Dr. Dennis Osahon Aikoriogie, a visionary deeply committed to Edo State, not only through his resources and time but also through his charismatic presence, stands as a transformative force. He isn’t just a catalyst for change; he embodies the spark reshaping lives and paving the path for a thriving Edo State and, by extension, Nigeria.
Hailing from Edo State himself, he is a true native, his heart entwined with the region. This profound connection drives his belief that political leadership provides the best means to give back to his community.
Top Society recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Dennis Osahon Aikoriogie, who is vying as a Governorship Aspirant under the Labour Party’s banner. In this conversation, he shared his insights on governance, assessed the performance of the current administration in Edo State and across Nigeria, and articulated his hopes and aspirations for a better Edo State.
T.S: Who is Dr. Dennis Aikoriogie?
I am a philanthropist, politician and someone who is coming out with great hope for the people of Edo State, to come change the narratives and to proffer solution to the many problems bedeviling the State, by extension Nigeria. I want my name to represent hope for the downtrodden, to uplift people who have lost hope, confidence in the system, trying to rekindle hope and believe that things can be done right.
T.S: Bringing this to your early years, your parents really helped with your growth. So that means you have a supportive family. Can you tell us about your background, your upbringing, particularly how your parents values, influenced your journey into public service?
I was born in Benin City. I attended my primary to my university, all in Benin City. Starting from my primary, secondary, then attended university of Benin and I grew up with my dad and mom.
My Parents influence in my upbringing is not farfetched, my mom was a school teacher, though she’s retired now as a school teacher. She inculcated that book spirit in me. I should always put in my best and excel in school. And she always walked me through school to ensure that I am ahead in terms of academics.
My dad was a Surveyor. Like most fathers, he was busy. But I’d say most of the upbringing was done by my mum because she’s a teacher. She made sure that I attended lectures, read my books. I wasn’t lacking in my academics. These are part of the things that shaped my life.
In terms of public service, I would say maybe my Christian background because I’m a born Catholic and my mom is very strong Christian in the Catholic Church and in my family, going to church is a religion. What that means is that every Sunday you have to go to church. That built me up to grow in Christian life. The teachings of the Church impacted in me to care for the less privileged and look out for those who are weak in the society and try as much as possible to reach out to them and do my best being my brother’s keeper. These are the things that have shaped me in life. My background makes me want to care for my neighbor and have a passion for service.
T.S: At what time did you decide that you wanted to get into politics, especially Nigerian politics? What exactly motivated you to pursue a career in politics and become a gubernatorial aspirant for Edo State?
I’ve always had keen interest in terms of leaders and those who govern a State and Nigeria at large. I’ve mostly been involved in Politics even before I left Nigeria. Recently I became involved during the Obaseki regime. That’s because Oshiomole was trying to be a Godfather and the people of Edo State said we’re not gonna allow any Godfather dictate who becomes Governor of Edo State. I think that was when I became active. Before then, I was also active during the time of Jonathan. I remember I was always involved, trying to lend my voice in terms of good governance. I was always on the sidelines, saying that things must be done right, we must get it right in Nigeria, and when I left Nigeria, it continued especially during the time of Obaseki regime. I belong to various support groups thatbrought Obaseki in his 2nd term in office. We involved in donations and rallying supports for Obaseki. That was my gradual involvement in getting to be in politics. Then when the Obidient movement came around, that’s Peter Obi, I was also involved as the Global Coordinator “Diaspora Strong for Peter Obi”. Before that time, I was also on the sidelines showing my support for Peter Obi. Unlike what people say now that we just make noise online, then the Obidient movement hasn’t evolved to the state it was before the Presidential election. Then it was just on the low key, people hearing Obidient movement. I hadalready identified with it with it. Just at that early stage when people were saying it was just people making noise on Twitter and all that. So that was when I joined the Obidient movement.
When I was supporting Peter Obi from WhatsApp groups, people were like “Dennis, you’re here in WhatsApp groups supporting Peter Obi and you are in the Diaspora, PDP and APC have the structures.” So I decided to take it head, to take it a step forward by forming that groupwhich I later became the Global coordinator “Diaspora Strong for Peter Obi”. So, this was how my journey into politics started and after the general elections, that is the presidential election and Tinubu was declared, we knew that Edo State was nextbecause Edo State didn’t take part in the 2023 elections because we have off elections. So, we knew the next step was going to be changed. Because we now want to be known as people who want good governance in Nigeria, especially those of us in the diaspora. We wanted to be known as those who are known for good governance in Nigeria. So we knew the next step was going to be the off season election.
