Why I want to succeed Oshiomhole as the next governor of Edo state – Peter Esele


Comrade Peter Esele is the immediate past president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). TUC is one of the two pivotal and foremost Organized Labour Movement umbrellas for workers in Nigeria. In this interview, Esele explains why he is aspiring to succeed Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Governor of Edo State in 2016 on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and why Edo people are one. SEBASTINE EBHUOMHAN reports.

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What is it that brought you here today? I am interested in the position (of governorship ticket) to be chosen by the delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its gubernatorial aspirant in the next election. That is why I am moving around. Considering the crowded nature of the APC field, what are your chances? The bottom line is that it is a matter of ideas and that is what I try to tell the delegate that if anybody has the superior idea to move the state forward, they should go along with the person but if you think I have the superior idea to move the state forward, to build on what Governor Oshiomhole has achieved in the last seven years, then, choose me.

One other thing we need to tell ourselves is that we need to move beyond this politics of ethnicity; politics of I know someone; you queue behind somebody and he is not going to add value to your life. Somebody comes, gives you a bag of rice, after a while it is exhausted; somebody comes, gives you N10, 000 that may not cook a pot of soup that will last you for three weeks. We have to move beyond that. It is somebody you know that can build on what has been done today and that can secure or guarantee their future and that of their children. That is why I am in this race. Some people believe you are not on ground in Edo State. How do you see that? Anybody can say what they want just to damage whoever they want to damage. People say what they want. But I will say I am not based in Abuja. I was born in Benin City; Agbado to be precise. All my life, I have lived here; apart from my working life in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country. Why go into a race that the governor has expressed his preferred candidate? The governor has a right to have a preferred candidate and nobody should take that from him. I also have the right to contest for the office of the governor. So, it doesn’t have to be whether the governor has a preferred candidate or not.

It is the delegates that will determine who will be the next governor. We are in a democratic process and I think we should be open to discussions. We should be open to ideas and if you try to shrink the space, you start creating problems. So, people will look for other means to ventilate their anger. Open up the space, let everybody go up there and see how they can move the state forward. For me, I have always said either as PENGASSAN or TUC President, in anything I do, the first thing I ask myself is am I happy with what I am doing? Do I love what I am doing? If I love what I am doing and I am happy with what I am doing, I never lose. It depends on how you will describe what losing means because I know, of course, that in my dream and drive to want to move Edo State forward, I have combed all the nooks and crannies to know what Edo State actually lacks and how I will be different because I enjoy being different. So, what I am coming with is something new; something people don’t talk about; something that I think that will make the state better.

So, I am concentrating on only three areas of interest: Education, Agriculture and Culture. When you talk about education, I am talking about functional education. I am a testimony to that. When I was working for an American company, I didn’t have a degree. I acquired a degree at Airport Road here in Benin and that skill is the foundation of everything I am today. Going to get a degree was more like: let me get a degree to sell my skill. Not that I wanted to get a degree to go and work or apply in any company. So, that is an area we all need to look at; which is serious functional education. The governor, Oshiomhole, has done well with his red roof revolution.

But we have to look at the functionality of the red roof. You don’t run a government on ad-hoc basis. You run a government to say: in 10 years’ time, this is the number of people that will be leaving primary school and be entering secondary school and you can also tell yourself this is where the vacancy is. I have done mapping of the entire state. So, I am not coming to tell you I am going to learn the rope in one or two years. I already have my programmes lined out. I have done the mapping of the entire state and I can tell you what each community can survive on. In other parts of the world you will know who is in a particular class and you will know the best before they get to the last class and you know the state resources to put behind those people and you also now know what to do. There is no connection between government and our campuses.

If you are a professor under my watch, you are going to profess your profession or your research. When I talk about culture, I know what culture is and I know what I can do with Igun Street. I know what I can do with Ogbe quarter and what the Oba’s palace can also be. You can notice what is going on already; the price of crude goes down, everybody is panicking. The price of crude goes up, everybody is panicking. So, you don’t need money coming from Abuja. But without self-reliance, how do you sustain your state? I know what to do to make sure that those rural areas are able to generate income from their own. From my own research, there are a lot of people in the communities that N50,000, N100,000 can change their lives. But they have no opportunity to do it. But I know the part of those communities that I will touch and some microfinance bank will go there and be giving them loan. What is your view about zoning of political offices? When I hear people say: he has to be a governor because he is from Edo South, Edo Central or Edo North, I laugh.

