EDO 2016: OSHIOMHOLE’S ANOINTED ASPIRANT ‘LL COME LAST IN PRIMARY – IMANSUANGBON
Ken Imansuangbon, an aspirant in the forthcoming governorship primaries of the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC), in this interview spoke on the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State and other issues affecting the polity. TITUS AKHIGBE was there. Excerpts:
In a couple of weeks from now your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), would be holding its gubernatorial primaries. Amidst speculations of an aspirant being endorsed, how confident are you that you will eventually pick the ticket?
Who has endorsed? Nobody has endorsed anything. There is nothing like endorsement. That is a wrong rumour coming wrong quarters. It is the Edo people that will endorse a candidate in a free primary that is going to be held by the grace of God in June. It is the Edo APC delegates that will endorse their choice as the party’s flagbearer. So, nobody will force a choice on the people. It will be the people who will endorse whom they want. Power belongs to God and the people, not one individual. Edo State of today is not Edo State of yesterday. Nigeria of today is not the Nigeria of yesterday. President Muhammadu Buhari has set the ball rolling. He said it is your PVC (Permanent Voters Card) that would henceforth determine who wins election. Meaning that there will be a free and fair primary and a free and fair general election. So, where comes the endorsement? If you endorse a candidate in the primary would you do the same thing during the general election. I keep saying it that the market women, the artisans, the students etc; are the ones that will determine the next governor of Edo State not one person. I can tell you that categorically. I am not bothered by the reckless statement of anybody that there is an endorsed candidate. What endorsement? It is even insulting to the will of the people. It is an affront; a confrontation for one man to sit somewhere and say he has endorsed someone. What triggers off trouble is little things like this.
One of the reasons adduced by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for endorsing Godwin Obaseki is that he has what it takes to govern the state especially because of his economic expertise?
Obaseki is the weakest of all the aspirants. He’ll come last in the primaries. Mark what I am saying. Unless they will kill all of us in the stadium that day because I know that Obaseki would come last. The people are ready. We are ready. Let’s pray that all of us see that day. You’ll remember today as the day that I said that Obaseki will come a distant last. I have been in the business of creating jobs for the past 25 years since I left the university. Let Obaseki show me the job he has created. I have been paying different kinds of taxes to the state and federal governments. Let Obaseki show us proof of any tax he has paid to either the state or federal government. If you borrow money and make commission on it… His company, Afrinvest, brokers, borrowing of money for which it is paid money. Is that an achievement? Is that a scorecard? Let him go to Samorika in Akoko Edo Local Government Area whether he’ll be recognised. Let him take a walk around Ring Road (the commercial hub of Benin) whether the artisans and traders will know him. But I have ties with the people for the past 13 years. The incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole is right to say that his successor should have the ability to create jobs and not to always run to Abuja for money from the federal purse. But it is wrong for Oshiomhole to say that it is only Obaseki that has that quality. I have that quality better than Obaseki. My antecedent makes me the most qualified of the pack. All the other aspirants have benefitted one way or the other from the government either through contracts or appointments. I have never done contract for any of the three tiers of government viz the local, state and federal. Rather, I have given to the government and to my people in Edo State. On this basis, the people of the state are eagerly waiting to compensate me.
There are talks around town that there is a gang up against Obaseki by other aspirants. Why is he the topic of discussions?
Obaseki is not an issue. It’s you guys (the media) that are making him an issue. He is not an issue. What makes him an issue? He was an aide of the governor. If the governor muscles his way in the party primaries, can he do the same during the general elections? The Buhari government knows that Edo State is vital in the present political dispensation. That winning the election in the state this September will play a big factor in the party’s winning of the 2019 presidential election. So, everything will be done to ensure that the APC primary is free, fair and credible.
If you eventually become the governor of the state, how do you intend to tackle the issue of youth restiveness and unemployment?
The major problem of Edo State is the issue of unemployment. That is why there is crisis and insecurity everywhere. This is caused by lack of jobs. A responsible governor must make job creation a priority. I already have a masterplan of how to create jobs. Fifty percent of my masterplan is hinged on how to improve on agriculture. Immediately I am sworn in, I will present a bill to the house of assembly on ways of improving our agricultural yield. If you are a young boy or girl of Edo extraction, you must go to the farm instead of loitering around the streets to cause mischief. I will create what will be called Edo Farms in each of the three senatorial districts of the state. In the first six months of my administration, I will create at least 30, 000 jobs through the Edo Farms. Each farm will have some industries attached to it. This will be done in less than 30 days of my assumption of office. I have started discussing with corporate America and corporate Europe on the need to come and invest in our agriculture. My friends in the corporate world are interested in coming to assist me. The passion must be there to succeed.