Big Interviews

I won’t lose sleep over Shaibu’s emergence as PDP factional guber candidate- Ighodalo

‘The courts are there to settle all disputes’

Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, Asue Ighodalo, who emerged after an ad-hoc delegate congress chaired and co-chaired by the governors of Zamfara and Delta states, Dauda Lawal and Sherriff Oborevwori respectively, speaks on his plans for the state ahead of the September election. In this interview monitored by David Lawani on Arise TV, Ighodalo said he would not lose sleep over the acclaimed emergence of Philip Shaibu in a PDP parallel congress



Are you the preferred candidate of Governor Godwin Obaseki?

This issue of the governor’s preferred candidate we have talked about it over and over again, and I will keep talking about it as long as people keep asking me about it. I say very clearly that I came into this race on my own steam myself. A few of my friends, and some elders have been talking about it over a period, and I then prayed about it and discussed it with my family. I decided to do it. I have been in public-related offices over the years. In Edo State particularly, I was in the economic team and I have been relating in and around the economic team since 2008. I was on Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s economic team from 2008 to 2016. I was asked by Governor Obaseki to chair the Alaghodaro which is organised every year in the state. Periodically, I advise the government in place. I was the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group was four years. There are a lot of public activities that I have been engaged in on infrastructure development. All of these calls to me when I started thinking. But I suspect that for many people, I think it is convenient to set the narrative to distract us from the main issue. I have also said before that many more aspirants are closely related to Governor Obaseki and even friendlier to him than myself. But I never understood why this toga of being the governor’s preferred candidate was put on my head. But, as far as that may go, I don’t think it is a problem anymore. I have managed to reach out to the people of Edo State for them to know who I am. What I am about, and what I have for the people of Edo State.  It is my thinking about social issues, our economic issues, unemployment, and security. I am quite clear and I think the people of Edo State now know who I am, and know what I stand for. Governor Godwin Obaseki and I have been friends for over 40 years, and I respect him tremendously. I believe he has respect for me too. I have worked as a corporate lawyer on the same side of translation with him, and we have been friends, and that was how he invited me to be in his economic team. But be that as it may, I came into this process by myself and on my own steam. The courage from my friends in Edo state and I have not regretted one moment coming into this race. I see a path for the state in which I can contribute to moving the state to prosperity. I am glad I have come into this process and I will give it my all.



How do you feel that the deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, organised his election in his house and was declared the winner? Are you bothered, disturbed, and concerned that it could affect the eventual situation?

I didn’t know there was anything else happening in anybody’s house. Definitely, as a loyal member of our party, I won’t want to be part of anything that will bring disrespect to it. But I have it in my mind that the party will deal with that issue. It is not something I should lose sleep over, or start talking about. When you invite guests to your house and residence for an event, you can call it whatever you wish. But I know the party will deal with that issue.



How do you address the issue of delegates who claimed they were denied access thereafter forcing them to another local?

As far as I know, I think the accreditation process went pretty well, and you know we went through the ward congresses where we elected three ad-hoc delegates from each ward in 192 wards, and it came to about 572 delegates that were elected. The result of that election went up to the NWC of the party, and those results were validated and confirmed. Based on those results and delegates selected, the national delegates, a week after. The results were also validated and confirmed, and the list of the elected delegates that will take part was confirmed by the NWC of the party. It was publicised and circulated to all the members of Edo State that were involved in this process. That was the list that was used to accredit delegates to the primaries because I saw everybody with photographs and particulars on the list. Everybody that was on the list went into the accreditation centre and got accredited. Those who were accredited were then led into the venue of the primary. It follows the constitution of the party. It followed the guidelines set down for the primary election. I would like to commend the NWC of the party. I think through this process, this has been my experience with the party. The whole process went well, and I give kudos to the NWC. What I saw during the primary, I didn’t see any proper or validated delegates complaining.  Anybody can draw up a list in their bedroom and say that is the list of the delegates. Like I said, there is a process. We should always act by the law we set. If you join a party or an organisation then you must abide by the laws and rules and policies of that organisation.  We have a constitution in our party. People stroll into the accreditation centre and demand to be accredited. We are not in a jungle. There are rules and regulations, and we will abide by those rules and regulations. I think nearly all of the party members who came from far and near abided by those rules and regulations. I think we had smooth and transparent primaries supervised by governors Dauda Lawal and Sheriff Oborevwori.



