July 15, 2024

MONDAY OKPEBHOLO: The ‘Slowed Engine’ Coming to Revolutionize Edo State

MONDAY OKPEBHOLO: The ‘Slowed Engine’ Coming to Revolutionize Edo State
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By Sebastine Ebhuomhan

Monday, 1st July, 2024. Abuja. Distinguished Senator Monday Okpebholo, the upper chamber lawmaker representing Edo Central Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Edo State All Progressives Congress’s flag bearer, and the candidate to beat in the state governorship election, has become newsmakers’ delight. If he speaks, he makes a front-page for what he says, the language he uses and how he says it. If he doesn’t speak, he makes the news for what he could have said, the language he could have used and how he could have said it. Unsurprisingly, he still makes the news for what other citizens think or say about him or not

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One such statement was recently twisted out of context. Edo State APC leader, former governor and present Senator of Edo North, Distinguished Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s speech at a recent political rally organised to harvest defecting leaders and members of the bleeding People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was wickedly twisted by Okpebholo’s rivals. Expectedly at such a gathering, Oshiomhole had deliberately reintroduced Okpebholo to the crowd of old and new APC members.

An ex-Labour President, who turned Edo State into a construction site in eight years, leaving ‘eye-marked’ legacies behind, Oshiomhole remains incomparable to the outgoing ‘Obubuyeye’ PDP administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki struggling to line up puppet Akintunde Asuerinme Ighodalo to cover Obaseki’s track. The Edo State ‘engine’ that Obaseki and Dr. Ighodalo have ‘slowed’ with debts, mismanagement, capital flight, and lies is what Oshiomhole figuratively poked at the rally, expertly using words like he was chewing kolanut.

Countering unfounded allegations from Okpebholo’s struggling co-contestants, Oshiomhole said, “He is a worker. You know when I was contesting, some people said I didn’t even have a primary school certificate. I didn’t have primary school, but I know that erosion is bad. I didn’t have primary school, but I know we needed a beautiful hospital. I didn’t go to primary school, but I know how to drive away mammy water without using holy spirit. I didn’t go to primary school, but I know how to rebuild school when it is falling down. I knew that Red Roof is good for the children of the poor. I knew that the way to keep the party together is to respect elders. We worked with the youth: when they called me Oshiobaba, I called them Oshiochildren. Together, we made a difference in eight years.”

Presenting Okpebholo, Oshiomhole emphasized the arrested development of Edo State under Obaseki, his successor. “The engine is slow but the heartbeat will be back. Edo will rise again. Edo will rise again. Edo will rise again. If you believe Edo will rise again, raise up your hand. God bless you.” Oshiomhole’s speech underlined everybody’s trust in Okpebholo’s ability to make Edo State, Nigeria’s Heartbeat pumping again, if elected as governor.

Oshiomhole’s speech ignited, however, a frenzy of irrational and illogical twists from the opposition, due perhaps, to laziness, impatience, unstudious mind, poor comprehension, shallow rationalisation and inconsiderable understanding. They turned it upside down, controversially. Writing on behalf of another party candidate he petulantly endorsed days earlier, John Mayaki attacked Okpebholo’s perceived honest, steady and straightforward policy as an “epidemic” waiting to happen.

In a very unreasonable, untruthful and unfair essay: The ‘Slowed Engine’ as an Epidemic on Our Hands, Mr. Mayaki alluded to Okpebholo as a man without qualification, for whose interest a professor and others were screened out of the APC primary election. Unarguably, he lied. His readers know those he mentioned and didn’t mention contested. They credibly lost the two primary elections APC conducted.

Mayaki uncharitably alluded to Okpebholo as an unsmart and unlevel-headed man without a plan who throws money to win elections. He lied again. Everybody knows Okpebholo is gentler and more level-headed than Mayaki’s new, un-coordinated, flipped cap-wearing candidate, who has struggled unsuccessfully to connect his disapproving ‘rich man’ lifestyle to grassroots by posing at different times as a chef, a footballer, a thug etc. Just any scheme to con voters. As for election funding and spending, the PDP and its candidate, Ighodalo, a man Mayaki labelled as “an armchair lawyer familiar only with routine boardroom life,” have outspent already (even without official figures on the state government funds they are using) all other parties and candidates contesting Edo election. Many of those supporting Okpebholo and APC, home and abroad, like this writer, are doing so from personal pockets.

Mayaki further alluded to Okpebholo as a lucky man. As the saying goes, heaven helps those who help themselves.

But he controverted himself by claiming “it smacks of laziness and superstition for anyone to hope to win elections by luck.” In his sanity, can Mayaki really convince Edolites with his ludicrous claim that, Okpebholo, a first-time politician without the backing of any godfather, who contested his party’s senatorial ticket primary and won freely and fairly; contested senatorial election against an experienced incumbent and won freely and fairly; contested his party’s primary election for the governorship ticket in a field inclusive of a removed governor and won freely and fairly, is lazy and superstitious? He should begin to study what the electorate see, like, believe, support and always voted for in Okpebholo.

