Elder Sam Eboigbe is one of the political leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, and a top member of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM) in the state. He spoke on sundry issues. Excerpts:
In few weeks, Edo State APC will select its flag bearer for the 2020 governorship election. How prepared is the APC going by the crisis on ground?
By the Grace of God and the wish of the Edo people, the APC is ready to conduct the primary election as peaceful as possible. Every Nigerian knows that there is internal problem in Edo APC family. Well, in every home, at times there are crisis between the father and children, but this one is beyond father and son crisis. If a son says the father is no more his father, then there is crisis. As far as Edo APC is concerned, the primaries would be held successfully.
Our party has a constitution, and as member of the party, it is mandatory to obey the party’s constitution. You must agree with the constitution of the party, but in this particular case, there are people in the party that does not want the crisis to end simply because they are beneficiary of Godwin Obaseki’s regime. But that is not the way for a party to grow; however be it as it may, the party primaries would be conducted according to the rules and regulations of the party.
APC’s constitution is supreme. When there is crisis and issues in the party, there is a provision of the APC constitution that says you must exhaust all the avenues for settlement before going to court. But since this internal crisis, the party has had so many court issues, which ought not to be so. If the people that have taken these cases to court cannot withdraw it before the primaries, and they want to go for re-election, I think they are making a big mistake.
What is the Bisi Akande’s reconciliatory committee doing about it?
About five different reconciliation committees had been set up, some group of persons in the party have vehemently refused the committee to function because of personal greed. They do not want to listen to the voice of people, they do not want to listen to the voice of the party, they do not want to listen to voice reason, and they do not want to obey the constitution of the party and yet they want to go for the primaries, it is not possible.
How true is the rumour making the rounds that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has been favoured to pick the governorship ticket?
I do not know of such agreement or consensus, what I know is that there would be party primaries for all the aspirants, and whoever emerges at the polls will have total supports of all APC members. Again, I was in the meeting when four of the aspirants came to meet with us, there was nothing like that, the three of them spoke very well, there was nothing negative in the meeting.
It is just like a father having four or five children in school, your role is to listen to them and know the one that will do well or not. So, in that meeting, we listened to all the aspirants, and at the end, we will vote one person that will fly our flag at the governorship poll.
So, I want tell you that APC aspirants are not fighting, we are their fathers, we are listening to them, and they are just fighting to be the best. What APC want is the best, they have agreed that whoever is chosen among them will have the backings of every card-carrying member of APC. There is nobody or aspirant that can force us to give him ticket or use force to collect APC ticket, we are going to be united to pick our choice. APC has a constitution like the Federal Government, nobody is above the law, if the sitting governor doesn’t obey the party’s constitution, and doesn’t work according to the rules and regulation of the party, well, it is left to him to know whether he would be given the ticket or not.
What is the offence of Governor Obaseki?
For some time now, APC has not been in agreement with the governor, but you want me to say what I do not want to say. Like I said before, APC has a constitution, and if the governor has grievances against anyone or the party, there are many avenues he ought to have followed to settle it. Okay let me tell you this, in July last year in the house of the then APC chairman, Alsem Ojeizua, the governor summoned us for a meeting, then he asked us what was his offence. I said I hoped that what I was going to tell him would not be used against me, he answered and said no.
This is my first time of saying this out to the press; I think I have to say it because many are not following what is happening. I said to him that some of the leaders seated might be praising him and not telling him the truth.
I told him that the people, the leaders who laboured day and night to ensure he became the governor are not happy because he has denied them access to Government House. I said: “Again, Your Excellency, it is now three years and a half, and you have not been able to set up boards. Why would you say you do not know why leaders don’t like you? Nobody want you to come and give them money at home, but if you set up various boards and appoint people they will commend you and you must help in ensuring that your political leaders don’t go begging”.
I also said to him: “Again, you are quarrelling with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the man who did everything to ensure that you became governor, it shouldn’t be so”. Then I told him that the PDP leaders are the people coming to Government House. At the end of my talk, I gave him a fatherly advice on what to do and the way forward, one of them is to organise a programme in the Edo State with Oshiomhole and they sit together on a table with all the political party leaders. The then party chairman backed up my advice. He told him Mr. Governor you have heard what elder has said, go and do all that he has advised within two weeks.
What if the governor decides to move to another party with his supporters?
Who are his supporters? Tell me. Is it those who are taking money from him? Very soon, you will see that those who are now milking him will dump him after the primaries. Let me tell you, many are getting ready to go. Don’t think of the incumbency, did we not take the power from Goodluck Jonathan? Our aspirants have people and followers all over the place. APC primaries would be very peaceful.
What is your advice to the electorate?
My advice to Edo people particularly the youths, is that they should not allow themselves to used by any politician, APC members should join hands to see that APC wins the forthcoming election so that the legacies left by Oshiomhole will continue. A child that neglects his father’s advice stands in the rain alone.