The attention then shifted to how do we get Edo State? Who do we pull our support behind? That was how my name came up and I got involved to become a gubernatorial aspirant of the Labour Party. So this was how my journey into politics started on the sidelines, indicating interest and when people said “why not go for it and let’s support you since those of us in diasporawant people who can create a change.”
So, this is my journey into politics.
T.S: When did you become a member of the Labour Party? Because you said that you first worked for the advancement of Obaseki and when the Obidient movement started you moved. Why didn’t you stick with Obaseki of the PDP? Why did you decide to move? Did you think that you didn’t stand a chance there and you wanted to go somewhere where you would be seen?
The bottom line is that we supported Obaseki but so far, if I may use the word, Obaseki has been a “disappointment” in what he has been doing. That is why I and probably others decided to identify with the Obidient movement. Because we felt the PDP and APC have disappointed us as a people and as a country. So that’s why I’m in the first point decided to move with Peter Obi when he moved from PDP to Labour Party. We felt PDP and APC haven’t led the country right. We felt we were gonna have a chance, especially those of us that have not being involved in politics to come under Labour Party. Because when we say some people are corrupt and have done damage to Nigeria, you can’t point accusing fingers to Labour Party. That’s why I decided to identify with Labour.
Prior to this time, I’ve been a card carrying member of the PDP. So when we supported Obaseki, what we envisioned was going to be the outcome of his government, is far from what we are seeing right now. The roads are still bad and a lot of infrastructures are still lacking. So I think it’s better we don’t identify with PDP and APC because they failed, so we have to identify with the new party.
I’ve already been to Labour Party due to my involvement with Peter Obi. So, that’s how I became a Labour Party member and I became a member fully in My March/April and I declared my intention to run as a Governor of Edo State.
T.S: You mentioned that Obaseki has been a disappointment. Can you explain what you mean by that?
There are many areas in which his (Obaseki) government hasfallen short of expectation. In terms of education, we have seen many school buildings that are dilapidated, especially in ruralcommunities. The schools are nothing to write home of, they aredefaced buildings. With just a little feel in the city center and most of that credit can be given to the former governor, Adams Oshiomole. He did the red roof renovation within the Benin Citymetropolis. I think that’s what is still there till today.
Obaseki has not really done anything in terms of education, but what he has tried to do is what he called the ‘Edo Best’ program that he has. But that is also within Benin City, the Urban area, where they give people Tablets and they have some instructional materials in it. Like I said, just for students in Benin City. So,what about the students in villages and teachers? I know of a school in the village where my mom comes from, that had two teachers but one was transferred, probably to a different village or to city, after which the school was left with one teacher. So imagine how just one teacher, teaching an entire school, teaching all the subjects.
So education is lacking, health is lacking. The only specialist hospital we have was built by Oshiomole. It is in Obaseki’s 8thyear in his administration he decided to build a hospital, which is still not completed. It’s not like he’s building the hospital from the ground. That’s the hospital that was built by Lucky Igbinedion, the Stella Obasanjo women and children hospital, where he’s trying to build a structure inside that hospital in Benin City. He is not building a hospital complex, he’s just trying to build inside. This is even in Benin City he is trying to build a hospital. So if you go to other Senatorial districts, like the Edo Central, Edo North, those people are cut off from Edo State. They don’t have schools, hospitals. They don’t have good roads in Edo State. If you recall, Edo State was in the news recently, with the Governor saying some roads belong to the Federal Government. So, we are lacking in amenities and infrastructures in Edo State.
There is still room for change in Edo State. So that’s why I said Obaseki has not performed according to expectation because we lack many infrastructures and amenities in Edo State that is yearning for attention.
T.S: You mentioned that Oshiomole was trying to be a Godfather, but it seems with your assessment, you’ve been praising Oshiomole more based off things he did in the State. So does that mean that you think that Oshiomole performed better than the present Governor?
No, I’m not saying he performed better, I only cited an example of the ‘Red Roof‘that Oshiomole did. So I’m not saying he performed better or he did great. I also mentioned Lucky Igbinedion, who built the women and children hospital.
