Politics

Oshiomhole made mistakes that led to his downfall –Idahosa

Elder Charles Idahosa is a known grassroots politician in Edo State, one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in 1998, former Commissioner for Information, one-time governorship aspirant. In this exclusive interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he spoke on a number of political problems in the state as it affects the people, and the need for Edolites to join hands with Obaseki in taking Edo State to the desired height. Excerpts…

Governor Godwin Obaseki just won at the Supreme Court, what is the significance of this victory to democracy and Edo people? Firstly, let me congratulate the Supreme Court for standing on the side of the people, like it is usually said that the court is the last hope of the common man. And as far as I am concerned, I was not surprised, and the Edo people were not surprised about the judgement. A lot of people here were making all kinds of noise but we told them that Edo State is not Imo State or Lagos State. Specifically, the case of Imo is different from Edo State’s.

In Imo, they were challenging the result, in Edo, they didn’t challenge the result of the election. The APC knew they were clearly beaten; they were challenging the authenticity of Obaseki’s certificate, that he did not have any certificate and all kinds of gossip were on at that time.

To me, it was a simple case of witch-hunting. Again, a 100 level Law student basically knows that he who asserts must prove; they said he didn’t have a certificate from University of Ibadan and that of Eghosa Grammar School which he attended, unfortunately for them, they didn’t go to the schools to verify whether the certificates were fake or not, they didn’t prove anything, so we knew the case was dead on arrival. For some strange reasons, the APC people were carrying out some funny stories to give their followers hope that they will carry the day.

So we are very happy that the Supreme Court did what was expected of it and Obaseki has been vindicated. So, what the judgement of the Supreme court means to Edo people and democracy is more progress, no more distraction for the governor in relationship to the authenticity of his governorship candidacy, he can settle down to work and do all that he promised Edo people during his electioneering campaign.

Now has his victory finally brought an end to godfatherism in Edo State politics?

Yes, we tried but you see not completely. Like I said, I wrote a book titled ‘The fall of the last godfather’. If I knew that there were still some remnants of godfatherism in the PDP that we were coming to, I would have called it ‘The fall of the godfather’ I wouldn’t have put last, because there are still some small, mini fathers here and there in Edo political parties. When we came into the PDP, we discovered that there are some small, small godfathers rearing their ugly heads, trying to control the structure, people who definitely were not interested in winning the elections but just to keep the structure using it to collect money from the highest bidders. You know the people I’m talking about; for good 12 years we shut them out and one would have expected that immediately the governor came back, they would be jubilating that they have taken over power.

Right now, you can imagine a situation where a simple case of harmonization which has a precedent in Sokoto and Benue States is being resisted. When the governor came in, almost all responsible well-meaning APC members came with him, the state chairman, the State Working Committee, the L.G.A Council, and now they are saying there is no place for him. Just imagine someone like me Charles Idahosa cannot produce or choose a councilor candidate in my ward in the forthcoming Local Government Election. There are little, little godfathers but we have finished the job in PDP, and we would put an end to godfatherism in Edo State politics.

Do you agree that there is crisis and division in Edo State PDP?

Yes, there is a deep division just like I explained to you now. When we came into the PDP, there was no time for us to dot the I’s and cross the t’s because it was not up to 24 hours negotiation; we just wanted a ticket at that time, and the governor went through a lot of stress and we negotiated here and there and I always give credit to the national leadership, they gave him the ticket and he won. Now that we are trying to put things in proper shape, we are having resistance from local champions.

There is no crucial meeting that takes place in Benin City that I have not been part of. When we came into PDP, we discovered that they were broken into three, Tom Ikimi was shut out, a former foreign affairs minister, former chairman of a political party that produced 12 state governors; the former Chief of Staff to Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Ogiahdomen was shut out; Raymond Dokpesi the owner of a known media communication outfit, AIT, was shut out; Lucky Igbinedion, two-time governor of the state, was also shut out.

In fact, a few of them just headed on to the party structure in collaboration with one of the governors from the south-south. They were not interested in repositioning the party; remember they took Governor Obaseki to a court in Port-Harcourt.

But at the end of the day we came in and discovered that the party was fragmented. So, we who came with Obaseki were now the fourth block. The governor has been battling for the past seven months to see how he can bring everybody together. They don’t want to hear about harmonisation. But we have moved on and doing our very best to harmonise the party and make sure the dividends of democracy are delivered to the people of Edo State. Yes, some of us are pained because they now call us new PDP members. There is no way anybody can call me, Charles Idahosa, a new PDP member because I was among the first Edo persons that participated in the PDP national convention that produced former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1998. I was also one of the few PDP members that conducted the National Assembly election that sent Senator Roland Owie and others to the National Assembly.

But we left in 2004 because of what is happening now. When Late Chief Tony Anenih deregistered us, we went to form ACD, and we knocked them out of power and brought in Oshiomhole and we have been holding on to power un-til we returned again with Obaseki to give them taste of power. So, we are not really new. I think what is happening is just greed and some people trying to treat us like prisoners of war.

Oshiomhole was your good friend; he has congratulated Obaseki, would you people forgive him if he comes for reconciliation?

Yes, like you rightly said, Oshiomhole was very close to me, he is one of the best people I have ever met, very nice person, very homely, very understanding, he bows to superior argument. I was his political adviser for eight years, there were so many decisions he took, I will tell him ‘no you can’t go this way.’ But unfortunately for him, he overshot his runway. And getting to Abuja as the National Chairman of APC, all he had around him were praise singers; the bureaucracy that he had as a governor was no longer there, so he started making mistakes. Those hungry members of the National Committee around him who came from Yobe with night buses from their villages to Abuja will just go ahead and do what he says because Oshiomhole was very generous, but at the end of the day, he crashed out. As a friend, I warned Oshiomhole but he didn’t listen. I like Oshiomhole very much, if I see him today, I will gladly embrace him, he is a jolly good fellow, fantastic person but he made mistakes, I didn’t expect such mistakes from him because I was there for him. Again, I knew how Obaseki loved him but he underrated Obaseki and allowed those sycophants to lead him into his political destruction. Yes if he comes back, we will accept him and forgive him if he is ready to repent. But let it be noted that we taught him a bitter lesson of his life, ensuring that he didn’t win the last governorship election for APC. In all of these, I wasn’t fighting for myself, I was fighting for the Bini’s, because if we had allowed him to have his way, the Bini’s would have gone into political extinction. So, I appeal to Oshiomhole to go to God and beg for forgiveness.

 

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