*Says Obaseki is involving everybody in governance
Comrade Philip Shaibu had cut short his sojourn in the House of Representatives, where he represented Etsako Federal Constituency of Edo State for about one year two months after he was called upon by the leaders of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to become the running mate, and now deputy, to Governor Godwin Obaseki. The youthful deputy governor has been working to ensure that the vision of his boss becomes a reality. In this interview, he condemns the hate speech made by some northern youths and the agitation for Biafra by some Igbo elements just as he gives insight into the activities of the administration.
Nigeria is one country blessed by God. It is one country that no matter the problem we may have, God always brings solution. So whatever we are seeing today will fade away. But I think the future of we the youths is what these people are trying to toy with. So my advice to the youths is that we should not allow them to use their selfish interest to destroy our future. Anybody that wants to threaten the unity of Nigeria, we the youths will resist it with all the blood in our veins. We the youths have always been the shining lights of this country; when we have economic problems or go outside this country to study, we have always come out the best. The good news is that we have a leadership now that is progressive, leadership that says it the way it is, a leadership that is ready to correct the wrongs of the past. We the youths are beginning to see hope in this country and we must not allow ethnic champions to derail our unity. Nigerian youths cannot be reduced to ethnic champions, we have gone beyond ethnic sentiments. All our youths need is for government to provide jobs and policies in place that will guarantee good governance. So, to me,those ethnic champions are not Nigerian youths. Nigerian youths have always agitated to play a role in the governance of this country. I am a living example of a youth that has been given the opportunity and there are many of us who have equally been given the opportunity. It is time for us to as youths of Arewa, Igbo youths, Yoruba youths and other youths across the country to come together and say no to tribal sentiments, because we need a more united, strong and vibrant Nigeria that will guarantee our future. And God will not forgive the old men who are using our youths to destabilize Nigeria; they will fail.
Like I told NYSC corps members of the Orientation Camp, we in Edo welcome them and they should go about their normal duties; we are hospitable and if they want to remain here and work, they can log into our job creation portal and they can be employed in our state to show that we accommodate non-Edo indigenes.
But some of the agitations are due to the bad state of the economy and it seems your party, the APC, is not doing enough to find solution?
It is true that things are hard because so many things went wrong during the PDP administration era. And that is why when people say we should stop talking about the past, I feel they are not being fair to this administration. For 16 years, everything that makes a nation great was destroyed under the PDP and it will take this administration some time to fix them. The truth is that these characters ran Nigeria into recession and this administration is doing its best to get us out of the situation. This hunger we are talking about, in the general context, will be there when we have billions of naira in people’s homes. Somebody once told me that corruption creates jobs, that is what the PDP said. The PDP did not only steal our money, they also worked on our psyche to make us believe that corruption is something that should be encouraged. If a sitting Senate President is being tried by his own party that is in power, it shows that the government is not biased. It is not about APC or PDP. The Senate President passed through all that and he was acquitted. This cannot happen during the PDP administration because many of them were united in corruption but APC is not united in corruption. APC is united in prosperity. That is why I am happy that the Acting President is closing the gap and we are praying seriously that our President comes back strong to drive his agenda. We need President Buhari this time that our unity is being threatened by some parochial ethnic champions and we must all pray for his health so that Nigeria will come out stronger.
Governor Obaseki’s administration is already eight months in office. How has the journey been?
The good news is that we have a technocrat as governor and he has seen it all in the private sector from where he brought the experience that he had to drive government. Everything we are doing in Edo is not only digitalized, it is also transparent and we are in a hurry to consolidate on the gains of the last administration and take advantage of the infrastructures that we have and the ones we are building to create prosperity. Again we are taking advantage of the geographical location of Edo to create that wealth, build our economy so that we can get closer to Lagos. That is why Mr Governor wants to open up the Gelegele Sea Port. We are doing roads, we have even brought the cement technology of building roads. We are also re-energizing our civil service, creating an environment for upgrading technological governance. We are making our bureaucracy very transparent and technological based. So in terms of governance, we are making it easy and accessible and down to the grassroots. Obaseki has introduced pure democratic way of leadership, discussing with everybody. He has given governance to the people so they can own the government. You can see that with the recent appointment of SSAs and Special Assistants, all of them came from their different wards, nominated by leaders at the grassroots. That is bringing governance back home and government is going to create offices in the entire 192 wards of the state. Like the governor said, you don’t need to come to Benin for anything; just make your demands through the communication system which will be provided and you will see solution in the morning. And when everybody is involved in the governance of the state, it is no longer the decision of Mr Governor or that of his deputy. It is the collective decision of the people of the state and that is what we are seeing in Edo.
So the governor has a lot of plans for Edo and, gradually, by the grace of God, we will fulfil our promises. And as you must have observed, one of the key priorities is to get Bendel Insurance back to the elite division and the governor is very serious about that. That is why, if you observe, I have been training with them. My boss wants to raise sports in the state and we will get better than where we were before, I can assure you.
The Court of Appeal recently affirmed the victory of Obaseki at the polls. How do you feel about that?
We want to, first of all thank the courageous judiciary and our very intelligent legal team. We have always known that we won the election and the tribunal and Appeal Court have affirmed it. It is the will of God that is prevailing, everything that we have done in Edo is directed by God. We owe God all adoration and thanksgiving. What we assure Edo people is that, collectively, we will move Edo state to the next level. All of us will be proud to be called Edo people. We are aware that the PDP said they are going to the Supreme Court; they are like the Republicans, they talk from both sides of their mouth and they cry foul when there is nothing. They always see what is good as bad and what is bad as good. We in Edo know them very well, when they see road they call it flower and that is why anytime we commission any road we call it flower. PDP is completely out of power in Edo and they can never regroup.