Former governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, in an interview with Anayo Okolie, spoke on the outcome of the July 14 election in the state and the victory of Governor Adams Oshiomhole
Many people were surprised that after protesting the emergence of General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.) as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the last governorship election, you still supported him when other aspirants who equally lost at the primary opted to support Governor Adams Oshiomhole. What informed that position?
Well, my belief is that anything that happens to a man is ordained by God and it is for his own good one way or the other. So, despite my reservations about how General Airhiavbere emerged as PDP candidate, I have to accept the situation as a party loyalist. For me, my party’s interest is of greater interest than any other consideration. Well, after due consultations with my supporters, coupled with the respect I have for the party leadership and my utmost belief in the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, I made up my mind as a loyal party member to work for the party’s victory in the election.
There is no doubt that I was not happy with the outcome of the primaries but there is no doubt about it also that because of the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Tony Anenih and other party leaders, I had to fully campaign and back the party’s candidate. It was a party decision and as a loyal party man, I am obliged to back the choice of the party. However, I won’t blame those who left; it is a personal decision. But when you consider the fact that some of us have sacrificed our energy and money to revive the party when it went down, we had to go round everywhere, trying to make the party big again. While many were decamping, we cannot afford to leave the party now when it faces difficulties. No, we will rather stay put and revive the party. I, as a person will stay in PDP and continue to speak the truth and together with other party loyalists, rebrand the party . Edo State belongs to all of us. We must sue for a peaceful and united Edo State. Those who play the card of ethnicity and religion are divisive elements who do not mean well for our beloved state. Edo State needs people with entrepreneurial antecedents; a proven managers of human and material resources to co-operate together so that Edo can be great again.
I will always humbly offer myself for the services of the state. It is possible for Edo State to become a model for other states in job creation, robust economy with solid public private partnership, meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target in health care delivery, becoming a food sufficient state, science-based 21st century education and human capital development, tourism, sports and above all a secured state.
What is your reaction to Oshiomhole’s victory at the last governorship election?
Well, as a democrat and promoter of good sportsmanship, I will congratulate Governor Oshiomhole and the people of Edo State for making their choice. For PDP, I know that this is not the end of the road and that the party will be back again stronger and better. I love my party and I know that this is just a temporary setback. It happens in the life of an organisation. We have learnt our lessons and very soon, you will see a reformed PDP. With the backing of Chief Tony Anenih and other leaders of the party, those of us who are loyal party men have decided to pull energy and resources together and revive the party, build it to a stage where it can regain its lost glory. We still hold our heads high. We have nothing to be ashamed of because we lost an election, after all, there is another time.
But many people are blaming the leaders of your party for the electoral loss, especially Chief Tony Anenih?
Why should they blame Chief Anenih? The man has done his best for the party and Nigeria. You cannot win all the time. I know that history will be kind to him at the end of the day judging from his political achievements. The man is an enigma in politics, a gentleman and very kind. He has not hurt anybody with his politics. Some people may not value the man now which is normal but later they will realise his worth that Chief Tony Anenih is an asset to this country. Come to think of it all PDP members should be blamed for the present state of the party, Anenih is doing his best and posterity will judge him right
What are your views on the present state of insecurity in the country?
Honestly, I can't say the security situation is not very disturbing. The security in our country today is very disturbing and troubling. However, it is not the issue of the President alone. The security of the people in a nation is primarily the responsibility of every Nigerian, every person. In America for example, when a crime is being committed, your neighbour sends a tip off. The bombers are brothers and sisters to every one of us. You know the bombers, I know them. In fact, everybody knows them and the police know them. The bombers are either your brother or my brother; your sister or my sister, your neighbour or my neighbour. The bombers are not Togolese, they are not Palestinians, they are not Afghanistans or Talibans; they are Nigerians.
So, Nigerians are supposed to take their destiny in their hands to secure their homes, their environment, their streets, their neighbourhoods. If you see a suspicious movement, report it to the police. I call on the Inspector General of Police to quickly do what Americans do or I call on the President to quickly create a terrorist department or a terror ministry where we educate every Nigerian. All hands must be on deck for us to quickly as a matter of fact, urgently prepare for the evil of the 21st century.
We see now all over the world that the evil of the 21st century is terrorism. Bomb blast, kidnapping - these were things that were alien and foreign to us as a people. As Nigerians, how did we get into this? Now that we are in this mess, what do we do? Government must quickly rise up to its role as government to either create a special department or ministry against anti-terrorism where men and women of honour will be brought in or create a parastatal. We saw it like the homeland security in the United States.
If you are elected the governor of Edo State in the nearest future, what measure will you put in place to curtail insecurity in the state?
