*_Q: Edo State governorship election is around the corner. It’s be rumoured everywhere that you are going to give it a shot for a third or four times. So why are you a serial contestant?_*
A: Thank you so much. Yeah that’s a good question. I’m a serial contestant because of the problems Edo people are facing. We have serial problems of insecurity, serial problems of joblessness, serial problems of visible hunger and poverty among Edo people, we have very poor and dilapidating educational system in our state. Of course, you know, as I know that our health system is nothing to write home about, look at the hospital, they are all in collapsed state. So the problem in Edo State is serial and you know the serial man who is convinced serially and I have the answers to the serial questions or problems in Edo to fight hunger. The hunger in Edo is alarming, people can’t even eat three square meals now or two square meals. People eat just once a day and that is all and that is not how God created us. So of course we have systemic problem of APC which is very serial. Even APC now they have failed, their problems is serial and the problem cannot be solved and who is the people that are serially brutalized, is the Edo people. The Edo people are serially brutalized because of the serial problems. Yes, I am a serial contestant because of my love for my people and it is because I believe that I have the answer and the best man for the job to be the Governor of Edo State. To that extent, I will not go back until I see hunger defeated in Edo State, I will not return until I see our schools working again and will not say no to Governorship until I see the hospitals functioning. It is sad the way our State is today, our state is one of the weakest. We were one of the prime in the 60’s during the days of Ogbemudia of blessed memory when we have the then Midwestern State. We were the torchlights of the Nation, we were the focused and good example of the Nation. The Edo people are hardworking people, industrious people. People who are known to be intellectuals, people who are known to be resilient but today we are people who habe no food to eat and we are now beggars in our state. So for me, Obaseki is a serial failure, APC is a serial failure, Oshiomhole is a serial confusionist and these are people that have failed us and by the time you see what APC is doing in Edo State, people are just keeping quiet. Edo State House of Assembly has been shot. Our people voted for their representatives across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state but they are not in the house. People voted for House of Assembly members for nearly a year, where are they now, no consequence and nothing. Our leaders don’t even have conscience and that is the gospel truth. Nigeria as a country especially in Edo State is a jungle, survival for the fittest, even in the jungle what we are seeing in Edo doesn’t happen. Edo is a place now where bombs are being thrown and someone will say I am a serial contestant, yes I am a serial contestant and I am proud to say it. I will challenge those that are throwing bombs in Edo, I will challenge those that are inflicting us with hunger, I will challenge those who are stealing our money and taking our money to Dubai and other countries across the world rather than building industries, building Schools, building Hospitals. That is why you see me coming into politics. What will I say to my four little kids and to those children who are orphans in the society? My conscience will not allow me my brother Erasmus to be in the comfort of my home why majority of my people are being serialized and tortured by hunger and insecurity.
*_Q: You have being largely known as Rice Man and a lot of your opponent will take on you to say that that programme is shallow, perennial and not organic enough to solve the problem of hunger in the State. What is your agenda for Agriculture in the State so that it won’t be seen as mere surfaces in the State?_*
A: Well those who are criticizing me over the years that I’m sharing Rice, let them show just one good example of their kindness to the world. No kindness is too small or too big. We are Christians. I’m a Christian. Jesus talked about feeding the needy. Jesus was a demonstrator of feeding the weak and the poor and the multitude, he never asked them to go hungry. Today the government of Edo have been enslaving the people in perpetual hunger. My Rice sharing was basically because of the poverty in Edo. First, I grew up with a humble beginning and I have said this again and again where I came from, we only eat during Christmas as we couldn’t afford rice and I prayed to my God that Lord, if you bless me, I will always identify with the poor. That was what triggered me to do it. Majorly also what encouraged me further was the poverty that is visibly available to every Edo people that is written on the faces of the people. You can see each time I gave a grain of rice, you can see the joy on the faces of Edo people. So, going forward I did that as an individual. By the time I’m Governor, I will have more resources, capability, as