By Adeshina Peter
One of the biggest problems bedeviling Africa and the entire third world is a disconnect between the leaders and the people they claim to lead. For countries in this category that practice democracy, the closest the people get to their elected leaders is often at campaign rallies when their votes are sought. This disconnect, sadly, ensures that the needs of the people are hardly met as those in charge of the resources of the state lack sufficient understanding of the problem and ways to solve them.
But again, as he has consistently done since he took office barely six months ago, Governor Godwin Obaseki is defying what has constituted the norm, and is setting new standards with his inclusive government that sees him literally going to the doorsteps of his people to listen, first hand, to their complaints and together, with them and other stakeholders, proffer solutions to the problem.
Eko-Ewu, an agrarian community in Esan land, used to be peaceful and quiet until days ago when marauding terrorists invaded the community and other neighboring ones to commit vicious crimes of rape and murder. Two innocent women, Mrs Martina Emonyon and Mrs Aliru, were, as reported by multiple eye-witnesses, both brutally raped and killed on their farmlands by these criminals.
The hitherto quiet community was thrown into deep mourning and great fear as everyone kept wondering who is next. When news of the sad event found its way to town and most importantly, to the ears of Governor Godwin Obaseki, he immediately swung into action – albeit not the usual kind of action.
He did not just issue a statement condemning the act and send aides to the family as is typically the case. Instead, to show his great concern and love for his people, he ordered that a meeting be arranged between himself and the families of the deceased and the leaders of the communities in the axis.
Calls were made and a meeting was arranged.
On Wednesday, the 31st of May, Governor Godwin Obaseki, alongside key security personnel in the state, left Benin City for Eko-Ewu community where he met with all the aforementioned people and together, right in the full glare of everyone present, they sat like equals to mourn, discuss, and strategize.
“I am here to commiserate with you over the terrible situation”, Governor Obaseki began. “It is a tragic and sad situation. What has happened here is a national problem that has been repeatedly discussed at the Federal Executive Council. It is a real national threat as these are not just Fulani herdsmen, they are Boko Haram terrorists”.
Perhaps sensing fear in the eyes of the people as they took turns to recount their ordeal in the hands of the criminals to him, Governor Godwin Obaseki reassuringly said to them “We will do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t repeat itself again. Security has been stepped up in this area, and we are having another security meeting next Tuesday to finalize our plans on tightening security across the state. I will be in Abuja tomorrow (Thursday) to talk to the Inspector General of police and at the state level, I have mandated the security agents to work with local vigilantes for credible intel gathering”.
Of course, for the families of the deceased, nothing can bring back their loved ones. It is a sad, irreplaceable loss. But they can find solace in the fact that the number one citizen of the state was in their house to promise them justice. For other residents of the communities who, prior to the visit of the governor, have lived in fear – they can now go about their business (albeit with caution and alertness), emboldened by the words of the Governor who left the residence of power to their households to sit with them like equals and offer words of succor.
The people of Eko-Ewu may not know John Maxwell, or even be aware that he was the one who famously declared that “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”, but in Godwin Obaseki, they can see that leader. A first among equals, who is always there anytime they need him.