But for the prompt intervention by eagle-eye men of the Department of State Security, DSS, who rose to the occasion, an ugly scene that would have disrupted the swearing-in ceremony of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy for a second term in office, was on Thursday averted when the aide-de-camp, ADC to the governor slumped while standing behind him on the podium. Decked in the police ceremonial uniform, the Superintendent of Police, SP started to jerk, wobble, and was gradually going down but the DSS operatives deftly moved in to steady him before he could collapse to the ground. He was thereafter guarded to a seat where the immediate past Commissioner for Health, Patrick Okundia, rushed to stabilize him. .
The governor was however oblivious of the unfolding drama behind him as he continued to read his inaugural address. Tell gathered that the ailing police officer was immediately rushed into an ambulance stationed at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the inauguration ceremony and was subsequently taken to the hospital. A source who should know informed the magazine that “he’ll be fine. He is responding to treatment. No cause for alarm”.
Earlier, a female paramilitary officer had also collapsed as the governor made to inspect the guard of honour after his address. She was immediately taken out of the parade ground before causing a stir. Commenting on the development, a security operative said there was nothing unusual about a police officer slumping.
According to him, “People do fall ill and with the stress of rehearsals, movement and other activities of the officer’s principal in preparation for the ceremony, such an incident can happen. That shows our humanity and there is no cause for alarm. All our officers and men are in good shape and nobody should use an isolated case like that to judge how healthy the men and officers of the Command are”.
Speaking after he had subscribed to his oath of office, Governor Obaseki said the government was committed to working for every Edo State citizen and lifting their wellbeing “by ensuring that Edo State grows into a globally competitive economy enabled by technology for the benefit of all her citizens” assuring that “Before 2025, Edo State will develop and grow its digital economy and operate a digital government”. According to Obaseki, “The digital government we are building will plug into the new digital age and would ensure we deliver better and efficient services to all our citizens”.
Assuring the people of transparent and accountable leadership, the governor said “Because of our antecedents in managing resources and redefining and deepening the social contract between government and Edo people, we believe that despite the problems and challenges we currently face, we shall overcome.
“This social contract between government and the people, which you redefined in the last election, calls for trust and reciprocity. We do not claim to have the solutions to all our problems. And this brings me to the point of the need to deal with the false dichotomy between what belongs to the people and what belongs to government. We must realize that what belongs to government belongs to the people, and vice versa. It is the bridging of this dichotomy that would help us to deal with the realities and challenges that we face in our society today”.
Obaseki regretted that this gulf also manifests in the apathy towards taxation, which he noted, is the core duty of citizenship. “Why should we have problems getting our people to pay taxes to a government who they voted for? Government does not have money of its own. The money government utilizes to provide service for its people is actually the peoples’ money. What we guarantee you, my dear people of Edo people, is that we will provide value for your money (tax revenues) by utilizing it judiciously, transparently and with accountability”.
He posited that the election that returned him for a second term in office, “restores hope in democracy as a form of participatory government; our victory also offers an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between a challenged past and a promising future”.
In his words, “The unfortunate crisis we have had to endure as a people over the decades, has led to deep divisions which has resulted in inequality, injustice, underdevelopment, poverty, insecurity and unequal distribution of opportunities. However, this is the time to heal. We are kith and kin with a common destiny. Let us now stop dwelling on the past. It is now time to take our collectives destinies in our own hands as Edo people and commence the arduous task of Making Edo Great Again (MEGA)”.