The political atmosphere in Nigeria is charged, and so are those who form the core components of the various constituents.
The signature of the political gladiators are stamped everywhere one turned, and the drivers of the bandwagons are kitted to the hilt and driving the process, from the grassroots to the city centres.
Hon Emmanuel Osazuwa Asuen, a major domo in articulating and orchestrating political equations and chip of the old political block, Chief Dr. Scotty Asuen, the Osayenmwata of Benin Kingdom has been in forefront of driving the bandwagon at the grassroots and pulling the Electorate along as he goes.
A leader in Ward 3, Oredo, and unit head in his voting centre in the local government, Hon. Asuen Studied Fisheries and Aquatic Biology at the Lagos State University. He is also a member of the Committee on Environment, Edo State.
He spoke with our Principal Features Writer, Ijeoma Umeh, on his giant strides in grassroots mobilization for his party, the APC and other sundry issues regarding the 2015 General Elections.
It’s a few more weeks now before the much anticipated 2015 Elections. Deploring your insight as partyman, would you say the atmosphere is right?
Well, I would say it is very very interesting, and I say that with all the emphasis it deserves. The awareness now is very high, compared to those old days when awareness was on a low ebb. Now even those you would ordinarily assume would not have interest in politics or leadership among Nigerians are now becoming fully keen on knowing what is transpiring in the political terrain and that is without being politicians themselves. The level of participation now is really quite commendable, the rate at which people are showing keen interest and collecting the voters’ cards is also something to make remarks on. Now even the under aged are- aware that there is something; a momentum that spreads like wildfire.
You have been doing a whole lot of mobilizations for your party and party loyalists say your strategies are unique and formidable. Tell us how far you think those strategies will work in garnering votes for your party in the forthcoming elections.
Well, much more importantly for me as an APC leader, we have done more than enough in sensitizing the people on the need to collect their PVCs and we also used that extension by INEC, then the magnanimity of the two days public holiday, graciously given by our comrade Governor to ensure that our people went to collect their PVCs; we have properly enlightened them on the very important nature of the PVCs and their relevance in ensuring that mandates and rightoues for the matter are clear given, on the power of their votes and how they should not compromise, and sell their mandates, their power, for peanuts, on how to protect their mandate right there at the polling units by being vigilant and before then, over the need to team up in mobilizing all eligible voters to go and exercise their franchise. Above all that, we have also done a whole lot of sensitizations on the need for our people to embrace non violence in the forthcoming elections. We have taught them how to endure even in the face of provocation because the winning side is the side that perseveres and is enduring. Violence does not pay anyone rather it takes the reserves from people and it could be fatal in the extreme.
How would your efforts translate into votes?
Yes, in terms of how far these strategies would help in mobilizing votes for my party, the APC, we could even go beyond the believability of the nature of the sensitizations and consider the mindset of the people concerning the APC-led government in Edo State. We have felt the pulse of the people concerning the Comrade Governor’s administration and they would even tell you that they didn’t know that governance was possible in Edo State until the Comrade Governor came in, that the infrastructure deficit and decay in Edo State looked beyond being salvaged until the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole administration came and overhauled the entire system.
I would tell you a story; I was driving round the streets of Benin recently with my eight years old daughter. At every point she would point at something and ask, “Daddy, who did this” I would tell her it’s the Comrade Governor. At another point, “daddy, who did this road, who did that one”? I would still respond it’s the Comrade Governor, and the young girl demanded, “if it’s the Comrade Governor that did all these things, how come they say he is not working”? Now if an 8-years old could see and say such things, how much more grown ups who are eligible to vote? It has gone beyond deceiving anyone. The reality is on ground and the opposition has to work much more harder in convincing the people against the reality on ground.
So we are talking of legacies that all eyes can see, even the blind can hear about them and these are verifiable legacies — red roof schools with all the facilities to boot and can compare with the standard anywhere in the world not just in Nigeria or Africa,, springing road networks, roads that the people had hitherto given up on; consider the health sector; as a woman you know that there was a time maternal and infant mortality were ravaging our population, but those days are gone now because of the strides made by the Comrade Governor in the health sector; how many can we recall? The people are seeing them all, how the Comrade governor has matched words with action and fulfilling the promises he has made despite the enormous challenges posed by policy inconsistencies by the government at the centre.
You consider that government as having not perform?
I was a member of the PDP, but I would tell you that party has failed in keeping to its promises. Here is a president who overwhelmed Nigerians with his ‘shoeless’ sentiments and we all mobilized to vote for him thinking that the once shoeless boy would remember where he is coming from and where he has met Nigerians and work to redeem the image of the nation. Now, what do we get? An economy that we cannot call our own, Naira that has become more devalued then ever, oil that is on the brink of disappearing and an economy that is hanging on one side of a dangerous pendulum. Unemployment, insecurity, a failing state. That is what the giant of Africa has become. If the government has performed, no one would be crying for a change, Nigerians would not now be on the verge of a revolution as it appears.
Do you consider the former Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) the better alternative?
Absolutely yes. This is a man that has been tried and tested. He is also trusted, forget all the campaign of calumny against his person. They are all blackmail, like calling a dog bad names just to hang it. General Muhammadu Buhari is not as bad as he is painted. We all have our human failings and short comings; those are what make us humans, but for people to want to politicize individual and personal trivialities is bad politics, if you ask me, because in the case of Buhari those matters of principles, for instance, his stance on corruption and corrupt practices are faultless and if he says he would send corrupt people to kirikiri, would that not translate to good governance? They say he is a fundamentalist, what are the fundamentals? A man that surrounds himself with Christians, has a driver who is a Christian, a cook who is a Christian and associates and friends who are Christians, how has the fundamentals affected his relationship with others and how would it affect the governed? Is it a crime to be a man of principles? If the president was as principled as General Muhammadu Buhari Nigerians would not now be clamouring for a change.
With regard to principles we also hear being principled has helped in drawing crowds of followers to you. When people say politics is a dirty game, how then does it augur with being principled? Can a principled man do politics?
Well, everyone who knows me understands my character as a person. I could be classified a principled man because I don t compromise I always stand by the truth and I do not succumb to blackmail because I know who I am And that is what I tell my people to stand firm to their wishes and aspirations and not sell their mandate for a pot of porridge. It has been said and re echoed in several quarters that if politicians give you money collect it and go ahead to vote your conscience. hi as much as I would not deny the people the opportunity to also take what is rightfully theirs, I would also still say don’t sell your mandate. It is your power to justice, equity and fair play. If you sell, you have compromised, bought over but not free to express yourself or demand for accountability by those who would eventually lead.
Talking about those who would lead you are ‘anointing’ some candidates what are their antecedents?
The speaker, Edo State House of Assembly. Rt. Hon. Uyi Igbe is also a trusted man, having been tested too. He is the candidate to beat in the forthcoming elections, aspiring to be in the House of Representative to continue his good work of properly articulating policies and making inputs in laws that would stand the test of time and representing the interest and well being of the people in the lower Assembly.
We are also giving all the support to Hon Asoro and Hon Samson Osagie; who does not know his antecedents as a legislator of repute? As he aspires to go to the senate the least we cans do is to give him all the support he needs. His antecedents, integrity and pursuit of a common good are qualities we cannot alienate in considering who to support because such legacies live beyond the individual after office. My own biological brother, Hon. Valentine Asuen was a councilor in Oredo and today, years after leaving office, his antecedents speak volumes of his character. Those are the kind of leaders I give my all to support.
On the postponement of the Election by INEC…
It’s merely putting destny on hold. It can’t be put off.