By Nosa Omorodion
THE contest for the Edo South Senatorial Seat is going to be an interesting one between two very two popular candidates. It is actually a straight fight between the incumbent Senator Matthew Urhoghide, gunning for reelection on the platform of the PDP and Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon, who on the platform of the APC will be taking his first shot.
Interestingly, these two personalities are very popular, having performed to public acclaim in the course of their assignments as elected legislators. However, the similarity of their performances is in name and not in character. While Sen. Matthew Urhoghide has demonstrated an excellent level of competence and commitment to duty with copious evidence in the form of constituency projects and core legislative assignments, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon is renowned for his commitment to comic performances in and out of the Assembly, delivered in verbose and bombastic language, and an outlandish dress-sense.
It should be noted that both men have impressive histories of participation in politics. Senator Matthew Urhoghide’s participation in politics dates back to 1991 in the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In that year, he contested the ticket of the Party to represent Edo South Senatorial District with five others. He came second after the winner, Late Prof. Sunday Iyahen. Between 1993 and 1994, he was the Director of Administration and logistics of the SDP and the Hope Campaign Organization of Late Chief MKO Abiola, the undeclared winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election. However, Urhoghide had set out on the road of politics in his undergraduate days in the University of Benin where he rose to the peak of student politics in 1981 as the President of the Students Union. In the same year, he was the President of Senate, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). Urhoghide graduated from Uniben with a degree in Pharmacy. Today, he is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and Fellow, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacists.
Urhoghide has over the years established himself as a great visionary leader, orator, mobilizer and inspiration with an uncommon passion for community advocacy and development. This is the reason why his excellent performance in his on-going first term did not come as a surprise to those who knew him. He has in fact, exceeded expectation and imagination. As the incumbent senator representing Edo South, Urhoghide has sponsored nine (9) bills, of which three have been passed into law. He has moved twenty-three (23) motions on the floor of the Senate. He has attracted and executed most diligently, over one hundred (100) constituency projects, spread equitably among the seven local government areas of Edo South. He has contributed to the economic empowerment of his constituents by way of giving cash grants and numerous equipment including, sewing machines, tricycles, motorcycles, refrigerators, generators, deep freezers and grinding machines. Senator Urhoghide has given two hundred and sixty-eight (268) scholarships of between N30,000 to N100,000 to underprivileged students of secondary and tertiary institutions, who are resident in Edo South, irrespective of place of origin. He has facilitated the appointment of twenty-six (26) Edo South constituents in federal government establishments. He has also facilitated the training of 3,753 persons to acquire skills in various vocations. Urhoghide has been so phenomenal that he has become a legend in Edo South.
Like Urhoghide, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon also graduated from the University of Benin, however with a degree in law. He was also involved in student politics as a parliamentarian of the University of Benin Students Parliament. In 1999, he contested the Edo State House of Assembly Seat for Oredo East Constituency on the platform of the PDP. He won and went on to represent the constituency for two consecutive terms of 8 years. Thereafter, in 2007 he contested the House of Representatives seat for Oredo Federal Constituency on the platform of PDP. He also won and went to the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja. However, his quest for reelection was aborted in 2011 having failed to secure the ticket of his party. In his twelve years sojourn in the House of Assembly and the House of Representatives, Hon. Obahiagbon stood out as an entertaining talker per excellence. He inadvertently provided comic relief for the other legislators sober. He was a star performer, not for his bills and motions but for his bombastic outpourings and outlandish dress-sense. There is not much, in relative term, to show for the execution of his core mandate.
Core mandate of a legislator
Therefore, it is not out of point to say that Hon Patrick Obahiagbon (APC) has proven to be an entertainer with little much delivery on the core mandate of a legislator, which is to meet the urgent and immediate yearnings of his constituents. Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP), on the other hand, has proven to be a quintessential legislator religiously and maximally executing the mandate of his people.
The common opinion in Edo South is that for 12 years Hon. Obahiagbon’s representation was impressive only to the extent of becoming a character qualified for the Guinness Book of Records as the king of bombast and showmanship. Senator Urhoghide, on his part, with only three years in the Senate, has made a name for doing more than the collective efforts his three predecessors in 12 years of collective representation. This feat is what informs the popular opinion that Urhoghide holds more promise than Obahiagbon, especially as his reelection would mean his becoming a ranking senator. Many people believe that a vote for Patrick Obahiagbon would be to the effect that Edo South people, in the next four years, would be entertained to rib breaking jokes and performances of fleeting benefit, while a vote for Matthew Urhoghide would be to the effect that Edo South people would be treated to more super-performances that would consolidate their their good fortune of having elected him in 2015. The choice before the Edo South electorate is, between a serious performer and a comical pretender.
- Omorodion is a writer and public affair commentator