ONE of the leading governorship aspirants in Edo State, Barr Kenneth Imansuagbon, has urged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC and Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to ensure that a level playing field is provided for all aspirants at the party’s forthcoming primaries.
Imansuagbon, a lawyer and philanthropist made the appeal following Governor Oshiomhole’s alleged backing and plans to impose Obaseki as APC candidate and recent comments that he could not remain neutral over who emerges as his successor.
I won’t impose Obaseki but I’m entitled to my rights – Oshiomhole
Governor Oshiomhole, recently, declared that he could not remain neutral in the choice of his successor in the 2016 governorship election in the state even as he assured that APC would create a level-playing ground for all aspirants at the party’s primaries.
Denying the insinuation that he was backing Obaseki as his successor and arm-twisting party members to support his preferred aspirant at the forthcoming primaries, he however, added that he is entitled to exercise his fundamental human right like every other member of the party and politicking is all about contestation and negotiation.
“The governorship candidate of this party will be produced through primaries. The last elections in Edo State we had primaries in each of the election. There were states in a part of this country (South-South) where candidates were imposed and heaven did not fall,’’ Oshiomhole reportedly said at an enlarged meeting with the APC leaders from the three senatorial districts of the state.
Oshiomhole must walk his talk
Commenting on the issue, Imansuagbon said though the governor has a constitutional right to have a choice candidate, it should not be to the detriment of the people, whose will must be allowed to prevail.
According to him, Oshiomhole came in with a populist ideology as a labour leader fighting for the welfare of the people and against godfatherism, virtues he said the governor should sustain.
Already, some Edo politicians claim the governor is sponsoring delegates to favour his anointed candidate and has morphed into a capitalist and in his actions, is not walking the talk as he now sees himself as alpha and omega and political god father in Edo State. that has a say in who succeeds him.
For the good of the society, Imansuagbon said the governor ‘’should allow people’s will to prevail and should not truncate the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari.’’
He wondered if President Buhari and the APC national leadership would tolerate imposition of candidates. He also recalled that Oshiomhole called some leaders of the state such as Chief Anthiny Anenih, General Samuel Ogbemudia (retd) and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion godfathers and Edo people believed him and urged the governor not transmute into a godfather.
Cautioning against suspending and intimidating party chairmen and APC chieftains in the state in order to get the anointed aspirant chosen as candidate, he said ‘’the projection is that if there is no free and fair election in the primaries that will throw up a popular and accepted candidate for the main election, PDP is likely to take over. What it means is that PDP can now wrest power at the centre in 2019.’’
Imansuagbon, fondly referred to as ‘The Rice Man’ following his adoption of the late Moshood Abiola’s style of meeting the people at the point of their needs, came to political limelight in 2007, when he co-founded the defunct Action Congress, AC and became the party’s Edo State governorship candidate in the build up to the 2007 election.
He, however, was persuaded by the party’s elders to give up his mandate for the governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomohle, who was then the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
With free, fair primaries APC ‘ll retain Edo
Stressing the need for APC to retain Edo, Imansuagbon, who is into agriculture and education and owns the Pace Setter Group of schools in Abuja, expressed fears that the primaries might be manipulated.
‘’Quite honestly, I have my fears. That is the Nigerian factor. But I also have my hope and faith in the Buhari factor. The Buhari factor will help to checkmate the Nigerian factor. I don’t think Buhari will watch and see wrong primaries done in Edo State. Never! At 73, one time head of state brought back to power by his people after many years; he suffered what I am suffering now. Thrice he was robbed but by twist of fate and strong will of the Nigerian people he came back to power.
I think Buhari will allow for free and fair primaries. ‘’My prayer for the party chairman, governor and the party is for them to have the courage to organize a free and fair primaries. We will not negotiate a credible, free and fair primaries in Edo State. We cannot have anything less than a free and fair primaries. It will help us to defeat a formidable opposition like the PDP.’’
Why I want to serve
Asked why he is running for the governorship, he said: ‘’I want to serve because I bring hope to the ordinary Edo person. The governor has done well and given his best but we can do better by creating jobs. The younger generation needs to be taken care of. Young school leavers leave school and there are no jobs.
‘’When you create jobs, you address the issue of insecurity because when people are engaged you cannot see them loafing on the streets. The insecurity situation in our state today is as a result of unemployment. When I become governor this year, by God’s grace, attention will be on how to create jobs, to take the bad boys and girls off the streets. Our schools will take my focus. I am from the private sector.
In Abuja, through the Pace Setter group of schools, we have been able, through the help of my wife and others, revolutionized the school system in Abuja. I will bring my experience in Abuja to bear in Edo State when I become governor. ‘’The governor has done his best, I will improve on what he has done.
Is it possible to have free education from primary to university in Edo?
Yes, it is possible. If I am governor this year, I will give free education from primary to university levels. ‘’You will ask, where will I get the money? I will get the money from blocking leakages. When you block leakages, you push the savings into the benefit of the people.
We will ensure that internally generated revenues and taxes don’t go into the pockets of individuals. ‘’ My experience in the private sector will help the position of the state, for example, agriculture. What I will do in my first 100 days in office is we will all go back to the farm.
Edo is blessed, you don’t need fertiliser to plant anything in Edo State. I will turn Edo State into farm plantation where every young school leaver instead of being on the streets doing nothing, will go to the farm.
I will open up Edo, and we will have farm plantation in each senatorial district. That takes me to rice plantation. I have been sharing rice in the past 10 years using my hard earned resources to buy rice and share in all the nooks and crannies of Edo State.
When I am governor, we will have three rice plantations where we will have enough to eat, enough to sell and enough to export. Edo will export rice when I am governor.’’