The only way we can sustain ourselves is to make sure that our language also exists. Let me tell you what I will do: all the primary schools in Edo South must teach the language dominant in Edo South; all the primary schools in Edo Central must teach the language dominant in Edo Central; all primary schools in Edo North must teach the language dominant in the North. What that will do is that there will be integration and a sense of belonging to one place. In doing that we will now have to build that infrastructure which invariably means that we will create employment because people are going to teach all of these. I will also make sure that every child in the primary school learns one foreign language. Why? Because if a child doesn’t love his book before he is 10 or 12, he will never love it even when he is 20! So, that early time is better because we need to project into the future.

Our children must think local and act global. If you have a leader that is narrow in his thinking and that sees Benin as an ancient, local city, we will not go anywhere. We must have a leader that has a vision that this is what I want the state to be; first in Nigeria. And this is how I want the people of this state to be looked at outside. That is my goal. Others believe you are merely targeting the deputy governorship ticket. Is this true? I have heard that. That is also one of the reasons I am doing a routine campaign. We have never had that conversation; we have never had that discussion. I think it is pure blackmail and that is not what I am here for. If that is why I am here, I will not tell you I have professors working for me. I had to do mapping of the entire 18 local government areas. It cost me money. Not government money and they had to do the interpretation for me. I will not spend money to know about tourism; the culture in Europe and how to make so much money. I went to the Vatican and I paid some Euros for some private tours and I found out that they get over a thousand people visiting that place every day and they are making money out of that. Whether the price of crude is 10 or 100 dollars it is none of their business. I went to the British museum and I saw the Ankara that was used to celebrate the Oba of Benin’s 30th anniversary hung in the British Museum. Is there any where you will see that in Benin or in Nigeria? No.

Because we don’t tell our own stories; we don’t build anything. So, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to say let us be different. What are your views about youth empowerment? I don’t like to do something that is over flogged. You are going to hear people talk about youth empowerment and all that. But if you talk about agriculture, there are companies outside of this country who are looking for just 500 hectares and they will do serious farming and it will create employment. There is this culture that strives from tourism. There is no old man that can do it; it is the youth that will take people around and talk to them. So, in all of these various sectors or segments in the society, people are factored in. So, I am not going to come out and say youth empowerment. I am not going to speak the language that people have been hearing. You can’t expect a different thing when you keep doing the same thing.

You can’t be a Commissioner of Agriculture under my watch and you are not doing a research to know the modern seedlings; and the modern act of farming and trying to see how you impact them to lives of rural dwellers; and you can’t tell me how many farmers you have lifted from poverty. That is what I will use to judge you. It is KPI: (key performance indicators). You can’t tell me you are a Commissioner of Education and you can’t tell me the best student in Primary one or two in Ologua Village; you can’t tell me the best student in Uromi or Opoji? There is no data to show how many children we have in all our primary school, how many are doing well, and how many are high fliers? Then you are not qualified to be a Commissioner for Education under my watch. You can’t tell me you are a Commissioner for Housing and you are not finding out the modern technology to build houses that will be affordable to the ordinary people? You can’t say you are a Commissioner for Works and you are not telling me the modern technology in constructing roads?

I will give you my expectation, you will give me results. I will give you the necessary input so that you can give me the appropriate output. If you don’t win the APC governorship ticket, are you going to defect to another party? That is not part of me. It took me a long while to make the decision to be here. I am not going to say I will be jumping. I am not even thinking about that. My appeal to the leaders of the party is to ensure that we have free, fair and transparent primary because if we don’t have a transparent primary crisis will follow. I know Governor Oshiomhole is going to do everything to make it work. Governor Oshiomhole strives for legacy. He must be asking himself continually what will I be remembered for? I don’t think he will want to be remembered as somebody who led a primary that was inconclusive. And I think there are also a lot of things that will be said about the governor which is just politics. People will want to blackmail the governor but the fact is that let us have a situation where if somebody loses in an election that is transparent, the person will be very happy and move to congratulate the winner. That is what I think has to be done.



Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsolahttps://naija247news.com
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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