Honourable Matthew Aigbuhueze Iduoriyekemwen’s foray into the Edo political scene began with his appointment as Secretary to the defunct United Nigeria People’s Party (UNPP) in Oredo Local Government Area. He was later elected into the Edo State House of Assembly where he served for two terms starting from 1999 until 2007.The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and Governorship Aspirant has also represented Edo State as Commissioner on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.In 2005 he co-ordinated the Edo State wing of the Yar’dua/Jonathan Campaign Organization which successfully ensured victory for his then principals. He speaks exclusively to Ima‘ Ero of www.themidwestjournal.com on various issues and especially why he thinks he is the best candidate to steer the Edo State Governorship ship.
What would you say stands you out in the journey to get the PDP gubernatorial ticket?
I stand out because first I see myself as having a genuine passion, a genuine zeal and a genuine commitment to see a complete transformation of our state positively.
A cursory look at everybody contesting today in terms of experience both in government and business I think I stand out amongst all of them. I have been here all along as I have been in government since 1999.I have been a part of every government that has been in this state except the last ACN government that became the APC government. I will say that with my experiences both in the legislative arm of government for about eight years and having also served in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which I see as a branch of the executive arm of government though an interventionist agency, I know exactly what to do at any point in time. I have gone round this state; I have physically visited the 192 wards of Edo State. I know what the peculiar issues that befall most of our people are. The issue of poor infrastructural development, the issue of sustaining the available ones by way of maintaining them as well as the issue of lack of a clear cut economic direction in government. There is no economic purpose so to speak. Furthermore we have issues of dearth in entrepreneurship and dearth in industrialization in the state. You need somebody who is a part of this state; one who feels what the people feel to be able to make a conscious and genuine change of the situation and to be able to create wealth from that which God has blessed us with as a people and to be able to make Edo people to become confident in themselves once again knowing that we in Edo state can be great again.
Your party, the PDP lost the last two elections to ACN and later APC, what has changed now to make the people believe in the party again?
The issue is not about the party losing elections. It was the perception of the people of Edo and the people of Nigeria about a political party at that point in time. Secondly I do not agree that we lost the last two elections. In the 2007 elections we didn’t lose it on the field of voting. I see that as a situation where we won an election and couldn’t manage the victory therefore the judiciary came and the opponent took advantage of it. In the elections of 2012 we lost because we fielded a candidate that was not really known to the Edo electorate. Yes I am a PDP member but we all know even as loyal party men that the candidate we fielded then was not one that the people could trust or believe in. The impression of the people about a candidate any political party fields matter in any election. People must believe in you first as a person and they must trust you to be able to give you their votes. I think that’s also where we had a problem in PDP.The party then gave the ticket to someone who was barely known to party members not to talk of the Edo people. We fielded somebody that was not known. That the candidate went on to lose an election right in his own poling unit shows the extent of unacceptability even in his own domain.
Looking at the current APC government, what’s your assessment of the performance and what would you change if elected?
There are so many things to change. Oshiomhole as a person came and met a situation which, according to him, was a result of years of non performance by the previous PDP government therefore he tried to do some things on infrastructure for us to see. Yes we saw Airport road which we are still seeing and a few things in the other senatorial districts which in my own estimation are not enough. I would have done more. Government has gone beyond the point of just building roads. The provision of roads no longer defines the performance of any government. I have always maintained that beyond the provision of infrastructure the people who you govern must be happy and they must be satisfied. It is that satisfaction of the people and happiness of the electorates that determines whether the government is doing well or not. Now the question I will throw back at you is ’looking at Edo state today, do you see it as one where the people are really satisfied and happy with the kind of governance that is being thrown at them?’ I think the people deserve better, I think the people can be better satisfied through performance and I think the people can be made happier. I usually don’t criticize government as I always tell people. I always maintain that I would do my thing differently from the way whoever is there is doing it. If I agree absolutely with the way the other person is doing it I won’t be seeking elective positions. I will rely on the person there to give us a successor to succeed him or her and continue with what he or she is doing. I think that things can be done differently. We have to re-prioritize and we have to know what should come first and not to take government as a place where allocations come at the end of the month and you throw some money around to a few persons and they are happy, you settle some critical aspects of the society say, the journalists, and they write all sorts of positive things about your performance but right in the streets people are lamenting, the people are living in abject poverty and are not able to take care of themselves. What keeps one alive is hope. When you have hope that this government will be able to meet your needs, that’s the tonic to stay alive. But when you don’t have that then there is no incentive to carry on. The people have been so hopeful and when things are not going well hopelessness steps in. The only way to restore order and hope to the people is to offer ourselves for service and take the driver’s seat and show governance by example rather than staying behind praying and wishing that things will change.I am here to ,by the grace of the almighty God, restore hope to my people.
