Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu is the Deputy Governor of Edo State; he is a man of many parts. Known for his doggedness and activism, he has won the hearts of many. In a chat with Saturday Telegraph, he spoke on his life as a unionist, the lessons from Edo election, democracy among others. Excerpts…
What informed this relationship that you built over the years with journalists?
As a true Comrade, I sincerely believe in the idea of freedom and emancipation of the oppressed. I’m not come and raid comrade, am a true democrat, not those political leaders who use the appellation comrade to raid citizens of their freedom.
I have been in the forefront of championing the cause of freedom for our people for many years. I started unionism right from my junior days at school, so as an activist and a freedom fighter, the best friend you make are people of the pen profession. So l became closer to journalists during the era of the military junta of late General Sani Abacha, and others who wanted to turn themselves into lords in Nigeria by trying to perpetuate themselves into life president.
You keep saying that journalists saved your life; how did it happen?
Like I said before, my genuine leadership traits and humane activism started in my days at the famous Sardauna Memorial Secondary School Kaduna and at the great University Of Jos. Several times I ran into problems with the school authorities on account of offence committed by me in my attempts to fight injustice and man’s inhumanity to man.
I hated oppression, I hated injustice. So as a leader in the Student Union Government, the body entrusted me with high level responsibility, and as Student Union Government Parliamentarian and NANS Zone C, coordinator, I was actively involved in the emancipation of Nigerian students from the hands of the military oppressors.
As a young Nigerian Student Union leader, I was one of the very few who put their lives in danger for the enthronement of true democratic governance. In the fight for total freedom, we confronted the fascist regimes of General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha headlong.
The constant encounters with uniformed men, led me to Gashua Prisons IN Maiduguri where I was confined to by the Abacha government goons who saw me as a threat. During the time they came to release people from the prisons, myself and some others were left, it was a journalist who wrote that there are still some people in the prisons yet to be released. This was how I regained my freedom; it was due to the writing of that journalist. So from then I made up mind that I would always do good for journalists. Today I’m an associate journalist and they have become part of me.
You fought for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria, so what is your advice to Nigerian youths?
With effect from now, I want to tell our youths that our leadership starts from now. The old people cannot continue to perpetuate themselves in power; they have destroyed our country our grandparents repaired for us. When you graduate from the universities those days, companies would be looking for you with a job, but today millions of graduates are on the streets with no hope for tomorrow. The old leaders came and carted away everything and they still want to continue. We would not allow them; most of us are now in the system and we will would use the system to chase them away. People cannot continue to rule us as if we are fools, we are not fools. If we don’t change the government, if we don’t change our mindset and know what government is all about we would not learn.
What lessons have been learnt from the last election in Edo State?
The last election in Edo State, shows that our ‘Mumu don do.’ It has given birth to a new system of democracy in Nigeria, it has opened the eyes of Nigerians that it is time we free ourselves from the grip of these self-centred leaders.
They brought money, used federal might, did everything to ensure they won the election, but the good people of Edo stood their ground. Some rejected their money, those of them who could not refuse collected the money and voted against them.
That is the new Nigeria that we are talking about. What has happened in Edo State would be replicated in the 2023 General election. Now look at insecurity in the country, instead of facing governance, they are talking about 2023.
We don’t know who will get to 2023, or who will not, instead of all of us to come together to see how we can salvage our country, to see how we can wriggle out of this economic quagmire, how we can build a good nation for the people, they are busy fighting for who becomes who in 2023.
The most important thing is that in Edo State, we have a governor who does not think about the next election, but about the wellbeing of the people, that is what leadership should be. For us in Edo State, don’t forget that Nigeria is our country; Edo State is our own we have the right to do what we want to do, to change leadership when leadership is becoming irresponsible. We also have the will to sustain leadership and that shows character.
So what September 19 election has done for us is making us to know that our destiny is in our hands. So if we don’t change the change and put in the right people, we will continue to lament and I don’t think any of us in Nigeria now is ready to lament again.
Have our leaders learnt from the End- SARS protest?
A political leader who doesn’t know that the EndSARS protest was a sign for them to rethink and change, that person is not fit to be a leader. A time has come for Nigerian leaders to think; if you as a leader does not want to think and find solutions to our problem then such a leader has no business being in governance.
Again, I want to use this medium to warn those characters that are still making noise they should better think of what to do with themselves because we are fired up to provide good leadership for our people. We did not fight for democracy for lunatics to come and hijack it, whether you are a two-time governor, former party chairman, or secretary of any party I don’t care; if you cannot stop us during the military era, you cannot try it now.
We fought for this democracy where our wealth can be evenly distributed, where citizens will have equal rights to education, freedom and equal rights top social amenities. For us in Edo State, we have fought godfatherism to a standstill; they can never rise up again. They are dead forever in Edo State.