Dr. Leroy Chuma Edozien is one of the few Nigerians, who are both medical doctors and lawyers. With a Ph.D. in law, the distinguished gynaecologist is also among the very few who practice Medicine and Law simultaneously and excelled in both professions. Dr. Edozien, a nephew to the Asagba of Asaba, who holds degrees in Basic Sciences, Medicine, and Law from the universities of Ibadan, London, and Glasgow, served as a medico-legal expert in UK, Ireland, and Australian courts. During a visit to the corporate headquarters of Vanguard Newspapers, recently, Dr Edozien, who is aspiring to govern Delta State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for which he joined politics fully in 2017, shared his thoughts on the politics of the state, his mission and vision for Delta, why he supports power rotation and is willing to do a single term of four years, if elected.
By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor
PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP leaders claim that Delta is a PDP state. Why are you aspiring on the plank of the APC?
Personally, I have always been on the left side of the political stage, left of the centre. So it was natural for me to align with the progressives. The second is, going back in history, my grandfather, late Chief N.O.E Edozien, was a member of the Action Group in the late 50s. Then our state was under Western Region. We enjoyed late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s free education and other programmes. I am only continuing that heritage of my family’s contribution to national development.
Again, I chose APC because of my interest in serving the people of Delta State. If I wanted to further my own nest, it will be much easier to go to the party in power in the state. It is an uphill task removing an incumbent party that has been in power for close to two decades. It is a measure of my commitment to service and development of politics in Delta State that I am prepared to go to a party that is not in power in the state. Besides, I do not think the PDP has a record after all these years of leading the state. Bearing in mind the resources that are available to Delta State, it should be one of the best or the leading state in Nigeria in terms of development.
What are your chances of picking the APC ticket?
My chances are excellent because, first of all, you have to look at what the people of Delta State want. People are tired of the old style politicians. People are looking for the new breed, new ideas, personalities, and thinking. People want something fresh and people are tired of promises. They want somebody they will look in the eye and say we trust this man and believe what he says. We have seen his track record, his level of performance and his leadership qualities. We think this is the right man for us. I will bring that newness, that freshness that dynamism and creativity people are craving for. My party fully realizes that it cannot win Delta State if it continues to offer the same thing it offered in the past. My party is fully aware that to displace the incumbent governor and occupy Osadebey House, it ought to offer something different from the old and I represent that newness and something that is different.
What will you be doing differently in Delta State, if elected?
First of all, I will make my government, the government of the people, for the people and by the people. We will offer politics of service to the people. It will be inclusive governance. And it will be accountable and transparent such that people can see that the resources of the state are being used for their benefit. If you go to Delta State, there is an abject poverty of infrastructure. Tell me one beautiful road in Delta State. And yet this is where oil money is coming from. This is where agricultural produce used to come from.
What I will do differently will include changing the mindset of the people who are actually running the government and the mindset of those who are being served by the government. It is a very important thing. It is not easy to achieve but it is achievable if the man at the top is leading by example.
On what stands him out having been out of the state and country for long
One of my strong credentials is that of education and training. Three of my books: The Labour Ward Handbook; Biopsychosocial Factors in Obstetrics and Gynaecology; and Self-determination in Health Care have been short-listed for awards. Self-determination in Health Care is a landmark book because it is the first of its type in medical law and this book has been recognized for its original contribution to scholarship.
You can always tell somebody’s abilities from his track records and I am just trying to show that I have shown promise from school. When you just come back from England and join politics, people will always ask: ‘What does he know?’ And if you are light skinned as I am, people will say he is Oyinbo pepper.
I can identify with the man in the street because I have been with them from when I was young. Before I went to St Joseph’s School, Nsukka, I was living with my grandmother in Ibadan, partly because my father was moving around places.
I founded the African Forum for Quality in Healthcare, AFRIQHER, and initiated the campaign Promoting Thrombosis Awareness in Nigeria, PROTRAIN. I generate seed funding for AFRIQHER and PROTRAIN from Endowment for Training and Finance Education in Reproduction, ENTER, which I established in 1999.
I do lecturing too at the University of Manchester. As part of my legal work, I have been an expert at Supreme Court of Australia. Carrying the people along with us is part of service and development.
I was practicing medicine until late 2017. Right now, I am a full-time politician. I practiced law but in an academic role. In academic law, you produce materials which barristers and judges use in determining cases. I have been in courts in UK and Canada as expert supporting judges in arriving at decisions in clinical negligence cases.
Don’t you think that your hailing from Delta North as the serving governor, who is going for the second term, may hurt your ambition as people fear you may want to do a second term, meaning 12 years for Delta North?
It does not follow. When you say if you win, you will do a second term, you are buying into that old idea we are working against. Delta state is a microcosm of Nigeria. The same way we have ethnic diversity in Nigeria, that is how we have in Delta State. There is clamour for equitability in the distribution of national resources across the country, so you have it in Delta State. If we are able to manage Delta state properly and adopt that legacy approach in Delta state, we are showing the rest of Nigeria this can be done and be done well.
Going back to the core of the question, if we are able to sustain that principle of zoning, it becomes institutionalised and that will give everybody in Delta State a sense of belonging. We have to maintain that position and let every senatorial zone have the opportunity to lead the state.
So, I support zoning. More importantly, I support rotational leadership because zoning has a certain connotation. I support the principle of rotational leadership.
Will you do a term and leave, if elected?
I have always expressed that willingness. I did so at a well-attended meeting of Delta North APC senatorial district. Delta CentraI and Delta South have had eight years. If Delta North does another four years, it will be eight years. Once you complete the eight years circle, it becomes institutionalised. I want to be remembered as a person who consolidated that institutionalisation. I do not want to be remembered as someone who came and put sand-sand in the garri. That is why I am emphasising this point of integrity. My number one selling point is integrity.
After many years of study as a medical doctor, why did you read Law up to Ph.D level?
I have always had interest in law. If I had my way, I would have probably done humanities because when I was in secondary school, I was better in humanities than in science but my school teachers and principals took me to science. My family also wanted me to do science. Despite reading medicine, I still have interest in humanities that is why I am always writing articles and commentaries for radio stations. I also recognized a gap in Medical Law and I said this is a gap I can cover. There has been a growing need for scholarship in this area and I said this could be an area I have interest in. So I combined my medical and legal interest. My interest in law is academics.