The only thing I know Obaseki is doing right is salary. Workers are paid as at when due, compared to previous administrations of Lucky Igbinedion and Adams Oshiomole. They owed salaries. Although Obaseki does not owe salary, we believe governance is more than paying salaries of workers, there are some other things that should be seen. There are areas and sectors that needs to be touched.
So, I’m not saying Oshiomole did better, what I just said was the ‘Red Roof’ in terms of education is accredited to Oshiomole, just like the ‘Stella Obasanjo women and children hospital’ iscredited to Lucky Igbinedion.
Obaseki also rebranded the State Secretariat Complex and refurbished and reconstructed it. Apart from what I mentioned, I’ve not really seen any tangible thing Obaseki has done. There is no indices you can use to appraise Obaseki’s government in areas he has succeeded, other than paying of salaries. That I’ll give to him.
T.S: Let’s bring it back to you, about your vision because you believe that Obaseki has not done so great for the State and you didn’t rate other administrations well, as well.Could you elaborate on your vision for Edo State, economic development, diversification as well? How do you expect to put the State on the map and then help the people get, value for education, infrastructure and other things?
My plans for Edo State is contained in my Manifesto, it’s still being developed.
Let’s talk of the areas a little bit. Like security now, which I didn’t mention earlier, is also a place Obaseki is failing. Edo State is insecure. You can’t move from point A to point B without been afraid of being kidnapped. There is a particular road between Benin and Iho. That road, people don’t move between maybe six in the morning to nine. You have to move when people out, say like 10 and you don’t move at night. Even between 9 and 5, you have to move, that is still daylight, and you still have to be cautious. You have to go or move with extra security for you to ply that route. At least you go with caution for people who are going without security, at least anything can happen, if you are not going to security. You can be abducted at any time. The last time I plied that place, I went with security. So people that are concerned are security cautious, they move in that area with security. Any other person moving between 9 or 5 that you feel is safe, you’re going at your own risk.
So this is one of areas I’m trying to tackle; security, to ensure that lives and property are secured as highlighted in Nigerian constitution. Section 14 of the Nigerian constitution says it is the responsibility of the government to secure lives and property of the people. So we intend to police Edo State 100%, providing modern technologies like CCTV cameras you can deploy. Equip the Police with patrol vehicles and communication gadgets. We will try as much as possible to upgrade their weapons. We know we have a Federal Policing system or structure in place in Nigeria whereby the police is a Federal Government establishment. But as a State government, we can still do something, to partner and assist them in the right policing. Other States are doing it. Rivers State have done it in the past. We will try as much as possible to provide CCTV cameras,logistics for the police to tackle insecurity. Peter Obi also did in Anambra State, thereby chasing out all the kidnappers, hoodlums from Anambra State. So, we tend to replicate that in Edo State.
For education, I believe there’s no reason why the school buildings should be dilapidated in Edo State and those whoplace value in education, should not watch the educational system decay to that extent. So, we’re going to come up with new structures to face Edo State and to address the issue of infrastructural decay in Edo State. Employ more teachers, introducing innovative methods of teaching and create aUniversity of Science and Technology in Edo State to address our drive for industrial revolution industry and try as much aspossible to increase the revenue base of Edo State by diversifying the economy because even in Nigeria, that’s what should be talked about. Moving from the oil driven economy to the non-oil sector of the Nigerian economy. We have to invest in other areas such as agriculture or we have to take agriculture very important. So, there are areas in Edo State that have cooperative advantage in terms of what it can grow in a particular region of the State. There are States that are known for oranges, yams, palm oil. We move from food crops to cash crops like rubber, timber, trying as much as possible to make sure that we set Edo State on a pile of industrialization ad all these are geared towards export and this is done in collaboration with the University of Science and Technology to bring in the expatriates. We will also work with the University of Benin to provide guidance and top from that knowledge and research whereby things can come up to ease theindustrialization drive of the State. By so doing, we will beincreasing the revenue base of the State and diversifying the economy. This will make the State self-sufficient in terms of revenue to drive our other policies.
Talking about tourism and hospitality, Edo State is a State that is known for culture and there are some other tourist sites within Edo State like the Oba Palace, we have the moth. We have a place in Edo North known as Ososo, it’s a beautiful scenery. In that area, there are lots of rocks like Olumo Rock in Abeokuta.These are areas we can convert to become a tourists attraction. We have the Ogba zone, Okomo Park. Just like Donald Duke did with Obudu Cattle Ranch. We can also make these places tourist destination to make sure that we can earn money from tourism and hospitality.
