SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
It was like a carnival last weekend in Auchi, Edo State, when the deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, distributed empowerment materials to the people of Etsako Federal Constituency.
Until he was elected deputy governor, he was the member representing the constituency in the House of Representatives. Shaibu spent one year in the House, and following the emergence of his successor, Johnson Oghuma, Shaibu distributed motorcycles, tricycles, sowing machines and many other empowerment materials which are part of his constituency project for the one year he spent in the House.
Comrade Shaibu, deputy governor of Edo State distributing empowerment items
The occasion provided the opportunity for political leaders in the state, including the Edo Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aslem Ojezua, Senator Domingo Obende, Chief Theo Okoh, Alhaji Usman Shagadi, Chief Lucky James and traditional rulers to pour encomium on the man that is popularly known as “Mr Constituency Project”. As the highest political office holder in Edo North, Shaibu, who is an associate of the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has become the rallying point.
Ojezua, who spoke first at the occasion, said: “Shaibu is not new to stewardship in Etsako. He was in the House of Assembly where he achieved a lot and that is why he has the name ‘Mr Constituency Project.’ It is because of his public spiritedness that Etsako Federal Constituency
decided to elect him and I was proud as party Chairman to sign the document with which he contested election and went to Abuja to the House of Representatives. Today, by the special grace of God, he is the deputy governor. But before he became deputy governor, he had made arrangement to empower our people. In days past, we heard about constituency projects only on the pages of newspapers and perhaps in the bank accounts of those we sent to Abuja to represent us.
What we are witnessing today is a departure from that past and that is why we say this is the change the APC is preaching.” The new member of the House of Representatives, Oghuma, who won the bye-election held recently, described Shaibu as “a reliable leader of Edo North.”He went on: “We must all respect him. I want to assure that I will continue with the good works left behind by Comrade Shaibu who did a lot for our people as a member of the state House of Assembly, House of Representatives and now deputy governor.”
The chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Usman Shagadi, explained that “these items do not belong to the leaders of the party, it belongs to the people of Etsako, the downtrodden.” Shagadi went on: “What he is doing today is in respect of his House of Representatives where he just left.
He set up a committee to look for the beneficiaries whether they are PDP or APC and that is what we did. Philip has done a lot in this constituency and we are proud of him.” Addressing the gathering, Shaibu stated: “I would have done this long ago, but I was protesting. I protested because as a first timer in the House of Reps, I felt the money meant to buy these would have been more useful to me by building blocks of class rooms.
So I first collected this, while continuing my protest, that I will not distribute until what I want for my constituency was done. Interestingly, in the 2016 budget when we were now asked to choose projects, I was able to put about three schools in my constituency project and they were approved.
At that stage I now said I could distribute these items. But as nature will have it, when I was about to distribute these items, you people called me back to say I should stop there and come to the state to become the deputy governor. “And that is why we have not been able to distribute these items. “So, when I was given the nod to put classrooms in my constituency project, I made a call because, in my character, I don’t choose projects by myself. “Like the governor of Edo has done now, everything must start from the ward level, and all of us are behind him to make sure that governance is from the ward to the state because, when the wards are developed, the whole state is developed. That is the vision of Godwin Obaseki.
“I have always asked our constituents to choose where projects are sited, and, when you look at it, some constituencies not been fortunate in choosing members who represent them in the House of Assembly. And that is why we must be very sensitive in choosing those who represent us as lawmakers, because the legislature is very important since that is where the policies of government are formulated and passed.
While I was building my constituency project in the House of Assembly, some people were fighting Oshiomhole. Truly, one of our constituencies has not benefited from constituency projects because their legislators have refused to participate in the project called constituency project by keying into the center.
The first time in the House of Assembly, our constituency project was N20million. While I did four schools, Aiyowa, Azama, Apama and Osezekhai (South Ibie), the man that was there then representing the constituency in question did not do anything that year. The second year it was increased to N30million and the same thing happened, before it was increased to N36million.”