Mayaki wrote, “Politics is a complex business, and while experience is no guarantee of competence, inexperience is hardly an asset.” Who is the real amateur in politics between Okpebholo and Ighodalo? The candidate who is cutting complex deals by himself no matter how difficult or the candidate a sitting governor is rigging, aiding and protecting with state power? This is where the real epidemic lies. Whether the advice above is heeded or not, it is getting clear as crystal that Okpebholo would win this governorship election as he easily won his past elections. Even as Mayaki’s “dilettante,” Okpebholo has positively impacted more Edo people’s lives than Ighodalo.

Ordinarily, it should be disgraceful of Mayaki to swing support (after a huge inducement, according to his critics,) at this time to a man, who didn’t grow up or schooled in Edo State, who has never connected with Edo State people, who openly admitted not knowing anything about politics, who is regretting joining a factionalised PDP last year, who has never voted in Edo State, who just registered in May to be voted in September, and whose state government administration is haunted by poverty, hunger, barren MOUs, failed policies, mismanagement, and absence of infrastructure, despite the huge money Edo State has received in Obaseki’s eight years. Worst of all, Mayaki’s candidate’s management of Edo State economy under Obaseki has only brought huge debts and largescale corruption. Others like the Nigerian Breweries Plc and Nigeria Economic Summit Group are dying.

For Ighodalo to win the PDP ticket, Obaseki had to rig out his deputy, Hon. Philip Shaibu; a professor, a diplomat, lawyers and other more prepared professionals. But these details won’t rattle Mayaki because he doesn’t believe or ever supported Okpebholo even when reminded that Obaseki unceremoniously threw him out of Edo administration.

As far back as 21st August, 2023, long after this independent journalist began to support and campaign for the primary election of Okpebholo in APC, he attended in Utako, Abuja, a party organised to celebrate Alhaji Abubakar Momoh’s appointment as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Aside from the party, he met with Mayaki, who was the event’s Master Compere. They rubbed minds on APC aspirants. There, he informed Mayaki that, after much consultation and observation, he has decided to support Okpebholo even though he has never met him. Mayaki spoke candidly as a personal friend. He replied that he would not support Okpebholo, who is incapable of winning the primary. Notwithstanding, he became a motivator who always acknowledged this writer’s “hard work” for Okpebholo. Despite his unpopular decision, there are worse people than Mayaki in the APC. They are found in the other parties, too.

Unsurprisingly, Mayaki alluded to APC leaders as complaining daily. Among the political parties in Edo State today, are there any that have no hypocrites? In fact, the APC is even more organised than the PDP, a party of four factions, where the smallest oppresses the others; and the Labour Party, where violent struggles for leadership at state and national levels are reducing the candidate’s chance to win Edo election.

Assuming Oshiomhole even referred to Okpebholo metaphorically in conceptualizing his statement as the performance of a car, facts are sacred. There is a misconception on the one hand that permanently driving a car on a low engine led to a longer-lasting engine. Engines are designed to operate within a range of speeds and temperatures, according to mechanical engineers and motoring experts. Driving too slowly or slowing the engine too often can prevent an engine from reaching its optimal operating temperatures, which can lead to fuel combustion, increased wear, and deposits buildup in the engine.

On the other hand, driving at excessively high speeds pushes the engine to its limits, damages engine components and reduces its lifespan. It is important therefore to drive within engine speed limits after gradually picking up to guarantee the longevity of the engine. Hypothetically speaking about wear and tear, slower engine cars last longer. Tear comes from duration of usage; wear comes from engine revolutions. More revolutions lead to more wear even with regular maintenance, oil changes, tune ups, and observation of manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Experts recommend a slower engine, gently accelerated, and avoiding high burning revolutions. This is the reason diesel engines last longer than petrol engines. As slower engines, diesel engines operate at a lower RPM range that performs better and extends lifespan.

At this critical time of Edo State lacking genuine development: absence of basic infrastructure, quality education, sound healthcare, economic empowerment, security, food availability, capacity development, citizen engagement, what is needed to avoid regretful decisions and make the Nigerian Heartbeat pump optimally is a ‘slowed engine’ that picks from gradual acceleration without unnecessary revolution through profound thinking, careful examination, deep consideration, wider consultation and proper decision. Okpebholo, alias Akpakomiza, offers the much-needed humility, patience, thinking cap, listening ears, and determined heart to conquer challenges. Okpebholo is fit, sound, truthful, able, and prepared than Ighodalo, who should be telling the court how he forged INEC voter’s card or not.

Mayaki must understand the path he is carving is anti-party. It is punishable. Considering how party/campaign authorities have avoided contending the issues, Okpebholo and his running mate, Right Honourable Dennis Idahosa, must take greater charge of their governorship bid. APC leaders must quickly nip this embarrassing music from a ‘member’ in the bud to protect the party’s governorship integrity.

Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is an award-winning journalist and media consultant from Edo State, writing from Abuja. He can be reached on: usie007@yahoo.com and 08037204620.

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