-States Creation does not Guarantee Good Governance – Oshiomhole-
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former Governor of Edo State, has stated that rather than guarantee good governance, creation of additional states creates room for excessive political offices and increases unnecessary fanfare. He stated this during the weekend in Benin City, Edo State, when he delivered a keynote lecture at the 20th Professor Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture.
He recalled that when Samuel Ogbemudia was Military Governor of Mid-West State that was later renamed Bendel State, he “efficiently” and ”effectively” performed his job to the admiration of his people. Comrade Oshiomhole added that on the other hand, he (Oshiomhole) and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan were later trying hard to do the same job for Edo and Delta states that emerged out of Bendel State.
According to him, ”If 2 people are doing the job of one person, in terms of productivity, it is clear that they cannot be as productive as that one person. And it is even compounded by the fact that we had more commissioners in each of the two states than Ogbemudia had in the Old Bendel State”.
He added that excessive political offices that emerge from additional states lead to situations where some Governors do not even know their Commissioners, Special Assistants and Special Advisers. The former Governor who spoke mostly extempore, confessed that he was guilty of this anomaly during his tenure as Governor . These were his words:
“I did the same. I met some young men and I said excuse me, just to remind me, you are…. ‘I know you, I am one of your Special Assistants.’ O yes, yes! How are you doing? I mean, this is true confession. I am a Catholic, I like to confess my sins, believing that if it is a sin, then I would be forgiven. If it is good, then I would be credited.”
Comrade Oshiomhole further stated that the 2014 Constitutional Conference proposed the creation of additional 18 states.
However, “…Three years later, people who were signatories to that document are saying, depending on where they are, that these 36 states are not viable. And the evidence, of course it is a very dubious argument… is the fact that many state governors are not able to pay salaries…. No nation has enough to meet the greed of leaders.
Every nation has enough to meet the basic needs of the very ordinary people. The challenge of governance is to channel resources deliberately, because governance more than any other art is not like rocket science. It is a biased art. It is not value free. It is value driven.
You have to decide who you favour, who gets what and who pays for it. In Edo State, I got some people to pay for it. They fought me, I fought them and I used it to do what I believed I needed to do. They may never forgive me, but I also may never forgive them. I didn’t promise to be neutral. I stepped on toes and I even chopped off some. I think that when they say nonpayment of salaries, that is not the issue. That is not the evidence of viability or lack of viability. That points to quality of leadership.”
The former Governor disclosed that he had been to some Government Houses in Nigeria’s South-South region where such Houses were introduced to him as “state-of-the-art” Government Houses. He added that in reality, the Houses were meant for the comfort of the Governor and his “official children”.
He said: “While we can speak of state-of-the-art Government Houses, we also can’t speak to state-of-the-art Government Hospitals, or state-of-the-art road network, state-of-the-art health centers, primary schools, secondary schools, universities. But we have a Government House that even Trump who is not too comfortable with White House would be far more comfortable living in those State Houses. That is part of the viability arising from derivation.
When we filed out to ask for derivation, the intention was not to make our Government Houses more attractive than the rest of the country. It was to ensure that our sub-regions benefit and that our resources are managed in a way that would deal with the problem of pollution and all the other things associated with exploitation of oil.”
The theme of the 20th Professor Wole Soyinka lecture was, “Nigerian State in the Aftermath of the Centenary: Prospects for its Indivisibility.”
- Cornelius Ellah
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