For the Health sector, we will try as much as possible to make sure that each Senatorial District has a Specialist Hospital and each local government or Ward have health centers because we tend to address Edo State in a three point approach. From Primary, Secondary and Tertiary level of health intervention.
In the first instance, when one is sick, you take the person to the health center and when the condition gets critical, you can refer the person to a specialist hospital. From there if it becomes unbearable or uncontrollable, you can refer the person to a tertiary institution which we have in Benin City, UBTH. So, all these are the approach we’ve lined up to address the issue of health in Edo State. We intend to have lots of ambulances in the State for emergency intervention. Because if you look at Edo State and Nigeria at large, the level of emergency intervention in terms of health sector is lacking. When people need emergency evacuation in terms of calling a certain number for people to come get you with an ambulance, all these services are not there.
It also goes further to talk about fire service. Also, there is no fire truck in Nigeria and by extension Edo State in particular. I know when there is fire outbreak, you can’t call a fire service because those infrastructures are not there. So we tend to bring all these in place to ensure that Edo State is a State in the 21st century where all these infrastructures are there.
And also I tend to address electricity. I want pilot Edo State as a State which will have 24 hours electricity. I intend to break that jinx to make sure that Edo State is a pilot State that runs on 24 hours electricity. We’re gonna tap into our resources, Edo State is known for gas, we are rich in gas, and we have lot of rivers. We’re gonna tap into hydro and we tap on solar energy to create energy and make sure that electricity is 24 hours in Edo State, so that other States can see and replicate. Good enough, electricity generation and distribution has been moved from the exclusively to the tin concurrent list. It’s no more something that is being in the exclusive of the federal government. So State can now generate and distribute electricity. So we tend to create that change and chart that course.
So, these are some of the things I’ll be doing and they are contained in my manifesto.
Lastly, my Government intend to run an open door policybetween the lead and the led. I’m trying to solve a problem within the Nigerian political structure in which when people get into office, you don’t have access to them. That was one thing I was trying to pursue vigorously, that people have access to government. That’s one of my agenda I’ll be coming up with,that you can always have access to the Government House to discuss your issues and by so doing, we get a feedback on what the people want, how we are faring and areas that needs improvement. There will be dedicated lines and constant media chats and town hall meetings in which we can rub minds and catch with the people and they won’t be disparity or disconnectbetween those in governance and the people. It’s like something they have in Russia, and it’s something I’m trying to bring onboard.
By the grace of God, if God gives me the opportunity, I intend to change the narrative and to bring good things to Edo State.
T.S: And all these will be achieved in the space of four years?
Yes. There are certain things we call the quick gains. You canaddress the issue of security within four years. And if we don’t get electricity, at least we can reach a considerable percentage like 80, 90 percent within four years. It can be a working progress, but if we are given the opportunity to come back for the 2nd term, I think that we can achieve all that in eight years.
There are certain sectors that can be touched within four years which can be considered in the short run. We’ll try as much as possible to get that done within the first four years. Then others in the long run can be completed in second term. But the first amount term, we’ll try as much as possible to make considerable progress and people will see that, yes progress is being made and there is the political wit and the drive to get things done. I think that’s what matters.
So we’ll be discussing with the people that will implement that to see if it’s possible for us to get that electricity done within four years and I know it can be done but I’m not an expert in the energy sector. I know it can be done within four years or if it’s not done within four years, I know within our second term, it can be completed.
T.S: Let’s go back to your plans on education. You mentioned that you would improve the existing structures and employ teachers. But how can you achieve an inclusive government for children that are in communities that don‘t have access to school at all. How do you bring them in this plan?
If there are areas there are no schools, we’ll try as much as possible to build new schools, and everybody have access to education and depending on the cost implication, we can run free education from Primary to Secondary. I think what they have now is from Primary to JSS3. We can run free education from Primary to SS3. There would also be a University education that will be subsidized. We give bursary to make sure people go through school and maybe we can introduce student loan for the first time in Nigeria history. Though the present government tried to announce student loan in Nigeria but I’ve not heard anything so far after that announcement, that there isgoing to be student loan accessible to students in Nigeria. It’sjust a political statement. We’ve not seen or heard anybody actually having access to student loan in Nigeria.
