By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITYâ€”Dr Samson Ifalana Isibor is the Edo State Chairman of the Coalition of Registered Political Parties (CRPP)in Edo State and has been a torn on the flesh of the Governor Adams Oshiomhole led administration in the state.
He was arrested penultimate week by the police in Edo state over alleged defamatory statemens against the person of the Governor of the state. He was referred to as an impostor and the mouth piece of the Edo state PDP but Isibor insisted that his group of 25 political parties is on ground to check the administration and insisted that nothing has changed in the state so far. Excepts:
People say you are an impostor and that you are not an indigene of Edo State . How do you react to this?
That is a lie. It is a campaign of calumny by my enemies and I know where it is coming from. Itâ€™s coming from the Government House. To tell you the truth, I am partly Edo and Ondo. It makes me laugh because they are ignorant. If you go to Osula royal family, go and ask Chief Lawal Osula. I am from that noble family.
Ask whether I am from their family or not. Half of my family is from Chief Arala family while the other part is from Ondo State . Besides, what is in a name?
Why are you not answering Ifalana as your surnameâ€¦
(Cuts in) Thank you very much, itâ€™s true my names are Samson Ifalana Isibor. I dropped the â€˜Ifalanaâ€™ because as a Christian, I felt embarrassed when people link me with oracle. I am an elder in the church. Ifalana means an oracle that shows you the way and I donâ€™t want to be identified with that.
That is why I dropped that name (Ifalana). I donâ€™t want to be attached to any god, any lesser god, than Jesus Christ who is my saviour. My cousin, Lawal Osula is annoyed with me till today because I donâ€™t see him all the time.
You know he is a real traditionalist, he believes in the culture but I am a real Christian. Itâ€™s because of my Christianity that I dropped the name â€˜Ifalanaâ€™. If you like you can call me Ifalana, you can call me Isibor.
There is nothing to hide.
We understand you have several court cases against you in the state and one of the cases is as a result of your alleged name dropping of a particular political party (NCP), during your courtesy visit on the former governor Oserhiemen Osunbor?
What I hate in my life is pretense. Those people saying they are NCP (National Conscience Party), that they did not visit Osunbor are deceiving themselves. You are aware that one of them in the full glare of pressmen including TV cameral, along with some other political parties visited the former governor Osunbor. If I am to be specific, one Nowinta Igbotako, NCP State Chairman was with them. I wasnâ€™t even there that time.
They went there and they know what they got from Osunbor that time. I didnâ€™t collect any money. We went there on a solidarity visit because we saw what the man (Osunbor) was doing, we wanted to encourage him. Nothing more but from nowhere, one of the leaders of the NCP was demanding for N1.5million Naira that Osunbor gave us and we never collected anything.
We went there on good will, that is why he took me to court that his Party (NCP) was not with us on the visit. I have no reason to impersonate his party. Many political parties went with us on the solidarity visit to Osunbor, then the governor of the state. Am surprised that Obayuwana took me to court. The matter is in court and I donâ€™t want to talk much on it.
Governor Oshiomhole has always described you as a one man riot and an appendage of Edo PDP, how wou;d you react to it?
Thank you very much. Whether the governor call me half man squad or one man squad, what we are after is to deliver the goods, to make him (Oshiomhole) work. I want to correct one thing, the governor is a disappointment for him to say that he is knowing me for the first time.
This is why I refer to him as a foreigner in Edo State politics. He was moving from Accord, ANPP, Labour to AC. He thinks I am like that. I am in Accord, I started with Accord and I remain in Accord party. So for him to say that I am one man riot is unfortunate. He should come and see things for himself. We of the CRPP are 25 in number comprising 25 political parties and they are as strong as ever in this state. He (governor) should go to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) to find out.
Why did you people break up from the original CNPP?
I was the founder of CNPP (Conference of Nigerian Political Parties), I was the first chairman. The first meeting was held in my office, it was there we started working together but along the line the National body of CNPP broke into about 3 factions and that was affecting the state chapters.
That is why I withdrew and formed this CRPP. When I withdrew, the rest people followed me but few ones about two or three stayed behind.
So, it was during Osunborâ€™s time that the 2 or 3 that remained joined us in order to be relevant. And immediately Oshiomhole came to power, these two or three parties jumped the gun to go and pay allegiance to Oshiomhole but we maintained our integrity.
We told them that letâ€™s see this man (Oshiomhole) work first before we show support but they refused, they jumped the gun because of their selfish interest but we maintained our stand. We cannot begin to glorify somebody who is not performing. I will only support him when I see him performing, just like we did during the time of Osunbor.
In few weeks time, the governor would have spent one year in office. How would you access his government?
Apart from what Osunbor did, Oshiomhole has not done anything. Oshiomholeâ€™s achievement is noise making. All the promises he made to the people, none has been achieved. I have not seen any thing he has done and unless he performs, we will not change our posture towards him.
But as journalists, we can see a lot of changes, beautification in Benin City â€¦
(Cuts in) â€“ What changes? Is it beautification poor masses will eat? What changes? Demolishing poor manâ€™s buildings, shops, is that changes? People are roaming about doing nothing. Is it to only plant flowers? There are no changes, just propaganda. He hasnâ€™t done anything and you know it.
I still do not believe you because the PDP ruled the state for 10 years and the people still feel nothing tangible was achieved but there seems to be visible changes nowâ€¦
(Cuts in) What changes? He (Oshiomhole) gives you something through the left hand and collects through the right hand.
Itâ€™s true he is paying salaries regularly but what would you say of his new tax regime. He is putting more burden on the people. He has not done anything. He promised to employ but how many people has he employed?
The 100 people he claimed to have employed, where are they? We have not seen them collect any salary. Even the committees set up like forestry committee has not been paid. Up till now NUT (Nigeria Union of Teachers) are on strike. He hasnâ€™t done anything. Once he starts working, we will praise him to high heavens.
I was the first to congratulate him when he came on board. Go and find out. When he is working, we will surely commend him but let him work first.
Most people believe the PDP dominated House of Assembly is trying to sabotage the efforts of the governor in developing the state by making things difficult for him.
How can you talk like that? That is not true. Itâ€™s the governor that needs orientation. The way heâ€™s confronting the honourable members is not so. Go to the other states and see how things are done. He wants things done by force.
You have to use diplomacy. That is his problem. Our House members are the best in the country. They are performing and they want things done accordingly. Arranging protests here and there to intimidate the House members will not work. Diplomacy and dialogue is the answer. I commend the House members for standing by the rule of law at all times.
The AC member, Adjoto Kabiru who won the Akoko-Edo rerun has still not been sworn in by the House leadership. What do you think is causing the delay?
I am not a member of the House of Assembly but I think they are expecting Adjoto to show up for the swearing in. Let him come out now and meet with the speaker. I believe he will be sworn in when he makes himself available. Let him come out.