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I planned to japa before winning Edo Reps election – Lawmaker-elect

Esosa Iyawe, a 40-year-old graduate of Benson Idahosa University, who was elected as the member representing the Oredo Federal Constituency of Edo State in the House of Representatives during the February 25 National Assembly election, talks to ADEYINKA ADEDIPE about his recent achievement

How did you get into politics?

I have always had an interest in good leadership but I was put off because of the way Nigerian politicians conduct themselves. Before you can venture into politics, you must have a lot of cash or do a lot of things before you become a candidate. I have been patient. However, meeting a noble man like Mr Peter Obi several times in Abuja, I discovered that he is a man of integrity and impeccable character. So when he left the Peoples Democratic Party and became a major force in the Labour Party, I followed him and inquired about how to get a form, which I acquired with my little savings and I became a candidate.

How much did the form cost?

It wasn’t expensive at all or as much as the other two big parties sold theirs. It was a form a civil servant could buy with their salary.

Apart from that leadership problem, what other factors made you go into politics?

In Nigeria, you find out that things don’t get better as you grow old. They degenerate more. I guess a lot of things worked better when I was younger and I have friends who kept relocating to other countries. I had a lot of people asking for assistance, families could not afford to feed and people who were qualified could not get jobs to at least earn the minimum wage. No sector works well in Nigeria; all the sectors are either down or near comatose. It is only the cabals who made life good for themselves, their family and their cronies.

What encouraged you to pick the nomination form of the Labour Party?

At one point, I even had plans of relocating to another country because the more one works, the less one gets as the naira loses value daily. The cost of living is high while inflation is also skyrocketing even though Nigeria is blessed with natural resources. A lot of countries don’t have one-10th of what we have but they are living well due to proper planning while we are still battling to make things work for several years and we remain underdeveloped. So, I decided to put my hat in the ring to ensure that if Obi became the president, I would assist in making and supporting bills that would enable him to function well as one of his disciples. I believe that we need laws based on common sense to make things work. As an engineer, I believe  that I have the capacity to do things that will positively impact the people of Oredo. That was why I actually jumped into the race.

Did you think you would win when you picked the form?

I prayed to God for people in the constituency to see the good things I was doing during the campaign. I didn’t conduct my campaign the way others did. I went to see the common man who the leaders had been using over the years. I told them that they could not collect money for their votes and still expect to get power. Collecting money means you sell your right to question the leaders when things are not going well in the country. My slogan during the campaign was: ‘You either take power or money’. I let them know that taking power means a better future for our children. If I wasn’t a candidate, I would have been among the people at the forefront of campaigning against the old order.

Many wonder how you managed to defeat seasoned politicians in the other parties. What was your strategy?

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I believe people saw themselves in me. They saw me as a commoner like them, who they could relate with. They see that I go to the same market as they do. I buy fuel at the same price they buy it and I also feel the pain they feel. We all went out to campaign but the people saw that I was sincere and wanted to have a new person who could relate to them.

Will you say the problems facing Nigerians attributed to the  failure of the two leading parties in the country worked in your favour?

I think the level of poverty among the people caused by the two leading parties worked in my favour. I got the information a few days before the election that one of my opponents was sharing things among the people, which he called palliative. To me, that was a slap on the face of the Oredo people. I went and told them that the rice and money they were being given would lead to another four years of suffering. I told them they needed an effective change, which they voted for on February 25. I pray that God gives me the wisdom to work for the people of Oredo and be able to support my principal, Obi, whenever he comes on board.

What is your reaction to the declaration of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, as the winner of the February 25 presidential election?

If the people of Nigeria behaved like those in Oredo, who stood tall on election day, I think the country will be a better place. On election day, whenever an INEC official had a problem, especially one that had to do with Internet connectivity, the people were there to solve it and ensure that the process went well. They even provided light when the collation of results was getting late and made sure their votes counted. On the national scene, I believe a lot of people didn’t stand their ground, and that was why Obi lost.

The ‘Obidient’ movement was instrumental to your victory. What do you want your party’s supporters who were disappointed that Obi was not declared the winner by INEC to know, as the governorship and House of Assembly elections draw nearer?

I will tell them to go out en masse and vote for Labour Party candidates. They should also stand their ground just like they did on February 25. With modern technology, I am sure rigging and other electoral malpractices can be brought down to the lowest level.

I believe all LP candidates are Obidient. I am also part of the movement and a member of many support groups. The movement is to clamour for good governance. I urged my Obidient comrades to keep the fire burning.

What about your party members who may be considering  defection to the ruling party?

It is a simple message. If you leave now, don’t come back. The Labour Party is a third force that is here to stay. The youth, elderly and others with special needs are tired of the old order. The Labour Party will put other parties in check. For me, I will be doing my best for my people as I know that four years are around the corner.

How are you helping to raise support for Labour Party candidates in the State House of Assembly election?

Those of us who were candidates in the February 25 elections are already working with the state chapter of the party to ensure that we do well on March 11. We want to be part of the decision-making process at all levels of government in the country.

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