…says only judiciary can save them
Barrister Mathew Edaghese is a human rights activist, political analyst and social commentator. In this Interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he spoke on a number of issues particularly the unending Edo House of Assembly crisis.
As a legal expert, what do you think would be the fate of the 14 elected Edo lawmakers who have not been inaugurated particularly now that Governor Godwin Obaseki has been sworn-in for second term?
They were people who gambled with their mandates and they lost in the gamble. If you stake your treasure on a gambling table and fortune refuses to smile on you, then you become a victim of your own decision. The erstwhile members elect as they are now have no claim whatsoever to any mandate as we speak; they threw the mandate freely given to them by the people into the dust bin or waste basket. They cannot be scavenging for it now. If they knew the value they won’t have thrown it away. Now having lost that opportunity and demanding what is nonexistent is mere dreaming. We all know that their seats have since been declared vacant, they have gone to court to challenge that declaration and until the judicial process is fully exhausted and a judicial pronouncement is made, there is nothing to call mandate to their names as we speak. Again the nearest thing to happen now to fill those positions is a bar election. I think what is delaying that now is the fact that the matter is before the court. As soon as that judicial process is exhausted, either one way or the other, declaring their position a nullity or affirming it, there is nothing anybody can do. They use arrogance, and pride to gamble away their mandates. So they should blame themselves, not anybody else.
Do you support Esan 2024 agenda after Obaseki’s eight years?
Yes, good question. Esan’s turn by the end of Godwin Obaseki’s eight years is a moral obligation on all other ethnic groups in Edo State. Since the creation of Edo State in 1990, it has never favoured Esan, and we operate under a system of Federal Character, and equitable distribution of authority. Going down history, Edo South has produced three governors, Edo North one and a deputy governor. But Edo Central has produced none. So if equity is the name of the game, it is fair for Esan people to produce the governor in 2024. So is not a thing to beg, not a thing to pray for, or negotiate; it’s a thing to demand, and the demand has moral backing. There needs not be a written agreement; Federal Character is already entrenched in our constitution, so the principle of fairness and equity must take its course. Esan doesn’t need to beg anybody. It is a must thing for Esan. A voter in Edo State, you saw how victory smiled on Obaseki/ Philip Shaibu at the just concluded Governorship election, now would you give kudos to the presidency for allowing free, fair and credible election? No I will not give credence or kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari or his cabinet members for a free and fair election because under our constitution, elections are not conducted by the President or his cabinet members; there is a commission in charge of that, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body saddled with the responsibility of conducting election, and if election is free and fair, credit should go to that body. If you give credit to President Buhari, it’s an indictment on the rule of law, and an insult on our constitution. It means that Buhari’s name can be tied to who wins or loses election.
Now that Godwin Obaseki’s second term dream has come to reality, what do Edo people expect from him in the next four years?
Yes the electioneering process has been concluded, Obaseki has come back for a second term. Victory has come to him, the dust has settled. Edo people are eagerly awaiting speedy development in all sectors of the economy. He has done averagely well but more work needs to be done. The people of Edo State expect Obaseki to take them to a high level like Ebonyi and Lagos States. Obaseki has said that his vision is to make Edo State an industrial hub of the nation. So, at the end of his eight years in office, Edo people will ask him questions. If he does well, his political dynasty will continue to be there, but if he does not, he will know that Edo people are not persons you gamble with.
Has he really been liberated from the godfathers?
You and I know that Obaseki has been fully liberated from the grip of those who want to Lord it over him. He has been set free through votes of Edo people; so Obaseki has no excuse to give Edo people. His allegiance is only to the people of Edo State now, and Edo people are not godfathers. He is the servant of the people now, so should he not succeed in actualizing his promises, he will have himself to blame. He can no longer shift blame. Only Obaseki can stop himself from rewarding Edo people because they honoured him, so he cannot afford to fail us.