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Dr. Dennis Osahon Aikoriogie is a leading aspirant for Edo State Governor in 2024 under the platform of the Labour Party (LP). His wide experience in the management of men and materials and exposure to several associations at home and abroad, come as his strongest weapons as he seeks for Edo State’s top job. He talks to Nduka Nwosu on his plans for the state if he emerges governor
Dennis Aikoriogie, or Dennis Peter Obi as supporters love to call him, is passionate about embracing the ideals of the Labour Party, its leader and Presidential candidate Peter Obi.
He is like the members of the Obidient Movement who dominate the Twitter space to make a case for a new Nigeria where due process, law and order must take centre stage.
There is no doubt an interaction with the Labour Party leader must have further galvanised the Edo governorship hopeful into some turbo charged mood raring to go.
Aikoriogie said: “I have been part of the Obidient Movement from day one. The leader has shown what it takes to lead. I believe PDP and APC have failed Nigerians. They have failed to meet the expectations of the average Nigerian.”
On why he wants to be the next person occupying Government House Benin City, he explained that governance is all about leadership and that for a long while, there has been a leadership vacuum in the state, which is why development has been slow.
Aikoriogie believes nothing is more important now than action, taking the bull by the horn, which is to translate his ideas of re-building Edo to fit into a 21st century modern state where things work.
His experience in the Diaspora and being a home boy would combine to get the best results, he further argues.
The current governor Godwin Obaseki and past governors of the state, he insists, have done their best to bring Edo State to where it is currently.
However, the time has come to make Edo a signature state, a reference point among the other states of the federation.
“I have what it takes to execute that assignment in eight years,” he assures.
Edo State, which is a hub connecting the west, north and east of the country, he says, should be a masterpiece in infrastructure development. Sadly, this is not the case.
The roads are dilapidated, flood and erosion are still a part of the problem ravaging the state after many years where these issues have been debated in the public space with the aim of taking it to the next level. He says not much has been done to dredge the Ikpoba River where all the waste in the city is emptied.
Unfortunately, the LP governorship hopeful is not impressed that not much has happened to turn around the fortunes of the state. He believes the Peter Obi model of governance in Anambra State would take Edo State to the next level. He has detailed how he intends to do that on his website.
“We can do better. A Labour Party government driven by my administration will address these needs,” he insists.
On transparency, Aikoriogie says he wants to plug the loopholes that create room for non-transparency and non-performance.
“We have a poor infrastructure network. These issues will be addressed through my masterplan and my seven-point agenda which is infrastructure development-oriented stretching to roads, health, education, youth unemployment et al.”
Health facilities, he observed, “are still not upgraded in tune with the state-of-the-art demands for modern hospitals.
“The Stella Obasanjo Specialist Hospital (for women and children) built by Governor Lucky Igbinedion is under-performing.
“The distance between the x-ray centre and the admission ward of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) is long and not ideal for a sick patient. Besides, the admission process is complex.
“In Edo North, the Auchi General Hospital, which was upgraded to a teaching hospital, is still not meeting the health needs of the people from that part of the state, both tertiary and primary. Admission requirements of these hospitals make them inaccessible.
“Our hospitals are a shadow of what ought to be, Governor Oshiomhole built an arm of the specialist hospital in Benin run by consultants and the cost of treatment is beyond the reach of the common man.”
Edo Central, he promises, will have good hospitals and he would ensure there would be primary health centres in every local government area of the state.
Aikoriogie is worried about the general state of insecurity but more worrisome is the rising state of kidnapping and wanton killing of farmers by herders who masquerade as Fulani herders in the state. Farmers hardly go to their farms, and this has brought about famine and untold hardship to many homes in Edo State.
The chief executive officer of Global Hobnob LLC of New York and Hobnob Media Consultancy Nigeria Limited, has a good message to the farmers and the people of Edo State regarding creating a safe and secure space where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is given top priority in Edo State: “Weep not my people; the ravening clouds shall not be long victorious; they shall not long possess the sky; they devour the stars only in apparition. Hope is coming,” borrowing from Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s adaptation of Wohipart A. James’ On the Beach at Night poem.
