2023: IJD, others speak on Edo election, beckon on Kwankwanso

Here in this interview, I shall be speaking with Iyoha John Darlington, Edo State PPN former governorship candidate on ‘State Of The Nation’ and other national issues which border on 2023 presidential election.

The governorship election in Edo State has come and gone with the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the incumbent Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, declared the winner. As a participant-observer would you say the election was free and fair?

A careful study of the obviously sad situation and events that preceded the election did clearly send a message to one and all whose way the pendulum would swing. At the sad period under review we had a governor that soldiered on in spite of every agonising distraction from detractors. The services of hack writers were retained by the abovenamed to discredit the incumbent governor. You see, in every aspect of life you can have a billion lie but never a billion truth; for there is only one truth.

The truth, as a matter of fact, shall always prevail. Armed with the truth, Edo people went into that election with their mind already made up. So little wonder they all spoke with one voice to retain not just a working governor but an indefatigable one under whose leadership our state is undergoing a rapid transformation, a working governor whose works have not only surpassed but dwarfed his predecessors’ both living and dead coupled with his unexampled humility and tolerance in the face of every agonizing provocation. You see, there is a coinage – “as humble and tolerant as Governor Obaseki and former President Jonathan” – that gained currency in the build-up to that historic governorship election which paid off in the long run.

Under Governor Obaseki the acronym Civil Servant State (CSS) a long-time derogatory label on Edo has been cast overboard considering the gradual transformation of our state to an industrial hub in the South-South geopolitical zone. Every enabling environment has been created by Obaseki for business to thrive and flourish across the state and this in no small measure has triggered a mass Hegira of our people home. These and many other factors actually prepared the ground for Obaseki’s re-election. The election, in all honesty, was free and fair if you ask me because the generality of Edo people went into that election locking horns with the forces of tyranny who were poised to return our state to the odious apparatus of neo-Nazi rule. Hence, that election, to a large extent, was free and fair if you need reminding.

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We have stumbled onto a series of articles authored by you, your activities and interviews you have granted to both local and the foreign media particularly Epigs & Tegs Radio France in Paris before and after picking your former party’s governorship nomination form which pitched your former party, the Peoples Party of Nigeria ( PPN) against the two dominant political parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress as an emerging third force in Edo State. Why did you step down in the nick of time?

Well, you see, we actually started before the APC & the PDP even when I had not come to Nigeria from my comfort zone in Europe. The social media, an information harvest platform, was actually strewn with ill-reports – the handiwork of hack writers – about the Obaseki-Shaibu administration which we initially fell for.

The daily episodes of Mediterranean deaths particularly Nigerians of Edo State extraction which the hack writers blamed on the incumbent administration gave rise to the historic Turin Conference where Nigerians of Edo State extraction from across the EU converge on Turin, Italy’s northern uplands. Major resolutions were adopted herein referred to as “The Turin Declaration”. Part of the resolutions was to transform Edo to one of the industrial heartlands in the eurozone with the aid of competent technocrats among us.

As luck would have it, I was nominated to lead the salvage operations and this saw my return to Nigeria. While here, I delved into work by consulting with royal fathers and other political stakeholders across the state. After proceeding on tour of our state as far as the remotest outposts with our redemption message I became disillusioned after exhaustive inquiries as to what I saw on the ground – Obaseki’s achievements to be precise – which were grossly under-reported.

Having won a large number of followers and supporters I was left with no option but to heed the wise counsel of those I consulted with. After my invitation by the Deputy Governor, His Excellency Rt Hon Philip Shiabu to the Government House on February 19th this year through the agency of Chief Odion an Etsako High Chief I went on another tour of our state to tell my teeming supporters why they should join me as I deemed changing boats onto Obaseki-Shaibu’s amid stormy waters absolutely necessary while they were still in the APC and went the extra mile with them in their very trying times when they unavoidably had to dump the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party.