much as control and structure to do more. What is my plan? My self-sufficient plan is that no Edo person should be left without eating. Every Edo person must eat at least three square meals a day. My plan is to have a very robust agriculture program where, for example we will have what I do call ‘The Edo Rice Plantation’ and this rice plantation will be there in the three Senatorial District and of course Edo is a place where you will just till the ground and put the corn or rice and it springs up without fertilizer. What we are lacking is the dexterity of our leaders, the executive resolve and courage and ability to give us farm plantations and when I am Governor, I want to have what I call large farm produce – Rice plantation, tomato plantation, yam plantation, cassava plantation. I have contacts with several international communities. I have strong connections with the American Nation. There is this Aqua Acts the then President Clinton enacted under his administration that Africans can have agriculture trade exports to America. The Aqua Acts stipulate that Africans could export garri, cassava, rice, tomato and quaver juice. When I’m Governor by God’s Grace, I will take on agriculture head on. Edo State will be a state for export of Agricultural produce to the world. It is not true that oil rich nations who are the richest. None oil nations are even righer. Countries that are rich like Israel are those that harness their agricultural potentials. I will harness the agricultural potentials of Edo State and bring it to international notice and we will export agricultural produce outside the country where we will make hard earn money. While emboldening the agricultural environment, I would make employment my major focus because no child who is 18 years and above will loiter the streets of Benin or of Auchi or of Ekpoma or of Ewohimi during my administration. I will quickly bring about a legislative enactment that will make every Edo person productive. The problem with we Africans I think it is a systemic problem with Africans. We are lazy or because Africans naturally are lazy people, we are not entrepreneurial. I mean in our thinking and in our action. So, my administration would tap the talents of an Edo man is made up of or the Edo woman and bring those talents to bear in agriculture. We’ll make sure we have tomatoes factory, we’ll have a juice factory, we’ll have bread factory, we’ll have cake factories and among others. If you have a government that knows what to do, the people will respond appropriately. There’s so much opportunities in Edo State. These opportunities have been thrown away. Unfortunately, Godwin seems to kind of have a little idea but he is enmeshed inter party squabbles and it is a failed party enmeshed in a systemic war that will never end and that has distracted him all along, but he also shows his minuses, forgetting that he is the Governor of the State and of the people. By the time I take the PDP ticket we will get to that. But for now I think it’s quite unfortunate that we are where we are that Edo today cannot feed itself. My government will feed Edo people.
*_Q: It is clear that you have a few components or qualities of leadership, you have the integrity, profession and resilience. The last three or so Christmas, people felt that you have distanced yourself from them, the people didn’t see you the compassion you always show to them. Don’t you think your opponents might accuse you that each time election is around the corner is when you share the rice?_*
A: That’s not true. I have shared rice now for 15 years, I have given out Ipads to schools for over 12 years, I have paid consistently and I have been paying bills for those who are unable to pay their bills at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital for over 15 years, I have also helped the Orphans, the Widows and the Widowers for over 15 years. Well I have never made money in government whether at the Ward Level, Local Government Level, State Level or Federal Government Level. I have never and I think I am the only politician in Nigeria that have never made money from government and I stand to be corrected on this. Before this administrations I havebeensharing rice but this poor APC government have brought economic hardship to me and to hundreds and millions of Nigerians. So, it is not my fault that I have not been sharing rice. So, I hold APC and the Buhari and Obaseki administration for their poor economic policies and the hardship they have inflicted on Nigerians over these five years. Of course, in the past two years I’ve not been able to do it. So, I borrow from Bank to buy rice and share to Edo people but the interest rate now is very high. My brother times are hard and I have been borrowing to share rice hoping that the economy will improve so even me that is sharing rice since I’m being starved now due to the poor administration of this government. So, as soon as things improve by God’s grace, that’s why I am seeking to be the Governor and when I am Governor I will reverse the poor economic policies of Obaseki and Buhari administration in the state.
