Hon. Samson Osagie is the Coordinator of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s campaign organisation in Edo South. The former House of Representatives member spoke on the September 19 election. Excerpts:
How prepared is the APC to regain the seat of power in Edo?
We are fully prepared for the election; we have the candidates that we are very proud of, a man who has navigated the entire spectrum of the state, a man who has contributed to the emergence of governors and political office holders both at the federal and state levels. Our governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is someone that has contributed immensely to human capacity building in the state, a man who has lived all his life in Edo State, a man who has everything it takes to govern the good people of Edo State. For APC, we are very ready for election and I know, and I’m convinced that APC will come out victorious at the end.
Don’t you think the power of incumbency would work against APC in this election?
Contrary to the feeling that because he is an incumbent governor he has everything it takes to win an election, it is the other way round in this case. Governor Godwin Obaseki is a political neophyte, he does not have the political muscle to win an election rather what he is doing now is wasting the state resource to advance his selfish political interest and ambition. He does not have another thing to talk about, when you are running for an office, talk on the basis of your performance, and that performance is not there. When you are running for office you must understand the street where you are contesting, how much of this experience does he have? In 2016 when he first contested election, he was practically on the back of Adams Oshiomhole. So there is an adage in Benin that “a child who is at her mother’s back does not know the distance of the journey they are embarking on”. If Obaseki is boasting in terms of resources at his disposal, money alone does not win elections; there are other factors that win elections. And APC that is the ruling party in the country cannot be lacking in money simply because a governor of his party has decided to pitch tent with the opposition PDP. There is no cause for alarm at all, Edo people knows the difference, Edo people know Obaseki has been deceiving the people, they know that his performance had no impact on them.
Are you among those who believe that Obaseki hasn’t changed the face of Edo despite his performance?
How much change has he brought to Edo in the last four years? Late Professor Ambrose Ali built a university in Ekpoma, late Dr. Samuel Osagbovo Ogbemudia, built Ogbe Stadium, his influence brought University of Benin to the then Old Bendel State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole built the Edo State University, Iyahmo, built the five star Specialist Hospital, built the Red Roof revolution of schools across the 192 wards of the state. In the first four years of Oshiomhole’s administration, the Red Roof revolution, which saw the revamping of educational sector in Edo State, was clearly evidence for everybody to see. That was the time of eye marking your project, eye marking your performances. Now tell me, what sustainable project has Obaseki done apart from renovating some government buildings, courts and substandard roads that are not up to one kilometer? The roads are already wearing away. In modern society, governments don’t build prisons again, instead, they build factories and companies to engage youths. In Benin, Obaseki is renovating courts and prisons to jail sachet water sellers and petty traders. The educational institutions in Edo State are in shambles; he has not recruited a single teacher for the past four years. He talks about Edo Best on audio. How could one talk about online educational system in a state where there is epileptic power supply? He has resorted to consultants to do training for our teachers. He has invested in ITC in public schools, yet they are not teaching our students. They are at home while private schools are teaching their students. So what is the music about Edo Best, when our students are on the streets of Benin City?
Don’t you think the removal of Oshiomhole as APC National Chairman will affect APC’s chances on September 19?
First and foremost, Obaseki has a penchant for bringing down prominent Edo people, that is his stock in trade. So he is happy that Oshiomhole is no longer the National Chairman, tell me how would that help him? Unknown to him, it has afforded Oshiomhole the opportunity to return home and participate fully in the elections. If he were still the National Chairman, other national assignments would have put him in Abuja. Now, he is no more the National Chairman, and is back home, indeed he will do more damage to Obaseki’s election. Let me say this, do not be deceived or cajoled, Oshiomhole is even more popular today. The generality of the Edo populace are still with him; the love for Oshiomhole in Edo is stronger now than it was before. Oshiomhole is an International figure any time any day; he is a more lethal weapon now. Obaseki has ignored Oshiomhole at his own risk. Oshiomhole is a big fish in the political hemisphere of Nigeria, not to talk of Edo State where he comes from; he has built human capacity in Edo and in Nigeria. There is no politician in Edo State that has not benefitted from the magnanimity of Oshiomhole. Obaseki the crying governor now was nobody when he met Oshiomhole. How can you be so ungrateful to a man that brought you from grass to grace? We are coming for Obaseki. Thank God that the election is just few weeks from now, nobody has monopoly of violence, if he wants to kill every APC supporter and loyalists, let him go ahead and do it, but I tell you that by the time the election is done and won by the APC candidate, Obaseki will know that Edo people have men of political great minds that can put one and one together to produce results and then, it would have been too late for him to correct his mistakes. When Oshiomhole was Governor of Edo State for eight years, Edo people were not in darkness, Oshiomhole lit the major streets in the city, powered by big generators, but today, all those generators have been removed by Obaseki and his cohorts, thereby returning Edo State into total darkness.
It was reported that President Muhammadu Buhari gave order that APC must not lose Edo. What does that mean?
First and foremost, the President is not the Public Relation Officer of the APC; he is also not the spokesman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Thank God, he said he is not ready to lose Edo State neither is his party losing Edo State. He is the President of Nigeria and I think that statement speaks volume. Again, what that means is that he is telling the APC family to work hard. So he is very keen on winning Edo State. He cannot afford under his watch to lose more states to the opposition party simply because we have some governors who defied party interventions in disputes. They are running a state without a validly recognised constitutional legislature and we won’t lose the state to an opposition, that won’t happen. By the special grace of God, Edo people know that Obaseki is more of a hypocrite than what he claims to be.
What do you say to Edo electorate?
They should go out there on September 19, vote massively for Ize-Iyamu, then they would have governance with a human face, a governance that would be ran on the basis of emotional intelligence, with practical demonstration of performance as encapsulated in the ‘Simple Agenda’ of our party and the manifesto of our candidate. And what it is all about, APC will provide security with POI as governor, we will develop our infrastructure, demonstrate leadership by example, create jobs for the unemployed army of our youths, not the audio employment this man said he provided and our people are not seeing anything. Edo people are tired of seeing the state being run on hypocrisy, deceit and wastage of funds. Obaseki should be preparing his handover notes and return to Lagos.