Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, a two-term member of the Edo State House of Assembly before his subsequent emergence as the state representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is one of those aspiring to govern the state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview, he asserts his belief that he is the best qualified person to succeed the outgoing governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
Why do you think you are the right candidate for Edo State Government House?
I have been part of the government since 1999 and I know the basic responsibilities of government. It is to be able to do things, the things that will ensure basic satisfaction to the people and generate happiness in the people.
My stay so far in government has given me the opportunity to know that things can be done differently from the way things are being done now. If you understand the geographical topography of Edo State, it is one state that is endowed with both human and natural resources. It is a state where we have agricultural resources, flat land and solid minerals.
Betterment and growth
All these can be transformed for the betterment and growth of that state. Edo state as we speak today, is a state that hasn’t been able to have a clear cut economic direction.
I think there has been no deliberate effort of government to create an economic policy geared towards eliminating poverty and strengthening infrastructure. Edo state is a state that is in clear need of an economic foundation which will lead to the engagement of the unemployed in our state, which will lead to the development of entrepreneurial skills of the people of the state, which will lead to the strengthening of Small and Medium Enterprises. I am in that state and I know that is one thing the state is lacking, not minding the fact that the state is one of the states that you can say in terms of education is one of the foremost states in this country.
It is a state where we need to develop those basic things like education; we have to give the right quality of education back to our people like it was in the past. Right now, what we have is infrastructure, you see school buildings but you visit those schools and the right capacity of staff are not there.
When you don’t have the right capacity of staff, what then will be the quality of students we are going to train in that school? So it is a time when we have to redefine a clear economic direction for the state.
Given the cry by many newly elected governors for bail-out, are you not concerned that if you win that you could be in a similar situation?
Yes we are in a country where almost every state depends on allocation from the Federal Government but that is dwindling. Consequently, we must look at other ways to generate revenue and in doing that we must create enabling environment for entrepreneurial growth and development in the state. When that is done, yes it might not be quite easy at the beginning, but over time, it is something you build on.
So, you are not scared of the liabilities the new government will meet given the recent World Bank loan taken by the outgoing governor?
Well why should I be scared? It is the reason for the World Bank loan that he was taking I should be bothered about- whether those loans are actually applied for the purpose for which they were obtained.
I heard that before those loans were obtained some certain conditions were given them to meet. I am still not sure as to what amount has been released to Edo State. So with the new government coming in place you have to do an appraisal, look at what is there, look at what amount and value of that loan has been released and what part of the loan released has been utilised.
What is your take on the proposal by the state governor to establish a new university in his home town?
I think the establishment of a new state university shouldn’t arise because the existing ones can be strengthened to provide opportunities for more candidates. If you think you need to create new departments or new faculties, the laws establishing that existing institution allow for multiple campuses
You could take a particular campus out of the present place and move it to any part of the state that you deem fit, rather than establishing a new university in the state. I think the state government will be having too many responsibility managing two state universities.
Given that the APC now controls the Federal Government, do you think it would be an easy easing out the party from Edo State?
Elections are won when the people see the credibility of the candidate. There have been states in this country where candidates have emerged and defeated incumbent governors.
There are states in this country where candidates emerged and defeated the incumbent party both at the state and federal. I give you an example of Nassarawa State.
Almakura became governor of the state under the umbrella of CPC and there was no CPC at the state and federal levels but the people saw him and they believed in him so they gave him their votes. When Rochas Okorocha won in Imo, the incumbent governor in Imo was in PDP and the PDP was in power at the federal government.
It is what policies and ideas you sell to your people against the background knowledge of your person by your own people that will make them vote for you.
We have seen the best of the APC government and we believe that the state would have been better ran and managed if a PDP government led by someone who has the love of the people, someone who had the genuine feeling of the people were in government.
We have seen APC give their best shot in governance and we have seen the result of such governance as at today. All I want to tell the people of Edo State is that Edo State can be governed differently with more and better results achieved.
Therefore, it is time for Edo people to reappraise our past, our present with a view to telling ourselves what we want in the future and I believe that Edo people deserve the best and only the best is good enough for us.