Sunday, April 24, 2016 8:42 pm
Frontline governorship aspirant of the PDP, Chief Solomon Edebiri, in this interview with selected journalists, said the PDP is not looking for a candidate that will take thugs to the streets to fight Oshiomhole. Jethro Ibileke was there for TheNews
How has the race to the 2013 Edo State governorship election been?
It’s been very interesting. So much to learn; the intrigues, the antics, the various strategies, the school of thoughts. For men it’s an absolutely whole load of experience. Comparing the industry where am coming from, looking at the sentiment people have for those of us coming from professional setting, business setting into politics and having to match against those who see themselves as professional politicians who have been around in government, and of course, they know that we see things differently as professionals will see things. So we have challenges with getting immediately accepted by leaders, especially the critical few who think you have to be a core politician to play the right politics.
But I feel completely different because we should begin to tilt towards the desire of the people, we should not be focused on some people’s interest, we should begin to focus on the common man of whose reason democracy was established, which is said to be the government of the people, for the people and by the people. And if the people are out of this equation, it’s a completely incomplete equation. That’s what we fight. We are saying that people must be in charge of who rules them, of who governs them, of who decides things for them by the day, of who takes their fate, put it on the balance. The people must be at the core of the whole game. And getting that acceptable to the leaders who say they are professional politicians have been a challenge. They feel that they have to dictate for the people, they have to decide for the people and the people must follow what they say, the people must do what they want, the people must take a cue from what they do; and I don’t think it should be like that.
Sincerely speaking, we must now begin to know that we are expected to serve the people, work for the people, labour for the people, let the people see us as servants serving them, even if we take the posture of a leader. For me, it should be a leader-servant.
You have run before in the governorship race, and now that you talk about intrigues, what new things have you learned from the past to help you in this second coming?
Well, I see that we have to fight against imposition. That’s completely new. Coming from ANPP, I know that then, it was a very democratic party which believed in grassroots politics. But coming now, I know that in the last six months, we’ve done a lot we have to fight against imposition by seemming close group; and thinking that you have to lure everyone to accept your position and that one man must be, we are not creating a singular institution, we are not creating a group which wants to become an institution over every other person. That has been a big challenge to some of us in the race and we have to absolutely continue to insist that the people’s will must prevail and that is why the only acceptable thing to do is to insist on acceptable primary election; not just free and fair primary, it has to be seen as free and fair primary, it has to be believed to be free and fair.
So, whatever skirmishes that would be there, whatever little hickups, for men it is not acceptable because we don’t run a perfect society or system. What we are saying is that the marginal error must be very low that it can be tolerated. If it is not low, you can’t tolorate it and when it is not tolerable, of course, you’ll be working against the will of the people and we don’t want to see that happening.
Nigeria has grown. Democracy has come a long way, we are talking of close to 20 years now. To men two decades of trial is a whole lot. You can’t continue to run trial all your life. You’ve done trial first four years, the next four years, another 12 years, then you want to begin to think you want to perfect things. In Edo staten the process is to be perfected this year.
It is a fact that the PDP had made some mistakes in the governorship elections in the past, what is your plan to correct the mistakes, now that another opportunity has come?
Of course, it is good to learn from the past. People who refuse to learn from the past cannot create a vision. And I believe the PDP has vision for the people, so they must learn from the past. That is the only way we can create a better future for the people. I am convinced that PDP will learn from the mistakes of the past and will avoid repeating similar mistakes in this dispensation in order to ensure that people’s choice, people’s will is respected. So I sincerely believe it’s going to be something new.
As one of the aspirants of the PDP, why you think you process the best quality to be nominated as PDP’s flag bearer for the election?
Basically, talking about my background, am coming froom the business sector and I believe sincerely now that we must begin to see the State as a corporate entity, that we must begin to manage the State as a business entity and we must run the State on profit and loss understanding.
What happens in business is that you want to look at your simulation, you want to look at your permutations and ensure that you create a balance between profit and loss, ensuring that losses are highly minimised to increase your profit margin. That is the way. And in terms of a state, you want to be sure that when you’re running the State on a profit-oriented manner, you want to ensure that the people are not pained, the people are not going to suffer for it. So there must be that balance and you need someone with a corporate experience to do that.
