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Edo 2024 Guber: Edo People Will Vote For Personality, Integrity, Antecedent Not Party – Edaghese

Ojieva Ehiosun

Barrister Edaghese Mathew, was a chieftain of the Labour Party with a strong voice as a social critics, a political leader in Edo State, an advocate of good governance and a human rights activist.

In this exclusive interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, Edaghese speaks on the forthcoming Edo governorship election, the battle before the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), their candidates, and why Esan people must be careful not to choose the wrong candidate.

He also accused the leaders of the Labour Party in Edo State of destroying the party because of personal greed.

Excerpts: Candidates of the three major political parties in Edo State have emerged for the September 2024 guber polls, moreso, the battle has shifted to Edo Central for the APC and the PDP to produce the next governor, what do you think is the way forward? The way forward is for the Edo electorates to sit down, X-ray the characters and antecedents of the candidates presented by the two major political parties.

I am restricting my assessment to the two major political parties because we have more than five political parties fielding candidates for this election, but every sound mind will understand that electing a governor for a state as complicated and sophisticated as Edo State is not an all comers affair.

We know that each of the parties is formidable enough to produce the governor, but I am restricting my assessment to the two major political parties; the APC and PDP.

Although Labour Party is coming up, it stands no chance of winning the election, especially when they committed political suicide of going against the zoning arrangements. I told those who cared to listen that any party that goes against the expectation of the people stands no chance at the polls.

I think the Labour Party walked into a trap by picking the candidate of their party from Edo South that produced the incumbent governor who is going to exit power in few months time after spending eight years in office.

Any serious party that wants to get the support and sympathy of the people would not be that arrogant. Edo State does not reward arrogance, rather we punish it. So as we speak, the next governor of the state would emerge from the two major contenders; Barrister Dr. Asue Ighodalo of the PDP and Senator Monday Okpebholo of the APC.

But who do you think will win the election between these two Esan sons looking at the party, personality and the antecedents of the candidates? I have a long experience in politics, but I will not decide for the people of Edo State, I will not be the mouthpiece of the electorates, I have not been appointed by either of the candidates as the director of their campaign team, so I’m not going to sit down here and make a proclamation on the level of their strengths or weaknesses.

All I can say is that a winner will emerge between the two. I will not want to pitch tent as we speak now, you know I was in the Labour Party before they committed political suicide during the primaries and I withdrew my support for them. I am still evaluating and assessing, and when the time comes, I will make a pronouncement.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu wanted power, and he got it, but looking at the hardship in the country, do you think Nigerians would want to hear anything called APC again? The vote in Edo State, like I told you earlier, is not going to be anchored on sympathy and support for political parties, it’s going to be on the character and personality of the candidates.

So Edo people won’t vote party, they will vote character, integrity, dignity, intelligence, productivity and managerial ability. A party cannot speak, a party cannot act, it is the governor that will perform, not the party. A performing governor will make his party popular, and a governor that is lacking in vision, no matter how he is packaged by the political party that brought him, the people will not consider him worthy to rule them. So the APC or PDP is not the yardstick people are going to look at, it is the antecedents and pedigrees of the candidates on the ballot.

The candidates of the APC and the PDP are from Esan land, don’t you think it will be difficult for an Esan man to choose between the two brothers? There should be no argument on which part of Esan land the governor should emerge from, Esan is one, Edo Central is one, we have a common ancestry, and nobody should try to divide us.

I’m an Esan man, Esan is not divided in their dream to produce the next Governor and nobody can break that unity. The gimmick to divine Esan land by some politicians will not work. Esan people will choose between the two candidates. Esan land would put our foot forward for the best candidate.

APC seems to be banking on federal might to win election in Edo State, do you see that working? I don’t listen to street rumours, I don’t think they would make that mistake. Somebody from outside cannot come here and impose a governor on us simply because he or she is occupying a top position.

Edo people will determine who becomes their governor. I don’t believe someone somewhere will come and change the will of the people. As we speak, the ban on campaigns has not been lifted, let’s see if campaign starts whether the two political parties will not campaign.

If we don’t see their campaign posters and jingles on the radio, then we can believe the rumour. Even a mad man will not make the mistake of getting a ticket to rule Edo State without running a campaign.

Are you ruling out the power of the presidency? I will not build my comment on speculation or expectation or what will happen or probability, what I will do is to work with the available facts and the reality that is obtainable in the circumstances.

We are preparing for a governorship election and the people of Edo State are going to cast their votes and elect who will be their governor. I believe strongly as a democrat that power belongs to the people. The Edo electorates are civilized and resolute enough to elect who will rule them.

Before now, there had never been imposition of a governor on the people, it’s either they make a wrong choice or make the right choice.

Some people are saying that Barrister Asue Ighodalo, of the PDP can’t speak his native dialect, should that be a yardstick for electing a Governor in Nigeria? I don’t think inability to speak your local language fluently should be a ground for the disqualification of anybody, who aspires to lead his people, otherwise the Secretary General of the United Nations should be able to speak Igbo, French, German language, Esan language in fact speak all the languages in the world to be able to lead.

But he doesn’t speak the languages of all nations, yet he rules over all nations, makes decisions and policies that affects all the nations of the world. Dr. Asue Ighodalo wasn’t born in Esan land, he spent most of his life in Yoruba land, where his mother hails from.

A child either stays with his mother or father or with both parents as the case may be. That is not the issue, emphasis should be on his quality, character, pedigree and antecedents and what he is telling us he will do if voted into office. His past, present and future promises should be what we should look at, not inability to speak native language. Those are side comments that don’t hold waters.

Those who ruined this country speak their local languages fluently, yet they turned out to be criminals, who took our wealth to foreign lands. There is no guarantee that the person who grew up in your neighbourhood would be a saint. A good man can either be a home boy or a visitor. Being good has nothing to do with the environment, it has to do with character and your nature.

Does it mean you have dumped the Labour Party? I said goodbye to the Labour Party when they went against the interest of the people of Edo State. Obidient Movement represents fairness and equity, but they have turned against what the movement represents.

I decided to dump them, when they picked an Edo South man as the candidate for the election. Before now, Labour Party was nowhere to be found, it was Obidient Movement that made the party popular. Since they worked against the principle of equity and fairness, then they should carry their cross. As we speak, Labour Party is finished in Edo State. They have no place in the minds of the electorates.

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