In this interview, the deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, explains why he wants to succeed the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki in 2024. Shaibu, who said he was still consulting on his next moves, said the outcome of his consultation would be made known soon. He said what the state needed was practical and not experimental governance. Excerpts:
What can you say about factions in the Edo People’s Democratic Party?
What is happening in the PDP is not different from what is happening in other parties. It’s a leadership problem. We’re not following the leadership structure of the founding fathers and what you have is conflict. There is no party really that doesn’t have its internal crisis. Some of these conflicts have to do with interest. This is a major problem that is not just about the PDP but other parties as well.
My own take is that the whole leadership thing needs to be addressed. When we say power belongs to the people, let us allow this power to belong to the people.
Politics is evolving and let me say that we are actually in transition to practical democracy. From the military era to where we are today, it is a transition as we are not fully there yet. When we succeeded in getting the military to go back to the barracks, it was military apologists that took over leadership and you know what the structure of the military is.
These same guys were the same set of people that were overpowered and so, that mentality of autocracy, dictatorship was only mild compared to when a military dictator was there.
Yes, there was still resemblance of checks and balances to reduce the level of dictatorship. But I think we need to consistently review our laws and take power back to the people because this was why we wanted democracy.
The people should determine who becomes whatever. If the person doesn’t do well, we have the constitutional right to take the person out through the ballot but unfortunately, the system is not just it yet and we still have a long way to go.
Don’t forget that this democracy is alien. We are Africans and we have our own way of life but we’re bringing a foreign component to change our mentality and our way of life. It would still not be as smooth as that of the original owners of that system.
In this last election of 2023, a lot of things happened. The need to take politics out of our courts is becoming something that we need to start looking at.
We need to review our laws so that we don’t return to how elections used to be in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
From 2015, the system started changing because we started seeing some levels of compliance. If we don’t take time now, we might be returning to that era where snatching ballot boxes was the order of the day. That will not augur well for the system. The National Assembly should look at laws that will guarantee sanctity of the ballot box.
Why are you insisting on contesting the governorship election, you’re aware that there’s an unwritten agreement that power should shift to Edo-Central?
I’m not insisting on contesting. The ambition of becoming Deputy Governor was not mine but I made myself available. The ambition to be governor is still not mine but I’m only making myself available.
Don’t forget that the destinies of the people are connected, interwoven. There is no convention in Edo State on the issue of zoning, politically, traditionally or at conferences where we met to say this is how we want to have our politics zoned.
At the same time, I’m an advocate of fairness and equity but whoever is talking about fairness and equity must come with clean hands.
“Edo people are in dire need of practical governance and we cannot afford to experiment again with someone who does not understand the politics and needs of Edo State”
If you check the structures of those that have been governors in Edo State, there is nowhere you will see the issue of zoning. We had four governors from Edo South, two from Edo-Central and only one from Edo-North. When you look at the PDP, the party has never given its governorship ticket to any candidate from Edo-North. If I get the ticket of the PDP, I will be the first candidate of the PDP from Edo North since 1999. Anyhow you look at it; equity and fairness show that Edo North should produce the next governor.
When people want to whip up sentiments out of ignorance and perceived incompetence, they whip up ethnic and religious sentiments.
If I become governor, I won’t be governor of Afenmai. I will be governor of Edo State.
Edo people are in dire need of practical governance and we cannot afford to experiment again with someone who does not understand the politics and needs of Edo State. Everywhere including the international scene, people are clamouring that governments shouldn’t be pushing projects that are not needed.
So, we need to do a NEEDS assessment. You cannot know the needs of the people when you don’t live with them.
For me, competence and experience should be the watchword. Who is competent, more experienced and who will hit the ground running from day one if he becomes governor? Are we going to experiment with a new person again and the person will spend the first four years learning on the job and the next four years trying to embezzle and set up businesses in the name of consolidating on his first term? We need a governor that from the day he is sworn in, he will hit the ground running.
Someone who knows that today, you cannot travel from Jattu to Benin without spending a minimum of three to four hours.
We need someone, whose priority would be how to collaborate with the Federal Government on this road so that one can go to Benin from Jattu within one hour, twenty minutes.
I have been in the system. I understand the debt profile of Edo State and I know where I can get funding to put up structures in the state.
I’m not coming to learn on the job. I’m not coming to experiment. The problem we have had in the system is that we have had too many seminars and workshops but there is no time to implement the outcome of these seminars.
I saw when Osunbor was governor, I saw when Oshiomhole was governor, and I worked with Obaseki as governor. I know the mistakes of them all. I also know the things that were beneficial to Edo State that Osunbor, Oshiomhole and Obaseki did.
We’ll amplify the good things and not repeat the mistakes. You can only do this if you are a part of the system. This is the experience I’m bringing on board.
You came on board with Governor Obaseki and you are talking about seminars without implementation. Are you not part of the government?
Revolutionary tactics are not discussed in public. Official secrets are not also revealed in public. I can tell you that all the sectors I have been asked to lead are handled creditably well. I’ve been commended by the governor for handling these sectors well.
The Obaseki administration did very well with EdoBest and other sectors. I know the sectors that are still struggling and I know how to make them work. That is why I’m saying that experience is what I’m bringing on board. I understand why certain things are moving well and why others are moving slowly.
I showed practical governance as a member of Edo State House of Assembly, as a member of the National Assembly. As President of NANS, even when I didn’t have a budget provision, I got multinational companies to do various projects on our campuses.
They built hostels in the Universities of Jos, Ife and recreational villages across this country. I’m a project-driven person. My quest in politics is to bring on board my thoughts of an egalitarian society.
I won’t be a governor that won’t work with his Deputy because the Deputy Governor is as qualified as the governor. That is if any of them has issues, the other one is disqualified.
What are the options available to you in terms of political party platforms?
I’m still consulting and in the coming days, the outcome of my consultation will be made public.
My first option is PDP, second option is PDP and the third is PDP. PDP wants to win the election and it must win the election; the party needs to listen to the voice of the people.
I’m not contesting the election because of Philip Shaibu. I’m contesting because Edo people say I should come out.
If they are saying I should come out, their dictates are what I will follow. I have told them that I’m a member of the PDP and I’m sure that I’ll get the PDP ticket.
They’re mobilizing for me to get the ticket. They have told me some parties I shouldn’t go to but I won’t reveal that to you now. They told me about a particular party I mustn’t go to. I’m a street man and even the governor will attest to the fact that I always preach the street message.
I bring the street perspective to all our conversations. If I get the PDP ticket, the people will see my street credibility.