Edo State Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Special Duties, Honourable Damian Lawani, spoke with OJIEVA EHIOSUN on sundry issues. Excerpts:
Now that INEC has fixed the governorship primaries, do you see the governor winning despite the political crisis in the party?
I have always said that whether people call it fight, struggle or crisis, it is not strange but one thing we should know is that whenever there is a competition, a winner must emerge, and the process of the competition gives a very strong indication that the position being fought for is a position that is big, and actually for the service to the people. But the way they are doing it is what we are not comfortable with. They are not doing it to mean service for the people.
But why we are confident and believe that Obaseki will have a second tenure is that our people are much more aware that performance is key to good governance, and the only way you can touch the lives of people is through good governance by infrastructural development, building good roads, schools, good health care system, security network, establishing companies to engage youths, having a decent society that is free of crimes and criminality.
If we keep dwelling on stomach infrastructure, which will not go round the state, it will only end up in the hands of few individuals and we will not move up. And this is what some people want this government to do, and we are saying no, that will not continue.
The general interest of the people of the state is what this present government is concerned with, and that is what we all stand for. Again, what is happening now is not different from what has happened before. Before the coming of this government, we knew what happened; the fight or struggle was more serious than this, but because we have a scorecard to show to the people of Edo State, that is why we are very much confident that Godwin Obaseki return for a second term.
If this crisis is not resolved before the parties’ primaries, don’t you think what happened in Zamfara mayhappen in Edo State?
Why would it not be settle? Definitely, the primaries must bring out a winner, and the winner that will emerge is Godwin Obaseki, and if Obaseki emerges in a free and fair contest, they won’t have any choice than to support him. Just like what happened in 2016 governorship election; after the primaries, we settled our differences and got united. For me, I am not seeing it as a crisis, but a struggle for the people. That is what Obaseki stands for.
This is a government that is for the people, a government that will put the interest of Edo people at heart rather than individual interest. A situation where people want contract to be given to them as leaders and they won’t execute the job, they take the money and go, that is not doable in this government.
Obaseki is not ready to do that. We are interested in government of accountability, a government of where due process is observed, and we are ready to ensure that we engage these people fact for fact, truth for truth, performance for performance, and at the end of the day, they would see reasons to join hands with Obaseki to develop Edo State.
Has your group now recognised Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC?
Yes of course, we are lawabiding party men. The court has spoken that Oshiomhole remains the chairman, the court quashed the case at that time, but you know that the case is still in court. So it does not mean that the final verdict of the case has been given, it shows that within the framework of the court, as at the time we are talking now, he is still the chairman of the party. Nobody is disputing that, and that is why we are working with him
We hear that other aspirants want to collapse their structure to bring out one person against Obaseki. What is your take on this?
Do you think it is possible for all of them to collapse their structure? The fact remains that governance is about the people, and that is what Obaseki stands for. Any person or group of people trying to stop Obaseki will not see the light of day, because the people believe in Obaseki, they have seen his footprint and score card.
You know what is critical in government is what you have been able to do within the time frame. Most of these people or aspirants fighting for the ticket have one time or the other been tested, the question is, were they trusted? Obaseki had been tested and trusted, and the people are ready to repeat him again.
So as a student of Obaseki/ Shaibu–led government, we are ready to follow him, table our scorecards, facts for facts and cont e n t f o r content. Some people in Nigeria or Africa, in opposition, whether you are doing well or not, because they are in opposition, they would always want to remain in opposition.
They don’t want to say anything good about the government in power, because you are not A, because you are B, everything done by A is bad. In other civilised society, as a democracy, when you are performing in Education, when you are performing in health, when you are performing in the area of security, they tell you, yes this man is doing well in such and such areas, but need to do more, but you can give it a general blanket or approval for less performance, no that is not opposition, opposition should be able to say some good things about the government in some areas.
So the people they are trying to convince that Obaseki is not doing well are not blind and deaf, they see, they hear, so they are able to judge whether the man is performing well or not. Look at the secretariat buildings that were abandoned for 30 years, being rebuilt, look at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, look at the roads being built across the 18 local government areas, look at the abandoned judiciary buildings which now looks like Aso-Rock buildings, these are areas the Edo people are interested in.
When you give one person a 100 million, in two days the money is finished, but when you use that 100 million to build a particular road that leads to the village, that road would be there for years. Most of the roads you see today are roads tarred by Professor Ambrose Ali and Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia. Edo people remember them today because of their good works, and that is the kind of legacy Obaseki wants to leave behind.
It is rumoured that Obaseki wants to dump APC for PDP. Is that correct?
I f I may ask, who was there to witness the signing of the agreement? In politics, the opposition will always say something to discredit you, Obaseki is a top member of the APC, he is one of the founding fathers of the party, he has contributed immensely to the growth of the party, his role in making Adams Oshiomhole the national party chairman is there, so he cannot leave the party. Where is he going? He helped to build this party in the state. People who call him a stranger are just ignorant, if they know who Obaseki is, they won’t be making such evil comments about him.
Are you saying that Obaseki is ready for the primaries?
Yes, he is very much ready. It is a political process and we will follow it to the letter. Anybody who feels Obaseki is not qualified to have a second term should come out and throw up a change. Obaseki will come out and prove to them that he has what it takes to come again.
The content is there, we are ready to face them money for money, strength for strength, track records for track records, crowd for crowd. Obaseki will win the governorship election, and he is coming again to work for the people of Edo State as he has done before, and he will leave Edo State better than where he met it with records breaking legacies.
Again I want to say categorically that this 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State will be the most peaceful elections ever conducted in the history of the state. Anyone that is against the coming of Obaseki is nothing but an enemy of the state.