CHIEF Osaro Idah is the Interim state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. In this interview, he reviews recent developments in the state and concludes that the PDP in the state is living in dreamland.
The issue of Mrs. Joy Ifijieh has been politicized by both the PDP and your party, the APC. Why?
Well, it is very unfortunate that the PDP had to politicise a very simple matter. Definitely, the Comrade Governor was pushed to the wall. For a governor that has spent billions of naira of the peoples’ money and only gets insults and harassment simply for asking that people should perform their civic duties, that is, pay their taxes and once the taxes are paid, he deploys the money positively for the will of the people only for him to see people blocking the walkways, trading on the walkways, and whatever is left of their wares they pour into the gutters, blocking the drains and thus making the entire city so dirty!
I think that what the governor is trying to do, is to make people see reasons. It has been so difficult making these traders to see reasons; if you drive them from one spot, immediately you turn your back, they are back to the same spot again. That is not the best for our society.
They have cried out that they have no market stalls but that is not true. For instance, if you go to the Oba Market, there are so many stalls unoccupied but they will tell you that they prefer to trade along the streets because that is where they can easily attract customers. And at the end of the day, the whole city looks crazy, dirty and it is this frustration that made the Comrade Governor to react the way he did. I don’t know what he said, but what he said is not enough for us to begin to politicize the issue.
If we must look at the truth, this woman’s husband, Mr. Ifijieh was a policeman, he died in active service. It is on record that the police has not paid the woman her husband’s benefit; if they had paid her she would have rented a store somewhere instead of trading by the roadside. So, the PDP should have asked their people why that woman’s husband benefits has not been paid? Why the woman became a destitute until the Comrade Governor came to her rescue by providence because God ordained that to be and that is why that incident happened.
How would you assess the character of the Comrade Governor after his public apology to the widow?
That is the unique humanity in him because it is not every leader that will do what he did. Some will just walk away when they discovered that they made mistakes and say, go to hell. But Comrade Oshiomhole is such a humble person and he has confessed that he knows his background, from a humble background too, and he knows where the shoe the woman is wearing pinches her. So, because of his singular act of apologizing to the woman, I see him as a great man, otherwise, some leaders will keep quiet until the matter fizzles out. He has shown the man he is by coming out publicly to apologize to the woman and I think we should commend him.
Still on the issue of people not obeying government’s directive to stop trading along the street s and walkways, don’t you think that a mobile court should be set up to try offenders?
My brother, our people’s disobedience to obeying simple instructions is what is causing this. There is a War Against Indiscipline Committee and a mobile court attached to the committee. It will surprise you to know that if Traffic Wardens arrest a driver who violates traffic law, you will hear them saying that Oshiomhole Police has come again. Everybody will criticize them. So, if you want to implement rules and laws here, everybody comes out to criticize them and in our type of democracy here, every body has become a social crusader. There is a mobile court attached to the committee but once someone is arrested, the social crusaders will come out to start crucifying them, saying, Oshiomhole has come again.
It is very unfortunate that these social critics travel out of this country and even in LagosState; they obey simple traffic rules and regulations. They cannot try even in Lagos what they are doing in Benin. They cannot spit or even throw pieces of papers on the streets of Lagos, but here, they will say Oshiomhole has done this or that. But because of his background as a labour man, he takes all sorts of insults from people and if the Committee sends one person to the prison, you will be surprised at the criticism that would follow. And most of these people are not doing it genuinely and most of the critics are particularly coming from one Senatorial district; because of their quest for the governorship of the state in the future, they don’t see the social benefit of the provision of the social infrastructures.
The PDP has gone to the Election Petition Tribunal on the outcome of the Esan North local government election. How prepared is your party?
Oh, lovely. We are very, very ready and ready to defend our case. We are a party that came into government through the judiciary, canvassed our positions very well and we are not averse to their going to the court.
If they have the facts they should present it and we will also present our facts and the judiciary will take a position as to who is right. I cannot comment further on this, but I can assure you that we are ready to defend our case and the judiciary as an unbiased umpire will come out with its decision.
How would you describe the journey so far in the last five years of the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole?
It could not be better. My brother, you are here and you know better how the state was before the coming of the Comrade Governor into office and today you know how the state is. Is it in the area of education, is it in area of human capital management and development, and is it in the area of road construction or electricity? In all facets of infrastructural development, I think this government has done very well, extremely well and our people appreciate this. But our brothers in the PDP and especially their state chairman cut in the garb of a comedian comes everyday on the television and wants to be seen. Why I say that he is a comic is that when people look at what he is commenting on, they simply shake their heads and wonder if he is living in Utopia and not Edo State.
The same PDP State chairman has accused the government of indebtedness up to the tune of N200billion and borrowing money for non-existing projects?
You see in politics, there is one item which they call propaganda but propaganda must be defined to what we call responsible propaganda and irresponsible propaganda. What my friend is doing is what they call irresponsible propaganda; without getting his facts right, without doing investigations, he just comes out to make allegations that the state is owing N200billion. For God’s sake, can the state go the capital market to borrow such fund without the federal government’s approval? They should have gone to the federal government to find out if the state owes such an amount of money. They are just involving themselves in blackmail and unnecessary propaganda and we are not ready for that. To tell you the truth, the state has not and will not borrow anything near that figure; but again, the state has the right to borrow and I am saying the state has not borrowed N200 billion and this is another way of expressing their propaganda. Let me say this. I don’t know my friend, the chairman to be a smoker or drunkard, but anybody that says this must be under influence. It is totally exaggerated and untrue.