‘For Nigeria to grow, the monster of corruption must be defeated’
Kenneth Imansuagbon, a lawyer and educationist is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State on which platform he is aspiring to be governor in the election coming up in July this year. In this interview with NIYI BELLO, he spoke on how important President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption is to the survival of Nigeria and his expectations about the Edo election.
The war on corruption must be sustained
Nigeria is a country endowed with very rich human and material resources that can make us a developed nation. We have everything to make us one of the most developed nations in the world. From our oil and gas reserves, a rich agricultural sector that can drive the industries which in itself could create jobs for our teeming youths and a very resourceful human capacity to drive the engine of development. But the problem over the years has always been the issue of corruption.
Corruption in high and low places, particularly in governance, has been the bane of development in the country. It is sad that our leaders have failed the country. Recent revelations pointed to that. That is why I call on all Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to fight corruption. It is a monster we must defeat for the country to move forward. It is either we destroy this cankerworm called corruption or we allow it to destroy us as a nation. There is no country or leadership that is focused and will fold its arm and watch corruption thrive.
When I see people saying that Buhari is too hard about the issue of corruption, I laugh. Those who are saying the President is too hard are either ignorant of the depth of the destruction on the nation or fail to realize where we would have been as a nation on the path of development if corruption has not been holding us back. So for me, the war on corruption must be sustained until we are able to rid ourselves of this evil. It is only then that we can progress as a nation.
By the grace of God if I am elected governor in Edo State there will not be room for corruption in the state. It is not rocket science; the question of how I will get the money for developing the land and its people will not arise because I will block the leakages through which the financial resources of the state are being siphoned to private pockets. I will block the leakages and plough the money back to education system because that is the sector that can truly liberate the people. We will finance the sector such that there will be free and compulsory qualitative education from the primary to the university levels. Through education the people will benefit. When you give free education to the people, many of them will be empowered to contribute to the economic growth of the state as many of them, instead of being dependent on government or become threats to the peace of the society, will be so empowered to even empower others. With that the problem of unemployment will be partly addressed. I will make sure that Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state does not end up in the pockets of some individuals.
Why I want to serve Edo people
First of all, let us look at it this way; can we say today that Edo people are happy? Are there good roads in all the nook and cranny of the state? What about the status of our schools, the teacher in the schools, our farmers what about them? Are students really happy to be in our schools today? Are there jobs for our teeming youths? The answer is no.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole has done very well but I can improve on what he has done. It can be better. I want to serve basically because I want to bring hope to the ordinary Edo person. The state of hopelessness in our state today is so profound that we cannot fold our hands and allow events to drift.
The younger generation needs to be taken care of. It is disheartening to see our young school leavers without jobs. When you create jobs you address the problem of insecurity. When people are engaged, you cannot see them loafing on the streets to constitute nuisance. The insecurity situation in Edo State today is as a result of unemployment. So when I am elected the governor this year, my attention will be focused on how to create jobs. By the time we create jobs we take the bad boys and girls off the streets. Let us make the job of the security agencies easy for them to do. If you keep the younger generation off the streets and productively engage them, you reduce crime.
Bringing private sector experience to the public sector
My experience in the private sector will be of immense benefit to the people of Edo State. I can assure you that indiscipline of the public sector will be confined to the dustbins. There will be accountability and things will be done the way they ought to be done. For example as the Chief Servant of the state I will lead by example and make sure there is accountability and fiscal discipline. The civil servants will be well motivated to work. They will have incentives. The civil service thrives under good leadership. Good government will produce good civil service. We will train and retrain them and prepare them for a 21st century efficient civil service delivery where everybody will be responsible for the task of building a modern state. Lagos is a good example, though not so perfect. Governor Oshiomhole has shown some serious signs and carried out good reforms but I will take it beyond what he has done.
Tackling the economy
The best way to go is to diversify our economy. I am personally sick and tired of the idea of waiting to receive Federal Allocation from Abuja before the state gets money. You can see where it has led us. Some of us have been saying it. We saw this economic downturn a long time ago. That is why when I hear people say we have done well because we have been able to pay salaries I laugh at such pronouncements. The duty of the government either at state or federal level is not to pay salaries but to ensure everyone is well taken care of in terms of job creation, good medical facilities that is at par with international standards that can responds to emergencies and disasters. We need a good system that can even take care of medical bills of those that do not have jobs. We can have a good health insurance policy in Edo State to achieve that.
The agricultural sector is a very viable way of getting money for the Edo State government. What I will do is to ensure that in my first 100 days in office as Edo State governor, I will start a sustainable agricultural system where the people will be proud to be farmers. In Edo State we are so blessed that you do not need fertilizers to plant anything. I will turn the state into farm plantation. Every young school leaver will be trained by the government to be a successful farmer. When God created man, the first instruction God gave him is that he should till the ground. That means our wealth lies in tilling the ground. The mineral resources are all in the ground. I will open up all the senatorial zones to massive agricultural exploits.
That takes me to the issue of rice farming. I will ensure that in Edo State we produce rice that will be more than enough for the people’s needs and still have enough to export. I have been sharing rice to people for the past 13 years to alleviate poverty using my hard earned resources. I share rice in all the nook and cranny of Edo State. When the people elect me as their governor, I will banish hunger and lack in the state. I have done extensive study on this and will adopt the Vietnam or Taiwanese example. What about the tomatoes juice industry? We could plant tomatoes and have cottage industries to get what I will call “Edo Tomatoes Paste and Juice”. We can export these products to any part of the world. If they know that our standard is good and the cost is competitive, they will patronize us. I believe we have the best comparative advantages in these areas to overrun the West African sub-region. Agriculture is a big point to grow the economy of the state.