As Edo State governorship election takes place next year, one of the strong contenders on the platform of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, Iyoha John Darlington, a social activist, writer, an expert in conflict management and resolution, a public commentator on national and global issues and an affiliate of some global media organisations, presents and recounts his brief meeting with High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki to millions of listeners across the world on Radio France in Paris. He also used the opportunity to tell the world about the remarkable achievements of the iconic trio who were former governors of the state.
(1) Could you please describe and present to the world this man, High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki, you termed as ” A man with a large heart whose philanthropic activities have in deed spoken volumes for his love and passion for your people?
Bound by curiosity, you have just asked to know who High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki is. This is a man many people often long to meet and the chance eventually turned up for me a few weeks ago when he invited me to his Abuja palatial home. I was rooted to the spot as I heard him speak not to aggrandize the vast Inegbeneki dynasty but with a great passion, love and sympathy for our people which eventually confirm what I had heard people say about him over the years.
High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki as a good breeder has at different times fought doggedly to better the lots of our people, he had wept when our people cried via unparalleled acts of philanthropism, riding out the storm of deceit and menace of tyranny by standing toe-to-toe with some stereotypical leprechauns who say it is either their diabolic whims and caprices prevail or our state of Edo, a subnational unit in the Federation of Nigeria shall cease to exist.
On me, the man, High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki, remains a role model. His name is synonymous with passion and selflessness.
This is also one man who displays love, kindness, humility, patience and peace. High Chief Inegbeneki far from being judgmental holds no score of records against others. There are in fact few people today who fall into this category. He is a good listener, he displays self-control and considers others more important than himself which speaks volumes for his selflessness and humility. Need I remind our million listeners across the world today that he remains a living example of what man can be and accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue?
There is no denying the fact that he is an embodiment of the above-mentioned which makes him dear to every one’s heart.
This is one man who makes empathy his watchword – that is treating others as he wants to be treated. He often stands in other person’s shoes, that is, sharing in their pains, fears and losses High Chief Dr Francis Inegbeneki, I make bold to say here often shows people how much he cares. That he considers people and events in their lives is not in dispute. He has by words and deeds often contributed to the lives of those in need which makes him sit high in the hearts of our people. That is why I often consider and recommend him for leadership positions back home in Nigeria which I am doubly sure will further benefit the generality of our people.
You see, I must also remind our listeners that Dr Francis Inegbeneki is also one man that often weeps when our people cry. This gives rise to one question that often agitates me.
The question is: Why don’t we revisit the ancient Greeks’ concept of the best form of government? The above-named believed government should be headed by the best men in society and I am bound by strong conviction this is the category Dr Inegbeneki falls into all things considered.
As every one can see today, life is very hard for our people who no longer have control over their future as a result of bad governance since Nigeria returned to civil democratic rule about 20 years ago.
High Chief Dr. Francis Inegbeneki has often watched with grave concern and at most times cudgling his brains on how to address the thorny issues arising from this obviously sad situation. He is one great Nigerian who is highly determined to pull our people out of the shackles of poverty.
(2) In your write up, you presented the crop of leaders in your Edo State today as directionless, rudderless and Neo-Nazi type of rulers, therefore, you as an aspiring governorship candidate in EDO State, how will your stewardship be different from those mentioned above?
Our state today is static, in fact Edo State, one of the green states that make up the Federation of Nigeria is caught in the web of rudderless and visionless leadership because you will all agree with me no meaningful development has taken place there since Nigeria returned to civil democratic rule in 1999.
An opportunity turned up again for our state to pick up with former Governor Oshomhonle at the helm who toed the line of his predecessors namely Alli and Ogbemudia. Today Edo State is home to two new state universities namely Edo Varsity, Iyamho and Tayo Akpata University of Education thereby upholding the legacies of Prof Ambrose Alli who built a state-owned university that was later named after him.
Listeners, this is a state that once gave Nigerians a magnetic pull by its near world-class service infrastructures. Today, the tune of the music has changed via irresponsible leadership as these service infrastructures put in place by two iconic figures in Nigerian letters namely Dr Osaigbovo Ogbemudia and Prof Ambrose Alli and later by the labour activist cum Governor have undergone incremental decay of greco-roman proportions.
Efforts made the former Governor Comrade Adams Osiomhonle to resuscitate these service infrastructures via renewal and development have not been sustained by the incumbent government of Godwin Obaseki which deals a crushing blow to government as a continuum which ought not to be after all.
