By Simeon OSAJIE
Col. David Imuse (Rtd) is the current Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress. (APC), Edo State Chapter. He spoke with reporters on his Party’s flagbearer preparedness for the 2023 Presidential elections and on poor governance in Edo State. The9jaTREND was there. excerpts:
How prepared is the Edo APC to mobilise its supporters for the forthcoming Presidential elections coming up next year?
We are fully set for the forthcoming Presidential elections. We had a very successful delegates congress, we had a very successful primaries, rancour free, done in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, we had a very successful national convention and we now have our candidates at all levels, House of Assembly, House of Representatives and a Senatorial candidate and you are aware we had no rancour. So APC in Edo, haven concluded and produced our candidates, we are fully set for the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
The 2023 general elections is going to be keenly and fiercely contested with the look of things. How is your party prepared to deliver Edo with your Presidential Candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu?
Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our candidate and in this election, he is the candidate to beat. You know very well that if you are to compare the candidates, Tinubu has no rival. This is a man who is a political wizard, a man who knows how to identify talents, he nurtures them and knows how to position them for the good of the society. There is no other living politician that can match him in those credentials. He is a visionary leader. If he is given the opportunity to lead this country, he will do far better than any other opponent contending for the number one position.
It is not just enough to say I have a vision but you must also have the intellect to identify those who can drive the process that is what makes him different from other candidates from other political parties. He has a vision and knows how to identify talents who can drive the process and how to position them for the roles to drive the process. Here in Edo, our people are very conscious of that and that is why we voted massively for him during the primaries. And I can assure you that APC Edo is well focused and prepared to deliver this state for Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Political parties are created to provide leadership, good governance and ultimately, democratic dividends. At the national level, the APC is the ruling party, do you think President Buhari has done well enough to guarantee electoral victory for you Party, the APC?
You see, I don’t want you to take us backwards. We are a political party that is forward looking. We produced Buhari. Buhari’s name is not going to be on the next ballot, those whose names are going to be on the ballot are those that are being marketed now for the job by the various parties and in APC,it is Tinubu. What I expect you to ask me is if I think that Tinubu can take us to the promised land and I will tell you, yes his antecedents in Lagos has proven beyond reasonable doubts that the man can take us to Eldorado . He has the foresight, he has the wisdom and most importantly, he has the courage to do what is right and what is good for the majority of Nigerians.
Political analysts and pundits in many quarters are of the opinion that his health may not be able to withstand the rigors and the demands that the office of the President of Nigeria requires. These school of thought says it will not portend any good for the country to have yet another President, after Buhari, who runs out of the country every now and then for medical tourism. What do you have to say about this?
Those are mere speculations and those who are speculating all those things are not Doctors or his personal physician, so nobody can come and talk about his state of health outside his personal physician. So, everything you hear is in the realm of rumors . I Know in politics you hear all kinds of stories especially when you are looking for grounds to camping or to defeat your opponent, a lot of speculations do come up and it is normal in politics. But I want to assure you that Tinubu is mentally sound and healthy. But let me also tell you that it is not the man you think that is sick that dies first. You can see a man walking on the street and can fall off and die. Tinubu is very sound and you can not compare him to any candidate or past Nigeria President leaving or dead. He has his own uniqueness, so do not let us listen to any rumour.
How would you evaluate the success or otherwise of the recently concluded INEC extended voters registration in Nigeria and do you think it has a way it can add value to the electoral process?
It was a good thing because it will afford more eligible Nigerian voters to be registered so they can exercise their franchise. I think I will commend INEC for that.
The rave of the moment everywhere you go is OBIDIENT. Do you think that the OBI factor is a threat to APC?
I don’t know what you call OBIDIENT.
That is the terminology Peter Obi supporters are using to market Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
That is the way they want to advertise and market their candidate. I think they have the right to market their candidate in whatever way they like. But for us at the APC, OBIdient or Obi does not mean anything to us as a party and certainly not a threat to APC. You are a Journalist, elections are not won on television or on the pages of newspapers or on the social media platforms. So, to us as a party, Obi and his town criers are of no relevance and we don’t even look at them to be anything not to talk of threat, the word threat is even too strong. We shall meet on the field during the elections.
