By Simon Ebegbulem
Engr. Solomon Edebiri is the National Chairman of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and he is one of the young breed politicians gunning for the governorship of Edo State in 2012. Edebiri in this interview with Vanguard, commended the National Assembly for settling the constitutional crisis that arose as a result of the ill-health of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua. He admonished Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to be firm and ensure that the post amnesty programme of the federal government succeeds. He also spoke on the crisis in his party and his assessment of Governor Adams Oshiomhole led government in the state. Excerpts:
Looking at the entire political situation arising from President Yar’Adua’s ill health, how would you assess the entire scenario, particularly, the resolution of the National Assembly?
The role most important to me is the part the National Assembly played because that was what took the interest of the nation. That was the role we expected that they would have played many months ago. We needed that voice that will come out to say this country must move forward, that this country must get out from the stagnation it was. And as far as I am concerned, what they have done will go a long way to improve the image of our National Assembly.
What are your expectations from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan?
I beg Jonathan to move with the speed of light. One, he needs to address the situation in the Niger Delta as quickly as possible. The post amnesty action in the region is not being handled with honesty. He needs to address the capacity building in the Niger Delta region. He needs to address the infrastructural decadence in theÂ region. He needs to really look sincerely the high Ways in the Niger Delta states.
He needs to unite the nation, he needs to create security, he needs to move fast so that we can have stability in terms of power. He needs to ensure that the electoral reform is achieved within the next six months. If he can do these, he would have scored himself a very high mark in his short term of administration. But in all, I think Jonathan needs to bring to bear a high level of sincerity and honesty in the discharge of his responsibilities.
How would you describe the decision of some Nigerians to contest the resolution of the National Assembly in court?
Their action is absolutely not justified. This country was almost getting to a state of anarchy. It was almost getting to a state of stagnation, where nothing was going on. And the National Assembly came to the rescue. And some people are saying that they are going to contest it in court.Â I consider suchpeople the enemy of this country. Nigerians should disregard their position. And that takes us to the call for the amendment of the constitution. There is no doubt that our constitution needs amendment. But while we are waiting to amend it, we must try to look at things from realistic point of view and that is why we are not happy that some people are trying to undo what the National Assembly has done in terms of presidency succession. However, the National Assembly needs to amend clauses like these: The issue of succession for the Vice-President, Electoral reform and the issue of the sovereignty of the nation. A lot of these issues in the constitution are ambiguous and the National Assembly if they want to be fair to this country needs to amend them before the end of 2010.
We are aware that the Inspector- General of Police dragged some executive members of your party to court, can we know the position of the case now and what is happening to your party generally?
Well, people call it problem but we call it our own internal effort to curb corruption. Some persons misappropriated the partyâ€™s money, that is, the N12million INEC gave the party before the general elections. People felt aggrieved and reported the matter to the police. At the end of the investigations, the police found them wanting and charged the matter to court. So the people are standing trial in a margistrate court in Abuja .
As for the party, we are solid. It does not mean that because there is crisis like this, the party has problem. You are aware that corruption is one of the challenges we must solve in this country. The matter is no longer in the hands of the party but between the police and those indicted.
What are you putting in place to ensure discipline in your party and also to make sure that such incident does not occur again?
We are working on the constitution. We are ensuring that the chairman does not have all the powers like it use to be. We are going far to ensure that we have a constitution which does not give the chairman, the financial autonomy to just spend our funds any how. We are making sure that the funds pass through the normal process before it is used. With the amendment we are doing, the chairman of the party will find it difficult to misuse party funds.
We are making effort making to ensure that we take over government both in the state and at the national level. For 2011 at the National level we will do our best. We are doing every thing we can to get our structures across the country. We are also going to get a very credible presidential candidate to compete with who ever comes from other parties. For Edo state, I am very sure that Adams is a tenant.
By 2012 he will be out and we will take over Osadey Avenue . We are putting every thing in place to take over power in the state. We are putting every thing in place to ensure that we have a programme that will give people a new lease of life.
Do you think you will be able to dethrone Comrade Oshiomhole who is doing all he could to develop the state both in terms of infrastructures and job creation?
Adams is a leader that is known for misplacement of priorities. He does not know how to place priorities. People are hungry and dieing. There are no roads every where and we are spending hundreds of millions on beautification of ring road. You are expanding billions of naira to expand Airport road. I call this absolute misplacement of priority and abuse of public funds.
These projects will not add value to the life of our people. I want you to pass through second East Circular road, from Sakpoba road down, where Ekiosa is, you cannot pass that road. I want you to pass through Ewah road, New Benin, Upper Mission , these roads are impassable. So what are we spending billions beautifying and expanding roads that are already wide when we have roads that are inaccessible.These are sheer misguided projects and mismanage of public funds.
But do you think your party will do better if eventually you win at the election?
My party will give people another life. They will give people freedom from slavery. You know at the moment we are in economic slavery. But by the time we come in 2012, we will create stability and security of food for every body.