What we see today in that state is disheartening if you ask me. That is why Dr Francis Inegbeneki will always feature in this radio interview, in fact there is a compelling need to mention his name again and again because today our state is unarguably in dire need of a moral compass, competent leadership and this, I dare say, is what the above-named represents by virtue of his vision for our people. Our kind of leadership will doubtless be patterned on the vision of Inegbeneki which aligns with the joint resolutions adopted in the historic 2018 Turin Declaration in Italy.
What we see today is infighting and sponsorship of political vengeance geared towards tenure elongation in a state that is totally bereft of service infrastructures save the ones put in place by the immediate past administration.
I have also observed with grave concern and therefore feel constrained to ask this searching question. Is Edo State better off today by gradual descent to a theatre of war with a confederacy of criminal gangs, overlords and fraternities as belligerents?
The integrity of our democracy is at its lowest ebb as violence like a storm emitting strikes of lightning takes the centre stage in Edo politics.
Edo State, as a matter of fact, belongs to us all and it therefore behooves us to cast unproductive partisanship overboard with a view to revitalizing the obviously decadent paralysis that has plunged us as a people into abysmal depths.
I therefore make this clarion call to our brothers on the other side of the table to cast our differences aside and join forces to regenerate our state. We must not surrender to the odious apparatus of neo-Nazi rule by stereotypical leprechauns who says it is either their diabolic whims and caprices prevail or there will be no Edo State.
As a governorship aspirant and candidate of that state on the platform of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, (PPN), it is my interest and desire for Edo State to undergo a rapid transformation to one of the industrial heartlands in the eurozone via infrastructural renewal and development to set the stage for a rapid socio-economic development. This, however, remains our bounden duty.
(3) You spoke about your redemption agenda or salvage operations, could you let our listeners know what they are and how you intend to make your stewardship different from other past governors who have failed the people?
I will start by making our listeners know why the salvage operations has become absolutely necessary. Having lost our bearing as a people with the sacred name of the Great Benin Empire being dragged through the mud we deem drawing up a redemption programme to revitalise the obviously decadent paralysis.
Like I just did say, it is an eight-year plan to regenerate our state which has been reduced to a shaky tripod. Having carefully studied the obviously sad situation we discovered that the stoicism, patience and naiveity of our people have been overstretched by a confederacy of stereotypical leprechauns. Leadership is all about social service delivery which our iconic figures did. Leaders like Dr Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, Prof. Ambrose Alli, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole are on our radar in other words are within the spectrum of our attention for their invaluable contributions by laying the groundwork for the development of our state.
Our listeners would doubtless raise eyebrows that I am commending a man on the other side of the table. I had to unavoidably do so because politics of hatred and bitterness is foreign to our nature and certainly not in the lens of the Peoples Party of Nigeria on whose platform we seek the keys to the Government House.
Prof. Alli’s enduring legacy has been replicated and sustained by Oshiomhonle with the establishment of another state university on the northern flank of our state. There are other sectors which the abovenamed has made a mark which time will not permit me to touch on. Let’s save that for another day.
All in all, we do not care where you come from or under whose political party great things were done that moved our state forward. We will recognize your efforts. Comrade Adams Osiomhonle deserves a pat on the back for his remarkable achievements and exemplary leadership while Governor of Edo State.
To our salvage operations and redemption agenda we must now turn.
We shall set every machinery in motion in the salvage operations via active participatory democratic process to take the wind out of the sail of those who are hell-bent on ruining our future. In this connection, we hope to retain the services of a team of highly competent techocrats made up of our people both here at home and overseas to achieve this regeneration of which we urgently stand in need.
We have no reason to fail our people that is why we have resolved to ensure a strict compliance to the implementation of the joint resolutions adopted at the historic 2018 Turin Conference in Italy geared towards rapid transformation of Edo State to one of the industrial heartlands in the eurozone. Edo State under our dynamic leadership shall witness radical social reforms with countries like Germany, France, Spain and Italy as the template for change.
Today, our firm resolve is to move on, armed not with clubs and sticks but to unite against unproductive partisanship in the salvage operations we lead.
Our redemption agenda will without doubt regenerate our state. We are tired of going round in circles. We intend to be communitarian rather than individualistic. We want to fashion out a new social order that will make Edo indigenes and other settlers in the state live as one people and one family with the state government fetching and carrying for every one as obtains here in the West.