What is your take on the call by some people that Edo Central Senatorial district should be given the ticket by way of zoning in the coming elections?
That is not part of PDP.The party has already zoned the Governorship slot to Edo South and the Deputy Governorship slot to Edo Central so it is immaterial whatever any person says about that. I am a party man and the party has taken a position. If the party, for instance, had zoned the governorship position to another senatorial district I won’t be out campaigning even though I have an interest to become governor. Again you must bear in mind that I am not a tribalist.I am completely detribalized and I see every part of Edo State as belonging to the same family. What is paramount in all of these is that the people are better served. I am sure that if previous governments had performed creditably and equitably there will not be any need for any section of the state to call for its own tribe to be given the ticket. It goes to show that governance in Nigeria has not been served the way it should have been. I am not going to be governor of Edo South only. The commonwealth is for every city, every town, every community, every household and every individual of our state. As I have stated on several fora I am presenting myself as that candidate that everyone can trust to have his or her interest at heart. Poverty does not know tribe. Suffering does not know tongue. Pain does not know your village. Good governance will make the people feel a sense of kinship and community towards making Edo a better place where everybody everywhere can be gainfully engaged and become useful to himself and his community. As Governor I am a servant; I am a Benin man, I am an Ishan man, I am an Etsako man, I am an Igarra man, I am an Owan man and so on. I have visited every nook and cranny of the state and I can feel the pulse.
We have an APC government at the federal level; don’t you think having the opposition PDP party at the helms in the state will not be in the interest of the people of Edo State?
I want to also put it back to you; the mere fact that there was a PDP government at the center and an APC one at the state level did that lead to any setback? What is due to you from the Federation Account is what is due to you. Yes there may be some other extra benefits because you are a member of the same party as the President but if you as a Governor know what you are doing and you do well the President, whether he is PDP or APC, will see the things you are doing because the ultimate aim of governance is to serve our people and if the President sees that you as a governor are doing just that I think that he will have no choice but to work with you. There have been governors that have governed in this country that were opposition governors but they still did well. People like Peter Obi and many others including Adams Oshiomhole and very many others but they still got the cooperation from the Federal Government to do what they had to do. Very many others have been in opposition to PDP since 1999 but some of them still performed and that’s why their people have continued to repose confidence in them until they took over government at the center because the people saw what the government had been doing. Therefore I don’t see it as a problem that because the party is holding sway at the center and another at the state that it will affect your level of performance negatively. Instead I see it as an incentive that will make you look more inward and be more creative in the things that you have to do. You will recall that in 1979 to 1983 Ambrose Ali was a member of the unity party of Nigeria while president Shagari was a member of NPN but I will still say it that Ambrose Ali’s government is one of the reference points that we will all always look back to in which we had a government that was so grassroots- oriented. A government that made the people feel what responsible and responsive governance is all about. I benefitted from that government especially in several ways. The free education policy paid off on a lot of us though he was not a member of the party at the center. There were states in the same party as the then Federal Government but they did not do half as well as he did so I don’t think that is an issue for consideration. I will have a good working relationship with Mr. President irrespective of partisan affiliation.