Philip Shaibu is the deputy governor of Edo State and governorship aspirant on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview, he spoke on his chances and plans for the state ahead of the party’s February 22 primary. INIOBONG IWOK brings excerpts:
The race has begun. How tough do you think it going to be?
Politics is always tough, this is not going to be different, the only thing about this one is that eleven of us are in the race and there is no leader that has been able to talk to us to prune down the number of aspirants. So, we are all going to compete.
There was speculation recently that you are going to the APC?
Yes, they also said I was going to YPP, SDP, APGA and the rest, they are all associating me with all the parties’ maybe I would be the candidate of all these parties.
Maybe if you don’t get the ticket for PDP, you can use another platform?
I am going to get the ticket of PDP, I am very confident; you can see all the attacks. It is only a fruit that is ripe, that they throw stones at, I am that fruit that is ripe that is why they are throwing stones at me.
You called yourself a homeboy, what does that mean?
That means I am one aspirant that the people can see and the people can feel, the people can touch. I’m an aspirant that understands what the people need. I have lived with the people, I understand what they need and I know them.
In terms of needs and assessment, I know what every zone needs to survive and for poverty to be made history in our state.
There is a lot of intrigue going on, do you have plan B, knowing that the governor often decides who gets the party’s ticket?
My plan is to campaign and win the primary and become the candidate of the party in the gubernatorial election.
Knowing the power of the governor in determining who gets the ticket, it appears Obaseki does not want you to run?
I can bet that Godwin Obaseki, the Governor of Edo State is my boss and my senior brother would support me. He said at the secretariat some days ago when we had our stakeholders meeting; that whoever wins he is going to support such a person.
But we know that he is supporting Asue Ighodalo, don’t you know that?
He has denied supporting Asue even when we know he is supporting him, but that is not really an issue for me; I’m a homeboy. I understand the politics of Edo State and with my experience, I understand the politics of Edo State. That is my selling point.
I’m an experienced politician, experienced in the management of resources as far as governance in the public and private sectors is concerned. I have an edge over him.
He is coming with private sector experience, I’m coming from both private sector and public sector experience and I understand where private sector experience stops and I combine both.
Some of these technocrats need to go to lessons on that; to learn public administration. It is completely different from private administration.
I have gained all these experiences and bring value to governance to govern for the betterment of our people.
So, it is not an issue for you if the governor is backing Asue?
It is not an issue for me if the governor is backing Asue; because I am an Edo candidate.
But the governor owns the PDP structure in Edo State?
It is the party that owns the structure and not the Governor of Edo State. The delegate primary would be on February 3, it is after this we would know who owns the party structure.
The governor often controls the delegates in primary election history. Does that not bother you?
Let me tell you something, in the last presidential election for instance, I am from Edo North senatorial district if you check the statistics of the results; Philip Shaibu got 50 percent of the total votes for the PDP in that poll.
If you want to talk about structure, Philip Shaibu has the structure of the PDP in Edo State, because I was able to deliver 50 percent of the votes for PDP in the last presidential election from where I came from.
The governor’s senatorial district can only produce 13 percent; that means I own the structure of the party, but this is an intra-party affair; I don’t want to limit myself, because I know I am going to win.
I don’t want the governor to change his mind so that when I win he would not say from what I have said he would not support me. Since he has made that pronouncement that whoever wins, he would support, I’m sure of winning and I know the governor and that he would respect that.
What strategy are you going to use to win?
Like I always say revolutionary tactics are not discussed in public.
What are you bringing to the table and can PDP trust you with the ticket?
PDP is trusting me with the gubernatorial ticket. I can assure you that, what I am bringing to the table is experience, Edo State cannot afford to have another experiment; you need experience.
You need a man like me who already understands the dynamic of politics and the dynamic of Edo economics and how we can grow our economy. I am coming in from day one, when I am inaugurated, I will announce my secretary to the state government and swear him in from that day.
From my speech, I would be announcing my commissioners’ names and portfolios and the first assignment the SSG would be doing on that same podium after his announcement is to sign an already typed list of commissioners and send them to the House of Assembly.
In one week, I would swear in my commissioners. The nominees’ names would come with a portfolio and be sent to the Assembly to be screened.
As I speak now, I already have my plans; I’m going to be constructing a rail line in Edo State, both intra-city and the one that would connect the three senatorial districts.
I am going to be building bridges, but these bridges would not be a physical bridge alone, but a political bridge, but the physical bridge is the one that would help grow our economy.
Check the location of Edo in the political map, that is an incentive for economic growth and movement of goods and services.
It is all paramount. I am going to be constructing a bridge from the third to Ramat Park. If you are going to Agbor it stops you after Bendel Breweries.
If you are going to Edo North, you have no business with Ramat Park, it takes you out there.
I’m going to be constructing a bridge in Opposi junction why? We need to stop the consistent accidents in Opposi junction, just like Jetu junction where Dangote and BUA trucks are always causing problems.
We have to grow our economy to the extent that Edo would now be the food basket of the nation just like Benue is.
Heavy infrastructural project outlay; where would you get the money to fund them?
For instance, the Orange line which would connect Ipobo-Oredo would take three and half years to build and commission. Egoh for instance, would take a minimum of three-and-half years to build.
We are not going to take this money through our internally generated venue, we are going to activate the private sector to come and build and people will pay for it. Even the bridge that we are going to build, from Sunray, especially from Old Edo road we are going to toll them.
We are going to get the private sector to come, that is what we mean when we say we have private sector experience; the private sector we are going to be experiencing is the private sector bringing their money, not the government putting public money in private sector business, that is not the kind of private sector economy I want to drive.
Some of these multinationals, there is huge money that you can access and get them to invest in your state, run it and concession it within ten–fifteen years, you take it back.
But are you going to borrow money?
Yes definitely we would borrow some money; the money would be for infrastructure development, not recurrent expenditure.
Have you done the map and the cost, so it would not overburden the people?
The road infrastructure would open up the economy. For instance, Oredo–Jetu, is a federal road, but all the businesses have all folded up. When we build the roads the economy of the area would open up.
A team I set up has given a report of the project after a feasibility study of the projects.