One, I must create jobs; jobs must be created so that the young men and women that are busy loitering on the streets of Benin will be engaged. You must engage men, the young men and the young women. Two, I will create a special department outside the police and the army like the Homeland Security in the United States. I will create the Edo State Homeland Security and I will employ graduates to gather information and partner and return information to me or to my administration and that information will be shared with the police and our intelligent officers. By so doing, you can curtail insecurity.
I will not only create the department, I will empower the department. The security votes that are given to me, what will I use it for? Rather than using security vote for my personal gains, using it to drink and chase women and do evil, I will use the money I will get through my security vote to empower Edo State Homeland Security Department where I will get young men and young women to gather intelligence and such intelligence will be shared by security forces.
What is your view about state police?
That is why our courts, the Nigerian legal system and process must be overhauled. Our process is rotten. It is not about Jonathan. The Nigerian nation is not about the president. People point at the president for nothing. I think it's about us. What we are seeing now is what we deserve, what we want for ourselves. So, in such situations, we put checks and balances. There are always checks and the National Assembly should not put itself first because in 10-20 years along the line now, those who are there as lawmakers will not be there as lawmakers.
So, if you put in place bad laws to benefit you today because you are a lawmaker, remember you will not be there in 20 years time. That law will be there and you will suffer the consequence of your failure not to make good laws. So, if you have local police and state police and federal police, there must be checks, the lawmakers should be able to put in checks.
If the local police know that their money is coming from the Federal Government's purse directly, they will not take instructions from any governor. And not only that, there will be checks, for example, they should be paid well. Many Nigerian policemen are not well paid. We should increase their allowances, and we should give them equipment to function well. If these are done, absolute power should not be given to governors or chairmen of councils. If chairmen of councils and governors do not possess absolute power, the constitution takes away absolute power from them and decentralise power, then there will be an egalitarian society as there will be collective participation and control.
As an educationist do you really have a special programme for education for the state?
Of course, when I become governor, my primary area will be education. In Edo State, what we have or what we ever had were schools. Education was the number one industry in Edo State. So, what I will do is that first, I will empower the schools. In my budget, I will ignore the commissioners. I will give direct budget to all principals. Principals of schools will be in charge of their budget, which is what is done in America. My advice for Governor Oshiomhole is that he should not concentrate budget into the commissioner's hands where it will be "kill and divide." Let him decentralise all the money in the educational industry. He knows the numbers of the schools. Divide the educational budget and give it directly to the principals and see whether the schools will not change.
When they want to take money or steal the people's money, those who are in government, they make you issue the allocation out and give to the ministry or ministers or a commissioner to take. The schools should be renovated; thousands of villages that don't have schools should be given primary and secondary schools. Schools should be made attractive, encouraging and teachers should be paid as at when due. Schools should not be allowed to be closed down. Each time schools are closed down, you are closing the future of a country or the state or the community.
With the way PDP is going, do you still believe that PDP can retain the presidency in 2015?
PDP will beat any party any day any time. So, what makes PDP thick is internal democracy and respect for the rule of law.
But the opposition parties are coming together to stop PDP in 2015 because of what they called PD'P government's lacklustre performance
They are even worse than PDP. Since all these years, they have not been able to come together. You see, it is quite unfortunate. If I had my way, I would have preferred two political parties in Nigeria - PDP and the opposition party. First, it is PDP in Nigeria before any party. I would have propagated that it is in the interest of the country to have a credible opposition against PDP. Fine, yes it's good that it is democracy where I want to see whoever picks up the primaries of my great party, square it up with a credible and organised opposition for example. Let us see debates, how do you want to tar the roads? Where are you going to get the money from?
Last year, what was the budget? This year, what are you expecting? Where are you going to get the money from? How much is the cost of oil? How many millions of barrel do we export in a day? What do we get from taxes? What do we get from customs and excise duties, tariffs? What do we get from there - locally generated revenue? Where do you intend to generate it - international funds, multilateral funds? How do you get them? What do you use them for? The opposition has not told us
So, don't worry. In Nigeria, by the grace of God, I foresee a change, a change is coming. That is why some of us are in politics now so that we can revolutionalise the country. We will reposition the country for a better tomorrow for our children and for our children's children.
At the rate at which people are defecting, don't you foresee problem in the polity?
There is not going to be chaos. The essence of political process is for some people to leave and some people to come in. Some will leave while some will come. Are you not aware that some are also coming in?
So, ultimately, I believe that the country needs just two political parties, so that we can streamline to the left and to the right, like former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida said in those days - a little to the left and a little to the right. Look at America, there are two political parties. In Canada, it is the same. These are people that have tested party politics and they have come with a real and pragmatic solution. That is what I think we need. I want to see two political parties emerge, so that today you are in government, tomorrow you in the other one, that is, in opposition.