You are the chairman of the opposition party in Edo where Godwin Obaseki is the governor under the platform of the Peoples Democratic party, PDP. What is your evaluation of his performance?
I will say again and again as I have told Edo people, that Obaseki and his government is the greatest scam in Edo political history. Go to the streets and do a Vox Pop and you will know that what I am telling you is the truth. Edo is almost turning to a fail State.
The health system has fully collapsed. We do not even have a functioning primary health center. Not to talk of tertiary health care institution. This is a state where you don’t even have one single radiologist, no single anesthesiologist. The only central hospital in Benin has been destroyed and you are telling us you are relocating the central hospital to Stella Obasanjo hospital. A government built Stella Obasanjo hospital as an additional hospital to compliment the existing one for Edo people. He didn’t destroy one to compensate for the other. Our educational
Sector is in coma. There is no school in Edo where you have teachers. The best you can get in most school is one teacher one headmaster. All the tertiary institutions are closed down. Ekiadolor college of Education is now history, Igueben college of Education is now history, Iguoriakhi college of Agriculture is shut down, college of physical education in Afuze is dead, the one in Aganebode is closed down. The Ambrose Alli University is in a sever state of hermorrage the school is almost gone. Even the state of infrastructure is nothing to write home about.
The state of the roads is in shambles. Can you point to one road Obaseki has constructed in Edo even in Benin City, the living room of Edo is in shambles. This is a man that has come to take Edo State back to the 16 the century. Where did we get it wrong?. As far as we are concerned, Edo people know we have no government but a sole administrator who has completely emasculated the judiciary, no functional legislature so that he can not be checkmated. We need to seat down and ask God where we got it wrong. So the earlier we send Obaseki packing, the better for Edo people.
His administration has no benefit for Edo people. In fact he just came back from leave where he went to spend Edo peoples money on a leave that has no benefit for Edo people and he went ahead to use Edo people’s money to rent a crowd to celebrate his arrival from a leave that has no significance and benefits to Edo people. He went to hire a crowd to be jubillating along Airport road, Ring road and Sapele road to receive him and herald his arrival to Edo people.
Honestly, what was this supposed to mean.? What was the essence of the jubiliation? To me, something is basically wrong and I think he needs a psychiatric evaluation. For me something is basically wrong for a man to go on leave and on his return, he goes ahead to rent a crowd to go about jubillating his return. In Edo State, the educational sector has collapsed and closed down. The only library in the state he destroyed to build a super market, you destroyed a whole hospital with a view to build a motor park. We need every Edo people to pray hard for the exit of Obaseki because he has come not only to destroy the legacy of this state but to take us backwards to the 16th century.
It is sad, you can not point to one item. He said he was doing an industrial Park on Sapele road and you brought the Vice President to come and commission it, today the only sign that an industrial park exists there is the dilapidated signboard. That place is now a hunting ground for grass cutters and antelopes. He told the world that he is building Gelegele sea port.You saw the simulation on television. He said Ekewan road up to Gelegele would be dualised. I think you can see trailers coming out of the port now. So, this is a complete scam. There is no singular project you have done and commissioned. They are phantom projects.
You talk of Palm House, which is the State government secrétariat, which you just painted, and say you have renovated. somebody built it. When Obaseki leaves government today, what are the legacies Obaseki would leave behind? No roads, no schools,no library, no teachers, no Doctors. He has never employed one single Doctor since the advent of this administration, almost 7 years ago, and I know God never sleeps. It is sad.
Your final word for your supporters.
Yes , as a disciplined political party, we will continue to appeal to our supporters to have faith in APC and our Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all other candidates of our party, they should remain level headed, to remain focus, they should have faith in APC and to continue to maintain peace for which the APC is known for. You can not compare our party to other parties who are till today are still talking and fighting over deliggates and are not even talking about elections. They should vote massively for the President- waiting, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all our candidates in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.