By Sufuyan Ojeifo
The Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the
leadership of the State Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, for all of eight
years that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was in the saddle as governor,
harangued him over security votes and their deployment in dealing with
flashpoints and other security issues in the state.
The purport of PDP’s relentless exertion in putting the Oshiomhole
administration on its toes on security votes was to hold him accountable
to the people. To be sure, security votes are usually spent at the
discretion of state governors, who are chief security officers of their
respective states, to promote security and peace among the people.
At the federal level, the office of the President has its security
budget separate from the votes that are earmarked for countrywide
security espionage and domiciled in the Office of the National Security
Adviser (NSA). There are components of such votes at the critical
operational levels of the Department of State Security (DSS), the
Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency
(DIA), which are coordinates of the superintending office of the NSA.
The expenditures of these votes are conventionally not subject to
legislative probe; and, therefore, the president, the office of the NSA
and security agencies are not obligated to provide _comptes rendus_ for
retirement and audit purposes. The same applies to state governors who
work in concert with the Police and other security agencies at that
level to keep the peace in the states.
As much as this is good for promotion of genuine peace in the nation,
the real issue has been the unconscionable diversion of the votes by
some governors for private ends, knowing that security votes are
components of the annual budgets whose expenditures are not open to
investigation. In Edo State, under the administration of Oshiomhole, the
Orbih-led PDP adverted attention to the issue.
The PDP was, perhaps, unsettled at the speed at which Oshiomhole was
reaching out to critical stakeholders across the state and getting their
support. Oshiomhole funded the critical engagements of stakeholders and
the security infrastructure in the state from the security votes.
Operational vehicles were, for instance, reportedly bought for the
Nigeria Police amid allegations by the opposition that the gesture was
to compromise the police and the other security agencies that benefitted
from the gestures during elections.
Such criticisms are justifiable in the democratic space in which the
governing party and the main opposition party always lock horns in a
battle of wits and grits. It did not matter then that Oshiomhole and
Orbih were brothers from the same Etsako area of the State; what was at
issue was the administration of the state’s political economy.
However, in a fit of frenzy and in a desperate bid to demonise the
administration, propaganda became a tool which was freely used.
PDP’s claim was that Oshiomhole was cornering a whopping N500 million
per month as security votes. Imagining the humongous amount to which the
votes cumulatively tantamount was and is still enough to give the
opposition goose pimples. A huge war-chest is easily created thereby,
usually for personal empowerment and to prosecute re-election. So it
was with all former governors in Nigeria.
But recent media reports in which a group called the All Progressives
Congress (APC) Grassroots Youth for Change tasked Governor Godwin
Obaseki to ensure peace and security in Edo state with the N6 billion
annual security votes in the 2019 budget and the claim that the amount
represented an increment of N1 billion over the N5 billion earmarked as
security votes for the governor in the 2018 budget were quite
The crux of the report was that the regime of security votes that
Obaseki inherited from Oshiomhole’s administration was about N330
million per month (about N4 billion per annum). The group in a statement
issued by its National Coordinator, Orlu Henry Manuchimso, said that Edo
state was the only APC-controlled state in the South-south region and
appealed to Obaseki’s sensibilities not to act in ways that would
cause the APC’s defeat in the 2020 governorship election.
The group contended that the security votes should not be deployed in
causing feuds in the State House of Assembly where the governor had
ostensibly promoted a divisive inauguration of the State Legislature
where nine out of the 24 APC members that comprise the Legislature
convened at night to elect the Speaker, Frank Okiye, and the leadership
of the House.
The point that I advert attention to really is the curious yearly
increment of the security votes by Governor Obaseki, allegedly in
cahoots with the former Speaker, Kabiru Adjoto, to quietly insert the
single-line item of N5 billion in the 2018 and N6 billion in the 2019
budget. These are significant claims that cannot just be overlooked. If
the governor has made these increments, they must be for some reasons
and purposes. What are these reasons and purposes? The people deserve to
know since what is discernible is a festering crisis in the party
allegedly sponsored by the governor to preserve his position.
Whereas, before the deliberate creation of the crisis in the State House
of Assembly, did the state security architecture benefit from the
humongous security budgets solely managed by the governor? Since he has
declared to the world that he would not share the state’s funds to the
politicians in the APC that helped him to power, the question is where
had he spent the security votes before the executive-induced crisis in
It is clear that Governor Obaseki’s plan to drive a series of negative
narratives that discount positive public perception of the other camp,
allegedly enjoying the support of Comrade Oshiomhole, has failed to fly
in the face of historical facts that continue to echo the mantra and the
praxis of political accommodation as well as fidelity to
leadership-followership’s rules of engagement. Political leaders and
members who had worked to ensure the election of Obaseki in 2016 are
deserving of recognition and empowerment for their effort and
investments, not needless vilification and demonization.
Sans hedonism or greed, Governor Obaseki’s access to N5 billion in
2018 and N6 billion in 2019 was enough to mute his complaints about
politicians who want to share the state resources when there have
neither been structured funding measures to contain insecurity nor
reinforcement of equipment to assist security agencies in dealing with
crimes and criminalities in the state.
Beside this, the question has been: if Obaseki is not giving money to
politicians, who then is he giving the money- the security votes? Does
it mean he does not care about the security situation as well as the
wellbeing of political leadership cum membership in the APC? Is it not,
perhaps, safe to surmise that Obaseki is concerned only about himself?
If the answer is yes, then that disposition will continue to spawn
contempt for him, more especially within his political family-the APC.
Fighting those who assisted him to power is symptomatic of bad politics
and a divided house. Obaseki’s brand of politics defies logic and
validation. Why has he chosen not to give to APC leaders and their
followers who are believed to be in the other camp the things that
belong to them? Deliberate alienation from government, as typified by
the narcissistic inauguration of the State Assembly, followed by the
cabinet reshuffle, exemplifies his ill-advised resolve to fight the
other camp to a standstill instead of working without cessation to
reconcile with the other camp by way of compromises.
Obaseki has the wherewithal to accomplish this. If he claims he does
not, he should be ambiguously told that this is the kind of exertions
for which security votes are deployed and not for existential indulgence
of diverting the funds to allegedly bolster private investments. Again,
Obaseki’s threat through his media aide, Crusoe Osagie, to probe an
administration in which he (Obaseki) played a strategic role stemmed
from self-delusion. True!
· Ojeifo contributed this piece via email@example.com
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