BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICS EDITOR and SIMON EBEGBULEM
Mr. Dan Orbih, the chairman of the Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in this interview dissects the performance of the governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole against the enthusiasm and expectations that preceded the popular union leader’s assumption of officet. Excerpts:
How would you assess Governor Oshiomhole’s performance so far?
So far Oshiomhole has shown that he is planless in his approach to government. That a man earns N10 and embarks on a project of N200 is not a good example of someone who plans. Oshiomhole embarks on projects he knew he would not be able to execute with available resources. A good administrator plans around the available resources at his disposal.
I am not surprised that most of the projects that he embarked upon are now at a standstill because he cannot make progress, he has no money to pay the contractors. Few months ago when I raised alarm about the static construction projects, he said that they were only waiting for the rains to be over. It may interest you to know that we have had a good spell of dry season and nothing is going on in Benin City with the roads.
You may say he doesn’t plan well, but it is alleged that your PDP government that preceded him did nothing!
As a people and as a state we need to be forward looking, we cannot continue to look at the past and justify the current state of affairs which have taken us nowhere. All we have in our hands is a man who is pretending to be doing something but in return the state is now neck deep in debt and to date the projects he has started don’t add up to the amount he has borrowed.
There is nothing on ground to justify the amount of money Oshiomhole has borrowed from the various financial institutions. Hence, when he went again to the capital market to borrow N30 billion we went to court to challenge him because he has not been able to justify the money he has borrowed so far and today Edo State is broke!
How are you relating with the PDP officials that governed the state during Governor Lucky Igbinedion’s administration?
Party membership goes beyond one calling himself a member of a party. It entails paying your party dues as at when due, attending meetings, involvement in party activities at all levels. If you ask me if in all those functions and duties expected of a committed member of a party I will say that I cannot speak for Lucky Igbinedion, but as chairman of PDP I have not seen his involvement in party activities in the past few years.
How are you going about reconciling the party after the recent primaries?
I want to commend all the members of PDP in Edo State for their maturity, discipline and commitment as exhibited during the primaries. It may interest you to know that there was no single case reported of people spilling blood or people being shot. Nobody lost his life in Edo State in the course of our primaries.
But to date, record available to us is that over seven persons were killed in Edo State during the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN primaries and if you read Dr. Lakoju’s resignation letter, even in his own local government, he made reference to one widow Mrs. Aliyu who was murdered because of her support for a particular aspirant.
The case of Mrs. Aliyu is not an isolated case because we have reported cases of other people who lost their lives during the ACN congress. In PDP there was no reported case or incident where people fought or lost their lives. It shows you the new face of Edo PDP and to date I can tell you that we have had meetings with those who participated in the congresses and primaries, those who contested and lost and those who contested and won and from the various meetings we have held all that we received were words of commendation for the orderly manner we conducted our primaries.
So, what do you blame for the introduction of violence in Edo politics?
Well, the answer available to us is that during the Akoko Edo rerun, those arrested with guns are still standing trial in Abuja. Those arrested in connection with the violence that was unleashed on innocent people during the rerun are all members of ACN and they all confessed that they were brought by ACN and the same thing happened during the rerun in Fugar.
So, I believe that going by the antecedence of Adams Oshiomhole from Labour where people are used to demonstration and violent outburst of emotions, he has extended it to Edo politics where violence is now the order of the day. Where people within a political party unleash violence on themselves leading to loss of lives. What this has clearly shown is that Oshiomhole has failed as a party man and as a man in government.
He promised everything when he came to power and he has achieved nothing two years after and let me also tell you too that all the things he condemned about PDP he has decided to take them on and he is even doing them beyond the level he
criticized the PDP. While PDP has purged itself of past sins, Oshiomhole has gone beyond whatever we did in the past to now assume the role of eternal godfather.
How do you assess the various party primaries conducted in Edo State?
The first primaries conducted under the watch of Oshiomhole and his government has turned out to be a disaster. PDP has survived several primaries since 1999 to date. This is the first true test of ACN as a democratic party and they have failed. The whole world now knows that their campaign of one man one vote is just a gimmick.
Your party has been accused of breaching the INEC deadline on conduction of primaries.
A political party has its own responsibility in the process of conducting primaries and the emergence of candidates. If the party in its wisdom feels that, that process was not properly observed and they decide to nullify it based on appeals from contestants I don’t think it is INEC’s responsibility to interfere in the internal party mechanism to resolve the issue of candidates.
But the Electoral Act confers on INEC the role to regulate the process?
INEC put a process in place, telling us to within a specific period to conduct the primaries. The same electoral law has given a deadline for the submission of candidates.
