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Afegbua’s futile effort to rewrite Obaseki’s story

When you tell yourself a lie for so long, at some point, you may actually become convinced that it might be true. I believe this is the unfortunate condition that Kassim Afegbua finds himself.

With Governor Godwin Obaseki coming into power in 2016 with some support from Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the likes of Afegbua thought it was going to be business as usual and that their appetite for opulence nursed by the Oshiomhole administration was going to be further entertained in the Obaseki era. But they were visited with a rude shock. Obaseki refused to continue the culture of frittering of the people’s resources.

All efforts by Afegbua to convince Obaseki to continue to throw obscene resources around were not heeded and he soon resorted to attacks against the governor in his weekly, poorly-written opinions published on the back page of a newspaper that has clearly given him that space in an attempt to help in rehabilitating ‘an angel that has fallen from grace.’

A cursory look at Afegbua’s last piece titled, “Edo’s rots and the missing artefacts,” does not reveal any new falsehood. It is the same old lies told over and over again. Shameless display of ignorance of the meaning of MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and vituperations borne out of worry that Obaseki’s performance has completely eclipsed all that his predecessor considered to be a star performance.

The glory of the latter of Edo has indeed been greater than that of the former, borrowing wisdom from the Holy Scriptures.

The other laughable effort now being made by Afegbua and his ilk is the futile bid to reprimand the World Bank for duly taking notice of the phenomenal transformation of education in Edo State and honouring Governor Obaseki for this lofty accomplishment.

Does Afegbua think that the World Bank is like the local institutions he used to incentivise to give unverified awards to his then principal?

The World Bank is a responsible international Development Finance Institution (DFI) which does not take any decision without independent research and verification. So, if they say Obaseki has performed exceptionally in education, then Afegbua should save his bitterness against Obaseki for lies in some areas.

It is on record that Governor Godwin Obaseki was the only Nigerian representation and indeed the only subnational invited by the World Bank to share insights on how the state expertly utilised public funds to transform public education in Edo at the 2023 World Bank Spring Meetings.

Quoting Martín E. De Simone, an Education Specialist at the World Bank, “The political leadership, commitment and will is the most important in any educational reforms and the Edo State Government under Governor Godwin Obaseki has demonstrated that to deserve the partnership of the World Bank. The governor has done well in the educational sector of the State.”

Also, a recent report by Jaime Saavedra, Global Director, Education Global Practice at the World Bank and Martín E. De Simone, while acknowledging Obaseki’s efforts at improving teaching pedagogy and learning outcomes in schools in Edo State, noted that “the State actively promotes innovation and the use of technology for education. For instance, all the lesson plans are distributed via tablets, and the progress in delivering lessons can be tracked and monitored in real-time.”

In recognition of Governor Obaseki’s prudent management of scarce resources and guaranteeing accountability and transparency in governance, Edo State recently clinched two awards from the World Bank: Public Expenditure Efficiency, and Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Awards.

The World Bank and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) also adjudged Edo as the leading state in Nigeria in terms of e-procurement implementation strategy, in acknowledgment of the state’s transparent and accountable procurement system, and countries like Gambia, Liberia and over 20 Nigerian states have visited Edo to understudy the outstanding procurement model, including Ogun State who are currently in Edo on a four-day study exchange.

Apart from the World Bank, the governor has continued to receive accolades and international recognition from other notable institutions, including the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), European Union (EU), and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), among others. All of which are a testament to the fact that reforms undertaken in the state meet global standards.

The governor’s investment in technology has also been recognized as the state emerged overall best in e-governance implementation in Nigeria, defeating 35 other states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to clinch the award. It also emerged as the first runner-up in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Human Capital Development and Performing State in ICT Infrastructural Development.

Obaseki’s reforms in the health sector took centre stage on Wednesday in Abuja, as Edo shone brightly at Nigeria Governors’ Forum Primary Health Care (PHC) Leadership Challenge Test, emerging as the runner-up, South-South region for the contest sponsored by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dangote Foundation and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) to win over N184m ($400,000) cash prize.

It is clear that these awards are those that acknowledge the governor’s prudent management of public resources, proving indeed that public funds are being deployed judiciously for the benefit of Edo people. Afegbua and his ilk are obviously throwing tantrums because they have been prevented from feasting on the people’s patrimony. They are now shamelessly pointing accusing fingers at the World Bank for patting the governor on the back for doing an excellent job.

Afegbua and his co-travelers should take note, for their own peace of mind, that from all that Obaseki has done in Edo over the past six years, he shall be recorded in history to be shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of General Samuel Ogbemudia and Prof. Ambrose Alli who altered the development of Edo people for good for several generations to come.

No amount of pointless articles can change this truth. No amount of bitterness from politicians who are only sad that they couldn’t gain unfettered access to the people’s purse can change the truth of Obaseki’s legacies.

I will quote my father Mr. Matthew Osagie, one of the wisest men I have met as I end this article: “Crusoe, lies have short legs, they can never run far.”

Osagie is special adviser on media projects to the governor of Edo state

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