BY ADEKUNLE ADEKOYA
SOLOMON Iyobosa Edebiri is the Chief Executive of Typha Cenia Nigeria Limited and President of the Nigerian Institute of Welding. Born in Edo State in 1962, Edebiri trained in welding and engineering while working weekends on his father’s plantation.
Early this year , he received a postgraduate certificate in business administration from the University of Leicester’s School of Management. He also holds a national honour, the MON (Member of the Order of the Niger).
In the 2007 elections, Edebiri contested the governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and placed fourth. The PDP was declared winner, but later had the victory overturned by the courts.
Next year, another governorship election will hold in Edo, and Edebiri has signified interest in the race. In this interview, he explains why he seeks political power in Edo. Excerpts:
A few months away, there will be a governorship election in your state. What is your interest in the poll? Do you think you can do better what is on the ground?
I am on a mission to rescue a state that has been on a constant decline for the past 20 years and to redeem the people of Edo State from abject poverty. I am on a mission to rescue Edo State people from joblessness, insecurity, from their lost pride in sports, social security, employment and health.
The infrastructure in the state has been on constant decline. The people need revival; we need redemption, the people need to be redeemed and that is the mission.
If you look back at previous governments, after the Ogbemudia administration of 1983, which lasted just three months, you will agree with me that successive governments have failed Edo people.
This failure got worse during the eight years of the PDP administration in Edo State and our woes were further worsened by the administration of Osunbor. With no relief in sight, we have suffered 20 years of administrative inefficiency and zero leadership.
During those 20 years, our children have been taken into prostitution overseas; during those 20 years, our youths have been forced to go to Europe to do all sorts of dirty jobs because of joblessness in the state. The population of Nigerians in Europe are more of Edo people. For over 20 years, we always have to import food into Edo State instead of exporting food.
And now, what do we have? No Bendel United, no Bendel Insurance. We have suffered 20 years where virtually all our roads have turned to death traps; where gradually our industries were being killed and not
one was being revived and no new ones were being built. We have suffered 20 years of which we experienced more strike actions in the last four years, more strike actions from the academic staff, more strike actions and more students embarking on protest actions in the universities.
We have suffered more, our workers suffered more taxation which has led to decline in family lives, our teachers have suffered so much deprivation, which has led to poor educational performance in Edo.
If you look at these, sum it up together, it says there is need for a redemption in Edo and that is why I’m coming. I’m coming to redeem the people of Edo State. And I think the time is now, otherwise, it might be too late. The destruction, the hazard is too much.
On what political platform would you be seeking to actualize your governorship ambition?
The PPP (Peoples Progressive Party). I represent the political party and I’m proud to be the National Chairman and we are committed to the ideals of the party that through proper, responsible government, with high degree of integrity, utmost transparent manner, and commitment, accountability, the state would become a better state for us. We are committed to it.
In the last governorship election, your party placed fourth. Now, given that kind of performance, is there a strategy by which you are going to work with other like-minded people to improve the electoral fortunes of your party in the election coming?
In as much as I’m not leaning on it, you cannot rule out coalition. Coalition is an option but I must tell you that the greatest force you can ever need in a political dispensation is the force of the people. As far as I am concerned, from my cross-sectional interview from the people of Edo, the state needs a responsible government.
They need a government they can rely on, they need a government they can call their own, they need a government on whose shoulders they can lean on, a government that will be responsive to their needs, a government that will answer them when they ask questions, a government that will deliver the dividends of democracy.
Not just the dividends, they need a government that gives true dividends of democracy. You can see the crave for change by the people. You can see that the people are eager. The people need change. I have seen that and so, if, as at today, I must confess, if a free and fair election is allowed in Edo State, PDP will have no chance.
Talking about coalition, what will be the indicative character of the likely political groups that you may be willing to working with?
There are good natured Nigerians who have not been opportuned to serve the country, who have not been allowed to get to power and exhibit what they can do, we still know them, we know they exist. Some of them have gathered into one political party or the other.
We will seek them out and these are the groups we can collaborate with. We can come together and say yes: ‘It is time to redeem this state from the hands of the usurpers’ because everybody there now has usurped power and is using it for selfish ends.
The time has come to say enough is enough. And the people of Edo can no longer continue to stay in darkness and remain in perpetual fear, slavery, terror, siege with their mouths padlocked and as if they can no longer speak. No, that is no the true meaning of democracy.
Our democracy says you will have freedom to move, speak, associate, worship and also to benefit from the dividends of democracy; that is what our democracy says and what we will offer. Objectivity; progressive-minded people that can come together.
People who are selfish, greedy; people who place themselves above the nation, people who think that they can take all the wealth of the nation today and forget that they have children that will grow up tomorrow; people who walk through a road and cut a log across the road so that others would not pass; people who cross a bridge and blow it up after them; those are the elements we have in abundance and these are not the people we want to work with.
How are you going to manage the incumbency factor and the equally powerful PDP machine that are all focused on the governorship?
Our president wants to deliver dividends of democracy to the people of this country and I’m also sure he is planning and willing to allow free and fair elections to hold. I can tell you that the next dispensation will be determined by the works of the candidate, by issues and not the party, determined by the personality behind the issues that is presenting solutions.
The people will seek to use those people that have not been reckoned with to deliver the true dividends of democracy to the state. So, incumbency is not a force for us to be afraid of. We know it exists. We are planning many actions as to how we can stop the use of government facilities to campaign by the incumbent governor. And that we are sure, we will be able to achieve but it is not a threat, we are not afraid of that.
Tell us about RITA, and how you will apply it in the governance of Edo State for a turn around?