I think everybody should have access to education.
About the student loan, I know that the present government, the federal government has said that it’s in the works to introduce student loans to universities across the nation. So if the government eventually brings in student loans, how would you manage yours?
I think we’re going to strengthen that and make sure that what is accruable to Edo State gets to the State. I know that Federal Government’s initiative or announcement is a fluke, because of the stringent conditions and requirement for you to access that loan. Talk about both parents will earn about 500,000 naira. I think there’s no parents earning 500,000 naira both father and mother in Nigeria people.
You must be poor for you to have access student loan in Nigeria.It means both your father and mother will be earning 40,000 naira. You can imagine that. And again, they are saying you must know a director to be your guarantor or sign a surety for you. The conditions are stringent and difficult for you to meet.Ours will not be like that. There will be no hindrance or anything cumbersome for people to have access to their loans.
We will also talk about innovative ideas such as SME loans because we believe that SMEs are the growth of any economy.
We also want to pursue Technical colleges apart from Science and Technology University, whereby people can gain skills and upon graduation in those Technical Colleges Science and Tech, people can have access to micro loans to set up their SMEs and become entrepreneurs in the State.
In a nutshell, we are trying to build a platform. These things can be achieved in Nigeria but our leaders are heartless and they don’t want people to benefit from all these dividends of democracy that their children benefit from.
Most of them send their children abroad. Most of them are in the US, UK benefitting all these dividends; students’ loans and all that, depriving the poor Nigerians from getting those benefits in Nigeria.
It can be achieved in Nigeria if we have good leaders, someone who has the heart to do the right things. I’ve been doing this. I have the Dennis Aikoriogie foundation, where I’ve been giving free scholarship, free healthcare medical outreach from one community to the other, providing diagnostics tests, giving free reading glasses, and free medication. It’s something I’m doing without even being in office.
I’ve been using my private money. This is not coming from theground or from any international body; UN or WHO. This is what I’m doing with my money. So, if I can do this with my money, I see no reason why I cannot do it with government. If God gives the opportunity, we can do it using government because it’s made for the people.
T.S: So, you mentioned children of politicians attending schools outside Nigeria. Does that mean that we can say that your children schooled in Nigeria?
Because of the way God has done it, I don’t live in Nigeria. My children were not born in Nigeria. But if I become Governor, definitely they’re gonna be with me in Nigeria. So, they’re goin na school in Nigeria. The bottom line is you must be genuine to make sure that the public schools in Nigeria are built up to standard.
My children don’t have to attend schools in Nigeria before I know what is good from what is wrong. Like I said, if I’m in Nigeria, they’ll definitely be with me Nigeria and definitely the schools and all the public institutions will be up to standard.
T.S: Moving away from that, please can you tell us how you intend to ensure an inclusive government in your administration because women are often marginalized in governance?
My government will not have any bias against women and people who will be on board will be based on competence and what you will bring to the table. There will be not gender bias. We will examine critically your competence and what you will bring to the table. If you are competent and are a woman, you will be part of the government. It will be about competence not gender.
T.S: How much of a strong contender are you, considering the political presence of the PDP and The APC?
Right now, we are still discussing primaries within the Labourparty. I have not emerged as the candidate of the LP. When I do, I can now do a comparison. However, for now, LP in Edo State controls the Edo south senatorial districts, constituting about fifty eight percent of the voting population in Edo State. The Edo South Senator is of Labour party extraction. Benin City controls who becomes the Governor of Edo State. Edo State is the heartbeat of the Obidient movement. The city took the Obidientmovement by storm. If were discuss where we have the headquarters of the Obedient movement, we will be discussing Benin. Most likely, LP is going to produce the next governor of the state. We try to extend that strength of LP to Edo Central and Edo North to ensure the party is spread across the state.
The local government election was done about two weeks ago in Edo State and voting was not done in that local government election. It took place on September 2. Elections were not conducted, Obaseki just announced results of election because he is afraid and knows the threat LP sends out. He just wrote the results and declared the results. PDP won everything. People didn’t vote. They came out and there were no materials to vote. There were shooting and beating everywhere and people ran back home. The governor just declared the result. He knows LP is a threat and people of Edo state know it is a party to watch out for in Edo State because it is the home of the Obidientmovement.
