Nigeria: 'Why Virulent Attacks Will Do Edo No Good'

26 July 2020

As Edo State governorship election campaign takes the centre stage on the political scene, observers want it to be devoid of virulent attacks on investors and other stakeholders.

This is premised on the fact that strong states are determined by their economic prowess.

It is therefore always advisable for public officials to be more interested in building stable and vibrant economies.

For political economists, promoting entrepreneurship, job creation, sustained growth, local and foreign direct investment and ensuring protection for investors are considered critical to economic growth.

The difference in rates of growth is often attributed to two factors: government and entrepreneurship. As rightly noted by Britannica, the two are mutually exclusive.

Investors

Borrowed from that, it is then apt to state the obvious - the role of government is to provide incentive and favourable environment for entrepreneurship to take hold rather than make the state hostile to investors.

Those who understand these intricacies are aware that contrary actions by state actors are highly discouraging to potential investors.

Edo is one of the states with the least number of private sector investments, a situation many believe should make Governor Godwin Obaseki streamline the baselines between politics and business.

This is why people like the renowned business mogul, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo and other investors should be embraced.

Instead of towing that part, the entrepreneur and philanthropist of international repute is being vilified to the dismay of many.

Okunbo, a friend of the incumbent governor is now being perceived as an enemy of the state because of his usual fraternity with all and sundry regardless of party affiliations.

In view of current happenings in the state, not a few are concerned about the likely implication of campaign rhetoric for the economic potentials of the state.

Businesses

The ongoing onslaught against Okunbo and his businesses is largely seen as trying to paint his person with a brush of public odium that verges on mischief.

This is happening despite Okubo's commitment to the socio-economic development of the state.

Recall recently, in a public notice, titled "Save-My-Soul Appeal", Okunbo practically begged Governor Obaseki to stop "continuous attacks on me, my family and my business."

Pursuant to his personal convictions and without any fear of contradictions, Okunbo had solidly supported the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki.

"I find it sickening and incomprehensible to understand or accept any justification for the series of sustained virulent attacks against my person in the social and print media by some agents of Edo State Government," the business mogul added.

Potentials

The ongoing campaign against Okunbo and his businesses establishments has the potentials of negatively affecting the economy of Edo State. It is so considering the contributions of his companies to the state's economy.

Those who have been following events in the state since Obaseki defected to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, know that there is an obvious campaign of calumny against Okubo.

Okunbo has large followership across the state and beyond. His businesses crisscross major sectors of the economy. His philantropism and job creation capacity have endeared him to many Edolites.

He has been around doing genuine businesses and making huge investments for more than three decades.

Obviously, those who want to obliterate Okunbo's economic clout and undermine his contribution to the state and national economy are indeed, aiming at his jugular.

Those who hold such a view are quick to point at the recent move by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to issue a marine notice to mariners and ship owners in respect of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) where ship berths and are protected from pirates' attacks in the Lagos port. The SAA is jointly operated by the Nigerian Navy and Ocean Marine Solution (OMS).

Report

A damning report was said to have been written against Okunbo's interest by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil Theft and Pipeline Vandalism set up by the National Economic Council (NEC).

The OMS provides security protection for the pipelines in parts of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, specifically in Escravos and Forcados, among other areas. Not even the robust defence presented to the committee was enough to pre-empt the report.

Recall that in 2016, Okunbo reportedly sponsored the governor and his team on an investment trip to China.

Investment trip

This was done pursuant to his firm conviction in private sector-led participation as being the key to the economic and industrial development of the state.

Riding on his goodwill across board and the respect he enjoys among power brokers in the state, Okunbo personally appealed to the political class and other critical Edo stakeholders to support the governor.

This he did with a lot of passion without the least expectation for reward in any form.

Okunbo was happy at the time that Edo State had a new sheriff, with a private sector background. He was confident that Obaseki would lead Edo into an era of prosperity.

Okunbo's entrepreneurship spirit is not only demonstrated in his ability to turn Breton Woods agreements into reality by establishing industries, but also his demonstration of genuine love for his people.

All parties

Instructively, Okunbo is not a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but his influence simply cuts across all parties. Had he decided to accept overtures to him to accept the ticket of APC, he would have been the consensus candidate of not only the APC, but also of many parties.

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