By Ben Ogbemudia
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State, Hon. Etinosa Igiebor, has expressed concern over the health of the party in the state and the strength of its role as an opposition party.
Igiebor, who spoke with ThisNigeria yesterday said it is an open secret that the party is “not well” in Edo State and would require the emergence of competent and effective officials to provide fresh motivation and direction, as well as improve its fortunes ahead of the next year’s general election.
Igiebor, an international business mogul and philanthropist, blamed the problem on the failure of the state leadership to reconcile the different factions within the party over disagreements, some of which stemmed from the management of the 2020 Governorship election and the just concluded state-wide primaries.
“I can tell you after communicating with the party members that people are worried, but they cannot speak,” he said when asked about the party’s role as the opposition in the state.
“But I am the type that matches words with action. I am a western trained. I grew up in the west. I know my African traditions. I am indebted to the doctrine of the African traditional teachings. I am close to the traditional home. I know to have the best result is not always the case of looking at who is my friend or who you think you need there. I think you should be looking at the people, who can give you the desired results. It’s on this note that I strongly believe that the party is not well. To me, I think it’s an open secret, everybody knows that.”
He continued that this realization and the need to revive the party with strong management informed his decision to vie for the position of Secretary, particularly since he believed the incumbent no longer has what it takes to organize the party to be competitive in elections.
He said: “In the last congress. I contested for the APC state Secretary. The reason I did that was not necessarily because I failed. I was the best person to be there. It was after reaching out, knowing full well that the display from the last 2020 general election, the party did so poorly. I looked at the back office and how the party was managed with the resources that were pumped into the system. I saw a lot of lapses. Huge lapses on the part of the people who handled the situation and I felt if I had to look around in the party EXCO. I had to look at the most viable part of the system.”
He continued: “Then, I realised that the secretary position will help to cushion the challenges. That was why I ran. Fortunately, I was able to reach out to the state stakeholders, reach out to the grassroots. I was the candidate to beat. The incumbent then who is still the current party secretary, I felt he doesn’t really have what it takes to be the man, perhaps he has overstayed his welcome because if the party was to lose the way we lost, it means we didn’t use the right hands to achieve the aims and objectives.”
“But it’s just funny that in our political system, the amount of resources and the money that we pumped in to achieve an aim. But for us, politics is not a retirement game. It’s more like a prospective futuristic game that we are involved in that can create a better future for the unborn kids. Then the issues of money missing. No accountability. No proper planning. We lost. I felt there was a need to have slight changes, but the leaders of the party felt different, and they felt it was right to give the incumbent a second chance and I am sure now, the party is still in a very bad shape.”
He dismissed exit talks from the APC, saying his approach to politics is driven by conviction and a genuine desire to bring about positive changes, not an attempt to obtain personal profits.
“I am a businessman. First and foremost, I have never gotten a dime from the APC. I have never done one contract for the APC since I have been in the party. I have spent a lot to support the party whether I am contesting or supporting someone. But from the school of thoughts where I am from, the western world; we want to have policies that can drive the system to work for the betterment of everybody.”
“I have never seen politics as a way to earn money, either taking money from an aspirant or being desperate to be seen and recognized because you want to be known and make money. I live in the West. I have been to like 60 countries. I have foreign investors everywhere. I believe if I am holding a political office, I will be able to use that to leverage investors and there I will make good money without anybody telling me I have taken money from them, and I can also transfer some to people who I feel deserve to exist and live a good life.”
“So, when people look at politics as a way to earn a living, get gratifications and get money that may probably end up spending it within the next one year, I look at building institutions and building platforms. I have been in APC from day one. I still remain in APC.
I am not the sort of guy that will want to because you did X,Y,Z at the end of the day I want to leave the party. Leave the party for who?”
He reiterated his support for the party in the 2023 General Elections, describing his ties to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC. He also advised the leadership of the Edo APC to seriously consider the task of rebuilding and helping the emergence of worthy successors and next-in-lines with the profile and competence to unite the party and deliver a winning agenda at the polls.