Benin Leaders of Thought (BLT) have kicked against the rumoured plan of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State to impose his preferred candidate on the All Progressives Congress (APC) as his successor in the governorship election billed for July this year.
The group said by so doing, the governor, whose tenure ends of November 12, 2016 would be re-introducing godfatherism to the politics of the state, an evil it noted, Mr. Oshiomhole vehemently fought against in the past, which had earned him accolades.
There are strong speculations that Gov. Oshiomhole has anointed the head of the Edo State Government’s Economic Team, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, as his successor.
Addressing journalists in Benin City, the state capital yesterday, Chairman of the group and Enogie of Obazuwa, Prince Edun Akenzua, said though the BLT disbelieved the rumour of Oshiomhole’s alleged imposition of an aspirant, the issue has excited the imagination of observers of the state politics in recent times.
To buttress their points, BLT reminded Oshiomhole of his earlier statement quoted in the Vanguard of November 12, 2009, where he said: “What makes governance difficult is that some leaders are imposed on the people. That situation creates absence of support. And people will become cynical about you”.
Prince Akenzua, who is the younger brother of the Oba of Benin, said it was on this premise they were taken aback by the rumours that the governor has anointed his successor in this year’s gubernatorial election.
While applauding Oshiomhole for his achievements in the state, the group further reminded him that although he, like other citizens, has the inalienable right to support any aspirant of his choice, such right must be exercised in a manner that also respects the right of other people to freely choose who will govern them.
According to the group, “The infrastructural development programmes Oshiomhole’s government has achieved are visible, but the legacy the governor has bequeathed to the people of Edo, which will last forever is the raising of the people’s political awareness. The people now know they can hold their leaders accountable.
“Before Oshiomhole, those in government were regarded as masters and untouchable sacred cows. Now people know that they send them there to serve so they should be accountable to the people.
“The governor came and wiped out godfatherism from our clime. Before he came, the godfather decided from his residence outside Benin, who represented the people in the federal positions. When the godfather pulled the string; our people danced like puppets. When Oshiomhole became governor, godfatherism disappeared. No longer will he decide who represents our people.
“Therefore, godfatherism in Edo politics is detrimental to the social, economic and political development of the state. Godfatherism is not acceptable to BLT and the good people of the tate. It should not be reintroduced under any guise.
“The people of the state should be given free hands to determine their next governor. Popular participation bestows responsibility for governing one’s own conduct, develops ones character, self-reliance, intelligence and moral judgment. In a democracy there is no substitute for popular participation. Even if a benevolent despot could govern in the public interest, he would be rejected by the classic democrat. Man can only know the truth by discovering it himself”.
Pledging their continued collaboration with the state government and other stakeholders to ensure that only gubernatorial aspirants with clean past records and who can consolidate the achievements of Oshiomhole are considered for the position of governor of the state, the Benin Leaders of Thought called for proper screening of aspirants to ascertain if by their antecedents, they can lift the state to the next level.