…Says party has learnt lesson from 2019 House of Assembly elections
Against the backdrop of allegation that the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State compromised its position during the 2019 House of Assembly election resulting in the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, garnering all the 24 seats, a governorship aspirant in the 2020 governorship election in the state, Gideon Ikhine vowed that such would not happen again. According to Ikhine, “if for anything, “that House of Assembly election was a lesson we have learnt from. It won’t happen again”. Fielding questions from journalists Wednesday at a media parley in Benin, Edo State capital, Ikhine, a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, admitted that a lot of things went wrong during the election, stressing that “If things are wrong, of course a lot of things were wrong during the last House of Assembly election to portend the end of PDP. That was one of the things that led to our consulting across the entire state, and most of those anomalies have been corrected, and will be corrected”.
While painting a picture of a totally transformed party hitherto notorious for brazen acts of impunity and imposition of candidates which caused its political misfortune in the 2015 general elections, Ikhine said “as you are aware, our congress is coming up shortly. You are journalists; I want you to be very careful to follow the story. PDP has since thrown away imposition and impunity”. Affirming his unwavering loyalty to the PDP, he said “I have no other party to go to. PDP remains my party”.
Speaking on his motivation for seeking the office of governor, Ikhine said “I have a vision that one day the dark cloud over Edo State will be taken off once and for all and we will never have to look back. I have a vision for the people, and when you have a vision, what drives your vision is passion. And if you are not passionate about your people, you can’t rule them”. The former project engineer at Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, believed “the time has come in this state for us to re-engineer ourselves and tell ourselves the truth. If you have not built anything in your life, you can’t build a people. If you have not created anything, you can’t create wealth. We have come to a point whereby we sit down and decide how we want to run the state. That is why we came up with the mantra – Edo 2020 Restoration. We must restore all that had been destroyed. We can’t have a good economy if we don’t have good infrastructure. I took a drive round the whole of GRA, (Government Reserved Area) and it’s very painful you won’t see a single drainage in the whole of GRA in Benin, the seat and the power of government. We’ve gone round the entire state; we’ve seen what needs to be done, and we’ve seen what needs to be fixed. So, Restoration 2020 is a must”.
According to him, “our restoration plan is aimed at rebuilding the fabric of Edo State and lay a new foundation for the socio-economic development of Edo State. We have a clear vision to restore Edo state back to its glory and become a global destination of choice. That is our vision. And our mission statement is clear also. Our mission is what vehicle we are going to use to get there. We want total restoration, rebuilding of infrastructure and human capacity as a back-bone for establishing a new Edo State and this can be done through creative integration of institutional values. This can be attained by creating competitive edge for all Edo citizens especially the youth to participate in the democratic governance programmes and policies. Our objectives and goals are very clear; it’s to make Edo State an enviable state”.
Bemoaning Edo State’s humongous debt profile, Ikhine noted that “our external debt is well over 300 million USD. You can go look it up on the Debt Management Office. The first APC governor left for us over 190 million USD; the current one has already borrowed more than 90 million USD. We cannot continue to be a consumer state; we should learn to be a producing state… We need viable communal economy. We going to be going into farms; we are going to be farming cash crops, we are going to be farming arable crops”.
On the perceived rot in the education sector in the state, Ikhine, a pioneer member, board of trustees, Salem University, Lokoja, Kogi State, opined that “the institutional failure in Edo State is traceable to, and can be blamed on all of us. The people get the type of leader they vote for. There are some places you go to, you have only two teachers in a school; there are some places you go to, you have only one physics teacher for a whole local government. If you don’t build institutions, and you allow them to decay, and you don’t complain about it, you continue to live with the decay…What you have just said to me is the need to change the existing government and put a government that can build values and institutions”.
Responding to a question on the alleged worsening security situation in the state, Ikhine posited that “when you keep having issue of insecurity in any institution, it shows compromised leadership. When you have compromised leadership, you will continue to have issue of insecurity. When you have idle minds, people will choose to do what they need to do to get a living. You will remember Rivers State had the highest insecurity challenge in the country. It took the strong will of the most distinguished governor, Nyesom Wike, to put everything under arrest within a year of his coming to power because he was not willing to compromise; he is a leader that is bold to confront issues and solve issues, and that is a PDP governor. And that is what we in the PDP stand for. We will not compromise with any institution, with anybody, with any tribe, with any idle group or cultism”.