CHIEF Francis Inegbeneki is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State. Inegbeneki, who is also the publisher of the Mid-West Times, a weekly tabloid based in Benin, in this interview, speaks on the need for Esan ethnic group to produce the next governor of the state.
By Gabriel Enogholase
There seems to be tension regarding the senatorial zone to produce the next governor of the state in 2016. What is your view on it?
The tension was expected. As the election approaches, you are bound to see agitations and each senatorial district is struggling to produce the next governor of the state.
If we have to look at the issue critically from a positive stand point, you will realise that it is the turn of Edo Central Senatorial District to produce the next governor. Edo State has been a very peaceful state and the ethnic groups in the state have lived peacefully with one another. The governorship position of the state has invariably been rotational and I commend our leaders for this.
Chief John Oyegun spent one year and six months before his administration was truncated by the military. But when democracy was restored, the Bini said since Oyegun’s regime was truncated, they should be allowed to complete his tenure and as such they should take the first shot.
After him, Chief Lucky Igbinedion governed for two terms. The governorship position went to Edo Central Senatorial where Prof. Osarieme Osunbor comes from. Unfortunately, his administration was short-lived.
Power shift to Edo Central
After him, Adams Oshiomhole emerged as governor. Now that Comrade Oshiomhole is almost completing his tenure, equity demands that power should now shift to Edo Central. Osunbor only spent one year and six months.
The argument against Edo Central is that the zone is the least populated with 16 percent of the population unlike Edo-South and North. What do you make of such argument?
Such calculation does not add up. The so called numeric strength of Edo South was created by the late Abel Guobadia. I don’t want to dwell on that anyway. Our son Prof. Oserhiemen Osunbor won the election in 2008 because Edo South voted for him and Edo North voted for him. There is no section of the state that can win election without depending on others.
I am again, passionately appealing to our brothers in Edo-South to support us. The South has produced the National Chairman of the APC, they have the Inspector-General of Police and also a ministerial nominee.
On the recent defection of prominent PDP members to the APC
The APC is the party to beat in Nigeria. We have been yearning for change and APC is the only party that can bring about change. That is why everybody wants to belong to the party. However, we will be closing our doors soon against some elements.
Would you say that Oshiomhole has been fair to Edo Central in the last seven years?
I will say that he has been good to us. But I am appealing to him to do more because we need more developments in Esan land. In the area of school rehabilitation, he did well. He also reconstructed the Ewohimi/Igueben road that was abandoned for over 35 years. You can now drive within two minutes from Ewohimi to Igueben.
There is also Usugbemi/Ugbegun road that was also fixed. We need more roads to connect our communities. If all governors had performed like him, the story would have been different today. I can tell you that in terms of appointments, he has been very fair to us also.
The Head of Service who is the number four man in government is an Esan man. We also have Esan sons occupying important positions in his administration.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration
Four months is not enough to rate an administration. The PDP almost destroyed this country. And it is going to take some time to fix all these things. I want Nigerians to be patient with President Buhari because I am hopeful that things will get better. His pace may be slow, but things are looking up. We must not also ignore the role played by former President Goodluck Jonathan in ensuring that the country is on the right path today.