Recently, Barr. Kenneth Imansuagbon, a former Edo State governorship aspirant, had a One on One chat with the press. He is an astute politician, a philanthropist and a businessman bare his mind on development in the Country and Edo state. Excerpts
Obaseki’s second term has just begun after his inauguration. What does this portend for the state?
Well, the foundation has been laid but I don’t admire Obaseki because of the enormous task of development, the demand and expectation of Edo people is huge. What Edo people must do now is to swiftly come together to support Obaseki so that he can succeed because if Obaseki succeeds Edo succeeds; if he fails Edo people have failed. It is our duty as an Edo person to come on board to help him succeed because he is in the driver’s seat and Edo people are the passengers. So in this context, landing safely means addressing the questions of security, job creation, education, infrastructural development and huge investments, my advice today is that he must hit the ground running.
In actual sense, what brings development is the commitment, passion, loyalty and deliberate participation of the people, when as a people you see criminals in your area you don’t need an Obaseki to come and confront the criminal, the community must swiftly take on the criminal. And that takes me to the issue of the police, we must respect the police and not to deride them but encourage them however the police must not be trigger happy, the rights of the youth must be obeyed. The country today is sitting on a keg of gun-powder, what is happening with EndSARS is a dangerous signal by that protest, it means that if you are not ready to govern as a governor, or local government chairman you are sitting on a keg of gunpowder because a day of reckoning is coming where you will give account because it is in the interest of our sovereignty and nation. If you don’t have the capability of offering good governance you don’t have business in public office. The solution to our problem today is how do we create jobs, stop kidnapping, Boko Haram, unrest and so on. We must do something to have a stable country.
However, I must thank God for the second coming of Obaseki and I also like to thank Obaseki for offering himself as a defender and crusader of democracy. We must also not fail to commend INEC for allowing the will of the people to count and they did a very good job. The police were very professional and neutral; the international community also played a major role in the process. Finally, my thanks to Mr President who allowed the will of the people to prevail.
You were the last aspirant to concede the PDP’s ticket to Obaseki and after you did you were so passionate and committed in selling his candidacy and agenda to the people, why?
If I believe in a course, I pursue it to a logical conclusion. I don’t have a price and iam not given money, my price is to let Edo work, jobs must be created, roads must be done, the school system must work to have a better Edo state. Quite honestly, I didn’t know Obaseki that much, we felicitated from afar I was under pressure by my party leadership. Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu are from the majority tribe. Ize-Iyamu was more of my friend; I had contested for the governorship for 4 times now making it 16 years. I have participated in all the primaries, some, I was stepped down, and others they hijack it from me. My passion to have a better Edo can’t be quenched. Iam an Esan man , from Edo central, we have not had governorship about 41 years ago , I need to state here that iam not a tribal person, tribalism is not in my vein, what is in my vein is fairness, equity and justice, I believe in civility , development and progress. Support for Ize-Iyamu mean I will have to wait for 8years because the Bini’s , the majority tribe would argued that they have not completed their second tenure and don’t forget that former governor Lucky Igbinedion had done 8 years, it was supposed to come to Ishan my senatorial district but Oshiomhole supported Obaseki against the Ishan’s. I ran against Obaseki in that primaries so I looked at it in the strategic interest of Ishan and Edo people for there to be peace, understanding and mutual respect that Obaseki should finish his second term and go so that the Bini’s will feel satisfied to have done two tenure , eight year under Lucky and eight years under Obaseki. So it will only be proper, Godly, justly and equitable that after Obaseki for Ishans to have the governorship slot. Secondly, Obaseki had worked well in the first tenure, you see in the game of football coaches don’t change their winning team, a man that has done well in his first tenure deserves a second tenure.
It appears there is this understanding that it is the turn of Edo central to have the governorship slot. They are fears that the arrangement may be disrupted to favour another senatorial district?
It is God that gives power, 2024 is in God’s hand and my take will be to let the best candidate win that would help develop Edo State. Like I stated earlier it would only be fair, equitable and Godly for the Ishans that have not held office since 1999 to have it and I know the Bini’s our brother will allow the Ishans to have it 2024.
The clamor for Igbo Presidency seems to be causing disaffection in the PDP with Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State planned defection to APC. What is your take on this?
Honestly, the Igbos deserve to have the presidency of the Country and their cry must be listened to. When and how depends on the permutation and calculation. No doubt they are due for it.
Your humanitarian activities are quite noted, especially your annual rice sharing. Some of your critics say it’s for political reasons. How do you react to this?
When I did philanthropic work in Abuja, when I organized the Imansuagbon cup and Essay competition in Abuja and by extension in Edo state, it wasn’t because I wanted to be governor. You see, good work is in my DNA. I have seen poverty and riches, it is better to be comfortable than to be poor. When I see weak people begging for food in the streets of this Country, children whose parents cannot pay their school fees, when I see people die because they cannot afford medicine, makes me sad. When I visited the University of Benin Teaching Hospital to pay medical bills of patients who cannot afford their discharge bill, it made me feel very sad. Life is not about what you have but what you give. So given that scenario, our leaders all over the World should know now that leadership has gone beyond what you have.
Where do you stand over the argument whether governors should earn pension after leaving office or not?
I honestly think the money should be used to pay our teachers and pensioners who have served this Country for many years. Ordinarily to pay governors their allowance shouldn’t have been a crime if the wanton looting of our treasury was not in place but because they have been abused, in fact the salaries of senators and those in the national assembly should be reviewed