transient and history never forgets.

Having identified these acts of impunity executed by the Governor and his agents, should we fold our hands and watch while our God given fundamental rights are being trampled upon? We shout a resounding “NO”, for the State and it’s assets does not belong to him, therefore the office he occupies should not be seen as an extension of himself. Definitely, his impunity will not go unchallenged. Although, he said we will soon run out of steam, we shall prove him wrong, when next February, with our permanent voters cards (PVC), we shall retire him and those who have made life hard for our people.

Mr. Godwin Obaseki should realize that just the way no battle ground is certain in war, more so in politics, he will be will be swept off like every other tyrants before him by the peoples power.
We are by this response, letting the whole world know, that as a responsible political movement that is currently enjoying popular support, we will not toe the path of violence which the Governor wants us to toe, of which if we are to reciprocate as a way of preserving ourselves, it will consume us all given the fact that nobody has a monopoly of violence.

Comr. Okhilua Osadebamen
LPSGCC, Tink Tank, Edo South.

By osibanews

Eliel Otote A is an Actor and Filmmaker, with a bias for journalism. He was a freelance feature writer with the Nigerian Observer in the 80's in Benin City, he also presented programmes on both radio and television. Eliel is the Editor and Publisher of OSIBAnews Network Magazine, of which this blog is an affiliate.

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