A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State and former Commissioner for Information, Chief Charles Idahosa, in this interview, speaks on the forthcoming governorship election in the state, among other issues. Excerpts:
Ahead of the September 19 governorship election, what are the chances of the candidate of your party, Governor Godwin Obaseki?
Do you think he has what it takes to win the poll? The governor has performed excellently well and I believe that his performance will give him an edge over his opponents. Also, he has defeated his major opponent before and he is poised to do so again. Obaseki won the 2016 election with 319,483 votes while Osagie Ize-Iyamu had 253,173 votes.
That is a difference of over 66,000 votes. In terms of percentage, Obaseki scored 52 per cent of the votes against Ize-Iyamu’s 41 per cent. So, if he can do that in 2016, when he was just coming onboard, what do you think will happen four years after he has been tested and the people of the state are clamouring for him to return for another term?
What do you think would be the major campaign points for the governor?
I believe Obaseki doesn’t need to campaign much. The job has been done for him four years ago by Adams Oshiomhole. A man who engages his mouth more than his brain has done the campaign for Obaseki and PDP. We are already putting together all that he said about Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki four years ago.
We are going to put it on billboards and other places for people to listen to what he said about the two candidates four years ago and then leave the good people of Edo State to make up their minds.
Most of the things Oshiomhole said then are in public domain and they came from his heart. Ize-Iyamu has not come out to say Oshiomhole was telling lies about him or sue him in court.
But he said most of the things Oshiomhole said about him didn’t come from his heart…
Why didn’t he say that before now? Most of these allegations were leveled against him four years ago.
Why did he keep quiet since then? The people of Edo are very enlightened people and they will decide whether what Oshiomhole said about these two candidates are from his heart or not.
The chairman of APC Governorship Council for Edo State, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, recently said that the people of Edo State will come out en masse on September 19 to vote for APC and that Obaseki will lose. How would you respond to that?
That is a huge joke.
The truth of the matter is that Obaseki has won the election already and there is nothing anybody can do about it. I know they won’t dare rig the election.
The President Muhammadu Buhari I know will not rig election for anybody. He has never believed in that because he is a man of integrity. I remembered when Oshiomhole went to see President Buhari after the resignation of Governor Obaseki from APC and he said, I heard that this man is very popular. Oshiomhole said popularity or incumbency doesn’t help.
He said what matters is the sentiments. I am just appealing to them not to try anything to subvert the will of the people. Ganduje can sit down in Kano and be talking trash. It is the system that tolerated him.
A man that was seen on video stuffing dollars in his babanriga and is also having problems with traditional rulers in his state is now talking about election in Edo. How much margin did Ganduje won the Kano governorship election with and that is the man saying he will win Edo for APC.
There are those who believe that the governor has not performed, especially members of your former party, APC operating under the eagles of Edo Peoples Movement (EPM).
What threat do you think they pose to the governor’s second term bid?
If you look at all those who are opposed to Obaseki, none of them have said that he is not performing or he is involved in giving out bogus contracts. All they have been saying is that he wasn’t carrying them along. But I keep asking ‘carry them along for what?’
When did Governor Obaseki become an orthopedic doctor that he will be carry disabled and invalid people along anywhere he goes? Where do they want him to carry them along to? Are they babies or what?
To me, it was another way of saying the governor was not sharing money to them.
The Governor Obaseki I know is not ready to share any money. Everybody in Edo State has the opportunity of working and the governor has created an enabling environment to make that possible.
If you produce things that are useful to the society, the governor will buy from you. I am into farming business for a long time. I have been running a cattle ranch in my village in Urhumwonde. I have a big poultry also.
Everything I produce now, the governor buys them from me. So, what is their problem?
There is no free money in Edo State and that is the message the governor is passing across. We have a serious, focused and determined governor in Edo and we will do everything we can to ensure he contin
ues the good works he has started for another term.
There is this fear that APC as the ruling party at the centre, might leverage on federal might, which plays a major role in Nigeria’s election. How does your party plan to deal with this?
We have been hearing them say that they are using federal might but they have forgotten that their former national chairman, Oshiomhole contested the governorship election in Edo State on the platform of the opposition party.
He first contested and won on the platform of Action Congress (AC), with which his Labour Party had entered in a strategic alliance with and won his reelection under Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The PDP, which was the ruling party then never used any federal might against him. We are waiting for them to come and use federal might here in Edo State. Like I said, if they try to subvert the will of the people of Edo State, the war in Ondo State between Akin Omoboriowo and late Adekunle Ajasin in 1983 would be a child’s play.
I’m putting them on notice and we are warning them not to try anything funny here. Any attempt to subvert the will of the good people of Edo State will be resisted. We have many very experienced political leaders in the state and we are going to police our votes from the units, to the wards, to the local government areas and from there to the state collation centre.
Any attempt to rig… let me just leave it at that.
What is your perspective on the probe of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu?
It is very disappointing. A friend of mine forwarded a message to me on WhatsApp on the issue and when I read it, I said: Where do we go from here? We have a situation whereby a thief catcher is now being pursued by the thief. I read what Mike Ozekhome said that he raised an alarm about Magu’s activities as far back as 2017.
It is still an allegation for now, so let us wait for the outcome. I have a lot of confidence in Justice Ayo Salami, a very experienced legal mind; let us wait for the outcome of the report of his panel.