An Open Letter To My Governor — Godwin Obaseki

Bros, Obokhian!

Your journey has been long. I remember when you started Afrinvest with Phillip Iheanacho and remember those early deals you guys did that people could not understand at first but you eventually turned into Nigerian International Debt Fund “NIDF”. Anyway that is not why I am writing. I just want to acknowledge that you indeed have come a long way.

The problem is that you are only resting to begin another journey and who knows where this one will lead to? While you are on this phase of the journey, there is work for “us” to do together. I deliberately did not say that there is work “for you” to do because I realize that we are in it all together. “N’EdoGhama” is a collective mission. It was also the name of a group my father belonged to and from which I gained a lot.

Fashola had his slogan “Eko o’ni baje” well, we now have our own “N’EdoGhama”. It is not an empty slogan because “Edo’eghima”. Edo is ailing.

My old primary school is at Igbesamwan Street (St Josephs, now Uwa Primary School) and we were 15 people in a class when I started my education in the 70s. We all had desks and I played hockey for the school. I did not miss anything by being there instead of school in Carmarthen, Wales. We had art fairs and I won debates for my school against others. Sadly, all of this is now history. As at the time I was in University in the 80s, the same class I was in (1B) now had 600 pupils who had no chairs and were hanging around a structure that was more of a hazard to children than a classroom. There was no learning taking place there.

With the decay in the infrastructure and quality of education in the state, I was not surprised that armed robbery and kidnapping became a profession of choice instead of higher learning and other more gainful employment.

I do not know what your predecessor has done about it but if the schools remain the same, a beautiful Ring Road or Airport Road will not solve our problems. We need you to declare a state of emergency in education.

I remember when the rivalry between ICC and Edo College was about debates and not gunfights. When the contest between Idia College and Gorretti was not about sugar daddies and smartphones. I remember when we used to create the best minds who went on to do great things beyond our shores. Now we export the worst and most vulnerable in human trafficking. Breaking the cycle of poverty and crime starts with great education.

I don’t want this to be empty talk and wishes. There is already a template with Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) in New York. (www.hcz.org) We should study it and use it to save our children in Edo. As the founder of HCZ said, sometimes we have to write off some generations and focus on the future. I have written off those in cybercafes and those still involved in robbery and kidnapping but we should not write off their children, “our children”.

One of our greatest Governors Professor Ambrose Alli realized the power of education. He set up schools and gave us a university. A university which produced captains of Industry like Tony Elumelu and many others. Edo can produce even greater minds and not criminals, if we fix our education first.

“A great hotel is not the buildings alone, it is the service it provides”. My uncle “Henry Imasekha” always used this analogy whenever he was encouraging service excellence. You have been given a mandate to save the future of Edo. The future of Edo is in the children, it is in Education. It is not in physical structures and roads. The future of Edo is in the “future minds.”

As expected, N’EdoGhama will have many phases and areas. I believe Education is the most important one. Please declare that state of emergency in education. “We” will support you to raise a fund for this. You are not new to such funds. Let’s do an “Edo Education Rehabilitation Fund”, task Western Union and our banks who have profited from remittances back home to do the right thing.

Ughator! Ughamwina se.

Umoghun Gha Tor Okpere!

Edo Gha Ma!

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