I was appointed with other members of the party and we are about 41 in number. In carrying out our duty of mobilizing members we also talked to people who are members of the party that may have one grievance or the other. The committee is still working. The job is to mobilize people for a political party and for them to believe in your ideology and aspiration. The job is made easier because of what the government is showcasing in terms of achievements. So it has been a little bit easy for us because the government as it were is doing well in the area of trying to reposition the state economically through infrastructure, building of capacity and strengthening all aspect of the state. Either through agriculture, health or education, the government is just putting solid foundation in place that if we as Edo people come together in the next 45 years outside of Lagos and Ogun state, I don’t think there is any state in this country that would be ahead of Edo in terms of industrial development and building of capacity of the workforce in the state. If you look at everything the governor is doing right now and if the pace is sustained without any distraction or interruption, the GDP in the state would increase massively and there will be more inflow of development. So, for me, that makes the work of mobilizing very easy because most places we go to you can point at one project that is on-going. The governor as a technocrat doesn’t believe in making noise but he believes that your result will show and today that is very obvious for the people of the state and a lot of people want him to succeed.
There would be election later in the year. What effort is your committee making to ensure that the crisis in the APC is amicably resolved?
Talking about crisis, you should also know that in basic economics, human needs are insatiable. A lot of people are driven by ambition, they want to be governor. You all know I had wanted to be governor, I had done governorship primaries twice in the PDP before coming to the APC but what is the main reason I want to be governor is to see that the state is properly positioned both in infrastructural development and economic growth. Why I am not interested in governorship at this time is because some of the things I would have done as governor, Obaseki is already doing and surpassing them. In some areas, the governor has contacts because of his background that I didn’t have so it is normal for me to allow him explore those things and maximize the potential that he has in developing the state but sadly other people don’t see it that way. They just want power not that they are going to do anything differently. For some, their ambition becloud their sense of fair judgment; for them if they cannot get it, lets destroy the family house. For those who are reasonable even if there are issues within the same family the best thing to do is to secure the house first from external aggression before coming back home to reconcile and reunite everyone instead of opening the doors for invaders to come and take over simply because you want to be the head of the family. I think every genuine member of the APC in Edo state should go beyond personal political ambition and look at what is the best for us, first as a party and as Edo people. I have reached out to so many persons on the other side, but what they tell me as far as I am concern is just personal quarrel. ‘Oh, Obaseki was supposed to give me XYZ.’ Everything they say is centre around ‘me, me and me.’ When I joined the APC, I didn’t ask the governor to do anything for me but what was important to me was to see a better Edo state, we don’t want a distraction for the government. Those on the other side fighting the government don’t mean well, it should not be about me occupying the driver’s seat. The question we need to ask is if Obaseki is doing what is acceptable to majority of the people and the answer is yes but some of them have made it look impossible to close ranks with them and like I said all their quarrel are personal as far as I am concerned. You see, when you make political quarrel personal as if the man has killed your wife, then reconciliation becomes difficult. You do not expect that things would be done the same and expect different results, everybody wants politics to be played the way they are used to. Government is not doing so much and few persons are being empowered at the expense of the vast majority of our people, making few persons billionaires and the same persons do not have investment in the state to accommodate unemployed persons in the state. Our way of thinking has to change if we want Edo state to progress. For people like us that are above 50 years of age we are already on our second half of life and in actual fact, how many of us can live up to 90 years? Most people they say lived well died at the age 80 or 90, so the proper thing to do is make sure those coming behind us find easy place. Look at the history of Dubai, in 1960 Dubai was a complete desert, in 1980, it has just one skyscrapper but in 2020 it has almost 200 skyscrapers and changed completely because the Ruler of the country choose not to eat the seed yam like many Arab countries that had oil like Dubai. In 1960, 100 percent of Dubai income was from oil but as at today oil accounts for just 5% of Dubai national income because Dubai had a man who dared to do things differently. If you eat your seed yam in the time of planting, don’t expect anything during harvest. I think what Obaseki is doing now is planting the seed yam instead of eating it, we must have foresight for our children and future. As far as I am concerned Obaseki has done enough to consolidate what he has done so far.
In the light of the political forces against Obaseki how confident are you that he would pick the APC ticket as primaries draw nearer?
Well, with this COVID -19 pandemic and if INEC does not change anything I do not see how the governor will not win the primary either direct or indirect because party members are the one going to vote and the votes are going to be counted. Nobody is going to seat in one place and write results, unless they don’t want to have APC anymore in Edo state. You must also feel the pulse of the citizens of this state. Who will make election easier for us to win, it is either the governor or no other person. Who are those persons that we are hearing so far that want to become the candidate of the party? Looking at the genuine membership of the party because I have been going round, the governor will win the primary with a landslide.
What if the governor loses?
How is that possible? Are they going to write the results from the sky? It is party members that would vote.
What does he have to show in terms of achievement to win?
I am surprise you are asking me this question. There are so many things the governor has done that even the blind can see and the deaf can hear. Let’s look at the basic ones, before Obaseki, how was movement in places like Ring road, Ekiosa market, it was almost impassable, was there no government then in Edo state? Was it that the governors didn’t have capacity or power to do it? They lacked the courage. Today, we have a clean and organised city centre. Look at the road to my village in Amagba, the government has done the road and it takes less than 10 minutes, same thing with St. Saviour road. So, as far as I am concern, Edo state is the largest construction site in the South-South. Look at the quality he has brought to our education, yes, we already had red roof but the red roof doesn’t teach students, now we have to built capacity of the teachers to deliver with modern educational tools. In the area of agriculture, the state is today accessible for investors. Is it the industrial park, Azura or Ossiomo power plant? In the next one year, Edo people will enjoy full electricity. Today, we have night flights in Benin with about 5 new planes coming into the city. Obaseki’s achievement are so numerous and glaring. Those who say they want to be governor don’t have the capacity and I am far better than them. People like us want Obaseki to come back and consolidate on what he has done.
As an experienced politician, are you not disturbed that people are joining forces with Edo Peoples Movement (EMP), a group within the APC opposed to Obaseki’s second term bid almost on a daily basis?
Well as far as I am concern EMP is not APC, they are still members of the APC and I don’t want to use words that make it impossible for us to reconcile with them. I still see them as people that will become reasonable at some point to see the need to consolidate on the gains of the party. Like I said earlier, all they want is power; they don’t have anything new to put on the table. In their campaign they tell you when I become governor I will respect party leaders, where has Obaseki disrespected party leaders? When I am governor I make ‘Agbero’ (touts) that have been driven away come back, who wants to live in a society dominated by ‘agberos’? We don’t want to be like those Israelites that says lets go back to Egypt? Who wants to leave decency for dirt? If I may ask those people going to EPM who are they? Somebody was a commissioner and for some reason the governor decided to reshuffle his cabinet and your responsibility is taken away and new people are brought to inject fresh idea and the next thing such a commissioner teams up with people and starts fighting the governor. People should know that the mere fact that you have an appointment doesn’t make you better than others. A lot of people have more capacity than you. It is just an opportunity. Do you know the population of Edo people with better qualifications that don’t have the opportunity to serve for 12 months? So, when people say the other side, they are those fighting for stomach infrastructure.