By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon is the Edo South senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the February election. He was a member of the House of Representatives representing Oredo Federal Constituency between 2007 and 2011 and later Chief of Staff to former Governor Adams Oshiomhole between 2012 and 2016. Obahiagbon, in this interview, speaks on his aspiration.
What is the motivation behind your intention to contest for the Senate?
The motivation cannot be far-fetched and it’s the visceral desire to serve my people. That exactly is my galvanizing primus mobilu. I have represented my people in different capacities from the state House of Assembly, where I spent eight years, to the House of Representatives where I represented Oredo Federal Constituency and my record of service speaks to a cornucopious and enviable performance in the diligent discharge of our sociological duties to our people. I was also Chief of Staff to former governor of Edo State and the National Chairman of our great party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, under whose tenure we put our nose to the grind stone in the radical and holistic transformation of Edo State.
You are contesting against an incumbent. How do you think you can defeat him?
That you are an incumbent does not make you unbeatable. Did President Buhari not trounce Goodluck Jonathan? What difference has the incumbent made that will make the people of Edo South want him to return? Benin people need a vibrant and utilitarianly vocal representation far from what we have been getting in the last three years. Besides, the political consciousness of Nigerians has grown beyond the power of incumbency. Our democracy has evolved in the last 16 years to the extent that who is in power is not the most important issue but what he or she has been able to do that has positively affected the people. And when I say the people, it is not just about their welfare. I am also talking in terms of the primary responsibility of a lawmaker which is to make laws for the wellbeing of Nigerians and when you aggregate the views and positions of individual lawmakers, especially when they are all for the general good of the people, you will get a result that will improve the development of our country and the growth of democracy.
Across the country, there are cases where incumbents have lost elections; so contesting against an incumbent in Edo South will not make any difference. I am ready for this election. Edo is an APC state. Thanks to the redoubtable and nonpareil performance of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole whilst he served as governor and, with the enormous developmental projects of his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki, across the three senatorial districts of the state, the issue of incumbency does not exist. And in any case, the vast majority of Edo citizens are ineffably agog with my God ordained imminent political peregrination to the epicenter of national political piazza where they are in urgent and dire need of a representative seized with a salubrious spirit of political audacity, intrepid parliamentary skills, a cultural ambassador with cognate experience, an accessible and humble parliamentarian that will be a bridge in caboodle between Abuja and the land of Igodomigodo and, in my candidacy, they have found that traditional egregore.
So, right here in Edo South, incumbency shall be roundly demystified and put in electoral chains by the votes of the people. And don’t also forget that I am not going to the National Assembly as a first timer like some other candidates. I am going there as a ranking member, having been in the House of Representatives and if I go as a ranking senator, it is to the advantage of both the APC, Edo South and Edo State for that matter, because Senator Francis Alimikhena from Edo North will also be returning as a second term senator and that means APC from Edo State will have two ranking senators and you know what that means for our great party in terms of becoming coruscating loyal ambassadors to the ideals of our party and not constituting a distracting opposition to the President as we currently have.
How much support are you getting from your party ahead of this election?
Even before I emerged as the candidate of the APC, most of the leaders of the party, if not all, already believed in me and gave their wholehearted blessings to my senatorial bid and this is because I have been very committed to this party and many of them believe giving me the ticket was a reward for my loyalty. They did not just say it in words; they also backed it up with action by mobilizing members of the party to vote for me in the direct primary the APC conducted. This was led by the governor himself, our indefatigable and wake and see Governor Godwin Obaseki, who queued in the public to nominate me. So I have been having the greatest support expected. But beyond the reward for loyalty is the belief that Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon is the right man for the job. Everybody in Edo State and Nigeria believe that I distinguished myself as a House of Representatives member and we need just now senators that can stand up and be counted when it matters most.
What is your take on the growing menace of vote-buying?
The allegation of vote-buying is not a good testimony about our democratic process and it is regrettable. But I believe that INEC and Mr President have the requisite goodwill to fight it and possibly extirpate the ravaging gangrene from our political ceramics. This is not to downplay the robust role the National Assembly can and should play in the smashing of this burgeoning gorgon medussa that has become vote-buying.
There have been divergent views on restructuring. What is your own perception?
I certainly believe that Nigeria will be the better for it if we wean the Federal Government of its fatty accretions. There are lots of issues that the Federal Government has no business handling. It is my considered opinion that some fundamental surgical operations need to be performed on our lopsided federation to inter the bones of injustices that have bedevilled our federal configuration and until this is done, our centrifugal cleavages would be continuously apotheosized over our centripetal agglutinants.