In today’s Europe, the government of the day carries our responsibilities. The government feels it when you are homeless and urgent steps are taken to make provision for you. The unemployed are taken care of to cushion the effect of his sad situation. This goes on and on to make the citizens socially and politically relevant but the reverse appears the case on our part of the globe where citizens do not feel any positive impact from the state or Federal Government. Our redemption message is anchored to these as our economic policies would reverse the trend to benefit the generality of our people. We do not intend to run a government that will leave our people in the lurch.
Edo State under our leadership needs a vibrant saving culture, intelligent public revenue collection, retention and international finance partnership. In each infrastructural sub-sector, we shall seek to attract investments and also put state resources so as to have a modern infrastructure base, adequately maintained and efficiently run to meet our various needs.
(4) You did talk about Edo State undergoing a rapid transformation to a near first world status. This is capital intensive. Where is the money going to come from considering the limited resources in terms of revenue?
Like I pointed out a while ago, we are going to embark on aggressive internal revenue generation by developing every sector of the economy for optimal results.
We have in place an agricultural concept and initiative which we shall develop where the bulk of the money would come. We will not remain in our comfort zone in Denis Osadebe Avenue and wait for federal allocations from Abuja. You can be rest assured that we will not be hamstrung by lack of funds. Capital projects are going to feature prominently in our regeneration agenda which we stand in need of to develop our state. This is a state with a dearth of service infrastructures and relyinv solely on federal allocations from Abuja cannot change the sad narrative.
In this connection, there is going to be a total deviation from Nigeria’s medieval agro-template. In pre-Independence Nigeria, in fact before the advent of the Black Gold, agricultural produce and exports used to be the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy which fetched us foreign exchange to develop our country. Hence, we wish to pursue a mass return to land in our state via a well-developed agricultural concept and initiative. In the year 2017 AD, two years ago to be precise, the Netherlands raked in €92 billion euros from the sale and export of agricultural produce and that is what Nigeria earns in three years if we need reminding. In terms of geographical land mass, Edo State is three times bigger than Holland. It is therefore our interest and desire to fully develop the agricultural sub-sector from where the bulk of the money would come from to regenerate our state that has been reduced to its kneels by years of visionless leadership.
Edo State as a subnational unit in the Federation of Nigeria is one of our country’s green states. In this connection, we deserve to live like humans and not like sub-humans in rodent-infested tents.
(5) Could you present the manifesto of the Peoples Party of Nigeria to our listeners?
The problem with Nigeria has all along been inadequate, ineffective and unfocused leadership models, hence the PPN became a child of necessity to address the abovementioned.
The Peoples Party of Nigeria is a people-oriented political party which has indentified the causes of Nigeria’s underdevelopment. The party programmes are quasi-welfare in nature. In the PPN the welfare of people comes first. It is a revolutionary vanguard party which caters for the peasants, workers, youths, students etc. Effective management and development of the economy, agriculture, industrialisation, telecommunications, transport, infrastructures, education are in the party’s manifesto drawn up to bring about rapid socio-economic development and this has striking similarities to what obtains in our comfort zones in Europe. A well-developed infrastructures will put our country on a par with other developed economies around the world and this aligns with one of the joint resolutions adopted at the historic 2018 Turin Conference.
The PPN has in its programmes to develop agriculture by jettisoning Nigeria’s medieval agro-template. This is in harmony with our agricultural concept and initiative geared towards hunger, poverty eradication. The development and maintenance of a modern, efficient infrastructural base remains on the front burner.
The PPN in its manifesto focuses attention on key areas such as the economy, jobs, security, power, health, and transportation which are ambitious goals for a country where traditionally government-led change has become very slow and hopelessly ineffective.
Part of the party programmes is to ensure a rapid industrialization of Nigeria via serious planning and implementation in all enabling sectors such as energy, education and transport.
Education for all. A PPN-controlled Federal Government will provide education for all Nigerians which is an essential ingredient for socio-economic development. Be that as it may a modified education-for-all in a PPN-controlled Edo State government shall ensure free education at all levels to uphold and sustain one of the enduring legacies bequeated to our people by Prof. Alli.
Part of the PPN manifestoes is to advance the course of social justice by ensuring strict observance of justice in terms of equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities. Social justice in the lens of PPN reflects a concept of fairness in the assignment of fundamental rights, duties, economic opportunities and social conditions.