Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, a Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Edo State has asked the people to vote for the best candidate of their choice. Segun James presents the excerpts:
After the PDP governorship primaries in Edo State, nothing seems to have been heard from you. What have you been doing?
We used to say we have a second address when I was campaigning, politics wasn’t my main occupation. So, when the PDP leaders did what they did, they felt that the people should not have their way and their say, I decided to go back to my profession and to also think of ways I can help the society in my private capacity.
During the campaigns, one thing was evident as we traversed the 18 local governments and the 192 wards of the state; it was eminent there was poverty in the land. There was so much level of dependence and a lot of ignorance as well. We also realised that the kind of politics that is still happening is who brings what. I had thought the politics of Edo State was beginning to change and godfatherism had stopped but little did we know that the situation has not changed.
For me, politics is all about helping the people; it is also a way of helping the larger people to attain political power. However, having lost out on June 20 through a heavily calculated manipulation by very few leaders of the party, immediately after that primaries, I resigned from PDP and also went on sabbatical politically to face my business and professional life because I realised that through professionalism, I can still help the people of Edo State. I realised what the people need most now is education, social re-integration, social re-orientation, social emancipation, and social revolution so that we can create a level of independence in the people.
Since you left, has there been overtures to you by some other parties and to what level of participation will you be involved in the elections?
To be honest, I have been speaking to leaders of both parties. I have spoken with Chief Anenih, I have also spoken to the National Leader of APC, Chief John Odegie-Oyegun, and I am making them to realise that the essence of getting political power is to help the people. I have been saying to the people in Edo State today to follow their conscience and they should let their conscience lead them right. That whatever your conscience asks you to do, do it so that you won’t grumble against yourself.
I am participating in the election. I have a right to vote and I will vote the candidate my conscience allows me to vote for. I am not a member of any political party at the moment, but there are about 12 contestants in this election, out of all these people, one person must be most qualified and that is the part of my conscience I will follow. My followers have been coming to ask questions, I keep saying follow your conscience.
I have been telling people to look critically at all the candidates. They know who will bring development to Edo State. They know who will run the state as a public entity. You know among these people who will deliver dividends of democracy to the people. They know who will take the money accrued to the state and start sharing to his loyalists.
They know who will stop the era of wealth sharing and create wealth. They know who will bring corporate experience to lead the people. That is the position I have been pushing because for me, it does not matter which party you belong to. I am going out on the 10th to vote for the candidate, who possesses all these qualities.
What we have seen so far in the Edo campaigns is trading tackling between the sitting governor and the PDP candidate. Some had maintained that the campaigns are not issue-based. What can you say about it?
I think it is the craze for power. It is when you believe power is a do or die affair. Everyone has left behind issue-based politics and that is what is significant with my camp during the primaries. We were telling the people what we can do to turn around Edo State sector by sector and not attacking anyone. We were practising issue-based politics and not individual politics. But what we have seen today is attacks on individuals and my take on it is that people should change their style of politics. I know personality attack will be part of politics but there is a limit to it.
After the elections, will you unveil the next party you will be joining?
My thoughts right now is to see how we can help Edo people to grow. How can we help the citizens of the state, how we can re-invigorate the people, how we can grow the society that is eschewed of violence and rancor? My other plan includes how we can help the youth to grow, how we can build the society, how we can re-integrate the society? And that is topmost on my mind right now. What will happen after my sabbatical, I don’t know for now. For now, I want to work with various groups in the world. I want to work with various governments within the country and outside. I want to work with the people of Edo State irrespective of who is in government. All I want to see is the development of Edo people.
The argument today in Edo State is that from 1999 to 2007, there was no evidence of governance in the state but when Governor Oshiomhole came, some said the state developed rapidly. Do you believe the outgoing governor has put Edo on the path for development?
When I was campaigning, I had said many times that Edo State is not where it used to be after the first eight years of PDP in the state. Definitely Governor Oshiomhole has moved the state forward. We can see some level of development in the state. We can see some evidence of creation. You can see some evidence of work being done. But I also said we can also see that so many areas have been ignored and there is no where you build the state without building human capacity and in the last eight years that has been ignored vividly.
Human capacity development has not been part of the administration. Yes, there were a lot infrastructure that was created; schools were renovated, painted and roofed, but what about the human capital in the schools? What about the infrastructure the students needed? The furniture, the laboratories and the libraries; some of these things were not there. So the incoming governor has so much to do in the areas of human capacity building.