Will his American experience come to play here? He answers in the affirmative adding that whatever experiences garnered would be replicated in Edo State and that there would be partnerships for pro bono services in many departments of governance.
Without the contributions from the likes of Aikoriogie and his Diaspora support groups in Europe and America, the tremendous success of the Obi-dient movement and the LP have enjoyed and still enjoying in the last 9-months would not have been recorded in so swift a short period of time.
The Labour Party should be dispassionate enough to mirror the quality of individuals seeking nominations for the governorship on its platform, if it is seriously interested in a better Edo State, post APC/PDP collateral failure in the last 24-year, since debut of the Fourth Republic.
The Governorship hopeful is aware of the need to generate other sources of revenue beyond funds from federal allocation.
On his website he had this to say on his plans for internally generated revenue (IGR): “A recurring challenge that the nation has is the dwindling importance of crude oil in the global market which is our economic mainstay.
“Dr Osahon as Edo State Governor has the roadmap to diversify the State’s economy from waiting for monthly allocations which prepares him adequately for a post oil economy, where states go cap-in-hand for monthly subvention.”
The University of Benin Alumni Association Board Member for North America is asked to weigh in on his perception of home and the growth of democracy.
His response: “there were the usual irregularities, and many believe contrary to the promises of Mr. President that he would leave behind a legacy of true democracy, INEC failed to deliver on its promises.”
The governorship hopeful points to Rivers State where incumbency played a strong role. “Labour did not do well in Edo against the expectations of many.
“The incumbent governor went round appealing to the emotions of Edolites to vote for members of his party the PDP into the State House of Assembly to save him from being impeached by an assembly that is dominated by the APC members under the control of former Governor Oshiomhole.
Ethnic profiling and voter suppression as well as violence were recorded in Lagos State. Many Labour members were killed in various parts of the country such as Kaduna where a female LP activist was murdered as well as in Enugu where an LP Senatorial candidate was assassinated.
“There was a shocking reverberation on the stellar performance of Labour Party during the Presidential election and what this did to the other parties was a recalibration of their game plan, re-introducing the jungle justice approach of ballot snatching, rewriting of election results, maiming, and killing where necessary with a compromised INEC, and police looking the other way. Expectedly, the users were the opposition.”
Aikoriogie is optimistic that whatever the outcome of the court cases at the Appeal and Supreme Court levels, the Labour Party, which he says took the country by storm, has a bright future ahead.
What the LP needs now, he stresses, is a strong party leadership, which will emerge after the current party leadership tussle.
“The LP must maintain the momentum after taking the country by storm. Agreed we were robbed of victory in many states like Rivers, Lagos, Enugu, Imo, and many parts of the north, we have a state governor in Abia and many members of the House, Senate, and State Houses of Assembly. We will build on these gains to strengthen the party,” he adds.
He also weighs in on the issue of subsidy noting that the $800 million loan should not be tampered with by the outgoing administration, not to talk of sharing out part of the money as handouts to registered families in the national register of 10 million under-privileged Nigerians, “because it would amount to a wasted, fraudulent exercise based on what happened during the Covid 19 pandemic.
“In any case Nigeria has over 120 million below average families who are not registered. Besides, this government has less than two months to go, so why the hurry to disburse the funds?”
Aikoriogie says if the Jonathan Administration with its economic team led by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been allowed to remove fuel subsidy at the time it wanted to in 2011, it would have afforded private companies the opportunity to come in and build refineries because they would have been operating at a regime where the price would have been competitive.
“A government subsidised fuel regime is a disincentive to private sector investment because pump price will not be viable or competitive.
“Sadly now, the very people who opposed it would not be tackling this hydra-headed monster at this time.
“Nigeria holds a great promise for the future,” he asserted.
“Once the cabal appropriating the resources of the nation are contained by pulling the rug off their feet, there will be hope for the nation as we move from a nation of consumers to one of producers, which is the key mantra of the LP”, Aikoriogie said. Read more