T.S: You mentioned that the governor declared the election results. What facts do you have to back these allegations?
There are videos on social media. My mom told me she went to her polling centre, waited and there was no material to vote, and she came back home. Those complaints are replicated everywhere within the states. People made videos because we live in a global world. People have recordings of INEC officials that didn’t report to the polling unit on time. Those that went, had no materials. While voting was going on elsewhere. They took materials to the government house, thumb printing and writing the results. The fact is known to everybody is elections did not hold last week. Even within the PDP, they knew there were no elections. They just wrote the results and declared theme winner.
T.S: Let me take you back to the point you said you were outside the country. We know politics in Nigeria is more about being connected to the grassroots, these are the peopleyou are expecting to support you. How can you say you feel their pain and work for them if you’re not here to relate?
I lived all my life in Nigeria. I also have my campaign organization who have been going about grassroots mobilization spreading the word about me. I was also there previously to flag off my campaigns. My team has given me feedback on what the people want. I will be meeting them soon to get a face to face feedback from them.
T.S: Let’s talk about the structure in the Labour party. We know that Peter Obi turned out not to be satisfied with the outcome of the election. Another issue is the internal crisis with Julius Abure and Lamidi Apapa. I had a conversation with Eragbe Anslem. He says Lamidi Apapa is the chairman of the party while some Say Julius Abure remains the chairman of the party. A lot of people are talking about how the party has not found balance yet they are having this internal crises. Do you belong to any faction? And do you believe this structure would help you in becoming the governor of the state?
Every situation has its up and downs, there are bound to be disagreement in every organization. As of now, the Julius Abure faction is known as the authentic chairman of the LabourParty. It is what Peter Obi followed. Apapa is being sponsored by the opponents to destabilize the party. I already belong to the Abure faction which is the authentic Labour party structure until the court rules otherwise. They are in court now. I want to identify with the party leadership known nationally as the authentic faction, which is the Abure faction.
Eragbe Anslem is my friend and the party’s youth leaser. I don’t know why he was suspended. I think he had a disagreement with Julius Abure which led to his suspension. And created a faction that aligned with Apapa. That is their politics they are playing. Like I said, I am with the party structure that is known as the authentic nationally. Till the court rules otherwise. As of today, the authentic party leadership is the Julius Abure faction. They are in court, and we can’t say exactly what will be the outcome of the case. Let’s see what the court decides for our next line of action. For now, I am focused on my campaigns.
They are trying to create a parallel across all states, not just at the national level. They also want to create a parallel executive within the state. In the national, I have identified with the authentic faction. In the state, I am identifying with the authentic faction also. The Ogbaloi faction is the chairman which is the authentic chairman of Edo state I have met with them and identified myself with them. Like I said, till the court rules otherwise, I am standing with what Nigerians know as the authentic party structure within the Labour Party.
T.S: How do you expect to get the support of the Lamidi Apapa faction? Don’t you need them?
That is what I was talking about. We don’t recognize the Lamidi Apapa faction until the court says otherwise. The people known legally as the leadership of the party is the Julius Abure faction and the Ogbaloi faction within the state. So, any other factions are interrupters trying to be what they are not. They are in court, and we will wait for what the court decides.
T.S: Let’s discuss the politics playing out in Edo state and that’s between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy because we saw that Philip Shaibu was locked out of his office. What is your comment on that one? And another part to this point is that, of course, at this point, you should have identified your running mate.
I have not identified who my running mate will be. A lot of things are done within the party and you want to know those who have a stake within the party. A lot of party interests might come in. I don’t think we have come to that stage yet. No one come to mind yet.
Concerning the issue between Obaseki and Shaibu, I saw the video where he was saying the padlock was locked and the civil servants had relocated. Let’s just know if they are trying to play games and distract people from their failure. Shaibu has the ambition to become governor. Obaseki probably does not want that. He probably wants to produce his own successor or had someone in mind. They are distracting us. And we should allow them to rub themselves in the mud. This will present and opportunity for Labour party to project people that will take over the state and regard Obaseki and Shaibu as jesters. We will leave those people to themselves to constitute public nuisance.
