The 37-year-old governorship aspirant in Edo State, Linus Idahosa appears to be the issue in the choice for a successor to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, writes Shola Oyeyipo
Even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the guidelines for the governorship elections coming up in Ondo and Edo States later this year, last week, many of the political heavyweights, so to say, had signified interests in taking over the jobs of Governors Olusegun Mimiko and Adams Oshiohmole respectively and had been discussing some of their plans for their states.
But as the September date of the election in Edo State draws closer, one young man, who has been working behind the scene to put up a formidable campaign and contest the election strongly is joining the race. He is no one than the 37 years old Linus Idahosa. He only shares his name with the late Archbishop Ben Idahosa but not related to him in anyway, much as he would say, “We are related by covenant.”
Idahosa, a Philosophy graduate, is a silent guru in the creative industry and as the founder and CEO, Deliok International, which specialises in TV commercial production with the CNN and other notable television stations across the world, he is reputed to have approached the New York Film Academy, the best hands on training academy in the world, and in the last five years, has flown 78 experts into Nigeria to train well over 1200 students in cinematography, directing, producing, 3D animation and all that.
In what is coming as a challenge to convention, he has gone through different phases before his decision to get into what he called “murky political water,” with his resolve to preach the gospel of generational shift and that young men and women, who have been able to prove their mettles should come together to begin to change the narrative in the Nigerian political sphere.
The young man, who had already been disturbed about the brain drain affecting Nigeria and the fact that most of the very intelligent youth generation has been edged out of governance and decision-making process, got the spark that ignited his passion to urge the Nigerian youth to come together and take charge of the country due to the growing rate of despair that the generation of young people are going through, particularly with the death of some during the National Immigration Service job seekers in 2014.
Explaining how that influenced his decision to join the governorship race, Idahosa said: “During the 2014 Immigration recruitment exercise, where we lost so many youths – the people that I saw on that field actually changed my thinking. Sunday Aghaeze, the THISDAY photo journalists sent the picture to me. It disturbed me greatly. I once looked for job like that. So, I had it on my screensaver for over a year and it kept reminding of what is possible – the energy of our youths and all of that.
“If you look at that picture, what would come to your mind is how can 70, 000 people be cramped up in one place seeking for a job that can only employ 4, 000 people? 500, 000 people came out that day all across the country and 7.5m people applied for the job. Something made them come out; they believed they could get the job. It is equally disturbing that no single state governor sued the government over the 21 youths that lost their lives in the immigration recruitment saga of March 15, 2014.
“I believe that we have the opportunity to rewrite history. I believe that there is huge generational shift that needs to happen in this country. We have been talking about it, we’ve been debating it on the social media and various traditional media but nothing has been done about it. There is this veil that we place before ourselves, when it comes to youths vying for elective offices. I wrote a piece that I called ‘The SA Generation’. They always feel what is best for us is to be their Special Advisers, yet we are the ones driving their policies.”
Speaking with journalists for the first time about his ambition, the young man who said he has the support of other notable young Nigerians who are all committed to bringing about the needed paradigm shift, said he had it all well thought out and that he waited for the appropriate time to enter the fray and show what stuff he is made up of.
“I have said until I am ready to speak I won’t come out. The reason I am talking to you today is because I have gotten to that place, where I am turning the resentment about what is happening in our country today to resolve that we would be able to change things and not change in the sense of the way it is being used but something pragmatic, something simple and something clear.
“I believe that if the foundation is set right, there are a lot of things that we can do and within the next two weeks, I will be announcing my intention to run as governor of Edo State. It is something that I have thought about. We are going to be putting up an unconventional campaign.
“I do not have the same kind of resources the APC, PDP and all of the folks have but I understand the process very well. I have thought long and hard about this and so, the way I want to come out is to set the stage with a conversation and the conversation is about generational shift. Within the next two weeks, I want to set that stage – generational shift – and how important it is for our polity and I want to use Edo State as a pilot.
“Young men, not just in Nigeria, but outside of this place have come together to say they want to create this kind of movement. We will go sector by sector, we would come up with a blueprint and we would by every means put up a formidable campaign like has never been seen in this country before,” he said assuredly.
He sees nothing wrong or ambiguous about his aspiration; he only wishes that the Nigerian youth, irrespective of wherever they may be, should take possession of the generational shift movement and begin to make inroad into the Nigerian political landscape.
“If Donald Duke says I want to run for president, it makes sense because he had been there and he has the idea but he was 36 when he became governor. Most of the colonialists that colonised Nigeria were in their 20s and 30 in the 16th century. The likes of Kwame Nkrumah, David Kahunda, Julius Nyerere, even Awolowo – they had no money, it was their voice of conviction. That is what they took with them and that is what I am taking with me.
“I believe there is a veil that stops Nigerians from seeing how possible it is to rein power or vie for this kind of position. In fact, by the look you get from the faces of not the old people, but young people, you will be shocked but the idea that young people should take over the narrative. If we do not make it happen by ourselves, nobody will give power to us,” he said.
While may might assume that he stands no chance against the two main political parties – the APC and the PDP – Idahosa considers the platform on which he wants to pursue his ambition, the Young Democratic Party (YDP), as a budding platform that would appeal to the young and old and become a third force that would create an unprecedented upset in the state.
“The YDP is a registered political party. It may not be seen as viable by the standard we use to measure the strength of political parties; we might say it is not strong but I believe it is the party that will change the way people think about what constitutes political power in Nigeria because we have done our work and we have been very quiet and the fact that we are able to do it quietly till this time is a plus to us.
“The YDP is a movement – it is an idea whose time has come. We are going to prepare ourselves for the most interesting political experience. I have brains that work. I cannot match them (the political bigwigs) toe-to-toe but to have contemplated this, I must have thought about how to go about it. We are relying on the power of God and the power of conviction.
“If the youth generation is represented on the platform of the APC and the PDP, we would have supported them but I have looked at all the people contesting in Edo State; they are the same people. That is why I am out. It should not be like that,” Idahosa said.
Idahosa is married to Nollywood super model, Stephanie Okereke, now Stephanie Idahosa, who also passionately share his persuasion.
When she joined the discussion at the media parley held at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, Stephanie said her husband’s concept is not hinged on contesting power with the older generation but a passion to show that the younger generation is capable of contributing significantly to national development.
“The older generation must begin to give us a platform to show what we can do. To be responsible give us something to do to show what we can do but if they don’t, we just keep looking before you know it our generation will pass away and the next will come,” Stephanie interjected.
In fact, according to Idahosa, he would be meeting and soliciting support from Governor Adams Oshiohmole, former PDP BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih and other major players in the state’s politics.
If voted, he hopes to bring out the creative potential of Edo State youths to fore. He hopes to build a state that would compete with Dubai and to attract all sorts of investment into the state using his contact in and outside the country.
“I have some of the smartest Nigerian youths, who will be taking it sector by sector coming up with a master plan. There is no single person that would have done the kind of work we have done. My unique selling point is that I will represent the youth generation like no one else ever did. I can bring resources into this country. When I start coming out, you will start understanding,” he noted.
I believe that we have the opportunity to rewrite history. I believe that there is huge generational shift that needs to happen in this country. We have been talking about it, we’ve been debating it on the social media and various traditional media but nothing has been done about it. There is this veil that we place before ourselves, when it comes to youths vying for elective offices. I wrote a piece that I called ‘The SA Generation’. They always feel what is best for us is to be their Special Advisers, yet we are the ones driving their policies