BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
ELDER Sunny Uyigue is one of the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. The PDP leader from Edo South Senatorial District has been persistent in his condemnation of the dominance of the former Chairman Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih over the affairs of the party. Ahead of the July 14, governorship election in the state, Uyigue declares that his party, the PDP, has no chance of defeating Governor Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He gives his reasons just as he raises alarm over alleged plots to assassinate some political leaders ahead of the election. Excerpts:
YOU have been calm politically for over a year now, why?
I decided to give myself a sort of political leave and that was why I have been calm for some time now. I had to take stock of the political situation in the country and Edo State in particular. But I am back to active political activities now.
I have read a lot in the press as regards the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State. I want to say that politics is about numbers, it is not grammar or deceit.
You can see people trying to play ethnic politics particularly in Edo South Senatorial District. When I see such people, I laugh because they refuse to believe that things have changed. The coming election will be like a plebiscite and it will give the Binis the autonomous status we have been clamouring for. Like what the Bible will say, ‘Pharaoh, let my people go.’ This is the time for all Binis to rise up and tell Chief Anenih to leave us alone in Edo South and allow us to have autonomy, self-confidence and self-respect. Enough is enough.
Amount of gimmick
There is no amount of gimmick that will help him win this forthcoming election even though I am in the PDP. This will be an election between the Binis and Anenih. For the Binis to get their freedom from Anenih they have to ensure that the PDP is defeated in this election.
During the last election, in the five Local Councils that make up Edo Central where Anenih comes from, the total votes recorded was 242,000. And that number is equivalent to Ikpoba Okhai Local Government that recorded 240,000. Oredo 252,000, Ovia North East 184,000, which was equivalent to three Local Governments where Anenih comes from, yet he is controlling the political life of the Binis.
Very soon, we are going to publish all the political appointments in Edo State since 1999 under the PDP. You will notice that all the political appointments have been going to Edo Central, particularly Uromi. And if by mistake he decides to appoint somebody from out side Edo Central, he will pick somebody that is not a full blooded Bini son. Any full blooded Bini man is an enemy of Chief Anenih. This was what led to the death of PDP in the state.
You are one of the founding leaders of PDP in the state, what is the problem with your party in Edo State?
There is no other problem other than the domineering nature of Chief Anenih and that is why you see people leaving the PDP every day now to the ACN. Because he has the connections in Abuja, so he uses them to get what he wants for himself and his stooges. Look at the kangaroo governorship primary that was conducted in PDP, he claimed that the ticket was zoned to Edo South but you will notice that two persons contested from his area Edo Central while one person contested in Edo North. So who is fooling who?
Let me tell you, Airhiavbere’s emergence is nothing but a Greek gift by Anenih because he knows that it will be impossible for the PDP and Airhiavbere to win this election. His next plot now after he must have lost this coming election will be to take the ticket to Edo Central and he will tell the Binis that after all they rejected their son in the 2012 election. We actually don’t have problem in Edo PDP apart from Anenih’s style of enslaving others. And some of us have said enough of that rubbish and that is why PDP is suffering today.
Why was it difficult for people like you and Dr Samuel Ogbemudia to check these excesses you speak of?
Well, I will only speak for my self and not for Dr Samuel Ogbemudia. We could not check his excesses because he has a way of using some jobless Bini people; and to use them against one another. And luckily for him, he is always having willing tools from the Benin area and that is why he has succeeded all these years.
For Dr Ogbemudia, I will not make any comment now but I will speak in the future. And let me tell you the truth, it pains us today because Anenih was not a founding member of the PDP, he came to join us and I knew how he joined PDP. I was one of those who made it possible for him to join the PDP.
The crisis in the PDP escalated when Osunbor was removed as Governor and he was the one who brought Osunbor. But today you are aware of what happened to Osunbor, you are aware of what happened between him and Lucky Igbinedion. You are aware of what happened between him and Oyegun. He has this tradition of fighting anybody that wants to be independent and work for the people of Edo State. As a matter of fact he killed PDP in Edo State and Mr President must know about the problem.
Some of you were accused of supporting the ACN government in the state?
That allegation is laughable because it was Anenih and his stooges, who were the first to meet Oshiomhole and pumped Champagne after the Appeal Court sacked Osunbor. They created the enmity in the PDP today. What is happening is that I only told them that with the structure Anenih has built in PDP in the state, the PDP has nothing to tell the electorate that will give us votes. What are we going to campaign with in Edo state, is it years of underdevelopment, years of promoting god fatherism, years of playing god?
The other day, some half-baked PDP members were saying Oshiomhole has not performed, but I laughed because that is a wicked lie. If Anenih had allowed all the PDP governors free hand to work, our state would have turned to Dubai with what Oshiomhole is doing today. Even the blind can see what the man is doing today and for me, governance is all about development and I don’t care who brings the development to our people.
We failed as a party in the state and that is why I said it will even be wicked for anybody to see what Oshiomhole is doing today and say you want to vote for the PDP. How? Unless we are able to counter the man’s development strives in the state then you will say we stand a chance of winning. But how can you counter what people are seeing everyday?
Tell me what the PDP candidate will say he wants to do that Oshiomhole has not done? And the problem Airhiavbere will get at the polls is that the Binis are already looking at him as Anenih’s creation and there is no way the Binis can allow Anenih to rear his head up politically again in this state.
Are you saying that even as a Benin man, Charles Airhiavbere will not get the support of his people the Binis?
Let us forget about that, such things do not work any more. People are wiser now and if you look at the number of endorsements Oshiomhole has received in Edo South, you will know that it is finished for PDP.
Airhiavbere is a fellow Benin man but there is an adage in Benin that says instead of you to call some body at home who will not answer you, try to shout to some body who has traveled. There is no sentiment about this. After all, Oshiomhole who is developing Benin areas now, is he a Benin man?
Did we not have a Benin man here before? When Alli was here as governor he tarred many roads here in Benin but Alli was not a Benin man. This sentiment about a Benin candidate, that era has gone. Majority of the Benin people know those who are capable of delivering dividends of democracy.
Dividends of democracy
Again, let us look at the antecedent of the Benin candidate, Airhiavbere. All the years he worked in the Army, how many Benin people did he employ? Did he contribute in any way to uplift the lives of the Binis or develop the area? Go to his village now, there is nothing to show that that village produced a General in the Army and that was why the people rejected him the other day and endorsed Oshiomhole. Is that not shameful?
There are some Binis today who are not as rich as him, but you will see them assisting their communities no matter how small. But in this case nobody knows Airhiavbere, so how do you intend to win election? How many people did he give scholarship? How many Benin organizations does he belong to?
So what are the chances of your party, the PDP in the forthcoming election?
The truth is that our chances are very slim. I have been in politics since the 50s and I know what I am talking about. Again, I want to tell you also that they are planning to assassinate some people during this election. The police authorities and the SSS are already aware of this plot. We know those planning it and we know the list they are compiling. But I am happy that anything that happens now, the police and others know where it is coming from.