Speech by Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, former Member, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the occasion of his Declaration of Intent to seek the Nomination of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Contest the 2020  Governorship Election of Edo State 

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– Leaders and Members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC)
– Our dynamic and vibrant Edo Youth
– Other Edos at home and in the diaspora
– Members of the Press
– Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome you all to this virtual interactive  engagement. I feel truly honoured by your presence online. That you could attend this virtual event despite the economic and healthcare challenges facing this country at the moment is all the more gratifying.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
We are all gathered here through the instrumentality of digital technology because we believe that our dear State – Edo – can be made better. We want to see Edo develop, prosper and truly become the heartbeat of Nigeria.  We are together in spirit today, because we know that real change must come and that change will come because of you.
As I moved around the State interacting with regular Edolites before the advent of the Covid-19 Pandemic , I listened to their concerns about unfulfilled expectations, frustrations and sometimes disillusionment. Yet I still saw the excitement, determination and hope on their faces.
In spite of the many challenges we face, it is quite remarkable that our people have refused to give up on Edo State. It is inspiring that amidst difficulties and growing anxiety over the future, our people have refused to succumb to despair and hopelessness. This never-say-die attitude gives me immense hope and it is one of the reasons why I can never give up on our dear State.
The glaring mismatch between our potentials and our achievements has become, for many, a frustrating puzzle; for others it is a topic for never ending debate; and yet for another group, it is doomsday lament. But as a progressive and open-minded Edolite, I consider it a golden opportunity and a bittersweet chance to display our courage, rekindle our innovative instinct, showcase our character and turn the Edo dream into reality.
The future of Edo is represented in who we are collectively. Edos of my generation, who work tirelessly to earn a living, striving to make Edo a better place for themselves and their families, and who are entitled to retire in comfort; Our youth who are  endowed with fresh ideas, bubbling energy and a passionate desire for change –  these are the hope of this State.  Without you, we really cannot talk of a future with hope and confidence.
That is why the 2020 Gubernatorial election is about you, the good people of Edo State. It is about how to ensure that you live in a safe and secured environment.  It is about making sure that you feed well, receive quality and affordable education and training, secure good jobs, support your own families and contribute positively to the development of our State.This is what a responsive and responsible government owes its citizens. This is what our generation owes upcoming generations. This is what we must do to guarantee our country’s future. This is what democracy promises. This is what our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), seeks to actualize.
Our party, the APC, at its inception offered great hope for many Nigerians,  Edos inclusive,  as a potent alternative to the PDP. We have in our fold selfless leaders who cherish democratic principles and practice and who have demonstrated their patriotism in deepening democracy and ensuring democratic dividends for all of our people.
Let me assure you that our party remains strong and capable of fulfilling our State’s thirst for change. And we shall do so united across tribes, religions and generations.
I am particularly proud that our party has adopted the innovative Modified Open Primaries in selecting its flag bearers at all levels. This will ensure the emergence of candidates whose mandate will be informed by the popular will of the members of our party.
I believe that it is the responsibility of my generation to offer our political shoulders to the new generation to climb upon, improve their vision and expand their horizon. It is this trans-generational collaboration and partnership that represents the best model to create the future that we desire and deserve. This is a well-tested model; the future of our State should never again be subjected to leadership experimentation.
My story is similar to the story of many in my generation.  I was born in a small village of Evbowe-Isi, some 30 kilometers from Benin City, to a subsistence farmer father and a petty trader mother. I grew up as a farm hand. I had to work long hours on the farm, tapped palmwine and rubber before my parents could save enough to send me to school.
I faced the future with uncommon confidence, hope and faith in God. I am where I am today because I did not give up. I relocated to the United States of America in the early 1980s, struggled to acquire a good education because the opportunity was made available. Most people never had a chance and their potentials were never discovered and their contributions to national development thus curtailed.  I worry today that too many of our young people who could have improved their lives and that of this nation have not been getting the opportunities to do so.
After nearly 2 decades of senior corporate and political roles in the United States of America, I returned to Nigeria at the dawn of our current democratic experience in 1998/1999, and in the 20 years that I have spent in the Nigerian political space, I built a solid reputation for myself as a diligent, honest, hardworking and innovative public servant.
