James Oweikimi Useghan, 36-years-old governorship candidate of the Sustainable National Party (SNP) in Ondo State and former Senatorial candidate of Ondo South Senatorial district. In this interview with GbaramatuVoice, he speaks on the failures of governance, along with the challenges of the high cost of politics in Nigeria, his campaign and his expectation for the October 2020 Governorship election. Excerpt
Tell us about yourself
My name is James Oweikimi Useghan, an advocate for a just and egalitarian society. And a former Senatorial Candidate of Ondo South Senatorial district, from Ese-Odo LGA, Ondo State. I am also an aspirant in the fourth coming Ondo State governorship election.
What are you bringing differently to the table for the Ondo people?
In the last general election, I contested for the Ondo state south senatorial seat and the campaign train afforded me the opportunity to interact profoundly with the people, I realized I was just a privileged part of them. Their pains and desire for a purposeful, decisive, proactive and empathetic leader resonate deeply with me. Our people have suffered enough in the hand of politicians who only pontificate about their woes just for the purpose of manipulating their emotions to win election. They earnestly demand a leader who cares not just about the next election, but the next generation. Like I said earlier I am one of them, and what I am bringing to the table is just to continue to be one of them after I am elected as the executive governor.
I want to be their representative; the bridge between their awful past and the future they want to give to the next generation. I want to offer them hope that with the right leader in power, combined with their resolution and determination to support the government that truly represents them, there is no limit to what we can change together.
How are you engaging Ondo people ahead of the election?
Our people called me to this humble service. They have long been sidelined in how they are governed.
Politicians have turned our people’s resources into victory booty that the winners shares as the benefit for their dirty politicking and I made myself explicitly clear when during the last general election I announced my candidacy and went straight to the heart of our people’s daily live to reveal my manifesto, I told them it wasn’t going to be business as usual.
My fundamental belief is that political power affords one the opportunity to serve and solve people’s problem rather than oppressing, suppressing and marginalizing their will to perpetuate power.
When I see our people despite their abundant natural endowment lacking basic amenities such as portable water, electricity and health care facilities, I was deeply moved to help in whatever capability within my reach as a private citizen to help solve these fundamental problems. That was my intention then and nothing much has since changed save the fact that I am more strongly persuaded that our people truly deserve better. It became clear that all they want was just someone who can empathetically walk in their shoes and represent their deepest interest and that is exactly the reason I am contesting.
How would you assess the performances of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in the state?
The Governor’s performance is good but can only get better. When you talk about performance, there is more to be done in the state. There is a big vacuum left and that is the unemployed youths of the region. It is a huge challenge that must be given the topmost priority in the state. This can be tailored down with a proper plan of agribusinesses that Ondo State is known for.
How do you intend to overcome the politics of regions and get the people to vote as an Ijaw man?
Talking about regional politics, I am not ignorant of the fact that Ijaw is a minority in Ondo State and regionalization often contributes immensely in shaping people’s sentiment in Nigeria politics, but I have found something more powerful and potent than regionalization; that is the sincere will of the people of Ondo state to get it politically right in the forthcoming election by electing the best on merit rather than region. They indeed want to usher in a new dawn of governance that will fulfil their deepest desires. More than ever before they want a purposeful leader rather than a politician that will preach regionalization just to score cheap point.
We are at the outset of a new decade and this opportunity to elect a new regime must be judiciously and wisely maximize by our people like the effect of the next administration will eventually determine our bearing in the next decade, quite frankly, a decade is too important and long a time to gamble away carelessly. We must not deny our children in this decade the opportunity to enjoy the abundance of their divine giving land just on the parochial excuse of regionalization.
Why should the people of Ondo State believe in you?
I think what is lacking in most public office-seeker is purpose and passion. I am not as interested in public office as much as I am passionately purposeful about serving the people. I want our people to know that they come first and their comfort and representation is my only solace. I have long devoted myself to service to humanity and I recently realize that as a private citizen there’s just little I can do, but with the support of the people and their invested sovereignty through the ballot I can achieve more.
If you are elected, is there anything you would do differently?
Like I earlier stated, what we lack in governance is true leadership. A leader that is ready to forbid business as usual and the unholy relish of the extravagance that accompany power to embrace the sacred business of governance is what will make the difference.
The problem with the previous politicians was singular – they primarily seek people’s vote to get power and feed their megalomania. Contrarily, I am here to seek people’s vote as a platform to serve them.
How do you intend to finance your vision?
I must confess, the issue of finance remains a significant threat and possible bane to such a prospective ambition such as mine, but I won’t frail or falter as a result of that. I am resolute and the passion for the comprehensive welfare of our people is my major driving force. I have faith in the people and that is enough for me to step forward. We did it during the general election and we can do it again, better and successfully.