BY Charles Kumolu & Gabriel Enogholase
The unionist turned politician seeking to trudge the path taken by the outgoing governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole comes across as smart and savvy. Indeed, he exudes confidence in exciting measures maybe because the incumbent was like him a successful unionist, whatever that means. Whether as the President of Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PEGASSAN, or President-General of Trade Union Congress, Peter Esele, endeared himself to many with his intellect and pragmatic views on national concerns.
It was this appreciable disposition that saw him employ his corporate brand of activism during the various industrial actions during his stewardship as a union leader.So, when reports emerged of his interest in the governorship race in Edo State, not a few were taken aback. Two encounters with Vanguard in Lagos and Benin offered Esele, a known progressive, who worked at the highest level in multinational oil companies the avenue to put every doubt regarding his aspiration to rest.
It’s something I want to do
‘’ I am interested in becoming the governor of Edo State. People may describe it as perceived intention, but all I know is that I am interested in being the governor of Edo State. First I am from Edo State, I am qualified by age, experience, exposure, educational qualification and all criteria prescribed by the constitution of Nigeria. By this, I am putting every aura of doubt surrounding it to rest. I need to be clear on that. It is something I want to do and it is something I am going to do,” he excitedly said. But what could be the attraction for Esele at a time when the economy that is believed to be the attraction to public offices is gravely troubled?
“I want to be able to contribute my quota based on my exposure, based on my experience,” he said. On his preparation: On that note, he declared: “I am prepared for the job and I am contesting on the platform of APC. It is not just a matter of me wanting to be governor, I am prepared for it and I want to hit the ground running from day one. I always laugh last. Whether people accept my arguments now doesn’t matter but I know that in the long run, the things I said would be termed plausible. That for me is a driving force.”
Zoning ’ll not bring the best
On the agitation to produce the next governor by the Central Senatorial District where he comes from, Esele frowned at any move to sectionalise the race, noting that every eligible Edo indigene is entitled to take part. He said: “I always laugh when they say it is the turn of a Benin man, it is the turn of the Esan man. Whether they like it or not, Edo people are a minority and the only thing that can make a minority stand out in the pack is education. It is the ability to be different from others and do something unique. It is left for the people to chose, who they want. That is why my posters in Benin showed that we are one heritage and one Edo.”
Buttressing his assertion, Esele noted thus: “I always have a national approach to things. When you clamour too much for zoning, you end up not bringing out your best for that position. Whether people like it or not, I think Oshiomhole has taken governance to the next level in Edo State. It is not possible to please everybody. If you look at where Edo State was and where the state is now, you will know that Oshiomhole has elevated governance to a higher pedestal in the state. Oshiomhole cannot solve all the problems in Edo State but he can lay the foundation towards addressing some of the problems in Edo State. Whoever that is going to come is going to build on what Oshiomhole has put on ground.
I can’t take away Oshiomhole’s right
Asked if he is not jittery over claims that the incumbent governor seems to have a preferred successor, Esele said: “I have heard people criticise him but I will not say that because I want to be governor of Edo State that I will also take away the right of the governor.” Continuing, he added: ‘’ I will not allow the governor to take away my right and I am not going to take away the right of the governor. The governor has the right to be interested in who succeeds him. So if he says he is backing a particular candidate, you can’t take that right from him. It is his right to do that.”
‘’Structures don’t fall from heaven. I want to have people of like minds who believe that one has the capacity to do XYZ and I have that. And all the changes in the world were never brought about by the majority. Changes are brought about by a few people who sat down and said this is the direction we have to go. When Barack Obama came up, people wondered if he had a structure but he later won. That is why I said that I want to enjoy the journey. The first thing is to ask whether I like what I am doing. It is not compulsory that a leader knows everything but is important that a leader has a team that will support whatever he is doing.”