My politics has always been guided by the enduring values of fairness and justice, honesty of purpose, the pursuit of excellence, selflessness and the love for my country. These values also characterize my conduct in business.
As a Senior Policy Advisor (Foreign Relations and Diaspora Affairs) in the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole from 2008 – 2011, I worked closely with my boss, Governor Oshiomhole, who is also a passionate defender of the Edo heritage.  We re-integrated our State into the fold of progressive Sub-National Governments following years of isolation; we professionalized our civil service, we embarked on fundamental economic reforms and sought the buy-in of the Edos in the diaspora.
As a Member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) from 2013 -2015, I championed, amongst other things, a value for money audit of all the Corporation’s projects and laid the foundation for the modernization on our nation’s railways.
As a Member of the House of Representatives representing the people of Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency of Edo state between 2015 – 2019, I was Chairman of the House Committee that carried out process audit of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and also chaired the House Committee that probed the activities of the Nigerian Pension Regulator – the National Pension Commisson. I served on other Committees of the House and facilitated numerous constituency projects and initiatives for the benefit of my constituents.
This is the story of the service which I am proud to have rendered to our Nation and our dear State. These achievements were made possible because of the vision, commitment and dedication of leadership.  Good leadership is what it takes to make good things happen.
We know the story today. Edos are yearning for a breath of fresh air. They want new ideas, new perspectives and a new thinking. The socio-economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic in Edo reinforces the urgent need for change.  We cannot continue down this path of decline.
Resentment, disillusionment and hopelessness are the emotions on which insecurity and disharmony thrive. Our State is more divided today than at any other time since the civil war. There is a disturbing rise in ethnic nationalism and religious bigotry. This is promoting social tension and mutual distrust amongst the peoples of of our dear State. All over the State, there are daily breaches of security resulting in loss of lives and properties. Armed robbery, kidnappings and human trafficking continue to ravage many parts of the State. This has to stop.
We need a strong, dynamic, decisive, competent and visionary and uniting leadership that can halt the current drift of the ship of state, fight corruption, create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, provide social services and tackle insecurity in a decisive, robust multi-pronged way.  This is the change we want and deserve and this is the change the APC is primed to offer. And that is why I humbly offer myself, once again, for the service of my people.
To fix Edo State requires a leadership that will promote a new socio-political order and a compelling drive to always balance power and authority with service and accountability within the context of inclusive growth and prosperity.
I have been asked why I am seeking to lead our dear State. My passion for governance is that of a man who wants to do more because there is so much more to be done in fixing Edo State. This passion remains interminable.  I have what it takes to bring people together and turn things around for the better. Therefore, I want to play a leading role in the trans-generational efforts to save our State and improve the lives of our people.
With the support of the millions of Edos desirous of change and the hard work by all of us, the APC with I as the standard bearer, shall form the next government of our great State.
I have, therefore, decided that I will, along with other respected leaders of our party, seek nomination as a candidate of the APC to contest the Edo State Governorship election of 2020.
I want to lead a government that will invest in our people because people constitute the wealth of any nation. I want to lead a government that will create “An Edo for All”.  An Edo that is not about North, Central or South, Christian or Muslim, but about a better tomorrow where every citizen will feel secure, act with patriotism, having assurance of the fulfilment of his or her aspirations.
I want to lead a government that will rebuild the institutions of governance with zero tolerance for corruption and nepotism, where hard work and dedication are adequately rewarded.
I want to assemble the best brains and provide the political will and commitment so that jointly, and with the cooperation of all of you, build an Edo of our dreams.
Edo must rise to retake its leadership place in Nigeria, and earn the respect of other States. This places on us the responsibility of stewardship. It is the consciousness of this national responsibility that has guided my political adventures; and it is this call to serve that I have come to answer once again.
Edo must and will attain greater heights.  With your support and prayers, we will change our State for the better. We will create a State that will truly be the pride of the black race. We will create a new Edo for all Edolites.
Thank you and God bless Edo State.
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