Segun James writes that as the race to succeed Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State gathers momentum, if performance is the yardstick to measure an aspirant’s capabilities and chances, then Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri is in good standing
The race for the Edo State governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hot up, even as it has boiled down to a two horse race between Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, a businessman who wants to change the political landscape of the state away from ‘business as usual’ and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a professional politician who has been in the corridor of power in the state since the advent of the fourth republic.
Although there are four aspirants in the race, the other two, Mathew Iduiyadeyekemwen, a former Majority Leader in the state House of Assembly and also a former commissioner representing Edo State on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commissioner (NDDC) and Osa Onaiwu, a former Director General of the Governors’ Forum, have been given little chance of making impact in the party’s primaries which comes up soon.
Since the coming of the forth republic in 1999, Edo State has had the misfortune of a string of failed leadership. Beginning with Chief Lucky Igbinedion, who spent eight disastrous years in Dennis Osadebay Government House; his government was so rudderless that his father, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion while campaigning for a second term for his son when told Lucky was a failure and a disaster, was quoted to have told the people that when a child failed a class, he must be allowed to repeat the class. Hence his son should be allowed a second term. Surprisingly, he was returned and his disastrous leadership continued to detriment of the people of the state.
Prof. Osumbor followed Igbinedion as governor. He had hardly made any impact when he was removed from office by the court, which found the way and manner he became governor faulty.
Osumbor was immediately followed by the outgoing governor, former labour leader and showman extraordinary, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who with some of his projects was soon being praised as the best thing to have happened to the state since the time of Governor Sam Ogbemudia.
Oshiomhole was applauded by the people and the media celebrated him for at least embarking on some projects after the disastrous years of Igbinedion. The people were simply happy with him.
But just like most governors in the country who have nothing to lose once they gain a second term ticket, Oshiomhole went to sleep. He is just waking up now that the election of his successor is just by the corner. Oshiomhole wants to play the godfather role he has spent eight years campaigning against by imposing a successor on the people.
These are the thought of Chief Solomon Edebiri as he puts himself forward to contest the governorship position in Edo state under the PDP. For Edebiri, governance should not be seen from the point of view of “any qualified person should be the governor,” even if that person does not have the ability. To him, government should entail competence, proven record of capability and service for the general good of the people.
To him, electing another incompetent person whose only job in the last 17 years is to be at the corridor of power in the state and has being part and parcel of the failed governments in the state will be regrettable.
He also insists that governance is a serious business; hence the only way forward for Edo State to have meaningful progress in the nearest future is to have a reliable governor – someone with proven record, especially in business. “Government business must be done business-like,” he stressed.
Edebiri is the Chief Executive of Typha Cenia Nigeria Limited, a big player in the service sector of the Nigerian oil industry and President, Nigerian Institute of Welding (NIW).
Confronted on why he wants to be the next governor of the state, the businessman said “I am on a mission to rescue a state that has been on a constant decline for the past 20 years and to redeem the people of Edo State from abject poverty. I am on a mission to rescue Edo State people from joblessness, insecurity, from their lost pride in sports, social security, employment and health. The infrastructure in the state has been on constant decline. The people need revival; we need redemption, the people need to be redeemed and that is the mission.
“If you look back at previous governments, after the Ogbemudia administration of 1983, which lasted just three months, you will agree with me that successive governments have failed Edo people. This failure got worse during the first eight years of the fourth republic in Edo State and our woes were further worsened by the administration of Osunbor. With no relief in sight, we have suffered 20 years of administrative inefficiency and zero leadership.
“During those 20 years, our children have been taken into prostitution overseas; during those 20 years, our youths have been forced to go to Europe to do all sorts of dirty jobs because of joblessness in the state. The population of Nigerians in Europe is more of Edo people. For over 20 years, we always had to import food into Edo State instead of exporting food. And now, what do we have? At the sporting level; no more Bendel United, no more Bendel Insurance. It was a sharp decline. We have suffered 20 years where virtually all our roads have turned to death traps; where gradually our industries are being killed and not one was being revived and no new ones were being built,” he lamented.
He stressed that these days that there are dwindling federal allocations, what the state needs is a leader with vision and business acumen to reposition the state for growth rather than a governor who will go cap in hand every month for a handout from the federal government in the name of federal allocation.
Edebiri insisted that the PDP in the state has learnt from the mistakes of the past where competence was not the yardstick for political leadership but man-know-man.
“We have suffered 20 years of which we experienced more strike actions in the last four years; more strike actions from the academic staff more students embarking on protests in the universities. We have suffered more. If you look at these and sum it up, it says there is need for redemption in Edo and that is why I’m coming. I’m coming to redeem the people of Edo State. And I think the time is now. Otherwise, it might be too late.
“The people of Edo State need a government they can rely on, they need a government they can call their own, they need a governor on whose shoulders they can lean, a government that will be responsive to their needs, a government that will answer them when they ask questions and a government that will deliver the dividends of democracy. Not just the dividends, they need a government that gives true dividends of democracy.
“You can see the craving for change by the people. You can see that the people are eager. The people need change. Not the kind of change that is being touted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has impoverished the people more in the last one year but a robust revival of industries, sports and infrastructures. I will see to that. I must confess if a free and fair election is allowed in Edo State today, the APC will have no chance.”
On good natured and competent Nigerians, especially Edo citizens who have not been opportune to serve the country or who have not been allowed to get to power and exhibit what they can do, Edebiri stressed that the wave of change blowing across the country will now make this happen.
“We know them. We know they exist. Some of them have gathered into one political party or the other. We will seek them out and these are the groups we can collaborate with. We can come together and say yes: ‘It is time to redeem this state from the hands of the usurpers’ because everybody there now has usurped power and is using it for selfish ends.
“The time has come to say enough is enough. And the people of Edo can no longer continue to stay in darkness and remain in perpetual fear, slavery, terror, siege with their mouths padlocked and as if they can no longer speak. No! That is not the true meaning of democracy. Democracy says you will have freedom to move, speak, associate, worship and also to benefit from the dividends of democracy; that is what our democracy says and what we will offer.
“Objective progressive-minded people that can come together to fashion the way forward for the state and people, this is what we dream for the state. People who are selfish, greedy; people who place themselves above the citizenry, people who think that they can take all the wealth of the nation today and forget that they have children that will grow up tomorrow; people who walk through a road and cut a log across the road so that others would not pass; people who cross a bridge and blow it up after them; those are the elements we have in abundance and in government now. These are not the people we want to work with.
“I can tell you that the next dispensation will be determined by the works of the candidate, by issues and not the party, determined by the personality behind the issues that is presenting solutions. The people will seek to use those people that have not been reckoned with to deliver the true dividends of democracy to the state.
“So, incumbency which Oshiomhole wants to use to impose a candidate on the people to cover his dirty tracks (there are 18 aspirants jostling for the ticket of the APC) will not work. Incumbency is not a force for us to be afraid of. We are planning many actions as to how we can stop the use of government facilities to campaign by the incumbent governor, we are not afraid of that.”
The PDP in the state has learnt from the mistakes of the past where competence was not the yardstick for political leadership but man-know-man. We have suffered 20 years of which we experienced more strike actions in the last four years; more strike actions from the academic staff and more students embarking on protests in the universities. We have suffered more. If you look at these, sum it up, it says there is need for redemption in Edo and that is why I’m coming. I’m coming to redeem the people of Edo State. And I think the time is now. Otherwise, it might be too late