Two factors informed the decision I took. For starters, what is the use of fighting a lost battle to the Government House when the incumbent governor’s policies and implementation are in line with my vision and ideals for our state? I, for one, have always believed that round pegs should be allowed in round holes and Governor Obaseki is one considering his remarkable achievements in the last four years. Secondly, after extensive consultations with our royal fathers and other political stakeholders, it dawned on me to heed their wise counsel by letting well alone. Thus, I made up my mind and joined forces with the incumbent governor in his untiring efforts to regenerate our state which was plundered and sapped dry by eight prodigal years of Oshiomhonle’s misrule.

As a writer, opinion leader and public commentator on national and global issues and of course as a well-travelled young man that has sojourned overseas for a very long time would you say the ruling party has fared well in terms of good governance?

In the build-up, to 2015 general elections the country witnessed a political tsunami that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress. As luck would have it, this country had many challenges at the time some of them are still there to this day to contend with including a bloody insurgency. We were told, which Nigerians fell for hook, line and sinker that the erstwhile ruling party is one vast empire of corruption.

They demonized the former ruling party and said they only possess the magic wand to ride out the storm of deceit and revitalize “the decadent paralysis”. With a man of transparent honesty leading the ‘salvage operations’ Nigerians pitched tents with the “liberators” that saw the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari. That is how the goose that lays the golden eggs was killed on May 29, 2015. Critically assessing the performance of the ruling party, let us see if the problems and challenges that plagued the country then are still there. Insecurity remains one of the reasons advanced by the self-styled liberators.

How has this administration fared in this regard? Sad to say today that insecurity of lives and property has, in fact, assumed an alarming crescendo as Nigerians are butchered daily in the north by Janjaweed armed militias otherwise referred to as armed bandits with our security forces losing the battle at every turn. Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and a host of other northern states have been turned to a theatre of war where scores of lives have been lost to armed bandits. Similarly, we had thought the advent of the liberators would sound the death knee to Boko Haram militants who have been fighting to actualize a sovereign Islamic state. Secondly, the government in Abuja says it is fighting corruption while corruption has increasingly become deeply rooted.

President Muhammadu Buhari, though well-intentioned in this regard, has obviously lost the fight as he has been frustrated at every turn. He did well by strengthening our institutions particularly the anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the EFCC, to deal with graft cases but fortunately or unfortunately that institution has been hijacked and eventually metamorphosed to a toothless bulldog.

The resultant effect of these has been nothing but debilitating which tell abysmally on the economic wellbeing of the citizenry. Inflation figures in Nigeria today have spiked double digits so much so that many of our people now yearn for a reversion to the status quo ante. Like I just did say President Buhari the leader of the governing party is well-intentioned to regenerate Nigeria but he cannot be everywhere to effectively monitor the business of governance which speaks volumes for the abysmal failure of the ruling party.

As a youth politician what have you got to say about the political situation in Nigeria? In fact, in whose hands and leadership do you think the affairs of Nigeria would be better managed in terms of good governance and the like?

What we see today in our country is something akin to a gradual descent to sunset at noon. Here in metropolitan Lagos, for instance, policemen have deserted major roads and streets therefore causing panic and fears among the city dwellers. This is one of the trademarks of a failed state.

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The cause of this is none other than the criminal attack on policemen and police formations across the state where crime-fighting equipment were looted and carted away by an invading band of marauders during the recent protest against police brutality in Lagos and other parts of the country. Official figures released by the Police Inspector-General show that no fewer than 27 policemen were killed by hoodlums that hijacked the protest. Many grievances that have plunged our country into abysmal depths were listed by the youth which the President in his magnanimity has decided to look into.

President Muhammadu Buhari in all honesty deserves a pat on the back for setting a committee to address this issue. Who and what Nigeria urgently stands in need of is a team of competent technocrats to salvage our country from total wreck.

For quite sometime now clamour for a president from the south has rented the air or to say the least Nigerian president of South-East extraction. Don’t you seem to share this view?

Objectively speaking, Nigeria is not only sick but on a life support under the existing circumstances and therefore in dire need of a capable and experienced physician. I am not an ethnic jingoist or religious bigot. I am Nigerian and with Nigerian blood flowing in my veins. I see every Nigerian belonging to one big family irrespective of our different tribes, creed and religion. Its debilitating ill-health needs a competent physician for proper diagnosis and treatment for effective cure.

