There is certain awe about the name Bendel State. 29 years after it ended, the memory evokes mythical aura.
A distinct emanation surrounds its identity and history. Her people fondly called Bendelites walked with pride because the land gloried in grandeur as the best in all facets of Nigeria’s experience. It was a special state steeped in the peak of excellence.
Beginning from 1967, the charm of Bendel was so epic, heady and hard to resist. Many would have wished for the indivisibility of Bendel. But like everything human, nothing lasts forever. Also read:
The offsprings, Edo and Delta states, became inevitable in 1991. Today they bear the blessings of their defunct mother, with befitting appellations.
One, the Heart Beat of Nigeria, the other, The Big Heart. The spirit of Bendel soared so high on Saturday, September 19, 2020, with Edo governorship election.
The unity of Deltans and Edo people found expression in the political embrace of two men – Godwin Obaseki and Ifeanyi Okowa.
Both governors were motivated not just by partisan politics but also by the passion of brotherhood and emotional energy of shared dreams.
Okowa, ever sure-footed in organized action, would mobilize men and goodwill to rally Obaseki to sweet victory. At the final tally, Obaseki (PDP) stood triumphant with 307,955 votes as against Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s (APC) 223,619.
ALSO READ: Nigeria @ 60: Still A Crawling Baby
This was a spectacular success that aligned with the sensibilities of Edo people and Nigerians far and near, reinforcing the beauty of popular democracy.
Though Okowa and Obaseki were in different political parties in 2016 when then-governor of Edo, Adams Oshiomhole, campaigned with APC team to enthrone Obaseki, events that followed would alter everything.
A lingering Obaseki/Oshiomhole face-off, spurred by irreconcilable differences, compelled the governor to move to PDP where Okowa had since gained awesome muscle as a respected political matador.
Beyond party alliance, there is something in Obaseki which perhaps made him Okowa’s chum. His social refinement is also the greatest fancy of Okowa.
Both men have manners- well-groomed, mellow and self-respecting. If Okowa has self-discipline, Obaseki’s civility is pronounced.
The duo is gifted with cultured tender temperament. Succinctly, Obaseki is the alter ego of Okowa.
Whether by coincidence or providence, it is instructive that the two men with striking similarities are the governors of the twin states of Delta and Edo.
The burden of history is indeed on their shoulders, coming in an era when the people of the two states desire visionary pathfinders and leaders that would help them address the endemic scourge of underdevelopment, unemployment, poverty, insecurity, coronavirus and other rising challenges.
Fair enough, Obaseki sounded reassuring when he spoke in Asaba, Delta State capital during a visit to Okowa where he said, “As Chairman of South-South Governors, you have provided strong leadership for the region and now that we have achieved political cooperation, we will focus on economic advancement and development of the region”.
YOU MAY ALSO READ: Buhari Inaugurates Itakpe-Warri Rail Line For Commercial Activities
Accompanied by his wife, Betty, deputy, Philip Shaibu, wife, members of the National Assembly from the state and Edo top government officials, Obaseki said the delegation came to thank Okowa and Deltans for their immense efforts in his re-election, adjudged the freest in Nigeria since the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
“The amount of sacrifice you made for us in terms of time and commitment that you put in the election is worthy of appreciation”, he said.
In response, Okowa described Obaseki’ s victory as divine and prayed for the enabling grace to fulfil his campaign promises to Edo people who showered on him overwhelming love and solidarity, reminiscent of the widespread support of the governor by Deltans in the 2015 and 2019 polls.
With Okowa and Obaseki leading Delta and Edo by popular mandate, they have a huge task to reenact the glory of unforgettable Bendel through good governance.
Mr. Chiazor is a former chairman of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Media Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.