*_Q: Nigerians have seen failed promises as much as Edo people, this present administration in 2015 and thereafter said to Nigerians that every year they will create 2million jobs, just last month the Minister of labour Dr. Chris Ngige said Nigerians should go and look for jobs that government cannot create jobs for them. A lot of such electoral promises have never be fulfilled. Why do you think your own promises to develop, to empower the Edo people to ensure that poverty is reduced or minimized will be believed?_*
A: Quite honestly, Nigerians have over a hundred percent reasons not to trust politicians. I don’t even trust politicians because the problem of Nigeria today is majorly bad governors, bad attitudes, bad characters of Politicians, they say one thing and they do different thing, but it doesn’t mean that there are no good people or there are no good politicians. The good ones have not been allowed to be in charge. That has been a problem we’ve had. I pray to the Almighty who sees the heart of all men to allow me to Governor Edo State. I’ll keep to my promise, I’ll give my best shots, I’ll make sure that I open up Edo. The man who do the job for Edo should not be robotic in thoughts. I’m from the private sector and I know how to create jobs. I disagree with Dr. Chris Ngige that Government don’t create jobs. They do, but government don’t drive the economy. They’re two different things. Government must make good policies, they must create a good enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Where there is insecurity, economic can not thrive, where there are gun shots, bloodletting, kidnapping, no man with his right senses would want to put his money where there is conflict and confusion. Businessmen will always invest in a stable community or society or nation. We don’t have that in the country. So, what we need if Nigeria and Edo must come out of this quagmire, we need people that have private sector orientation so that they can reinvent the economy. Government must be made and run as I’ve said it’s like a business. The owners of Government are the people, those who are there are just board of directors, if you’re a governor, a local government chairman, you are only a board of directors to make profit for the people, but do you know what our leaders do, rather than make profit for the people, which is the profit of the democracy, water, light, jobs creation, security, good health system, good neighborliness, they don’t do that, rather they take the money they are supposed to invest in their pocket, so what happens, the nation and the people die, the Nigeria company dies. So, the problem of Nigeria is a problem of leadership, the problem of Nigeria is also the problem of followership, unfortunately the followership themselves are parts of the problem. By the time APC come with N2,000 or trader money, you know, I saw the vice president sharing money during the last election. Where is the money now? Why is he not sharing money again now that Coronavirus has invaded the country and the economy is in a standstill? People in Canada and elsewhere around the globe are being taking care of by their governments as a result of Coronavirus plague, yet Buhari’s government and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State have kept mute. That’s the kind of one chance we’ve entered in this administration. However, Nigeria will come out, I think there is hope and everything is not lost because we have people like me that are still serially trying to be Governor and if God and the people give me the chance we will serialize the problem and with serialized answers.
*_Q: Edo State is plagued with security crisis, what are your solutions to it along side cultism where nothing less than a hundred people had being killed since January. How do you intend to tackle cultism and the crisis of insecurity?_*
A: I pity Edo State because Edo is in the hands of one chance Governor. Those who are there today are one chance government. We told them but they didn’t believe us, we campaigned round they didn’t believe us. It will take good leadership, purposeful leadership, passionate leader, committed leader, leader with character, with capacity and with ability to revamp the state. The dynamics of today will take a leader with capacity, passion, capability, with the ability and with character to be able to make the change. What I call character is a man of faith, who have values, and who fears God. It is a pity today of what we are going through. We can overcome it if we have a Governor with capacity, character and content and ability, what I call capacity, character and content and compassion, the forces. The character I’m talking about you must be a man of faith, competent, and compassion. That is why I argue that we need a person from the private sector. We need the person who have the passion to serve. We don’t need a person a godfather will bring. Oshiomhole brought Obaseki and see where we are now. His acceptance was too radical and he his regretting it. I told Oshiomhole then I said look I am your in-law I have done well in my area of chosen endeavor. Nigeria is the only country where you become Governor or President where you have no records and don’t have a past. Nigeria is the only country where you can become Governor without character, capacity to serve and compassion. I mean in countries where they are serious countries that wants to be part of the world community, you can’t become a Governor without having a past or history, without contribution. What are you doing? What are your past? Who are his girlfriends, which church do you go to? How have you treated your wife or your husband? What about your children? Who are they? How have you resolve family issues? When you are in secondary school, how did you play? That’s how I can relate the judgment. Also, I’m not a fan of the Nigeria Judiciary. Though I’m a lawyer, I’m very disappointed about the judgements they give. But again I’m still a product of the same society. We are a laughing stock in the world, but again, I must congratulate the Supreme Court on their judgment on Bayelsa. Then you see somebody who we file different names, different certificates, went through APC screening and even INEC screening, does that not tell you who we are and the systemic failure in our society. So those who went to school like you Erasmus are laughing stock of the society. Of course, 90% of those who are leading us today are 419, where is their past except the Military and the Police and the Customs, government institutional agencies. 90% of our politicians are fake. These are criminals who should go behind bars. They’re the ones now making laws and are at executive positions. That’s why we are where we are and the gospel truth is except we quickly address it now, we’ll see trouble in the future. What is Boko Haram? It is a systemic failure. What are kidnappers? Kidnappers are only reacting against poverty. The Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Army are dying. But look no army can succeed without the support of citizens. The strongest army is the army of the people. Quite honestly if I say this, these are my angers on Nigerians when I say I am on the same side with Gen. Buratai, Gen. Sadiq Hamdizat and the IG. The question is it about Buratai, Sadiq and the IG, no! It is about the people. We almost get it right during the process of selection. If you go to our place now in Edo, we cannot conduct a free and fair congress to produce a free and fair primaries and a free and fair primaries to produce a free and fair election. How can you now govern the people? So it’s a shame and people like me I’m very pained about the kind of country we will be living behind for our children.
