Elder Eghosa Ugbo Curtis is the President of the Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM International). In this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he spoke on the just concluded Edo 2020 gubernatorial election, why Edo people both home and abroad decided to revolt against Adams Oshiomhole and Bola Tinubu’s political dominance and godfatherism in Nigeria, and the need for other states in Nigeria to take a cue from Edo State. Except…
As a human rights activist, and as president of Benin Solidarity Movement, you were at the forefront in the fight against godfatherism in Edo. Now that Godwin Obaseki has been re-elected, what do Edo people expect this time round from him?
First, we thank God for giving us a peaceful election in Edo State. You will agree with me that Edo election generated a lot of heat both locally and internationally. But now that the election has come and gone, Edo people expect Governor Goodwin Obaseki to be focused and consolidate by completing some of the projects he embarked on when he assumed office as governor in 2016. We are also very happy that Edo people stood behind Obaseki, during the trial period, and we were very resolute in ensuring that we put an end to political godfatherism and dictatorship in Edo politics. We are happy that all our efforts yielded good results.
Political analysts and social commentators in Edo are of the view that the election was not about Obaseki, but between Edo people and godfathers. Do you agree?
Yes Godwin Obaseki stood for Edo people, and people stood by him against those godfathers who think only about themselves. And today, Edo State is free from the shackles of godfatherism. One good thing I want people to know about is that Benin people are warriors; we are a very determined and strong willed people, nobody can push us around. When we decide to fight for something, we go all out for it. Today, if Governor Obaseki decides to play God, what happened to Oshiomhole, and others will also happen to him. The scenario that played out between Adams Oshiomhole and Professor Oserhiemen Osubor was what repeated itself. Oshiomhole benefitted from the magnanimity of Edo people when Edo masses helped him to fight godfatherism by demystifying late Chief Tony Anineh and the Igbinedions. Today he should take whatever happens to him in good fate. So my own advice to Obaseki is not to miss track because if he plays God he will also face the same treatment. Again, Edo people expect nothing less than massive infrastructural development and speedy completion of already started projects in the state. He must also focus his attention on security, and youth empowerment because when our youths are gainfully employed, there will be massive reduction of crime and criminality in the state, and it will give room for foreign investors to come in and that will usher in the needed development.
Do you advise him to settle all pre-election issues with all parties involved?
Of course, Obaseki should know that it is Edo people that voted him in for the second term, so he must as matter of fact do everything within his power to fulfill all his electioneering promises. On whether or not he should make peace with all parties involved, it is very important for him to come to a round table talk with them. Obaseki is governor of Edo State, not governor of PDP or APC. Making peace with those he feels were against his second term bid is rela-tive, he can only make peace with the ones that are ready to cooperate and work with him. I will not advise him to make peace with persons whose names are corruption personified. If Oshiomhole show signs of remorse or repentance, he should be forgiven, but if not, he should be treated like a rebel. He should not work with corrupt politicians; rather he should run away from them. The interest of the people of Edo State should be paramount in the heart of Obaseki. There should be drastic change in the government; Edo people won’t be happy to see Obaseki go back to doing what he said he would not do. What is required from him is massive development in all sectors of the state economy. He should be able to build a legacy that people would remember him for. Paying evil for evil will not help us. But I want to tell him that Edo people are solidly behind him. What we want is development. Edo election has paved the way for transparency in subsequent elections in the country where the people’s votes must count. We have shown to Nigerians that Edo is actually the heartbeat of the nation.