[INTERVIEW] Local Govt Administration In Dire Need Of Fresh Blood – Aspirant

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Okhide Em’ya David

Comrade Inegbenehi  Iziegbe Sylvester is a young, dynamic, progressive , home grown , politician tutored in activism.

He can also best be described as an entrepreneur par excellence, having built some corporate organizations from scratch  to success as well as played key roles in the management and sustenance of others .
As  CEO of Ine and co, a Real Estate firm, Comrade Inegbenehi Iziegbe Sylvester has proven that there are still young Nigerians gifted with inner strength for purposeful leadership combined with investment drive for the common good.

In an interview with Okhide Em’ya David, the Politician cum Activist recently indicated interest to contest the next Local Government Council Election in Esan North East Local Government Area, saying his people earnestly await a chairman who truly understands their plights and possesses clear cut managerial skills to address prevailing human- capital and infrastructural underdevelopment.

Excerpts :

May we meet you sir?

Comrade Inegbenehi Iziegbe Sylvester is my name. I am a Christian.I have a family of four children, a lovely wife. My spouse is a health care provider , a midwife to be precise.  By the special grace of God, I have vast knowledge in so many fields of endeavour by virtue of my education and interactions with key operators of the political environment and economy.
First and foremost, I attended the prestigious Nana Primary School in Warri, Delta State, where I proceeded to Hussey College,  also in Warri Delta State.
From there, because of the passion to further my education, I proceeded to the defunct Bendel State University, BENSU, now Ambrose Alli University, AAU,  Ekpoma, where I studied Agriculture and specialized in crop science. I was there from  1988-2005 through prescience degree programme. By the grace of God, after school, though I was interested in serving the country, I had an exemption, since then till date, I  have been practicing and consulting for individuals and organizations to  establish farms, including horticulture, livestock farming, proposals and other agricultural ventures. I worked briefly in Saro Agro Science Limited, an Agricultural firm that deals with the production of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. The firm has offices in Lagos and Ibadan. I was the one heading Delta State Branch, Kwale to be precise and I served as the Head of operations for four years or thereabout before I decided to venture into private business. I have successfully  managed an industrial warehouse. I have also successfully engaged  big corporate organizations who  specialize in herbicides and fertilizers. Owing to burning desire to expand my business endeavour I went into the real estate investment . Today, I can proudly tell you that I am the CEO Ine & co Nigeria limited. We are into real estate management, investment and consultancy. By the grace of God, we have also invested  in Human Resource Management. If you will recall that I told you God has made us so vast in so many ways and that is how we have been able to  positively impacted on  the lives of many people around us.
What we do basically in the human resource management aspect of our conglomerate is  to recruit for organizations that need man power. We are also key investors in the  hospitality business in Edo State and I can proudly tell you that we are consultants to more than 10 hotels in the  State.

Please share with us, the inspiration to vie  for the position of chairman, Esan North-East Local Government Council?

It is borne out of the passion to serve my  people. Right from the onset, I have always seen myself as a servant,  providing solutions  to peoples problems in the council area. I have been amongst some persons criticizing that “this person has not done well, why is he is there? It’s no longer time to complain, if you know it, show the people how it ought to be done .
Its basically borne out of the strong desire to serve the people, to see how to change the narratives and do things better.

What has been the narrative?

The narrative has been underperformance of some of our leaders. You cannot give what you don’t have. What you don’t know, you don’t know. So I just believe that some of us don’t know what it means generally to occupy  elective offices. From  positive school of thought, public offices ought to be  administrative seats where the persons occupying them see themselves as managers being  employed by his/her constituents, to serve them transparently and diligently. Then at the end of the day, the public officers render account of stewardship  on his exploits in office to the people. The people are also expected to engage the leadership.
But today what we see is not encouraging, unproductive that  leads to underdevelopment. That is why we have come out to say that we want to serve the people the way it ought to be. I will not say they’ve not tried, those who have headed the local government  council in my place have  tried  in their own capacity but I think there are more to to done. Someone needs to lead the new team; to set the ball rolling and that is why I say we want to change the narratives.

Esan North East Local Government Area comprises of Uromi and Uzea Clans. Persons from Uromi clan have occupied that positions back to back for the past tenures. How do you feel that, you as  another Uromi son, is vying for that same position even as the current chairman is from Uromi.
where do you place the Uzea people?

