Friday Osakpamwan Ogieriakhi represents Orhionmwon South Constituency in the Edo State House of Assembly. He is one of the PDP legislators that was suspended by the House shortly after his defection from the APC. In this interview he spoke on his defection from the APC, the crisis rocking the assembly, just as he challenged those who claimed that they were financially induced to defect to prove the claim. Excerpts
By Gabriel Enogholase
What were the reasons you left the APC for the PDP?
The party that brought me to the assembly, the ACN, is no more. The Action Congress of Nigeria was the platform on which I contested and won election into the Edo State House of Assembly. After that party went into merger with others to form the All Progressives Congress, my people advised that I should join the PDP.
But your movement to the PDP appears to have generated crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly.
I attribute the crisis playing up in the House of Assembly to intolerance on the part of those who believe they hold the monopoly of knowing what is right and to decide for others. I don’t understand the intolerance. He who comes to equity must come with clean hand. The governor of the state who doubles as the leader of the APC encourages defection, he has orchestrated the movement of politicians from other political parties to his party. He celebrated those who joined his party and held rallies for them. He reduced defection to a ridiculous height when he received a councilor from Ogbuna in Etsako Central council, who joined the APC from the PDP. He did this to hurt the feelings of the state chairman of the PDP, who won his ward for the PDP. When the councilor defected, he rolled out the drum and celebrated it. That is why I said the present crisis was caused by sheer intolerance and hypocrisy. I think the earlier they retreat from this act, the better for Edo State.
How do you react to allegations that you were financially induced to join the PDP?
I throw a challenge to those who have been saying this, especially Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who went out without regard to his office, to prove it. Pronouncement from governors ought to be seen as sacred. That is why an occupant of that office is referred to as His Excellency.
Let me say that we all had disagreement with the way they were running the affairs of the APC. For me, the issue was my fight against imposition. A position that should be left for the grassroots was decided at Osadebey Avenue without the participation of the people involved. When they brought imposition and dressed it in the beautiful garb of consensus, some of us became suspicious. The way and manner it (consensus) was defined in our constitution, the process of getting a candidate to fly the flag of the party, consensus was not part of it. The consensus we were having was one whereby the man who will represent a ward would be chosen by those who are not from the ward. I call that mercenary-type of democracy.
The membership registration, on its own, was like a war zone in my constituency. There was no registration for three days. They brought over 50 vehicles that were loaded with armed thugs from Benin. The thugs overran the community and were shooting into the air for three days. Some of the bullets dropped in my compound. The text message I sent to the governor is still in my phone. I told him that there were over 50 armed men as I spoke with him. Why would people resort to that kind of barbarism? Five direct siblings of the deputy governor were in Uronigbe town though they were not from that constituency. All of this I made known to the governor through the text message. However, the governor never replied. How do you want some of us to remain in that party?
The ward congress was even worse. They wrote out the names they wanted to constitute as executive members at different levels. They set out to manipulate the process from the beginning. We didn’t even know the officials until they arrived at the congress. The normal thing is that the names of the officials would be published before the congress day. When they came and realized that we were more than them, they literally fled the congress venue. I later discovered that the same thing was replicated in other parts of the state. Seeing that failure of what they perfected, the decided to repeat it. However, no word can express the repeat performance. It was the last stroke that broke the camel back.
Shortly after you defected to the PDP, some youths threatened to recall you, saying that your defection was not a collective one.
I’m waiting for them to start the process. As far as I’m concerned, they are not known in my constituency and I don’t know them. We know their antics and it is that of a dying regime. It is an old trick that is usually used by dying regimes—you hired a crowd to run down your political opponents.
How are you taking your suspension along with three others by the Edo State House of assembly?
There was never any suspension. The parliament is a creation of law and there is no room for any member including the speaker to resort to arbitrariness. I’m telling you today that the suspension was an act of rascality. Nobody is going to enforce that suspension. For us who have been allegedly suspended, we will continue to resist it until they allow reason to prevail.
What is the way out of the crisis troubling the assembly?
The way out is for those beating the drum and those dancing to it repent and turn a new leaf. They should realize that we were all elected to represent our people. They should give democracy a chance and allow the rule of law to prevail. It is not sufficient to make the judiciary an ally in perpetrating wrongness. After perpetrating their nefarious act, they would run to court to say they had obtained order. That is my candid advice and opinion. It is the failure to realize that as a governor, there are some people who have equally been elected to occupy other positions. That is what has led us to this pitiable situation.