(Dr) Bishop Omogiade Enoyiogiere Edokpolo is the founder and president of Edo Progressive Indigenes Association (EPIA).
EPIA, an Organisation designed to promote the empowerment of all Edo indigenes has been registered for over five years, and has made immense contributions towards the development of the state and it’s indigenes.
Following the recent ongoing squabble between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, (national chairman of All Progressive Congress. APC), the political space appears heated up.
In this interview with journalists, Bishop Edokpolo speaks on the impasse, including issues relating to Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s crossing to APC, and his rumoured plans to become governor.
We understand that you supported Governor Godwin Obaseki during his campaigns in 2016, and he won the elections, and since then, not much has been heard from your quarters. What motivated the sudden return?
Our goal is not to be political, but to do the right thing- to source, research and identify our sound indigenes who have the capability to pilot the affairs of this state. We want to make sure that such a person emerges to become the leader of the state. That’s our job, not to get involved in the political day-to-day running of government. Contestants, are they qualified? Are they even Edo indigenes? If they are not, then we speak out, it’s our right to put the Edo indigenes first in all we do.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t support non Edos, but be aware that self-first is not selfishness.
Our duty after these verification, is to make sure that the credible candidate wins the elections.
As soon as he wins the elections, our job is done. We will just look out there and ensure that he is doing the right thing, which is the main reason we supported him.
In the case of Godwin Obaseki, we have no doubt that he will be able to lead the state to the apex of governance, and moving into the first six months of his administration, we started seeing some very healthy manner of governance and administration. It’s not just about fixing roads, but also involves touching every aspect of development. This knocked most of our members to sleep because, we believe that Edo is in safe hands with Obaseki. So there is no job left to do other than going back to our private sectors to continue to pilot the business we do on a day to day basis.
Till tomorrow, we have not met the governor, he has absolutely no idea how much we have done for him. Initially when he was nominated, we sent him a proposal, and we eventually noticed he adopted one or two pints in our proposal.
The only time we wanted to voice out was when it was said that he was employing non indigenes. We did our research and noticed that yes, there were facts there but that he was consulting with experts who he can confirm that they can deliver on the job.
He also set up platforms to employ our indigenes, if which me as an employer of labour, did employ some of our indigenes from that platform he set up, Edo Jobs.
From all indications, the man has satisfied some of the cravings of Edo indigenes.
Politics is coming back again and a lot is happening out there, as part of our mandate to give Edo the best leaders, we have come out again.
A situation whereby the national chairman of the APC and the governor are having a lot of issues is really troubling.
As far as we are concerned, we as Edo indigenes-Binis, Afemais, Esans, we don’t take sides but we will speak out on what is good for us.
Oshiomhole has done his tenure in Edo State, we supported him and he won. He piloted the affairs to the best of his knowledge, but it’s high time he stayed away and let the governor focus.
Are you saying that the steps Oshiomhole is taking now is wrong?
From all indications, the steps he is taking is not in line with the ideals and aspirations of the Edo people.
Don’t you think that since Oshiomhole is the one who found and presented Obaseki to be governor, the governor should be loyal to him to some extent?
If I ask Edo people the question, will you prefer your governor to be loyal to the national chairman and face some catastrophic turbulence in your state, or for him to focus on what matters most to the citizens, what do you think they will answer? Most people are very confused about the difference between want and need.
Want should be suspended and our needs should take its course. Right now in Edo State from all indications, it is clear that what Edo people need is to leave the pit they have been in, and they are gradually coming out from it. In fairness to the party leader Oshiomhole, when he was the governor, there were some positive steps that he made in the state, and we gave him credit for that. But when you are dancing, and you dance from the beginning and it’s rosy, then after about one hour you begin to scatter the dance floor, or dance like a madman, nobody will remember the good dance.
Are you implying that Oshiomhole has danced his dance?
What I am saying is, Oshiomhole should leave the governor alone to pilot the affairs of the state. He is completely and sincerely aware that what Governor Obaseki is doing is in line with what he wants him to do, when it comes to the developmental context.
At the back of his mind, Oshiomhole is happy that Obaseki is delivering that at the moment, but problem now is that he failed to understand that at the time he was proposing Obaseki, Obaseki also has a mind of his own, and that he has a vision that supersedes what Oshiomhole was expecting at that time.
He wanted a performer and an errand boy at the same time but Obaseki has refused to be an errand boy. That’s what is causing the turbulence in the state.
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu ran for governorship under the PDP in the last elections and has just joined the APC. Permutations are rife that he was invited by former governor Oshiomhole to take over power from Obaseki. What do you say on this?
Have it in mind that the governor is the incumbent, and he has a right to choose any political party he wants as his platform. Am not going to speak for the governor, nether am I going to speak for Ize-Iyamu or Oshiomhole, but one thing is sure, these three prominent politicians are like footballers and have their interests in different wings.
The question is, which wing will favour the state more? Before now, the state has been unlucky, with maniacs and illiterates piloting the affairs of the state. We have produced a lot of professionals over the years, but they are handicapped, without any opportunity to exercise the value of what they learnt in school. But it’s under this administration of Obaseki now that you are beginning to see that the era of maniacs have vanished into thin air. Obaseki did that. Right now, the society is as clean as snow, and their is fresh air in the state.
Edo people are enjoying a great deal of sanity in governance. There is orderliness now, a privilege the state lacked for decades. Not even under Oshiomhole did we experience it. Majority of those he was using to enforce governance were maniacs. He was able to achieve some level of development by way of road construction, but governance goes beyond that. We laud him for finding an extremely intelligent, positive and vision minded man like Obaseki. You have introduced Obaseki to us, and our eyes are clearly open right now, and we are saying it’s not politics as usual.
We happen to be in a state where there is a lot of street menace. This is the first time we are having a healthy, intelligent, disciplined, professional governor who does not have street mentality, in Edo State. The reason Edo political field is full of blood is because the state is peeved with that street mentality.
Today, you must agree with me that this governor is not a noisemaker. You don’t see him running around TV, radio, to defend himself. A learned person does not need to run around to defend himself, his actions will defend him. His approach to all those criticisms and gimmicks has spoken so loud that even a lay man will hear.
As I speak to you, Edo is one of the most sanitized and orderly states in Nigeria. So why would we want to kick out such a governor? Our people have an adage ‘Aghwina-esay orhu-unuagbon-Good things sell themselves in the market. If you are good, it’s in the mouth of the people. When you are bad, it’s also in the mouth of the people. Go and do your statistics in the streets and ask the people, ‘who would you prefer to be your governor?’, and the people will tell you.
The reality of it is that when it comes to governance, we have tested Obaseki and we have seen what he can deliver. Not even the opposition party has criticized Obaseki up to ten percent of what they did to Oshiomhole, that’s to show you that the governor is beyond governorship quality, he is a presidential quality. Quite me anywhere- if we have someone like Obaseki as our president, the United States will be a top of the iceberg of the height Nigeria can ascertain when it comes to development.
Do you have any advice for Edo people regarding the impasse and the coming elections?
Edo indigenes and citizens will shoot themselves on the feet if they chose to withdraw their support from Obaseki. Let’s put our hands together and support him. Yes, we know he is not Alan Shearer, he doesn’t share money here and there, but if you value the future of your children, you look beyond the N20,000 they will give you now and tomorrow you will be hungry. If you eat a cow to sleep, don’t forget that tomorrow, more hunger will come.