MR Austin Ilenre Emuan is an All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship aspirant in Edo State. In this interview, he speaks on his plans and prospects ahead of the forthcoming primaries of the party. Excerpts:
By Henry Umoru, Asst. Political Editor
What is your vision for the state?
My vision for the state is very simple; it is that which is hinged on bi-cultural policy, and this has to do with a vision that I have that is burning in my life like a passion, I would rather call it a burning passion.
My vision for Edo State is to have an Edo State that is one of the most industrialised states in the country and a compelling investment destination. And how do I intend to do this?
I intend to do this by democratizing development, by improving the infrastructure that we have, and this would be done by Edo people for Edo people; in other words, I wish to tap the intellectual and creative ability of Edo people such that whatever we have, whatever economy that we develop at the end of the day is created by Edo people for Edo people.
You are from Edo Central, to what extent have you reached out to people from other sections of the state?
Let me tell you, my approach in this regard is based on, and it is hinged on one of the major bi-cultural policies that we have which I want to use to drive the economy and what is the name of this policy, I call it Yours Ever. Yours Ever is about the word “EVER” that is Edo Village Economy Renewal, which means my focal point is in the village which is the core.
So from that point, I am going to use that one to bring about development so that it radiates from the core to the outside.
So regarding consultation I have also taken that strategy. My first point of call is the grassroots; as I speak to you, I have carried out an audit because as a development expert, the first thing you do when you want to develop an economic blueprint of any region or any state or any community or area is to carry out an audit.
I have carried out an audit of the existing situation and all the facilities that we have, I have them at my finger tips; I can tell you, I know where the valuable trees are, I know where the valuable cash crops are, I know the natural endowments as obtained in all the communities as well as on senatorial district basis.
How do you measure your aspiration against the background of agitations from Edo South for the governorship?
Well, you see you cannot prevent people from aspiring. What I have always said is that if we must live in harmony in this country and particularly in our state, the best thing is to face our realities.
Edo State is made up of three senatorial districts. These three senatorial districts are like three islands in the sea, though separated on the surface, they are very committed in the deep and that connection is what binds us together in brotherhood because we must not forget that we have the same ancestry.
What is your relationship with the governor?
It is cordial. The governor is a father of us all.
If the party zones the office to Edo South what would you do?
My party will not even do that based on the meeting we had; they have assured us that all aspirants will be given a level playing field, and we are all holding on to that. They cannot come around and say oh, it must be Edo South; they cannot say that.
What is your industrial blueprint for Edo State?
My vision is to see Edo State the most industrialised state in the country. The basis has been done by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; he has made efforts in the provision of infrastructure.
Advantage of the infrastructure
Edo State right now based on what Oshiomhole has done has been made a compelling investment destination.
But in the area of creating wealth, that is the area I want to concentrate on. I want to take advantage of the infrastructure he has put down and create wealth, not only creating wealth, not only creating robust wealth but distributing them equally such that when you are taxing, you are taxing wealth, you are not taxing rent.
Ahead of the primaries, what message do you have for the people of Edo State?
Well, the general message for the people of Edo State amongst whom the governor is also part of it and my co-aspirants is for us to, first of all, look forward to a very fair, credible and peaceful election ahead, this is what we have been playing for.
The fact that there is a level playing ground, people should not be intimidated by any one for any reason to support any one. They should feel free to support any candidate they so choose and in doing that they should look at the manifestos of the aspirants.
All we want in Edo State is to have a candidate that will be able to translate, create economic success such that individual satisfaction is hinged at the end of the day on a collective success.