Thursday, March 27, 2014 5:06 pm
Chief Joe Edionwele, PDP South-South Zonal Secretary and House of Representatives aspirant in 2015 election, tells JETHRO IBILEKE why he deserves to be elected
What informed your decision to join the race to represent your people in the House of Representatives in 2015?
It is purely service. When we looked around, the ones that are there today, they have done their best but their best is not good enough for our people. They have not been able to attract the real dividends of democracy that we needed. At the grassroots level, I know the yearning and aspirations of our people and what they needed. Those things are not well covered. So that is why we said that we should be able to offer ourselves to render such humanitarian services and attract good dividends of democracy to our people in the constituency.
Specifically, what area are you going to focus on?
Well, in this part of the constituency we were into agriculture and you can see that our farmers are still using poor implements and all that and we have not been able to attract any loan to our people. You hear that the federal government has given out so much on agriculture, but none of our persons have benefited. All we hear is that they have provided transformers, and that is not enough. They have to leave because food security is even the greatest security challenge we have. That brings us to the famous Ekpoma rice which is almost in oblivion now.
Do you support the proposed ban on rice importation, and what effort will you make to improve on the production of local rice?
I am very happy that all of you know that there was once Ekpoma rice. Because of the cost of labour, there was no real improvement in rice farming. Of course, the people are now restricted to local farming because of the poor implements they use. If you encourage the farmers by giving them loan and modern farming implements to work with, you will see that this local rice you call Ekpoma rice is the best and the most nutritious rice you can find anywhere. If we encourage our people by giving them loan and modern implements, you won’t need to import rice.
Aside from that of Ekpoma, there is land in Ilushi by the riverside, if you see the land it is year-in year-out programmed for rice farming, and you don’t even need rain there because the river is there for them to do irrigation farming. So if I am there, certainly I will attract loans and modern farm implements to boost rice production.
Many of your party members are defecting to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC. Does this not threaten your confidence in your ambition?
These days people vote for individuals and not parties, and my past will be able to speak for me because we know ourselves. Like I have Edo Solidarity Movement that has been able to mend roads, provide medical outreach and been able to pay school fees for people in the education sector. Those are past events and they will actually speak for me. It is not about whether you are PDP or APC. And it is even wrong for you to think that PDP is not popular. As people are leaving PDP so also people are leaving APC and of course when it comes to credibility, you should know that the PDP has that credibility and I, Chief Edionwele, have credibility and that speaks for me.
When you say credibility are you implying that the APC-led state government in Edo has not done much with what we are seeing within the state so far?
When you talk of APC, it is a collection of what I will call ‘left-over politicians’. You see, alliance is based on fear. Parties are supposed to be formed out of love and that is why the Peoples Democratic Party was formed out of love, not out of fear. And when three or four persons come together in the name of fighting one common person, it is out of fear.
How will you describe the fate of Esanland in the current administration?
Well, that is even our pain. As far as Edo State is concerned, Esan people are left out in the scheme of things. The only person in the civil service is the Head of Service who was recently appointed. Otherwise, we have little or nothing to celebrate. And outside that one, the only people you boast of in appointment are Special Advisers and maybe one or two Commissioners in irrelevant parastatals. I think we have been left out in the scheme of things in Edo State.
How do you rate the performance of members of the National Assembly from the state so far?
Apart from one or two persons, you can’t really say they have represented the people. They have actually gone there to represent themselves; if not, you would not have seen them asking for automatic ticket. This is because it is the people that will ask you to go for the number of times that you want to go if you are relating with them; you are doing what you ought to do there, you are representing them, you are with them and you didn’t disconnect yourself from them.
Of course you don’t need to ask for automatic ticket; you come back and they will ask you to go back and they will vote for you en-masse . But why are they having those fears? It is because they have disconnected themselves from the people; they were representing themselves instead of the community that voted them into power and of course the day of reckoning is here and they are going to be back.
How do you see the alleged gang-up by the North against President Jonathan’s 2015 re-election?
They shall fail. This is because President. Jonathan has so many projects in the North that speak for themselves. He has executed projects in the area of power, roads, health and in the area of education as well as transportation. They will fail because when you fail to appreciate, you know God has a way of turning round your wisdom into foolishness. So you now find out that whatever they are planning will not work because people are now wiser.