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Between Activism and Governance; Omorotionmwan Gulfed 

By Erasmus Ikhide
 Published February 21st, 2009


The above caption: ‘Between Activism and Governance’ was how one Mr. Josef Omorotionmwan could slant Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole’s barely three months old administration in ThisDay newspapers opinion column of February 12, 2009. The piece is a distraction which ought to have been dismissed for what it is – figment of a warped imagination – if only it does not harbour and had no potency of rebounding into an ominous tendency of thrashing a focused government.


It is for this reason I set upon a vice deliberately inclined to distract the peoples’ part from political and economics recovery that they entrusted on the Comrade Governor, who has shown more than enough vision, courage and acumen to take them to the next level. Josef Omorotionmwan ignoble absorbencies and trite falsehood that activism is not the same as governance without empirical facts, even as it relates to Edo State without buttressing his points is the poorest way issue of that magnitude could been trivialized.


Against Omorotionmwan’s molted idea that suggests that Oshiomhole must fail since labour leaders world over had failed is to put the cart before the horse. Oshiomhole is not your typical labour leader who ran their countries from Olympian heights without direct contact with his people. He has demystified governance and proven that government is a restaurant, and leaders are the waiters who must serve diligently even at their own expense.


It would had been dismissive or less offensive if Omorotionmwan’s piece was anchored primarily on the fact that Oshiomhole would go the way of every other Nigerian politician who have turned politics and governance into a criminal enterprise. My amazement is that Omorotionmwan has been around while the state patrimony was blotted with reckless abandon and the needle was not alarmingly high up on his anger gauge.


As much as Omorotionmwan’s comment stuck me as manifestly unfair, it excites me in the same token that he paraded his vague understanding of the workings of government in a democracy. Hear him: ‘‘yes, we are aware that he came on board late in the year, on the 122th of November, 2008, to be precise. Again, it would still have been immaterial if he had been sworn in even on the 31st of December. The requirements of the law must be met’’. He went further: ‘‘For one thing, Government is a continuous process; and for another, a seasoned administrator would have assembled a shadow cabinet to be working by the side while the appeal process was on, so that nothing would have taken him by surprise’’.


If we must understand Omorotionmwan’s assertion of ‘‘Government is a continuous process’’, at least in this context, it means that Oshiomhole should have, for instance averted his gaze and carry on as if nothing has happed over the Edo Water Scheme scandal where over N2.6 billion had been expended on a water project, yet no single tap, let alone water to drop from it. Would Omorotionmwan, for instance, as head of a shadow cabinet endorsed a non-existent project awarded by an illegitimate government whose contract sum was paid in full by another government whose truck in governance is to deliver on its promise that the mass of people must get value for their collective wealth?


As the first budget presentation of his administration, it was necessary for Oshiomhole to take the budgetary process very seriously. Therefore this administration needed to thoroughly analyse the desirability and feasibility of all the capital projects in order to streamline the variables. That, in Omorotionmwan’s thinking is a waste of time and efforts. The Governor should have simply jump the gun and fall into the booby-trap that was the undoing of his predecessors. In that case, Josef Omorotionmwan would have been elated single-mindedly; spin the webs of ominous failure across the state and drubbed the Comrade Governor with girth and sang praises in the hallowed recesses of his sublime abode and twinkled his eyes with inward merriment.


The truth remains that the forces that held Edo State to ransom for decades are still at play and, it is not unlikely that Mr. Josef Omorotionmwan is one of such forces. But the proper thing to do is to deprive him from that privilege of continuing to encourage the forces of darkness to feel important. Adams Oshiomhole administration has come to stay and there is nothing the like of Omorotionmwan can do about it. Oshiomhole-led government is premised on meeting the needs and aspiration of the people. For too long, it has been business as usual; to the frustrating extent that the people have virtually resigned to fate that government is a needless enterprise, an institution for self enrichment, good enough for criminally minded felons. That perception is exactly what Oshiomhole administration is set out to achieve in Edo and Nigerian state respectively.


Two more paragraphs of deliberate distortions of truth or voyage in the ocean of blindness swallowed Omorotionmwan up in his slouch attempt to redefine activism and governance. They read: ‘‘At the level of activism, which extends essentially to the rostrum on the campaign grounds, you can promise heaven and earth. But as soon as you get to Government House, it is a different ball game entirely. That is when the reality on ground dawns on you. It dawns on you, for instance that the House of Assembly exists to curb your excesses’’.


He continued in the last paragraph: ‘‘Every programme of government must be carefully planned and properly consummated. Most renowned administrators are men of few words. Otherwise, you might find yourself falling into deep trouble at every bend. In his first thirty minutes in office, Comrade cut off the very arteries on which the State and Local Government internally generated revenue thrive. The damage was done in seven simple words during his inaugural address, ‘‘All forms of ticketing are hereby abolished’’. He got a standing ovation. That’s activism. But at the level of governance, the State Internal Revenue Department and the Local Government Councils that depended on revenue from the parks, environmental sanitation levies, etc, have not, and may never, recover from that pronouncement. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult separating illegal collections from genuine government taxation’’.


I think restoring Omorotionmwan, an anti-reformist to the part of reason without plucking the strings that restored King David to sanity or without making him to benefit from the attention of a psychiatric will interest the reading public and enrich democratic governance in Nigeria . Earlier in that same piece, Omorotionmwan rounded on Oshiomhole’s administration triumphantly for not swinging into action immediately by constituting a shadow cabinet, since according to him, government is a continue process. One would have taken for granted that Omorotionmwan is aware that consultation is the metaphor of a people driven-government within the shared context of democratic tenet until he shot himself in the foot.  


Now, he ate that desiccated pile of self-contradiction in the last paragraph of his piece in which he said, ‘‘every programme of government must be carefully planned and properly consummated’’. In truth, Omorotionmwan may well be one of the beneficiaries of the illegal taxation abolished by Oshiomhole’s administration. The taxes collected by touts from the motor parks, environmental sanitation levies, market women, and sachet water sellers are meant for political patronages for those who aided the electoral fraudfest of those who held office in the past.


The people of Edo State have elected to be governed in a fashion that forbid the old style of governance and, one million reactionaries in Mr. Josef Omorotionmwan cast cannot deter Oshiomhole from actualizing that given dream.


Erasmus Ikhide is a Special Asssistant to Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.            

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