Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 27 December 2014 | 4,546 times
It is campaign season. Candidates for various elective positions are laying down their cards to convince voters to cast their votes for them come February 2015 when the general elections hold.
In Edo state the battle for political supremacy is as fierce as it is exciting, just as it is elsewhere in Nigeria. The All Progressives Congress (APC) is in control of most elective positions in the state. However, in this interview with News Express, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the Edo state House of Assembly seat for Ikpoba Okha Local Government Constituency, Hon. Nicholas Asonsere, vows this would soon change, and the PDP would be in the majority in the state.
The two-term councillor of Ikpobha-Okha also talks about the suitability of his candidacy as representative of the local government at the House of Assembly, and touches on other legislative and political matters. Excerpt:
News Express: Why did you decide to go for the seat of member Edo State House of Assembly in the forthcoming polls?
Hon. Asonsere: Well, that question could be best answered by the people (delegates) that chose me. Probably they saw my track record and political activities and decided to elect me. I was elected twice consecutively as councillor in Ikpoba-Okha Local Council and as the leader of the administrative arm in the local government. I think my wealth of experience, hard work and contributions to democracy informed the decision of my party (PDP) to nominate me as flag bearer for the state House of Assembly elections.
In the legislative business I have more experience than (APC’s nominee, Barrister Henry Okhuarobo). I have been tested and I’m trusted. The field is not strange to me, and I think he (Okhuarobo) is trying to swim in a strange land. The people of Ikpoba-Okha know who will best represent them. We have submitted ourselves to them, so let them decide.
How much do you think your wealth of experience in legislation would come to play if you win the election?
The act of legislation is the same, whether at the local government, state or federal level. It has the same processes. Having been a local legislator and at the same time the leader of the legislative arm at the local level, I have garnered a lot of experience and I think that would make me easily fit in as a member of the House of Assembly. So I won’t find it difficult to go through the processes of legislation. And I know it is me the people will choose.
Given the the fact your party is very much in the opposition in Edo State, are you a little concerned that many people may be swayed by the choice of opting for the party in the majority at the moment without giving much thought to individual candidacies and your wealth of experience?
Well, I don’t see that as an issue. The electorate is getting wiser everyday. The voters are beginning to separate the shaft from the wheat. People are no longer interested in whether you are in party A or party B. It is rather the quality and the makeup of the person they are interested in. It is about someone that can offer effective representation for the people, someone that can bring the dividends of democracy to the doorstep, and someone that is accessible, reachable and that is humane – these are the things that come to bear in an election. I want to assure that with all these qualities I have an edge over my rivals from the other parties. So whether my party is in the opposition today in Edo State has nothing to do with my candidacy.
I also want to assure you that the kind of feeling people had about the PDP some years back is different from what they have today. The wind of change is swinging towards our side. My party will conquer and triumph and we will get back on board in Edo State.
When you talk of the dividends of democracy, what do you think are the most pressing issues, if you are elected, that need to be addressed to make life better for the people of your constituency?
When I was representing ward 7 (of Ikpoba-Okha Council) I knew what the ward wanted and when I came on board I addressed them step by step. I live with the people, I’m not in the Diaspora. The people of Ikpobha-Okha cannot elect someone who doesn’t live with them. The people that wear the shoe know where it punches them. One of my primary aims is to legislate for the good governance of my people. I’m going to articulate, lobby and pressurise any government in power to bring development to my people. We know the areas where we lack. Social amenities are not there. For the past years of this present government, Ikpoba-Okha has been sidelined. The state governor has not given attention to the local government. The roads are not accessible, they are all bad. Even employment for the youths; I will address these things when I’m elected.
In terms of job creation for the youths, what do you think can be done at the level of the House of Assembly?
In the House of Assembly there are various committees. There is the youth and women empowerment committee. We will work in conjunction with these committees and call the companies in the local government to a round table to fashion out ways of improving the employment situation. I also plan to help facilitate an enabling environment for investments from neighbouring states into Ikpoba-Okha. And there will be interactive sessions where I would liaise with and seek advice from my people on how to improve things. At the end, I assure you, I will stand out among my colleagues in the House.
What is your philosophy toward people who hang around you hoping to be given handouts for survival daily?
My philosophy is to help people help themselves. I believe one has to make himself available, useful and make people see the potential in him or her. When people see the potential in you they would be able to put you into use in the proper direction. Rather than begging for handouts, make yourself important for people to know your importance.
There remain concerns that a lot of government programmes that are supposedly geared towards fighting unemployment are too partisan in nature and are meant to favour only those who are party members of the government floating them. What kind of legislation can be made to put an end to this kind of favoritism?
I am one of those who believe that there is nothing wrong with most of our laws (meant to combat this sort of thing). It is those who are meant to implement them that are too emotional and excited in many cases. The implementors are usually at fault. Even in the civil service we see this kind of favouritism playing out. When I get to the House of Assembly I would try to make sure that the processes of implementing anti-unemployment programmes are better monitored.
Finally, with tensions here and there across the country’s political space, are you worried that things may go horribly awry during or after the general elections next year?
Let us not get frightened by the unknown. No matter the situation this country will triumph over evil.
•Photo shows Hon. Asonsere.
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