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‘I am the ‘PATH’ to new Delta State’

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Edozie

Dr. Leroy Chuma Edozie, a governorship aspirant on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), insists that four years are enough to make a
difference in governance. He spoke to Assistant Politics Editor, LEO SOBECHI, on how he intends to change leadership narrative in Delta State.

Have you contested for any elective office before?
Not in Nigeria national politics, but I have contested in professional bodies, students union.

In Delta State the incumbent governor is angling for a second term; what makes you think you can dislodge him?
Are we in a dictatorship or democracy? In a democracy, people contest for election. We have been so brainwashed and socialised into military way of thinking. So, we must change the mentality of not contesting for election, when someone in power is there. Governor Okowa has done what he can, someone else can do better, and it’s for the betterment of the people, the state and the country.

We talk of incumbency for two reasons, election in Nigeria is money guzzling and in allusion to coercive power at his disposal, especially through the security vote. Do you think you can fund your election through the primary to the main election?
Again, it’s something we have to try to move away from. This idea that people in government can put their hands in public account to fund election, it’s not right. Since we turned from military rule, we’ve been having elections. It is gradually getting better, we have to be making progress, and we have to be maturing. And part of that maturity is not voting for somebody, who deeps his or her hand into the security vote, but rather looking at what each candidate has to offer. Also to judge people by their performance in office, not just because you’re incumbent and able to spend money that should sustain them in office.

I think the people of Delta State will be good enough to look at my credentials, look at me as someone they can trust and decide whether the future am offering is better than what they’re getting under the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and Okowa’s administration. This is the new broom that’s sweeping through Delta State, we are doing away with the old, we are bringing in a new personality, a new approach to politics, new thinking and mindset, and finally bringing in new hope to the people of Delta State.

Even by way of electioneering, you will have to move from point A to point B and that entails cost. Do you have the necessary funds to move from the level of the party’s candidate and to contesting the election?
Yes, I’m a strong candidate of the APC and I have budgeted N1b. So, as we are making progress and people see that you’re a credible candidate, they will start coming out to support. First of all in trickles and ultimately, this is the candidate we have been waiting for, the more people like this will come out the better, people will come out to support you. But, before then, of course, you have to show where you are coming from, what you’re bringing to the table and the kind of vision you have for the future, if you’re able to show them in a convincing manner, people will be able to support you and of course you have to spend that money judiciously. Gone are the days, when one throws money around. If you do that today, they will collect the money from you without giving you their votes.

You talked about bringing new ideas and values to the table, how do you intend to change the leadership narrative in Delta State?
They are all encapsulated in that core message of new path to rescue and transform Delta State. That PATH itself is an acronym of Personality, Approach, Thinking/Truthfulness and Hope. So, career politicians have done what they can do for Nigerians and Delta State, and the time is right for new people with democratic credentials to come and offer a different way of doing things.

I am offering the people of Delta State judicious use of resources, am offering them integrity in office, am offering them good governance by which I mean governance that’s transparent, accountable, following the rule of law, am offering them empowerment of women and youth, am offering them infrastructure, jobs.

The most effective intervention, as far as, development of Delta State is concerned, is using our resources judiciously. Among the states of Nigeria, Delta is one of the richest, but we don’t see that on the ground. If you travel around Nigeria, it doesn’t come to mind that Delta State has resources. So, if it’s the only thing we accomplished in the state it would be fantastic amongst other things I mentioned earlier.

If you want to find out about how the contract for the secretariat was processed, what of the billing process, who were the people in charge of it, they can’t let out that information, meaning that transparency is not there. The bottom-line is this approach, where we concentrate more on service to the people, development of the state. And you have the vision of transforming the state to something more glorious, rather than just keeping the clock ticking. That’s what I’m bringing to the table.

