BY SIMON EBEGBULEM,
Mr Sunny Aguebor (Bibi) is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo state and a well known business man and philanthropist. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, he commends the decision by the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in three troubled Northern states. Bibi who is celebrating his 50th birthday, also spoke on the politics of Edo state and other national issues. Excerpts:
You have always been known as a quiet person, but you just celebrated your 50th birthday in a grand style, how do you feel being 50?
You know, fifty years of existence is generally regarded as golden jubilee, so after reasoning through all my experience in life from where I started in life to the level I am today, I and my wife decided to give great honour to God and appreciate the society by marking my 50th birthday in four parts. First, we give immense thanks to God and bless his work on earth.
Then as a philanthropist, I had to visit again and celebrate with the less privileged members of our society. Thirdly, as a sports enthusiast and a good tennis player I sponsored the 1st Annual BIBI Open Tennis Tournament as the Benin Recreation Club. And the fourth part was to recognize the BIBI annual lecture series to reflect on the wellbeing of Edo State and Nigeria as a country.
You just mentioned the well being of your state (Edo) and Nigeria as part of the issues you reflect on, what is your assessment of the level of insecurity as we have it now under the Jonathan Presidency?
For me, as much as insecurity is multi faceted, the most precarious one is the insecurity of life and property. A constructive examination of this dimension of insecurity would suggest that its manifestations and symptoms may appear sudden, but it is a creation of years of decadence, maladministration, corruption, ineptitude and disregard for democratic values by the military and politicians alike.
From the overthrow of the Shagari regime in December 1983 till May 1999, we never had a democratically elected and inaugurated president.
The attendant nuisance and corruption have seriously affected the citizenry, especially when their rights are trampled upon with impunity by successive civilian and military administrations. The cumulative effect has now reared its head in the form of organized crimes against the state. So cases of kidnapping, armed struggles by Boko Haram sect in the North, wanton cases of armed robbery in the South East, and militant threats in the South South are connected to misrule.
So when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan assumed office as the elected president of Nigeria, he inherited these situations and has been tackling them headlong. I am also happy with his decision to declare state of emergency in Borno,Yobe and Adamawa because we cannot sit down and allow miscreants take over the affairs of this nation. They were granted amnesty and if they don’t want to accept it they should be flushed out for the interest of the nation.
We must avoid what happened in Mali where militants took over some parts of the country and I am sure that was why the President declared emergency in those affected states.The loss of life or death of any Nigerian by an act of crime is something that disturbs Godly minded people including Mr President.So his offering of amnesty to the Boko Haram insurgents is thus necessitated.
I know the clamour of the Northern elite also encouraged Mr. President to toe this line. But it is sad that the offer is being rejected by those who ordinarily should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. It is indeed very unfortunate.
What is your assessment of the ACN- led government in Edo State as a chieftain of the PDP?
As a democrat and proud member of the largest party in Africa the PDP, I must say that Edo State is suffering under a heavy weight of deceit and insincerity of the ACN -led Government. All we have in the state as we speak is the elevation of mediocrity, ineptitude, lies, tribalism, diabolism and use of brute force to a new level in governance.
You know the ACN is very good at cheap and desperate propaganda, and window dressing development, but the people of Edo State are wiser now because they can easily compare the genuine, sincere approach of the PDP to the deceit of ACN evil administration.
But your party the PDP is still in comatose, is there any hope for the party in the state?
I have always maintained that the only true party in Edo State and Nigeria is the PDP, all those who voted against our party in the last gubernatorial election have come to terms now with the reality of deception and jaundiced political propaganda of the ACN. They have seen that in the last local government elections. The whole sing-song of ‘one man, one vote’ is after all a ruse and political mischief.
We have received back over ten thousand of our hitherto defect or members especially at the grassroot who were lured by the carrot of the state. With utmost humility, I sincerely commend the indefatigable national leader of our great party, my political mentor and father, Chief Tony Anenih, an enigma with uncommon courage, long tempered, compassionate and consummate grassroot politician. He is the focal point and the quiet foundation of the party in the state.
Members decamping from PDP to ACN
I make bold to say that most of those who left the party in 2007 were ungrateful politicians who never had the party in mind. They are not party men but only looking for positions and after they went to the House of Reps, senate and even House of Assembly through the assistance of our National leader Chief Anenih, they abandoned the party for the ACN.
Sadly, when they started portraying elements of failure, they reasoned that they will not be given the ticket of the PDP again, they ran to the market square to decamp to the broom party. By their recent conducts, they are afraid that Edo People will use the same broom to sweep them out of the state, and the umbrella will not accommodate them because they are hypocrites.
But you will see them coming back again very soon because they are not principled politicians. On the 2015 presidential election, the PDP will rely substantially on the overall performance of President Goodluck Jonathan to succeed.
Interestingly, the president has not officially announced his intentions. If infrastructural development and inclusive leadership is what makes a leader, Jonathan would be re-elected come 2015.
In Edo State for instance, we are enjoying Federal presence and Edo people will vote for Jonathan again.
What are those those you feel has changed in the PDP to make the people want to vote for them in the state?
Today, the party in the State enjoys about 70 percent of the sympathy and support of the general electorate. This is because under the present chairman of the party Chief Dan Orbih, the party is being proactive in generating awareness against the wicked policies of the ACN government. For instance, a lot of businesses are folding up in the state and new ones are not being established because of the heavy tax burden by way of multiple and arbitrary taxation policy.
Also, the unprecedented mode and level of corruption, stealing of local government funds and selling of state government property across the country to the members of ACN are all issues Chief Dan Orbih has exposed to the public. The people now see PDP as providing a sincere, genuine, transparent leadership and have thus vowed to return the party to power in Edo State.But the PDP leadership must only identify and engage other very vibrant persons who will be able to work with the same zeal and vision of Chief Dan Orbih in reclaiming power. These must be people whose loyalty and sincerity to the party is unquestionable. The truth is if we all work with the same spirit of our national leader Chief Anenih, we cannot miss victory.
Are you not scared that the formation of APC will lead to the end of PDP at the Federal level?
Expectedly, the so called coalition is dead on arrival. Politicians with eagle eyes have clinically analyzed the insurmountable challenges that lie ahead of the party. For instance, in Edo State, during the last local government election, one of the most formidable stalwarts of the alliance Chief Solomon Edebiri of the ANPP was assaulted with impunity by thugs of the ACN, his vehicles, four of them were brazenly vandalized. Till date, no one has bothered to apologize to the easy going politician.
The squabble for control and dominance of the new coalition will be the first litmus test, which they will not likely survive. That squabble will tear the coalition into pieces. Currently, in our state, the esteem of governance has been lowered by the barrage of insults lampooned on self established business mogul, the Esama of Benin Kingdom,Chief Gabriel Igbinedion by the governor. That is against our tradition and the Benins will shock Oshiomhole very soon.