AN OPEN LETTER TO MR. SOLOMON ASOWATA
By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan
Dear Mr. Solomon Asowata:
Undoubtedly, my Article titled “Second Tenure, Ethnic Irredenrism and All That” dated July 5 2019, which appeared on my facebook page and other platforms has, as expected, elicited a torrent of reactions including the one from your good self. Yours was of a peculiar nature and it has become necessary to reproduce it here to give it a more lasting relevance:
“The commendations showered on Oshiomhole are superfluous. Which road across Orhionmwon that Oshiomhole tarred? Apart from this, it’s too early to compare Oshiomhole and Obaseki because Oshiomhole spent 8 years without being questioned by anybody with colossal debt which can be verified from DMO”.
This entry is as interesting as it intriguing. Slightly beneath the surface, it is thinly veiled in a bundle of mudslinging, insinuations and innuendoes. I hold serious exception to being called a liar. It is still more painful to be portrayed as a hireling.
You will recall that we first met in 1988 at the Constituent Assembly in Abuja. You were one of the Daily Times Reporters covering the Assembly. I was the elected Representative of the Greater Orhionmwon (now Orhiomwon and Uhunmwode Local Government Areas). We also hail from the neighbouring communities of Ozanisi (as it then was) and Oghada-nisi. It was, therefore, relatively easy to assume that we both knew the History and Geography of our Local Government. Recent events, however, clearly indicate that this friend you thought you know needs to be properly re-introduced to you.
We must first return to the Daily Times, which has become a common ground to both of us. I have never bothered to ask where you were in October 1979. At the instance of Alhaji Gidado Idris, Clerk-designate of the First National Assembly, NASS, as he then was, I was a pioneer senior staff of the First NASS. Idris led a group of the NASS Senior Staff to the US to find out, first hand, the working of the presidential system which Nigeria had just adopted.
That’s what brought them to my office in Newark, New Jersey. And that’s how Alhaji Idris literally dragged me home. Besides my job at the NASS, Idris was sure that I had an experience that was worth sharing with the Nigerian public. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the civil servant should be seen and not heard, Idris encouraged me to start writing for the Daily Times where I was assigned the Column “IN AID OF LEGISLATURE”which was later changed to “IN THE LEGISLATURE”, which appeared on page 7 of the paper every Wednesday. That was the beginning of my active writing life from which I have not relented ever since.
You are aware that as a syndicated Columnist, at various times, I have written my Columns with The Nigerian Observer, Thisday, The VANGUARD, etc. I have contributed to various Newspapers and periodicals in Nigeria and beyond, including theNew York Times and theParliamentarian.
This short narrative has become necessary if only to assure you that this Rock was already strong before the sun came up. Again, in my 40 years of active writing life, I have attempted to be upright in which case, I have never put down anything that is not verified or verifiable. When it comes to a situation where I lack enough wisdom to do, wisdom consists in not doing at all. If in doubt, leave out! Where I am to be judged other than by what I do, it must be by what I don’t do – I don’t lie; and I don’t libel!
Solo, you know, or you ought reasonably to know, that I did not originally set out to write a testimonial for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole but as our people say, “Monkey smart, monkey smart, na because tree near tree”. You cannot do a good appraisal on the Obaseki administration without reference to Oshiomhole. Neither will it be possible, in due season, to evaluate the performance of Hon. Patrick Aisowieren in the House of Representatives without reference to Hon. Samson Osagie. In that way, it will be glaring who waited till the 96th month before making his opening remarks on the floor of the House.
It is easy to assume that you have been permanently glued to Abuja; and that there is a total disconnect with your home base. All the same, if you are not intent on mischief, you cannot feign total ignorance of the fact that the Oshiomhole administration tackled that important Road that cuts across the heart of Iyekorhionmwon, starting from Ogan all through to Abraka Road. This was perhaps the boldest initiative of the Oshiomhole/Odubu administration. That project passes through the following communities among others: Ogan, Ugbedun, Ute-Oheze, Uson, Oloten, Okuor, Idumuogo, Eguae/Evbohighae, Orogho, Ugbokhirima Egbokor, Ugo, Umoghun-Ozuagbor, Camp 34, Urhonehe and Urhomigbe, with virtually all the Township roads in Urhomigbe.
This gigantic project was handled by Setraco Construction Company, Plc, at a cost of some
N7 Billion. In all this, we have no better way of reacting to Oshiomhole diabolical imposition of Obaseki on the people. Oshiomhole could have crushed anybody who stood on the way of this imposition. At the peak of the struggle for the primaries, Oshiomhole accosted this writer and said, “My leader, I hope you will get your people to support us. I am bringing you a son of the soil who will do for Isi land what Prof. Alli did for Ekpoma and what I have done for Iyamho”. Broken promises and dashed hopes! It is doubtful if Obaseki has set foot on Isi land after the election, talk more of developing the land!
Who is still fixated on timing? Is it not clear that morning shows the day? We are aware that Oshiomhole did not wait till the 96th month to perform. Rather he accomplished his major breakthroughs in the first tenure. Under a good administration, second tenures are for writing the footnotes and doing the bibliography. If that tortoise must bleed, it must be slaughtered in the morning.
Solo, I shall resist the urge to continue to be pushed to defend Oshiomhole, even his debt involvement – when I am, indeed, not his PRO. For all I know, if you are eulogizing a past king in the presence of a resigning one, it simply casts a big question mark on the reigning king!