T.S: Let’s discuss your age. I believe you are 41. There is this thing going on with voters in Nigeria now. They want younger leaders. They don’t want the old people anymore. But there is also the place of the people trusting who they want to vote. Take an instance of Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. A lot of people had so much to say when he became governor. But people became disappointed. He should be 48 but it now appears people did not get what they are looking for. Coming to you, how can the people trust that even as a young person, you are going to perform?
I have set an example through my foundation. Secondly, I am not Yahaya Bello. He can be a disappointment. People looked up to him as a youth and fix the leadership gap between the younger generation. And people were disappointed that Yahaya Bello turned out to be one of the worst governors in Nigeria.
My name is not Yahaya Bello and I do not intend to tow his path. I have formulated my manifesto and that his what we will deliver. I will try as much as possible to use my connections in the diaspora to bring the change that we need. Yahaya Bello and I have different values. He can be a disappointment. I intend to ensure people have confidence in the youths. I intend to make sure people can trust the government again so that they will see the difference between what we will do and what Obaseki and Shaibu have been doing for the past eight years.
T.S: How do you plan to engage the Edo State Diaspora community?
In the first week of September, I was at the Edo State national convention where I got the opportunity to meet with Edo indigenes all over North the America and in Canada, where they converged in New Jersey. We had the opportunity to articulate out intentions for the state. I have also identified with the University of Benin Alumni Association here in North America. I am a member of that group and a member of the board of directors. I already have access to that next work. I was also invited to the Edo Music Festival in the UK where I have the opportunity to meet with Nigerians form Edo State am going to tap on these resources to develop Edo State.
T.S: You hold a PhD and various certifications. How will these certifications contribute to your leadership eventually?
I have taken a lot of management course and finance courses that give me an insight into leadership and people management and communicate effectively. I have both the academic background and work experience.
T.S: What is your definition of good governance?
Good governance is that taxpayers have access to their money through education, health, and security.
T.S: Nigerians are used to promises when politicians are vying for positions like this, and sometimes these promises gives you hope. For the 2023 Presidential election, the theme for the ruling party was ‘Renewed Hope’. The promises don’t sound new to Nigerians anymore. What makes Dr. Dennis different from any other Nigerian politician?
What differentiates me is my track record. Like I said, I’m already doing something through my foundation, the Dennis Aikoriogie foundation. There are a lot of things I’m doing through that foundation. Giving scholarships, taking care ofwidows, empowering people, rendering free medical service.
I’m doing this with my personal resources, personal money and sometimes my friends assist me. There’s no grant from any institution or government. This is what I’m doing. So, I already have a track record that people can see this. They can see it and relate with it and they know that if I’m giving the opportunity I can do that and do better than other people.
It may also interest you to know that my humanitarian gesture is not just within Edo State alone, it’s spread to other States in Nigeria because I have the passion of giving. I have the disposition to help people, the less privileged. My philanthropic gestures are spread to other States like Abia, FCT Abuja, Lagos, many States and cities in Nigeria. It gladdens my heart to help people and to create a change to impart people positively and this what I’ve been doing through my foundation the little way I can with my own resources. And I know when I become the Governor of Edo State, I’m going to continue in that line.
Right now, I have a support base in Lagos. Somebody is trying to organize Labour Party in Lagos State, galvanizing support from Labour Party for me in Lagos State. This coming from somebody I helped from nowhere. She reached out to me through social media. I have never met her, even till today. She requested help through social media, which I did. And when she got to know I’m contesting, she’s everywhere around, rooting for me, making sure people vote for me, telling people who I am, how I helped her. I didn’t know her from anywhere. She has connected me to top people in Lagos State, even GVR and Deputy Governorship candidate in Lagos, she connected me to key people in Lagos State. This is someone I just assisted.
Like I said, it’s a path that people can use in judging me and how I’ve helped people I don’t know or didn’t have the idea I’ve helped in the past and which I’m still going to do, even if I don’t win. I will continue with my foundation to help people. This is what defines me, as someone who helps humanity.
This is what differentiates me from other people and I have the honest intention to get into office, not all politicians are like that. You see Makinde is doing great in Oyo State and people can see the dividend. Until we have people that are honest going into politics in Nigeria, that’s something to appreciate when people make promises. There are people who have been making promises will be elected into office but are dishonest or have the interest of the people at heart. Because of that Nigerians feel all politicians are the same.
This is my promise, you can judge me with what I said in the next four years.
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