Another crucial aspect concerns the godfathers; do you have them?
God Almighty is my godfather. I don’t have one person I can say is my godfather and it also leads to the new approach I’m talking about, eventually I will have godfather or godfathers, these are people who look at you and say this man is a doctor of medicine, as well as, doctor of law, this man has accomplished a lot in his career or profession and he has come out to serve his people. They begin to think that I have risen and they begin to say that this man fully knows what he’s talking about. And they say, we are going to support this man. They become my godfather! That’s the kind of godfather I want, not somebody sitting at home to take care of money and then I go to approach him. And he will get control of power for you, that are the kind of godfather you’re referring to, that’s not my own kind of godfather. My own kind of godfather is someone who will come out to say we have resources and we want to commit it to developing out state.
But, Delta State politics require a lot of muscle. You remember what happened recently at the convention ground in Abuja, do you think you can grapple with that

kind of situation and emerge the flag bearer?
Of course, I was there at the convention. We ought to be moving forward, that means we are going to have to change the old ways for people to bring that change and not the personality that are promoting the old ways of doing things with people coming with new way of doing things. We need to have a better way of managing conflicts and this has to do with your mindset. Is it a do or die affair; no? Is it issue of principles or personalities, it applies to the leaders and also the followers. Are you following somebody, because he has paid you to do something or are you following them, because of the principle he stands for? So, someone has to come out to make people think differently. Someone has to come out to ask Buhari to step back and see if he’s happy with the situation of things. Its what I’m doing and from the responses we are getting so far, it shows that we are making headway

Giving the two contending forces in Delta APC, Olorogun O’tega and Ogboru, what is your attitude towards these two factions?
My attitude is that being part of the battle we have in any political dispensation, who is going to get control of the party, I’ll like to see such divides to be more along the political line, rather than personality line. But, the party chairman is in control of the situation; they are trying to resolve it, before you know what is happening, the two factions will be fighting as a common unit. That’s just politics.

The predominant sentiment in Delta is that the governorship should remain in Delta north and the concern is that a new governor might desire a second term, how do you respond to that?
The whole idea of assigning it to Delta north this time is that Delta central did it twice, the south did it twice and north has done four years and if you allow them go another four years. Anybody, who has the interest of the state at heart is supposed to serve it right, will not have any quarrel with that. They way I will look at it is if the next governor comes in as an APC governor from Delta north, is my good self, I do my four years and I quit the stage. Just think of what posterity will think of me, think of the legacy I’ll be leaving for the state.

One of our problems in Nigeria is that we don’t get sufficient attention to institution building. If I go in there and do four years and quit, that would have been institutionalized. It becomes an institution that the central knows it is their turn next and thereafter it’s the south. That helps to promote institution of governance. If you really want to contribute to the development of a state, four years is adequate for you to make your mark.

When (Dennis) Osadebe was the premier of western region, they built bridges in Asaba, they built cement factory, they built glass factory and so many more in different parts of the state. They laid the foundation of University of Benin, but the real question is how long was Osadebe and his team in office? They were in office from August 1963 to January 1965, that’s two years and four months!

(Lateef) Jakande is remembered as one of the best governors Nigeria has ever had for his contributions to schools and other aspects of Lagos State, he didn’t do two terms. But he’s still remembered today for his achievements. So, I don’t think I need eight years to show what I can do, the society will remember us for what I will do and for the new style of governorship I’m bringing.

How many months will it take you to appoint your commissioners?
The political arrangement is in such that you are elected by the first week of March they complete the election, presidential, governorship etc. You’re given to the end of May; tell me why anybody will not have enough time? From March to the end of May its enough time to appoint your commissioners and of course, when you’re running your campaign before the elections you’re also sorting out for who can do what and the party also has who have been nominated for such position, but once you’re elected you start working on it from the beginning of March till the end of May is more than enough time. So it comes down to development.

The mandate of a governor is four years, if you are to give basic time line, what is the low-hanging fruits you can harvest in the first one year?
The very first thing we can establish for the first one hundred days is good governance, show the people transparency, and carry the people as you go along. So, transparency, good governance is the foundation in which everything else lies. Of course, there will be issues of farming, creating jobs, women and youth empowerment, infrastructure, I want within the first year to begin reconstructing the two main roads in Delta State. Talking about low hanging fruits, something that doesn’t require a penny to implement, it is good governance.


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