The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has been his unusual self as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage nations and societies. It would have been a period of pride for Edo State and its leaders as they were tasked with hosting the year’s National Sports Festival, which would have been closely followed by election primaries.
However, as Obaseki continues to flicker like a candle exposed to harmattan breeze, failing to provide visionary and courageous leadership in the pandemic, one begins to wonder the true cause of his depression. Is it that suddenly, Obaseki has become deeply patriotic and fallen in deep love with Edo State, such that the failure for the National Sports Festival to carry on as planned greatly hurt his health?
Far from it! Obaseki remains a self-serving incompetent governor, one devoid of vision and charisma, whose dullness only lifts for criminal cleverness at the prospects of embezzlement or at the instances of violence. What depresses Obaseki at the moment is not unconnected to his deputy, Philip Shaibu, who doubles as his henchman. This time, the planning and preparation for the National Sports Festival were delegated to Philip Shaibu who, in concert with his principal, did a shoddy job.
The plan, as found out, was simple. Philip Shaibu, with the blessings of Obaseki, had gone ahead to borrow a lot of sporting equipment instead of buying and securing them permanently for the state. This borrowing meant they do not have to buy these tools and equipment at the true prices which, although bloated, they had already withdrawn the six billion naira budgeted for it from the state treasury. This setting and plan, initially conceived without factoring the coronavirus outbreak, hoped that the Sports Festival will carry on so that they would justify their spending, if not embezzlement.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus came sooner than expected, hence putting things to hold as society has gone on total shut down. Following this new and unexpected reality, adjustments needed to be made, as seen all over the world. Internationally, sporting events like the national leagues, Europe’s Champions League, and the Olympics, were all suspended.
However, Governor Obaseki, through his deputy Shaibu, told the world they were ready to carry on with the festival, even as gatherings of large crowd are being banned globally.
Obaseki wanted to use the National Sports Festival, like people usually say in Nigeria, as one stone that will kill two birds for him. First, to divert funds that would not be accounted for, which has already been achieved through a shabby renovation of the stadium and borrowing of equipment instead of buying them. And secondly, to make the festival artificially flashy and huge, in order to use it as a tool to score campaign points in the coming party primaries.
And that brings us, again, to the same point about this administration: they do not truly care about the people. The world saw them ready to move ahead with the sports festival, willing to put lives to risk just to cover up their embezzlement and corruption tracks. Except for the timely intervention of the Federal Government, Edo State would have been the Nigerian epicenter of coronavirus just because of the selfish ambitions of two men who are now depressed that their wicked plan didn’t pull through.
Sadly, we are told hoteliers and food vendors among other services have been fully paid even before the commencement of the festival and as such, there are no refunds for services that were not rendered – our elected officials may have simply diverted the budgeted N6B for the Edo 2020 sports festival.