From the school of thought, being from Uromi or Uzea is inconsequential, we only play  politics with all of those postulations. In this era and time, Wherever the person is coming from, should not matter because the aim is to serve and serve well. Inasmuch as one can give the people good governance, let us jettison his ancestral background.

Has the issue been resolved by leaders on who becomes the next chairman whether from Uzea or Uromi?

To the best of my knowledge that would be decided at the leadership level but to me, I would say we shouldn’t be politicking with such mundane issues  . Leaders should see political positions as going to serve, and not as a place where people go to enrich themselves.
If you’re going there to serve, you would know it’s a huge task ahead of you. The constituents would even have to beg you.

In concrete terms, what do you hope to achieve as chairman of the council?

Thank you. By the grace of God, what my administration has for the people of Esan North East Local Government is inexhaustible.
By the special grace of God Almighty, our administration would be focused on people-driven projects, human capital development, and infrastructure.
When we assume office because of our broad  knowledge, from the background , the first primary objective is the people’s welfare. We  shall ensure  that to the barest minimum our  people  are well catered for,  through intervention programmes and water tight security architecture because a person who has not been able to fend for himself cannot appreciate other developmental  projects.
When a person is hungry ,he or she will not appreciate a good or standard road,  hospital or school project . So we would create an avenue where everybody will be gainfully engaged  or busy at the local government. If you are trading, you’ll be getting value for your trading, if they are  services you are rendering, you will  render your services effectively and your money gets into your bank account at all times.

Secondly, we would enhance and improve on whatever they are doing on a daily basis that gives them money and puts food on their table, that is when we can now begin to talk of infrastructures like accessible roads , where there are no good roads and  improving on warn-out roads so that they can have easy access to convey their goods to all nooks and crannies of the local government.
After that, the people also need to broaden their knowledge in education, then we begin to think  of how they could learn more in their various  trades or commercial activities  by  giving them schools, skills acquisition centres.
We  shall  thereafter concentrate on healthcare delivery where we can improve on the already existing healthcare centres because a man who has worked from 7:00am to 6:00pm may fall ill and when there is no good primary health facilities, we may run into crisis so that is where we would improve on the already- existing health facilities and where there is none, we build. As a grassroots man, I have painfully observed that the population of youths in the  rural areas have dwindled considerably   because of the crave for greener pastures. Uromi is not an exceptional case, we have a grave depletion of youth population.
So we shall  make sure that the ones on ground, are engaged  in vocational training. We will build skill acquisition centres in all the wards and  bring professionals to train them while the council would absorb them under a special scheme. They would be the one doing the job, we would make sure the council is working in areas of vocational services, we would revitalize them so that as soon as they are through in the vocational centres, the council would absorb them, place them on salary.
Those ones that have been out there, thinking of what to do would come home to learn trade and the council would absorb them.

How do you intend to fund these  your laudable  projects?

You see, the government is always saying there is no money but because of my vast knowledge in financial management,  humanitarian services/NGOs, I have over the period acquired a modicum of financial creativity to attract investors, foreign investors/NGOs, banks, institutions that are ready to finance laudable projects without us contributing  any money.
You know that there are developmental partners who just to work with their beneficiaries for just their sincerity and viability of  projects which will spur them  to invest in the  projects. I will not rely solely on  the allocation or money,  from the federation accounts alone as we will invest and explore as well as partner with other critical key stakeholders so we would be calling on the international investors to assist us. Representatives of such bodies   are amongst us in Benin here in Edo State, they would invest in our projects because we would  have  laudable and viable projects.

How do you intend to boost  the Agricultural sector in the local government?

