By Ndubuisi Orji
A governorship aspirant on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr Idumonza Isidahomen, has promised to revamp the economy of Edo State if he is elected the governor of the state in the September 10 gubernatorial election.
In recent interview with Daily Sun, he gives an insight into his programme for the state.
Why do you want to be governor of Edo State?
The motivation to become the governor of Edo State is principally anchored on the desire and need to reinvent the economy of Edo State. Edo State is not where it is supposed to be. Edo as the Heartbeat of the Nation, the heart of Edo State as we speak is not breathing economically. The heart of Edo is not breathing socially. The heart of Edo is not breathing culturally. I will just give you example: in the last10 years, it has been difficult to see an applicant writing application indicating interest to go and look for a job in Edo State.
Just as people at the moment don’t even find it necessary to go to Edo State to look for job, shows the story of who you are. That clearly tells the story of the backwardness of Edo State’s economy. As an individual of Edo State, I am worried about this sad development. Edo has been badly outpaced in the area of industrial development in the whole of Nigeria. When Edo was created on August 27, 1991, for one or two reasons, the latitudinal boundary of Edo State was not such that it has access to the Atlantic Ocean. So, that clinically, reduced what Edo gets from each national allocation because mineral deposits in Edo is so small compared to what we have in Delta and other states in Niger-Delta.
Ordinarily, that should have compelled any serving chief state executive to put on his thinking cap to see how to redirect energy and recreate the economy because that has not been the trait over the years. Why socially, Edo is not there; culturally, Edo is not there. I will give you another example. It may interest you to know that in 1603, the first person to speak a foreign language in Nigeria was Oba Esigie of Benin who later became the Oba of Benin in 1604. That has not been turned into a known tourism venture. A lot of things are missing. Of course especially, the motivation is to re-invent the economy of Edo State.
How do you wish to re-invent the economy?
Talking about reinventing the economy of Edo State, our administration is anchored on the administrative principle of tripartite governance – the government, the organised private sector and the NGO. When we say we are going to reinvent the economy of Edo State, the private sector has a huge role to play there and even before we got involved in the governorship contest, we have already had productive discussions with leading multinationals.
Now, what our government is going to do is to declare friendly policies. There is something that is unique in Edo State that clearly supports our productive economy initiative; this is the geographical location of Edo State. It is not a mere coincidence that Edo is the gateway to 11 states in Nigeria. Edo is the gateway to the entire five states in the South-East; Edo is the gateway to the six states in the Niger-Delta – that is 11 states.
Now, that is a huge market for any investor. That is a huge market for productive activity and by our analysis, we discovered that these business people, men and women in these 11 states, they always cross Edo to Lagos to get one or two things using the by-pass.
But this is a market we are targeting as the private sectors are going to be establishing one or two firms in Edo that is the market they are also targeting. If you get a portion of getting investors into Edo to establish one or two businesses, by the time they establish, there is ready-made market for you and there is what you call return of investment for investors. So, by the time you analyse all this, and we’ve had discussions with like I said before, multinationals, they discovered that they can be tapped into and they are ready to come in. What government is going to do is just to deploy friendly policies.
What are you going to do in the area of health, education, agriculture and the rest?
Beautiful! Our campaign slogan is “a break from the past with fresh ideas”. SDP as a party is not going to go the way other political parties that have disappointed Edo people had gone. We are not going to go the way they have been doing about their administrative activities. We don’t talk much about roads, water, these are mundane. Agriculture is in our cardinal objective. When you talk of a productive economy, agriculture is the main issue in our productive initiative.
We are going to have industrial estate and the area has already been mapped out. There is going to be large scale farming in Edo State; of course, we have fertile lands in Edo – mechanized farming for that matter. These agricultural produce will be converted into consumables all in Edo and for the first time in the history of this country, Nigeria markets would be flooded with made in Edo products.
So, we don’t talk more about generating employment. What we’ve said is that we are going to trade in productive economy and everybody knows that once you have a productive economy in place, employment in itself would be generated. Now, we don’t want to talk much about health because these are the primary objectives of any government. If a government is in place and government does not address issues in the area of health, why is the government in office?
You see other parties talking about paying salary, if you pay salary, you have really not done anything. At the SDP, these are mundane issues. These are traditional responsibilities of any government. And if we are coming in with innovative governance, we don’t talk about those things that are our traditional responsibilities.