By James Ezema
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is set to further swell its ranks with the expected defection of former Action Congress (AC) governorship candidate in Edo State, Mr Kenneth Imansuangbon to the party this weekend.
The switch over is certainly considered by analysts as a big catch for the PDP as the party angles to recapture Edo State in 2012. The popular politician would be moving with thousands of his supporters to the party.
Imansuangbon, it was, who deployed his time, energy and resources to build AC in Edo. He had already been chosen as the gubernatorial candidate of the party before Comrade Adams Oshiomhole joined the party from the Labour Party few weeks to the April 14, 2007 gubernatorial election. Imansuangbon, a lawyer, the owner of a flourishing law chamber and a chain of schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja , is an upwardly mobile young businessman, property consultant as well as estate developer.
Being a politician who is rearing to go, he is very concerned about the state of affairs in the country. He is one of those young leaders who are running out of patience with the way things have been going in the country.
As he joins the ruling party, the issue is whether the system will give people like him a chance to make a difference in the convoluted polity.
Fiery Imansuagbon is noted for his forthrightness. A case in point is his endorsement of the assertion by the United States Secretary of State, Senator Hilary Clinton during her recent visit to Nigeria that the Nigerian government needed to sit up particularly in the area of anti-corruption crusade.
According to him, â€œwhat the top US diplomat told us is not abusive but the home truth that should make all of us including the leadership and the follower-ship to buckle up. It is a wake up call and the meaning of her assessment should not be lost on us.
If Nigeria is good, it will be good for all of us. We should address the issues that are bogging us down today as a people _Â Â issues like corruption, electoral malpractices, insecurity, kidnappings, religious fanaticism, militancy.
There are also many other problems that are yearning for attention which have to do with failure of leadership at all level.Â My candid advice to fellow Nigerians is that whatever Mrs Clinton might have said, we should prove her wrong through reformation of our character and attitudes and not by accusing her and her country of pronouncing heresy.â€
When asked to offer his advice to the political parties on how to consolidate democracy and address the expectations of the people, Imansuangbon said, the parties should immediately take all necessary steps to institutionalize internal democracy within their organs at all levels from ward to national levels. Concerning the PDP in particular, he said the ruling party â€œshould show good example being the leaderâ€.
He stressed â€œIts process of electing candidates and officials must be transparent and credible. It must strictly be in accordance with the best democratic practices. There must be level playing field for all. The party should lead the way in curbing money politics, thuggery, manipulation, intimidation and other vices. That is the only way to save our democracy and grow it to meet global standardsâ€.
Imansuangbon said the opposition parties are no better than the PDP in terms of upholding the ethos of democracy such as rule of law, principles and spirit of equity and justice. â€œMy humble self; I was a victim of this perversion in 2007.
In my home state, Edo, I laboured to build a political party, one of the so_called opposition parties only to be edged out on the eve of the election. I built the Action Congress (AC) right from the stage of ACD in the state; I used my money and my resources to build the party in the state, but what did I receive in return?
At the end of the day, two weeks to the election, I was shoved aside. They brought Governor Adams Oshiomhole from Labour Party or nowhere and gave him the governorship ticket after I had campaigned round the state as the AC candidate. It was like daylight robbery; there was no election; no party primary for us; they just snatched the ticket and gave it to him.
â€œThat goes to show the level of hypocrisy and leap service within the opposition parties. I must state that the PDP fared better than AC by far in Edo State as far as internal democracy is concerned. At least, there was governorship primary in the PDP where Professor Oserheimen Osunbor and other aspirants contested. That was not the case in the AC.
But in spite of the injustice meted out to me, I refused to rock the boat for AC and Oshiomhole because I didnâ€™t want to put myself first. Otherwise, I could have fought Oshiomhole and perhaps the story would have been different in Edo today. Oshiomhole didnâ€™t win the Edo governorship race because he is Oshiomhole. He triumphed largely because there was a party that had a structure throughout the state.
He inherited a party whoseÂ members had already been mobilised. If this is not the case, he should have remained in the Labour Party which was unknown to the people of Edo State at the time. If he had contested on the Labour Party platform, he would have lost woefully.â€
Imansuagbonâ€™s declaration is scheduled for his hometown, Ewohinmi, Esan District, Edo on Saturday October 3. Party supporters are expected to troop to the venue from all over the state as well as different parts of the country.
Imansuangbon attended Ago Iwoye Secondary School, Ijebu in Ogun State and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile_Ife where he studied Law. He was called to the Bar in 1991. He is married to Kate and they have four children.
He is also a philanthropist. He endowed the Kenneth Imansuangbon All Secondary Schools Competition in the Federal Capital territory. He also sponsors the Kenneth Imansuangbon National Essay Competition for Secondary Schools.