You see, the state has been blessed with very fertile lands, we have peasant farmers everywhere who are trying in their own ways but they don’t really have that financial muscle to expand and boost productivity. The Federal government few months ago placed  a ban on importation of rice but how has that policy helped us? Have  we been able to utilize  the  opportunity  to boost mass production of that staple food item ? We used to have Ekpoma rice which is an upland rice because it is not planted in the swampy area. But today, where is  Ekpoma rice?; What financial support have these farmers  received to motivate them towards mass production? How viable are they? We used to have tomatoe- farmers but because of the prevalent of pests and paucity of finance support, many of them are out of farming how about pawpaw? The list is endless. There are so many of these crops which take about 4 to 5 months to cultivate. Though the endeavour is money spinning, there have not been adequate supports. Supports in terms of finance and requisite  skills. When we get into government, we would ensure that the youths are well empowered, motivated and engaged  to curb youth restiveness.
We also have programs for the old and elderly but we understand that  youths are the   bedrock for the development of any  society. So, our administration would be centered on the youth development. We would engage the youths in livestock and crop cultivation. As a student, agriculture was my main occupation and hobby, thank God some of my lecturers are still alive today. I would always plant and  build at any given time. If you go to Ekpoma, I planted the flowers in the hostels I stayed as a student. That is part of Agriculture, I was planting flowers as a student, collecting jobs from hotels, that is Agriculture which is a part of Agronomy. So, I was doing all of that and even till today, we do get jobs from companies. So we will engage our youths in all of these  area of Agriculture. In those days in school, when you are through you could use your certificates as a collateral in the bank. These opportunities are still there, all we need is to organize the youths into cooperative  societies and assist them to access finds. When necessary facilities, policies and strategies are instituted, there must be rapid progress or development. Even, training and retraining officials farmers, Artisans on modern skills would certainly fast track development. I tell you many youths now still don’t have that foresight, apologies to them. Give some youth five-hundred thousand naira now to go into farming they will just squander it, they feel it is free and  it is not enough. But when we get into government, we would give them access to agricultural loans but we would not give them the loans directly  because they  may not understand the technicalities behind management of such facilities. Consequently, we would set up a technical team that would provide the necessary guide from  beginning of the investments to finishing. I will recall an empowerment programme we carried out  in 2018. We did not  give the beneficiaries their monies directly. Imagine giving a  beneficiary N12,000 to go and invest, the person will mock you because that is the level of their understanding. What we did was to take them to the market where these raw materials are sold. The raw materials include the ones for soap, perfumes etc. When one is prudent and hard working, the person will be highly productive. I took them to the market and they produced. From there the person being empowered already knows where to get his or her raw materials  and can go there unsupervised. We would also replicate such empowerment programmes in agricultural, education ( Skills acquisition) arts and entertainment, as well as  Tourism sectors.

What platform are you going to contest, and is there anything Governor Godwin  Obaseki is doing that you want to replicate at the council level?

I will start by answering from the third question. I admire Mr Godwin  Obaseki’ s administration very much, especially his  style of leadership.
Obaseki came to change the narrative and we want to join him to see that Edo State is repositioned  so that everybody can benefit. So, we will be replicating a lot of things that he has been doing in the state and also improve on what he has done. We will surpass what he has done,  and  I am certain the Governor will be proud of me as a father to a son because it is the earnest prayer of every father that his son should excel. On which platform , I am going to contest the election ? My loyalty to my party has never danced awilo or been in doubt. I have always been a PDP man and PDP will I remain because that is the only organized party in this world for me. Since my exit from ACN, I have never moved. I follow leaders bumper to bumper to learn and in one way or the other we have been instrumental to their success. In terms of experience, we have  over the years acquired  political experience that would make us fit perfectly to paddle the boat of the local government council. We have what it takes with my wealth of experience in my youth organizations,  work places ,  at  school  and above all   God-fearing attributes as well as good team spirit. So, we don’t have any problem with the necessary experience to successfully pilot the affairs of the Local Council. It will baffle you to know that the kind of sacrifices we have made in the party is unparalleled.

For instance, we have never  left the party in spite of the fact that we have not even held any position in the wards. Even at the unit level, we have not held any position and we are still steadfastly loyal.
Except in 2016, when I was asked to run for the position of PDP state youth leadership position which I declined for conscience because the person who later occupied the position was  a friend and a brother. I was about the second person he consulted as part of  strategies to clinch the position. Surprisingly, I was asked to run for that same position but I declined because the person there was  like  a brother.
We are still steadily friends today. The relationship has blossomed .

How do you intend to win this position considering there are other candidateswho are not less than 15?

I have always said that even if we are 100 candidates, I am not deterred.
I have always told people categorically that power is of the Lord, the grace is divine, the grace speaks and crowns who ever the cap fits. Grace doesn’t only respect intelligent, it honours those who are worthy.

That is the spiritual aspect of life, don’t forget that the spiritual  component of life — controls the physical.
I dont have a problem with many contestants. I have always been outstanding at every level of call to serve, either at public or in private duties. So  whether they are 20, I am confident that I will win. Thank you.

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