*_Q: A lot of people will say that your party is embroiled in crisis at the moment. The PDP leadership seems to be thinking that it is not the turn of Edo Central and have zoned the Chairmanship of the party to the Central, so what is your fate?_*
A: The truth is that you can’t target God and you can’t target the will of the people. I am not an apostle of zoning. I am an apostle of ability, character, content and compassion. We have done it before when we gave Edo South through General Charles against a minority Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole is a minority from Etsako but Oshiomhole was popular then, he won basically because of his popularity. We did it with Ize-Iyamu and we brought an unknown Obaseki, against my brother and friend the machine, I call Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu the machine, but we lost to an unknown Obaseki. I think PDP must learn from history or from the mistake of the past. The National is ready to do a free and fair primaries. Secondus and his body language I can tell you he has said the National wants to do a free and fair primaries irrespective of where the person is from let the popular candidate emerge. So, for me as a popular person with PDP ticket we can beat the APC candidate. If I take the PDP ticket against Obaseki he know he cannot survive it, how is he going to struggle it the popular Rice Man. How are you going to write results against the Rice Man, the people will revolt. I am the only candidate who will take ticket in PDP today that can defeat Obaseki, defeat Oshiomhole and even defeat APC and even defeat Ize-Iyamu. Those three trio, Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki and Oshiomhole, I don’t think they are easy beat. The only way to defeat people is to be good. You bring a good man who have fed the people for 15 years, who have paid school fees for people for 15 years, who have bought cars for people for 15 years, who paid hospitals bills for people for 15 years. Even the dead would rise to vote for the Rice Man. We will defeat APC and they will not have the moral ethos to rig the result. Where will they rig it, if I take the ticket I will dismantle them by my deeds because if they do, the people will rise up and defend me and defend their vote. If they give me ticket, APC is history in Edo State. They know, Godwin knows, Ize-Iyamu knows. Ize-Iyamu is my friend and I call him the Machine. The only man who will be an adversary to them is the Rice Man. So where you are from does not really matter but who you are and what you have done for the people. What is the perception of the people about you. When the two cabals want to do evil, they tell you it is not your turn. So if you say it is not the turn of Esan since 1999, when will it be the turn of Esan? We have tried it twice. Benin against Benin PDP lost, Benin against a minority Oshiomhole PDP lost. So when will it be the turn of Esan. So when will an Esan man become Governor? Among the numerous aspirants we have in APC, none of them can defeat me in an election, I will beat everyone of them in an election. The best of them is Obaseki and followed by Ize-Iyamu. Obaseki will be because of state machinery, even at that, there will be an impression of things. I am Rice man, I have fed the poor, I have identified with the weak, I am repeating that daily. Godwin Obaseki is a missionary from Lagos. I warned them then don’t vote for APC. A man who you don’t know is that the man you want to give ticket? Oshiomhole didn’t listen and I’m sure Oshimhole will see me as a Nostademus now. I’m also telling them now, I have been telling our party PDP if they give me ticket, that’s the end of APC. I’m the only candidate that have the key to defeat APC. Whosoever APC brings, if he stands against me I will beat the person across the 18 LGAs. Oshiomhole knows, Obaseki knows, Ize-Iyamu knows. They all know that it is only the Rice Man that can win. I know the National Leadership of our great party the PDP are good people, they want the best for the party, they are committed to free, fair and credible primaries, that I know and that is what is giving me the confidence to move ahead that the National will only do what is right and it is only what is right that will guarantee rightful result for our party and if Rice Man take the ticket, who is the APC? Who is Obaseki when I take PDP ticket? How will Obaseki tell the people who I have been giving rice for over 15 years now not to vote for me. How will you tell a student who benefited 10 years ago who can now vote not to vote for me or that young boy that have kidney failure I paid his hospital bill in UBTH tell his family not to vote for me. How is he going to do it? When I take ticket, I’m going to get Americans, Canadians, French, everybody and the world will be in Edo. Edo people are not undermining my capacity. They knows I have the capacity both locally and internationally. Edo election will be like presidential election when I take ticket, there will not be rigging and if you throw bombs there will be consequences and anybody who rig election there will be consequences but lets leave that until I get ticket.
