In this conversation with Chuks Okocha, Kenneth Imansuagbon otherwise known as the ‘Rice man’ in Edo central senatorial spoke on the lessons of the victory of Godwin Obaseki over the All Progressives Congress candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his godfather, Adams Oshiomhole
What does the outcome of the governorship election portend?
It means that the people at all times are the bastion of democracy. For the international community too, it means that we are partners. It means the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a good man. When the president of a country is free and fair, righteousness reigns. That is what President Muhammadu Buhari has shown. He allowed a free process. What does it means for the military, they can be professionals. I must say kudos to the Nigeria police. Nigerians must be grateful to the police. And INEC too, we must thank Professor Mahmood Yakubu. He is great guy and I must thank him most sincerely that he allowed the will of the people to prevail . The mood of the country is great. The country is coming back now. It is a foundation. Edo is now a great way, a door to democracy. I hope we build now on what we have done in Edo and take it to Ondo. It doesn’t matter the party that wins. Even if we had lost this election, it wouldn’t have mattered. But what matters to me is that the President allowed democracy, the military did not intervene, the police did not intervene, Professor Yakubu of INEC himself did not intervene. For the country it is okay, it is not about the party but about the people.
What are the lessons to be learnt from this election and secondly, what is your expectation from Obaseki during this second tenure?
The lesson to be learnt is that God will always win, the people will always win. I must also congratulate Godwin Obaseki for his courage to fight and be on the side of the people. We must salute his courage when he was denied his ticket in APC. A lily-livered man would have chickened out but he offered himself as the torch bearer of democracy. He showed that he is a democrat. He was on the side of the people. And the people were on his side. The people saw Obaseki as a bastion of hope, as a torch bearer of democratic light and he seized the opportunity and ran with it.
I have learnt that we must take one lesson away and that is that power belongs to God and the people. I am not surprised that Godwin Obaseki won by the act of God and of the people.
What are your expectations from Obaseki?
My expectations from Godwin Obaseki is that, I will be speaking for the people and Nigerians at large is that I expect Obaseki to settle down quickly. He doesn’t have any excuse now. The era of godfather has gone. He is a free man, no chains, no encumbrance anymore. So, he must sit down quickly to do the work of the people. Because the people voted for him, they were with him and they are expecting so much from him and we will give him our support. I will personally give him my support, I will tell him the truth. There is nothing I am looking for. What I am looking for is our roads to be tarred, our schools to work, our hospitals to be brought back and with the good work he has been doing, I expect he will advance in the second tenure and God will help him
What happened in essence by this massive show of solidarity for the government is that now he must confront the challenges of governance. What are the essential pillars of progress you will suggest to him?
His essential pillar of progress is, one, I know Godwin fears God. He should fear God in his second tenure. I know his heart and that is why I stepped down for him. He is Godly, fearless, passionate about the people’s job. So, the essential engine should be those attributes that some of us saw that convinced us to give him the support. Those attributes of honesty, sincerity and passion for the people. He should hold on to those and drive the economy of Edo. We expect a robust economy in the second tenure, we expect security and stability of Edo, we expect that he should create enabling environment for good governance, attract more investors like he has done. We expect to have a good team irrespective of where you are from. If I were him, I would select a good team, crack team to crack the problems of Edo State. I don’t expect Godwin to be a godfather. He would not be a godfather. I watched him closely. For the few times I have associated with him, I think he is an honest gentleman, whose interest is in Edo and the development of humanity. So, he would not play godfather. He should run with the dreams, values and thoughts of his mind. He has got a very good wife. She is Godly and very gentle. She is not a bad person. So, with a good wife, a good team, with his state of mind, with his educational horizon and his perspective, I see a very good second tenure that will end well for him.
There is this insinuation out there that there is pact with his colleagues in the APC: that he might return to their fold, having won the election. Is that true?
I don’t see him going back to the APC. I don’t think that will happen. My own advice is that it is not the party, it is who you are and what your thoughts for the people are, what you want to achieve. People might not remember you for the party you belonged to, but people will remember you for your development and strides, your actions and inactions, what you did and what you failed to do, whether you did good or bad. I think Godwin, party or no party, I think he is sincere and we will help him to succeed.
With the weekend election, PDP has finally taken the entire South-south as a bloc. Going forward to 2023, what impact will this have for the party?
It is a good signal. It means that PDP is going to produce the next president. The calculation is now there. South-south bloc votes. South-south is purely PDP, no doubt any more. Even the North-east and North-west, are PDP too. The country has seen the minus of the APC. I predict that by 2023, PDP will have the day from what this gathering, the storms and the cloud, when you see the cloud coming, know that it is about to rain. When you see game shifting, know that it is about to change.
Even as you bask in the euphoria of Obaseki’s victory, I was at the polling unit where he voted and he actually made certain reservations about INEC’s preparations which he described as shoddy: malfunctioning Card Reader, vote buying. As we go into the Ondo governorship election, what are your expectations from INEC?
I expect that INEC should improve on Edo. It is not about the party or individual, it is about the country, it is about Ondo people. Ondo people must take a lesson from Edo to say to Tinubu, ‘Ondo is not Lagos’. The people have the power. I call on all Ondo people to take the challenge. The godfathers in Ondo are very few.
I don’t expect Godwin to be a godfather. He would not be a godfather. I watched him closely. For the few times I have associated with him, I think he is an honest gentleman, whose interest is in Edo and the development of humanity. So, he would not play godfather. He should run with the dreams, values and thoughts of his mind. He has got a very good wife. She is Godly and very gentle. She is not a bad person. So, with a good wife, a good team, with his state of mind, with his educational horizon and his perspective, I see a very good second tenure that will end well for him