Are you concerned that the division in your party this time might impact, not positively?

The consequential effects of what happened somewhere like I said before, the party has an effective internal mechanism for dealing with things like that. The party will deal with it. It will be fair and just. I don’t think anybody should just wake up and want to do something contrary to what the party has set down. We are not in the jungle anymore. We are not in the 18th century when everything was brute and force. We are in the 21st century where we should act according to rules and regulations.  So, like I said, I think the party will deal with the issues. And I cannot lose sleep over this. We will get the guys together so that we can prepare for the election proper.



What is your take on the move to stop the delegate’s congress?

I think there will always be contestation and disputes in any gathering of a group of people.  The issue is how those disputes are resolved. I said earlier that I have confidence that our party has a strong internal mechanism for resolving disputes. As the last resort, we have our courts when cases become justiciable, and from the lower court to the Supreme Court, we have a court system that will again deal with these issues. We must try as much as possible to abide by the rule of law. I became aware after the primary that there was an ex parte notice in court by persons who were trying to get an injunction to stop the process, and the court said the right thing. The court validated the position of the Federal High Court, and I think that was the proper thing to confirm my position that we are not in the 18th Century. There are processes and precedents, and there is a rule in the court that the hierarchy follows the process. Like I said, I am not too worried once we abide by the rule of law. Things will take their natural course.  People may disagree but it will be resolved.  I am not so pessimistic. If you are looking at it from the outside, things may seem the same. But there are rules and regulations. There is respect in the process. Most people follow the rules. But things are not as daunting as they appear. Like I said earlier, I am not as worried as many people may think at this time.



How are you driving the move for funding for projects and infrastructure in Edo state? The by-pass and Warri-Sapele Road in Benin and in and out of the state?

There are different and creative ways of funding. If you remember the government of Edo started a concession arrangement with a group of DFI on how to fund the Benin-Asaba Road. I have discussed this before. The Benin- Auchi Road. We will find the infrastructure finance. The issue with raising funds is for the funders to trust the process. And if they see there is transparency in governance and they trust the process, and they know there is a way in which the money will come back, at the end of that process. The money won’t leak and it will go for the process you want it to go for. Then you will find funding. I am not too worried about funding. I have been raising funds commercially and corporately in the last nearly 30 years for project financing and transactions. So, I am not too worried about finding appropriate cheap funding to attract infrastructure development to Edo State. There are all kinds of funding. Green and creative funding. There is a lot of money out there. There is at least N17trn capital out there that is earning zero interest. That we can attract to the governance trust process. If there is transparency in the governance process. I don’t worry too much about that.  We need to be focused and put the right team in place. Identify the problems of the people and meet the people at the points of their distress. There is so much that must be done.



How authentic is the process of your primary?

The verification of our process for the primary is that all the aspirants participated.  We had effective and transparent primaries.  So, I am not as bothered about anything.



What is your vision for Edo State? What kind of governance model are you going to adopt?

The governance process will be fully inclusive. Our government will be accessible. We will go down to the grassroots. We will talk to our people and find out what the problem points are. We will have three regional development agencies across the state. The key thing is to look up what do we intend to do to alleviate the sufferings of our people. What are those things to move Edo State forward? We will start this process of moving Edo State from where we are today into prosperity. There are so many things we can do. We can start with tourism, and I think when we talk to Edo people, three things bother them the most. Security, unemployment, and inflation. There are softer issues like water and light, and then the issue of roads. So, we have identified the major issue, and we will look at those developmental needs that will catalyse the state.

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