A former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs in the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, Samuel Odeh is one of the 10 aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State.
In this chat with journalists in Abuja, he rates his chances of winning the party’s ticket as high, says the APC can’t be questioned for requesting aspirants to sign withdrawal form while he talks about his blueprint on security in the state. Politics Editor TUNDE JOSHUA brings excerpts.
You’ve submitted your forms for the office of the Governor of Benue State; so what do you want to bring to the table that will be new from what is already on ground?
Thank you very much. My name is Samuel Odeh. And I come from Otupko local government area of Benue State. I want to say that those who could not buy the form didn’t do so because they didn’t have the means.
Our party in Benue held a retreat where a deliberate mechanism was put in place by consensus to trim down the number of people who were contesting this race. So, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the resources to do so. I want that to be established.
Secondly, I am not running for the office of governor of Benue State for the sake of running. I am running because I know that I have something to offer to the people.
I have been a local government chairman and I have been a special adviser in the state in charge of the entire 23 local governments and the chieftaincy institutions. That was the position I occupied before I was invited by former President Goodluck Jonathan to join his cabinet as a minister.
And so I believe that I have cognate experience at the local, state and the national levels to be able to bring that experiences to bear on the development of my state.
I have also, with all modesty, prepared myself intellectually and politically, to be able to discharge the functions of office of governor of Benue State.
I have held positions, and in those positions i have performed. At least that is the preponderance of opinion. So I believe that out of all the 10 of us who are running under the APC platform, who have bought the forms, the people of Benue know better, they will choose a credible person who will lead the state.
First, at the level of our primaries and then at the general election, I am confident that I will emerge the candidate of the APC in Benue State. In 2019, I was the deputy governorship candidate of the APC in Benue State and in my own senatorial district, we won eight out of nine local governments. And so I think that I’m bringing something to the table.
There has been having a lot of security challenges that has made Gov Ortom to cry out the world. What do you intend to do to ensure that the safety of the people is assured? Well, security challenge is something that is of concern to all citizens of our state. It is also a national problem. It is not only happening in Benue, even at the sub- regional level in Africa, we have a lot of issues from the Maghreb, all the way into the sub – region.
So, we need to have a holistic approach to the issue of security. It has to start from the base. We need to provide employment for the young.
There are teeming number of graduates or people who are unemployed but not graduates. We need to provide skills to the young people because once you don’t do that, there is a large reservoir of people that can be harvested for acts of criminality.
And so, the first thing to do is job creation. Put in place a robust system that will provide employment for people and lift the poor people out of the status that they are now. Once you do that, most of these issues will abate. People complained about a clause in your party’s guidelines, requesting you to sign a letter of withdrawal. Did you sign that letter? The party is supreme.
And I have signed the form. As people said, the freedom of association is personal. I’m a lawyer and I also know that you are not compelled to join the APC. If the guideline says you should sign that form, so long as it is not something that is illegal, then you have to comply.
If you don’t comply, it means that you have not completed the form. So I have submitted a completed form including that so called page 18 that you’re talking about. Does that mean you are ready for consensus? That is the assumption of course. Of cause yes, I could be a beneficiary of consensus. So why will I be against it, it is less contentious and it is profitable.