One of those aspiring to govern Edo State in 2016 on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri, recently spoke to some correspondents. ISAAC OLAMIKAN was there. Excerpts…Edebiri
Former governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, at a function recently, said that he would play a major role in the choice of whoever will be governor of the state in 2016. He also stated that the incoming governor would be a member of his political family. We are not sure that you’re a member of his political family. So, what is your take on this?

Thank you very much. Like I would say at any point in time, Chief Lucky Nosa Igbinedion is one of the leaders of the party (PDP). He has a right to his opinion. He has a right to his decision. And I don’t think that people should hold that to an extreme level. For me, I appreciate him as a person; I respect the Igbinedion family; most of Chief Gabriel Igbinedion’s children are my friends and I have nothing against them. And if you ask His Excellency, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, he’ll tell you that was not exactly what he said. People have a way of manipulating statements. However, whatever he said was his opinion and he has a right to it. So, that has no effect on my ambition and I believe that even Lucky respects my position; respects my intellect as well and believes equally and sincerely that I too have the capability to govern the state. So, depending on the way journalists define what he has said and that is how it will be interpreted. The way they interpret it that is how they will publish it. So, I don’t hold anything against him and I expect that people should see it as his own opinion and they should respect his opinion.

You were the revelation in the 2012 governorship debate. Today, former governor of the state, Chief Samuel Ogbemudia, is going about looking for Comrade Oshiomhole’s successor. How do you see that? Is it not the Edo electorate that is supposed to know who will succeed Comrade Oshiomhole and not Chief Ogbemudia?

The people of the state have that answer to give. It is left for the people to decide who succeeds the incumbent. To me, the people have the answer. The people of the state should be the decider. It is when the people decide who governs them that the person that they have chosen will be accountable to them. When only one or two persons decide who rules the state then the person is not accountable to the people. I have said in different fora, in as much as I respect and value the leaders – I respect their position, their age, and their experience but the people must be allowed to take a decision; the people must be allowed to play the major role, the pivotal role in who rules them; in who leads them; in who governs them. The people must be allowed to be in charge; the people must be allowed to be the ones that decide that this is the party or the person that should rule them; that should govern them. It is only when the people are allowed to take a decision that whoever is in that position would respect the people; would value the people; would serve the people and would be accountable to the people. Personally, I would like to be accountable to the people and if you know the leaders are part of the people. The leaders cannot seclude themselves from the people but the masses, the lower cadre people, are more in number than the leaders and that is why people often look at the simple fact, ‘oh, leader do this, do that’. Leaders are a macrocosm of the people. I believe in the people. The larger spectrum of the people, of course, we know, are the downtrodden; are middle class people; are lower class people – they are the people that are looking for a better tomorrow; people that are looking for a better future, etc. Those are the people that should actually decide who rules us. Don’t forget that all parties put together in this country do not represent up to 10 percent of the voter population. The real voters are out there and those real voters are the people that we should be looking up to. While we respect the authority and position of the party we should also realize that the party is a subset of the people; of the masses; of the voting population and, therefore, we must listen to the pulse of the voting population; we must listen to the pulse of the people. Those are the people that own governance; those are the people that own the state and those are the people that would decide who rules them. And the parties, whichever party, including my party, should listen to the pulse of the people and understand the fact that it is only when the people anoint someone that that person can be accountable to the people. So, I want to be accountable to the state; I want to be accountable to the people and I believe that the leaders are a macrocosm of the people. We should all work together. The leaders and the people should synchronize their thinking and come up with somebody that can deliver the state.

Crisis is brewing in Edo PDP. You are a leader of the party in the state. You are aware that recently Edo North leaders of the party, led by Hon. Johnson Abolagba, have been calling for the resignation of the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih. As a leader of the party, what are you doing to bring these people together?

Well, I don’t know what you mean by crisis in the PDP. There is no crisis in the PDP. PDP is in harmony. If there are disagreements in opinion it doesn’t mean crisis. People have a right to disagree. As far as I am concerned, there can be one disagreement or another at different points in time. People must disagree to agree. I am not aware of any crisis in PDP; I am not aware of any division in PDP and I don’t see anyone in the offing. PDP’s house is in harmony and if there is any disagreement of course, the party knows how to settle their disagreements in-house. There is no problem in PDP that amounts to crisis.

People had expected you to stay within the ACN now APC, they had thought that you would naturally take over from Oshiomhole. Most people say your leaving the party for the PDP was not in good taste, that they had never expected you to leave the ruling party in the state to the opposition. What do you have to say about this?

Thank you very much. I joined APC because I was a member of ANPP. I didn’t cross to APC. When I joined APC I knew it was not going to be long. I was a member of the merger committee that formed APC and my chairman would agree with me that I wasn’t very comfortable with the formulation of the APC. The strategy that gave birth to the APC; the formula that gave birth to APC; the character that made up APC – I wasn’t comfortable with it. And I knew I wasn’t going to live long with the party. So, as a matter of fact, I see myself as having left because of what my party was based on; I left to look for another party. I couldn’t have stayed in APC because I didn’t belong there. I simply left because I know I do not belong to the APC.

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