Oshiomhole’s two years in power is better than PDP’s 10- Okosun
Mr Thomas Okosun was one time Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly and is now the state chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). In this interview with Vanguard, he debunked allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Governor Adams Oshiomhole was introducing violence into the politics of the state and that he imposed candidates on the people during the just concluded primaries of the party. Excerpts:
The PDP in the state has accused the Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of introducing violence into the politics of the state. What is your reaction?
Nobody should accuse our Governor of killing any body or introducing violence in Edo State. If there is any one man who has stood against violence, thuggery in the politics of this country, it is Adams Oshiomhole. You will recall that during the election proper, in 2007, how PDP stole his mandate through violent means. People were killed because they wanted power by all means.
So if there is any party that has been associated with violence in the state, it is the PDP and not Oshiomhole or Action Congress of Nigeria. It is very clear that the party has consistently stood against violence in the state. You will remember that when the woman was killed at Akoko Edo during the primaries that the Governor went there and vowed that the culprits must be prosecuted. And today those people are still with the police and the investigation is on-going.
Even though the incident occurred during the ACN primaries which we know may have even been instigated by the PDP just to give the Governor a bad name, the Governor still i
nsisted that there must be no cover up.
If it were the PDP government, they will go to the police and ask for the release of the suspects and call the murder a family affair. So the Comrade is passionate about reforms in our electoral system, he is passionate about one man, one vote and not one man one gun. We did not obtain victory through violence, not as if we don’t have the capacity to do so but the party never and will never subscribe to violence in politics. So nobody should blame the Governor for any violence in this state.
It was alleged that the violence experienced during the primaries was a result of attempt by the leadership of the party to impose some candidates, how would you react to that?
I want to state clearly that the Governor never interfered in the process that threw up the candidates in the ACN. He never played any role. All he did was to get the security agencies to provide security knowing that we have a large number of people involved in the process because we have close to 200,000 persons. Let them name one individual that the Governor said must be voted for. What people seem not to know is that politics is about influence.
People forget that aspirants have a right to go and meet leaders to say please I need your support. Such support can only translate to reality if the leader is able to convince his followers to support his candidate. But funny enough the Governor never played this role, he decided to remain neutral and said, ‘look, what ever comes to the party as a result please announce.’ The Governor and myself have been able to meet with the aspirants that lost, over 50 of them at the same time and none of them could accuse the Governor of playing a role in their failure.
Now what happened and what people failed to understand is that our process was entirely different from that of PDP, so there is no basis for comparison. For example, to even elect a member of the House of Assembly whose constituency is 10 wards, we need a minimum of nine 9000 to 10,000 people congregating to vote at different wards for him. But take even the PDP Presidential primaries; the maximum number of persons that elected their presidential candidate was 5000 people. Selected delegates from across the country.
But in our party we say if we peach one man one vote, we must allow all members of the party participate in the process and that was what happened. And because we opened the space for every body you found out that the number of persons that contested were so high. We have over 190 contesting for 36 seats. So it is obvious that people must protest, that is politicians for you.
It is even worse in the PDP. So the results have nothing to do with the governor or the party. The results that were announced came directly from the field and nothing like manipulation. Let’s look at it, how many people went in for the PDP senatorial primaries here in Edo?
I don’t think that they are up to 2000 people. And that 2000 is just like two wards. They used delegates who were selected by the leaders and the leaders have instructed them where to go. I know for example, in Edo Central none of the delegates earned any thing less than N40,000. It was cash and carry politics. But in our party what did you find? We took it to the grassroots to let the people decide. So there is no basis for comparison at all.
The governor has been accused of biting more than he can chew through embarking on projects he may not be able to complete and that contractors have abandoned the sites due to lack of payment?
Why do people deceive themselves by saying he embarked on several projects he cannot complete? Thank God they agreed he embarked on projects but they never had the courage to do what he is doing now. What can they show for 10 years of PDP rule in Edo state? Nothing! Even if this is what Oshiomhole has achieved so far in two years, that will tell you what he will achieve in the next two years.
Now let me tell you, please go to Airport road and confirm whether work is on going or not. PDP knows that they have failed and failed woefully. PDP cannot deceive our people. Work is going on around all the sites why would they be lying to deceive people outside the state?
Dan Orbih who even is a factional chairman of the party, let him walk freely along the streets and see if he will not be attacked by the people. What can they say about the Gani Fawenhimi estate that was abandoned over the years?
Look at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium; go round Benin and see the dualization project, all of them are on-going so why are they just lying because of politics? What they don’t seem to understand is that not only are all these jobs on-going, we are also awarding more jobs and contractors are being mobilized.