IGBINEDION RUINED EDO STATE
Mr Leo Olu- Martins is a personality to behold. His passion for servicedates back to his days at the Ambrose Alli University where he became the Students' Union President. For him, he will not rest until he assumes a position of responsibility where he will impact the society. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he speaks on a wide range of issues including his ambition to be in the Edo State House of Assembly in the next political dispensation. Excerpts…
What is your view on the state of the nation?
The nation has become a major source of concern for all and every concerned patriot. Some of the lapses in the constitution have also come up to the fore. In as much as it has become known that the president was unable to transmit a letter of authority with regards to the content and spirit of section 145 of the constitution before he left the shores of the land, it is very disturbing to note the extent of intrigues, lies, fabrications that have taken place by functionaries of government.
You are aspiring for House of Assembly in Edo state, what is your motivation?
For me, I think that after God, it is then the government and I think that one of the ways for you to be able to improve the lot of people in a nation is for you to have an idea, a vision, a passion and then for you to look for a template, for an avenue or opportunity to ventilate them.
For me, leadership comes as a natural thing and having looked at the way Nigeria is going now without wanting to sound negative, there is no doubt that we are sufficiently challenged in this country. If you look at the indices that make for an ideal nation, Nigeria appears to be scoring below pass mark in the whole lot. And my personal philosophy is that all that evil needs to triumph is for good men to be quiet in the period of crises and moral decadence that is where Nigeria is now.
Once good men consent to be quiet, things will continue to become more deplorable, so for me, it is an opportunity to improve the lot of the Nigerian people. Well maybe, that is what every politician would say but essentially, I think we need more good people in politics. We need people who have conscience.
Going into the murky waters of politics, that is what a whole lot of people will think but I think essentially, it is to make a whole lot of difference in our generation.
What makes you think you will realize some of your objectives when you are elected into office considering the kind of politics they play in Nigeria, particularly in your state Edo?
I don't think I am going to realize all of my objectives, probably I may not realize any of my objectives but I have looked at the cost of none participation to the cost of participating and not realizing all of my objectives. I would rather die trying so people who come after me can know that 'he went, he tried even though he didn't succeed but he was conscientious, he was diligent about it.
Perhaps, somebody else will take the struggle, the fight from where he has stopped. Like Martin Luther king said 'except a man has found something to die for, he has no reason to live'. We will go there and continue to contribute our quota whether we are heard or not. It will be on record that we went there, we tried and we succeeded a little bit. Hopefully, in the future, somebody will read our memoirs and pick the fight and the development strategy we have taken upon ourselves from where we have started. So, it is better to go and fail than not to go at all. I rather go and fail than not to go at all.
Do you think you have enough money that will make you succeed in the next election?
Money is a factor but I took time to watch the election of Obama and I saw how he calculatively rejected the funds coming from certain quarters. The man decided himself he would rather deal with the funds from individual. Young people who were doing holiday jobs and sparing $100, $10, and $5. Why? Because of the conviction of the young man. We have our pedigree and I have had a struggle, I have withstood government for ten months.
When we did it, we spent hundreds of thousands of naira to pursue that agenda, we had no dime but because we had a vision and the purity of purpose was inherent in our vision, people were able to say because of the passion with which you have communicated your vision, we are going to commit to it.
That is why we succeeded because we believed that given our pedigree and our present conviction, we will go far. I have never thought about money in all my political pursuit.
As we speak, there are people whom we have communicated with at certain levels and they have indicated their interest in making sure this agenda flies. I have left a message to people that all we need is somebody somewhere who can say ' I can give you N1000 every month' and with that, if we have 2000 people committed to your vision and I have more than 2000 students who have graduated from Ambrose Ali University, much more than that who are across the nation, who if they hear about our political agenda, about our political persuasion. As we speak now, I am sure we will have much more.
I believe in vision and I believe in pro- vision and I believe that provision means that it is for the vision. What usually happens is that the strength of your vision determines the quantity of provision you get. The money will come after the vision has come. A man made a statement: he waited for success and success did not come so he moved ahead and success came to meet him later in the future.
So, if we sit in one place because of a lack of fund. Like you are here today and you are talking to me even though I don't know you, you are here out of your magnanimity, this is the first time of meeting you. You are contributing your little quota to make sure that my voice is heard.
I want you to look at the present government under Adams Oshiomhole com
paratively with his predecessors Osunbor and Lucky Igbinedion?
Well, it will be unfair to say we should look at Governor Adams Oshiomhole with Lucky because as far as we are concerned, at that time, with all due respect, there was no government in Edo state. Nothing was happening in Edo State. Edo state was adjudged as one of the non-performing states during the eight years of Governor Igbinedion.
For Prof. Osunbor, he did what he can do in his capacity as the governor of Edo state but if you are the governor of Edo state and then you have some godfather breathing down your throat, it is going to be very difficult to perform.
I know that the man fell out with Chief Tony Anenih and Tony Anenih being the colossus as he is in the then Edo state politics, he made an active gain, literally impeded development because the man was more engulfed in the internal crises of the party. His own enemies were from within the party and at that he had the challenge of facing administration and governance in Edo state squarely. But look at comrade Adams Oshiomhole, I am not one of his apologists. He is someone who has a background in fighting, who has that kind of a radical background and is not going to shed that cloak of radicalism overnight and embrace some of the basic elements of political participation. The man emerged by merit, so he is not apologetic to anybody, he doesn't owe nobody.
He has no godfather that he has to report, so the man has an opportunity to change the fortune of Edo state and that he has already begun. If you went to Ring road some years back and go to there today, you will be surprised at the changes that have taken place. In street trading, there is some order more like a replication of what is taking place in Lagos State today. Of course given all of the challenges we face, I believe Oshiomole has what it takes to change Edo state.