By Gabriel Enogholase, Benin
CHIEF SOLOMON EDEBIRI was the revelation during the 2012 governorship election debate organized for candidates. He had contested the election under the platform of the now defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), a party that was not so popular in Edo State. He however came third in the governorship election that was held that year on April 22nd.
Buoyed by the outcome of his past elections, Edebiri has once again thrown his hat into the Edo State governorship ring for the July, 2016 election. His plans and what he intends to do endear him to the people of the State. He said: “I am a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), my first and primary assignment now is to convince leaders of the party and members of the party that I am best suited for the governorship position.
“Looking at the past where the PDP is coming from, the party certainly needs a man that can foster unity of the party; a man who can create hope for the people; a man that re-build the party; if you look at the backdrop and where we are coming from, the party needs a great unifier; PDP does not need anyone that will divide the party into factions.”
“So, our primary focus now is to ensure that we go to the primary successfully and we go to the field. I enjoy a lot of public support and I am very confident that the PDP can trust me with their mandate, Edo People will trust me with their larger mandate to govern the state. That informs my commitments to this struggle. The people have watched me over the years, they have seen my antecedents and they believe that this is the time.”
When asked to comment on how his party can avoid the mistakes of the past which caused it to remain in opposition for almost eight years, he stated that every political party usually has its own peculiarity adding that individual differences was part of the democratic process.
“So, if APC is having one or two differences, I don’t see it as crisis. APC has done their eight years, PDP had served their eight years tenure before, so the people of Edo State will decide who they will get their mandate in 2016 election.
“In 2007 and 2012, it was Adams Oshiomhole’s name that won him the mandate and not the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). PDP should also look for a name that can sell the party and use that person’s popularity to sell the party. PDP must be very careful not to select anybody that the people may not want. I am not speaking for other candidates, but I am saying that if they can trust me with their mandate, the people will be grateful to the PDP by voting the party. He stated that the state could grow its Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, outside VAT. In his words:
“We seem to be limiting our IGR to VAT, taxing people; market women, taxi drivers and hotel owners etc. The best way to generate income for the state is to make it an exporting and manufacturing state. It is not wrong if Edo State becomes the largest producer of rice in West Africa, exporting millions of bags of rice in a month. It is a simple mathematics, if I ship out 10million bags of rice every month and I tax each bag N500, do you know how much billions of naira that will give us every month and do I need to tax anybody, do I need to go and tax the market women?
“If we take one commercial crop, for instance, cassava in Uhuwmnode, timber in Ovia North-East, groundnut in Akoko-Edo and we grow and harvest it and commercialise it, then Edo State will become industrialised and a tourism destination.
“There is no exhibition hall that can properly take 500 exhibitors at the same time, so why do we bring in international exhibitors? There are changes that we will bring into governance and we will not tax that woman in the market to pay N50, N100 per day. We will bring in fresh ideas into the state and make sure that they are utilized. That is the only way we can fight unemployment from the streets, that is the only way we can get the youths engaged and that is the only way we can reduced youth restiveness, armed robberies, fight poverty, and reduce it to a manageable level.”
On god fatherism in politics, he insisted that his party, the PDP was dis-emphasising the issue god- fatherism. “People can be rest assured that those you called god-fathers now sit down and listen to the people. They now asked questions, the days of saying that ‘we have said it, go and do it’ are over. The people now asked, there are five PDP aspirants in the field, who do you think will serve the state better, the leader is going to ask Peter, ask James or about ten people, and if he discovers that eight of the ten will be one side, he will take his decision. I sincerely believe that once the PDP National Convention ratifies the Ekweremandu’s report as it is, I think the party will be on the verge of returning back to the people,” he stated.