In this interview by SAHEED SALAWU, candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) for the Edo State governorship election, Stevie Ozono, speaks on his vision and mission.
What do you think are the chances of your party against the two main parties in the state and indeed the country, the APC and the PDP, in the Edo governorship election?
We all know that the APC and the PDP are the main political parties in the country today. We have witnessed the PDP rule Edo State for eight years and we can confirm that they have failed us. We have also seen the APC rule in the state till date and they have failed the people as well. The power tussle between the two parties is a struggle for the treasury of the state. Just like COVID-19, this pandemic of bad leadership has stayed for too long in the state. It has kept the people locked down and locked out of experiencing the much-desired prosperity and are therefore unable to reach their full potential. Edo people must come together to take back our state from the hands of those that have plundered our collective resource for their own selfish gain.
To some, NRM is a new and small political party. However, their assertion is pointing to the newness of our ideas and approaches to politics and core issues of governance. It is important to note that we have rapidly been building consensus and followings across the nation, in particular across our darling state. We have successfully built solid grass-root structures and processes that will aid the success of our party in the coming election in Edo State. Also, we are strategically positioned as a viable alternative for the people of Edo.
Citizens and residents of Edo State have suffered greatly as a result of the ignoble roles played by the PDP and the APC since 1999. Currently, the heart of the state is bleeding with the terror of the power struggles of these two parties. This election has provided the opportunity for the great people of Edo to boldly make their choice. NRM is ready to rescue the state from the quagmire of these two colossal disasters tormenting Edo. Our party, NRM, is the best alternative.
What do you think are your chances as a governorship hopeful? Do you think you have what it takes to take on Governor Godwin Obaseki and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who are arguably the most popular candidates in this election?
These people we are talking about are humans just like me and they were nobody before they became governor or gubernatorial candidates in the big parties. What we want in Edo State is a paradigm shift from the current political landscape. We have seen that the two parties do not have the interest of the people at heart; they are just there for the control of the common wealth of the people of Edo State. We are offering the people of Edo a worthy alternative, a return of power to people through an all-inclusive government, a government that truly cares for the people, a government that works for the people. As we are all equal before God, I stand a chance, because there is no throne that can be except God permits it.
Of course, no one can doubt the popularity of the two candidates you mentioned. However, without undermining their personality, this popularity was made possible with their involvement in the governments of two political parties that have done more havoc than good to the people of Edo State. Their popularity is a reminder of the lack of progress they have brought upon the state.
I believe the great people of Edo State know that good governance, peace and prosperity which they yearn for cannot to be carried out by popularity but by a candidate and party that have competence, passion and integrity as the core of their values. I am bringing to the fore my deliverable capabilities, integrity, wealth of experience in development and discipline.
Why did you throw your hat in the political ring of Edo State?
We have stood too long in the rains, too long on the sideline, watching with total dissatisfaction and discontentment how things have panned out in our state. We cannot make changes if we sit on the fence. Prosperity in the state would be alien to us if we do not take the bull by the horns by getting involved. The people of Edo State are blessed with abundance of human and mineral resources. We need to harness all this for the prosperity, progress and wellbeing of our people. I am offering myself as a servant of the people, to work for the people of Edo.
Why do you think you deserve a shot at the Edo governorship seat?
I come with wealth of experience on getting things done, the possibility mentality. This is evident in my background as an astute entrepreneur and business analyst – running several joint ventures which cut across the entertainment industry, IT and telecoms, security, oil and gas and maritime, logistics, and agricultural industry. I have seen a lot and gained experience in finance, business strategy, modeling, management, and managing people in different countries in Africa. All this will come to bear if I am given the mandate.
With my background as an Edo man with proper understanding of the problems of our people, particularly the common man, I believe I have what it takes to provide servant-leadership for the people of Edo. By education, training, experience and global exposure, our party and the people believe that I have been fully equipped and prepared for this role at this critical time in the political history of our great state.
What are your plans for Edo people? How do you plan on taking governance beyond rhetoric in Edo State?
Strategically, the manifesto our great party has positioned us to provide a paradigm shift in governance and politics of Edo State. We are determined to provide a paradigm shift in governance. We have our action plans to revamp every sector of the state. Dividends of democracy have eluded the people. We shall put an end to this. We are going to ensure a bottom-up approach by including all the geopolitical zones of the state in decision-making processes. We shall be guided by the spirit of transparency and accountability. We shall put our people first; Edo people first before any other thing. Party interests and godfatherism will not be allowed to limit the progress of the state and its people. Development shall reach every local government area of the state. My party is new and I have the mandate of our great party and her hierarchy to proceed on our course of a new dawn and a new beginning for the people of Edo State.
You appear to spend considerable time outside the country. How connected would you say you are to the people, especially at the grassroots?
I was born and brought up in the old Bendel State, before Edo State was created. I am a down-to-earth person, as I relate with people of all ages and social strata. I come home often and socialise with my people at the grassroots level. I belong to the age-group association from my village and have consistently related with my peers from the grassroots. The fact that I have spent more time away does not mean I have forgotten my roots. In fact, this has given me the exposure that has placed me on a better pedestal to effect the real change that the Edo people so greatly deserve.
How did your political journey begin?
I have been a keen observer of the political happenings in the country, especially in my darling Edo State. I was involved Yes Nigeria Movement in 2018/2019. Prior o that time, I was in the background supporting some persons we expected to effect the much-needed change in the state. As we have not seen the desired change, I decided to roll up my sleeves and get involved. If I keep quiet and do nothing, it means I am part of the problem.
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