Prince Edun Akenzua is the Enogie (Duke) of Obazuwa and the Chairman of Benin Leaders of Thought (BLT). In this interview, the veteran journalist and younger brother of the Benin monarch says the elders and leaders of Edo State are sad that Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s tenure is coming to an end, asserting that they wish the governor could serve another term. Edun-Akenzua He however discloses that some of those aspiring to succeed the governor have been interviewed by the leaders and that a report will soon be submitted to the governor where a prospective successor will be made known. He also supports the anti-corruption war being tought by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that though the economy of the nation is currently suffering, the future looks bright. Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s tenure will come to an end in November. What are the elders’ feeling about his looming exit and what are you doing to enthrone a suitable successor? The Edo people and elders, I must tell you, feel sad that Oshiomhole’s tenure is about to end. They wish they could continue with Oshiomhole. Because, as I have always said, there has never been a governor in Edo, Bendel, Midwest, who performed as much as Oshiomhole. This is why we are all sad that this glorious moment is coming to an end. Like people say, whatever has a beginning must have an end. Now we don’t know what those that want to succeed him have in stock for the people. We can really not tell who will be the most appropriate person; and there are many things to consider. We believe there are many people in Edo who can govern the state as much as Oshiomhole, perhaps do better than he is doing; so we are trying to help search for a good Edo man who will succeed him, who is doing what he is doing or perhaps do better than him. Benin Leaders of Thought, for instance, just concluded an exercise; we decided to look at those interested in this position to see who is the most suitable person. It is unfortunate that we don’t have third term; so that Oshiomhole can continue. However, we just concluded that exercise; we have a report which we will make public very soon. We want to first give it to the governor; after that we will show it to the people. We are aware that you have met with some of the governorship aspirants. What are the qualities you are looking for? We will be making a public statement in the future. What BLT did was to send invitation letters to about 15 aspirants we heard are interested in the governorship position and nine responded. They presented themselves for screening. We are talking about good governance, we are talking about honesty, rule of law and all the things people will use to determine good governance. And using the present governor as an example, he is leaving big shoes behind; if you are going to wear the shoes, will they fit you? Can you do what he is doing? Can you improve on what he is doing? What exactly do you think the people of the state will miss in Oshiomhole? Oshiomhole came like a dark horse. He was never in politics; he was a labour leader. But when he came, we saw that this man was dogged, very determined to ensure that this place moved forward. He worked day and night; a few times I met him, I wondered where he got his energy from. He worked all over Edo, every part of the state got what no governor has ever done. There is no where you will go in all the three senatorial districts where you will not find his footprints, in roads, schools, hospitals, everything. But , to me, one remarkable thing he has done, which no other person has done and which will linger, is that, when he arrived, he taught the electorate the value of one man one vote. Because before then, there were important people, starting from 1999, who were found voting in three four places but that doesn’t happen anymore. He came and taught the people that they have the final say, that power belongs to the people, and not to individuals, not to political parties. And the people of Benin were very very happy about that because we had been fighting god fatherism. When he came, he was a very very welcome ally, he joined us and we fought god fatherism to a standstill. He knew how corrupt the system was and told the people to stop selling their conscience. Today, the level of political understanding of the people of Edo has been so much heightened: Thanks to Oshiomhole. So, as we go tor another election, we advise politicians to play according to the rules. The days of the snatching of ballot boxes are over, the days of intimidating voters are over; unscrupulous people will try but the electorate will not agree. The man who is coming will give you his manifesto; ask him questions. Oshiomhole has told our people that they should not be afraid to ask those who want to be their leaders questions. ‘What have you done before? What you can do? Don’t come and tell us that you are going to build us a castle, give us example of what you have done before’. We are encouraging our people to learn to ask questions. The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, is a proud son of the Benin Kingdom. How do you feel hearing of an alleged plot to remove him? There is always this plot to remove the man, but those trying to remove him should tell us why they are against him. Oyegun, as much I have known him, right from when he was in the civil service, is a very upright man. And he says it as it is any time. If anybody comes up now to say ‘I don’t want Oyegun’, it must be that, perhaps, that person talking, his path had crossed that of Oyegun and he found that he is some body that cannot be used. Nobody had really told me what Oyegun has done or what he has not done. I think Oyegun has been very steadfast unlike others who have been changing from one party to another. He is a man of integrity, but I believe that what is happening is an intra-party matter; so they will sort it out. But I have known Oyegun for a long time to be a honest person. The Binis supported President Muhammadu Buhari during the election, but, today, economic hardship is biting very had. Do you still have confidence in him? It is true the economic situation is very bad, it is biting everybody badly. But it is wrong for anybody to think that this is the fault of President Buhari. For 16 years, the PDP was in power and they messed up the situation. Somebody has just come to clear what is called the Augean’s stable, and he has been there for only for six months and some people are asking why has he not cleared the Augean’s stable? I think it is unfair to ask that question. When Buhari came in, they talked about change, that was the mantra; if anybody believes that the APC or the President will come with magic wand and, in six months, change all the things that have gone wrong, that persons is a joker. Yes, they want to change things, but we must give them time. Among the things they are changing now, all the things about corruption, they are publishing every day. This is the first time this will happen in Nigeria. It has never happened before that institutionalized corruption will be identified the way it is being done. I am not one of those saying the President and his cabinet are not fulfilling their electoral promises because, when they came, they said they were going to change things. But I can see the change; a couple of weeks ago, they talked about the budget which they sent to the National Assembly and everybody started talking about padding or no padding. That is change because a thing like that never happened before. There have been situations when things had been sent there, when they were changing Senate Presidents every two weeks. But today the President even said that whoever is responsible for the padding of the budget will not go unpunished; that means he is aware that something has been done wrong and he believes they will get the person that did it. So there is change coming. I believe this government is doing its best in six months.
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