Secondly, I am a liberal person, I believe in liberal democracy and at this moment in the history of Edo state, you need a liberal democrat, somebody who is liberal, who can accommodate everybody, but extremely very firm in decision making and taking position to manage the State. Someone who sees the State beyond the election, someone who sees the people beyond the election, that at the end of the election, you are no longer the governor of the PDP but the governor of Edo State. Of course, PDP is a microcosm of the people of Edo State, APC is a microcosm of Edo State, so are all other parties. So you want to see a situation of a man that can run the State as a corporate entity, not creating a divisionary system for the people. It is not going to help the State to progress.
Thirdly, I understand the economy of the state, I understand that we have reasonable raw materials, we have reasonable mineral resources, we have huge potential in human capacity and our agro capacity is also very high. These things have not been harnessed. So you need an experienced person, somebody with a broad-based understanding to exploit all these opportunities. I have that and I feel the people have that. That is why they feel am best fitted. Of course, people are speaking in unison, saying give us Edebiri and we will vote for you. It doesn’t matter whether we are APC, whether we are PDP, whether we are market women, artisans, it doesn’t matter. They understand that I have a very good understanding of the State, where the state is coming from, what it has got and how to harness them.
They also understand that I am coming from a position where all the industries that have closed down could be revamped and put back to service. The state also understands that I believe in partial privatisation. I do not belong to the school of thought that everything must be fully privatised. I believe that government must have a minimal stake, no matter what, it is in every system in order to ensure that the state and the people of the state could get maximum benefit from it.
The people know that with Edebiri coming in, all the industries that have been closed down will be revived. Companies like the Edo line, Bendel Insurance, Bendel Pharmaceutical, Bendel Printing Company, we need to bring all of them back.
My knowledge of localisation is something that is also going to help. When you localise everything, Edo state will become a hub for the West African countries. We will supply human capacity, agro products, oil products, finished goods and what have you. I think those are the qualities that stand me out and endear me to the people to lead them for the next dispensation.
Are the aspirants of the PDP still bonding together, in view of the recent altercations between two of the aspirants, Osaro Onaiwu and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu?
The party is binding us together and I know the party will continue to bind us together. But no matter who we are, and in a situation where some people believe that they are the only ones that can fight Oshiomhole, that was what Onaiwu was talking about and people try to see it from a wrong point of view.
The PDP is not providing a candidate that can go to the streets and fight Oshiomhole. We want to run an election, meet Oshiomhole at an intellectual table, present our argument based on facts and knowledge, based on what we know, go back to the history of Edo state since he came in, find out what he did rightly and praise him for it, what he did wrongly, tell him he did it wrongly and what difference we are going to make. We want to go to an intellectual table and go back to the school of governance and find out how best we can do it.
That is where we want to take him on. PDP is not looking out for a candidate that will take thugs out to the streets and fight Oshiomhole. It is also painting Oshiomhole in bad light that he uses thugs, that it is only those with thugs that can fight him. I do not belong to that school of thought. Let’s go to the intellectual table and meet there. Ther is where we can convince our people through political dialogue, discussion and analysis.
In the past eight years, APC has not been able to give us what we want. We are here to give you an alternative and this is the alternative we are providing for you. It is for real. We are not going to give you the change that is so painful and everyone knows that the change we want is the one that will make us feel comfortable. The kind of change we want is that our children should go to school without pain, that our children finish from the university and get a job, which is different from what is happening now, that there should be electricity in our houses, there should be water in our houses, and of course that we should be able to go to bed and not being afraid even if we forget to luck our doors because there is security.
Those are the chances that we want and because APC has not been able to provide those changes, Edo people must vote them out in 2016. That is what we want to tell Edo people, not that when we meet at Ring Road, we meet at Mission Road, Akpakpava road or Sakpnba Road and start fighting. That is what Osaro Onaiwu is trying to say and the PDP should stop painting the picture that we are going to do things in the agberoitic manner. No! We want to meet at an intellectual table and discuss the way forward for Edo people. We owe them that responsibility, we owe them that right, we owe them that duty. We must not turn Edo state to a gorilla warfare, an environment where people are not afraid to come out because they believe two people are coming to fight.