*_Q: So what is your plan for education because if you check, Edo is one of the least developed states in and out because education is the bedrock and the whole state is flooded with migrants rooming the streets instead of being in school. So what is your plan for education?_*
A: I’m very saddened that what used to be our selling point are now our weakest points because they have systematically destroyed our intellectual property and our intellectual values and our industry – the educational industry. When we were in school those days they call us Bendel then, if you are from Bendel State – Edo and Delta, you meet everybody in the country or West African know of Bendel then. We have gone back in the lather educationally. Edo State University now Ambrose Alli University is now a glorified secondary school, poor funding, no reward system for lecturers, salaries are not paid as at when due, abominable school fees, school fees now on the high side, parents are suffering and when parents suffered to train these children, no jobs. So the blessings of the Good Lord is that I’m coming from the educational private background. My experience over the years would be a huge blessing to Edo people. My first focus is to quickly rescue our educational industry from primary school to university level. What I will do when I’m Governor, I promised, I will give free and fair education to everybody, I don’t need to tell you the breakdown until when I become Governor. , I Kenneth Imasuagbon do promise Edo people that there will be free and fair education from primary to university level. How will I do that? That is my key which I’m not ready to surrender to anybody. It is doable. If you have right mind, if you have the content, the contact, the knowledge, with our God we can achieve it. I’m going to achieve it. So what I’m waiting for is to become the Governor of Edo State.
*_Q: Your first hurdle is the primaries, now like I said Edo Central already got the party chairmanship. What is your advice to those in court over the chairmanship tussle?_*
A: Quite honestly, I won’t say those in courts are wrong, but I’m not in their support. It is wrong for you to carry the party to court without first exhausting the internal mechanism of the party. I’m a lawyer that’s what we were taught in Doctrine and Constitution and I remember I made an “A” in that course, Educational Law, I was taught very well then. So before you rush to court, you must exhaust all available remedies in that organization. So to that extent, I also want to say, those who went to court have a reason why they went to court, so they must not be condemned, but it doesn’t mean they are devil or they should please in the interest of the party vacates the matter in court. PDP is a very reasonable party, good party with compassion, with good leaders especially at the National level. The National leadership under Uche Secondus are ready to do the right stuff.
*_Q: Even when Osagie Ize-Iyamu exited from the PDP, you still called him the machine, does that not suggest he simply emptied the party and that the party is now the shadow of its former self_*
A: That’s not true, the party is stronger and now stronger than when Ize-Iyamu was there my very good friend but I respect Ize-Iyamu, I paid my respect he knows, I love him and I respect him, I call him The Machine. He is a machine. I hope APC gives him ticket. He will be a good material for me to fight, you know. So, it will be a combat of good friends, I will defeat Ize-Iyamu, he knows that I will beat him any day any time if it comes to election between me and him. I’m sure he left because of me. So he knows, though he is a machine and a machine can be grounded, I will ground his machine.
Q: So good to see you
A: Thank you sir
Q: See you in Government House come September this year
A: Thank you sir