It does not matter to me where such physician that we urgently stand in need of will come from provided he or she is Nigerian. Ethnicity, tribe and religion should not be allowed to dictate the pace or becloud our sense of reasoning. There is so much work to do to salvage Nigeria from this wreck. In advanced democracies, regional power shift is non-existent. I am an advocate of meritocracy. Hence, it is high time we allowed the best man who is capable of steering us out of the stormy waters to lead the salvage operations of which we urgently stand in need or we should all be prepared to brave for even darker times.

Like I just did say, Nigeria is one big family irrespective of our different ethnic backgrounds, creed and religion. Again, the best man irrespective of where he comes from, I insist, with all the emphasis at my command, should be allowed to salvage us from this wreck. This is where I irrevocably stand!

Youths, from what we’ve seen are hammering on taking over in 2023, what is your take on this?

There is nothing wrong with this. Are they not Nigerians? Sure, they are! I am a youth politician, myself. There is no existing legislation in Nigeria barring youths from holding elective offices for all I know. Hence it would be totally wrong to play politics of exclusion in this regard.

You cannot exclude the old ones or confine them to advisory roles or put differently consigned them to the dustbin of history. That we need them is not in dispute all this considered. There abound in them many ones that have been tested and trusted such as the incumbent Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki and the former Kano State Governor, Engr. Musa Rabiu Kwankwanso.

If I have my way I would press for a constitutional amendment to make the good ones among them that have been tested and trusted remain perpetually in office via a referendum in the region or state concerned. What is the rationale behind the likes of the above-named and many others, for instance, to go into retirement on account of age because we want to pave the way for our youths when their tenures would be a lost golden age? Would that not amount to political suicide that we shall live to rue for a very long time?

You just did dismiss the clamour for zoning arrangement by calling attention of our million readers across the world to the debilitating anomalies plaguing our country which should urgently be addressed if Nigeria is to move forward. Who is the most capable hand you are tipping to lead Nigeria in the coming years?

This is where the likes of the former Kano State Governor, Engr. Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, the incumbent Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and a host of others come in. But I shall, in the course of this interview, dwell solely on Sen. Kwankwanso whose tenure as Kano State Governor is seen as a lost golden age considering the remarkable achievements while Kano Governor. Sen. Kwankwanso achievements just like Obaseki’s leave much to be desired.

This has galvanized other Nigerians and I across the EU to throw weight behind him in the 2023 presidential election should he vie for the presidency in his capacity not only as a pragmatic but as a result-oriented politician and we shall, in all honesty, be contented to follow his lead. Our people in the Diaspora under the auspices of Nigerian Patriots In Europe ( NPIE) have been watching behind the scenes. Only recently they broke their silence and adopted one major resolution by delegates of Nigerian extraction from across the EU under the leadership of Engr. Fred Osas Akhere and Longy Agoha during its extra-ordinary meeting that took place last month in Paris, the French capital. In a similar vein, Godwin Obaseki, the incumbent Edo Governor is one technocrat and administrator par excellence who has lifted Edo State to an Olympian height on account of his financial wizardry.

Today, Edo is a proud owner of a Hydro-power plant – the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project (IPP) is a 461MW Open Cycle Gas Turbine power station near Benin City, the Edo State capital and a seaport on the southern flank of the state. These were created out of nothing because Oshiomhonle left behind an empty treasury and a state saddled with massive debt burden for his successor the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki.

It would also be recalled that the former Kano Governor initiated a similar project – the Tiga hydro Electricity Power station in Kano in 2014 at the cost of a whooping N4.2 billion with President Buhari while in opposition laying the foundation for its construction. Sen. Kwankwanso also built another Independent Power Plant, the Challawa Dam which gulped over N10 billion and this was financed solely by the state government without recourse to any loans. It would be recalled, however, that Kano one of Nigeria’s industrial heartlands and in fact the biggest in northern Nigeria depended largely on diesel-powered generators. Today, the state boasts of 35 megawatts of electricity – the handiwork of a man with vision capable of transforming his dreams and visions into reality.

The man Kwankwanso is also credited with having built three brand new cities in the state namely Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo. This is a rare feat and we are bound by an unshaken conviction that this will be replicated at the national level if voted to power in 2023.


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