ON Ehiogie West-Idahosa was a three-time member of the House of Representatives under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Last year, West-Idahosa defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC citing what he alleged to be the overbearing tendency of the godfathers in PDP. Barely a year in the APC, the former legislator is retracing his steps with a salacious story of servitude and snobbishness. Excerpts
WHat is your reaction to the on-going crisis within the Edo State chapter of the APC?
The problem started with the recently conducted membership registration exercise, the congresses that were also conducted and the signs of dictatorship of the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
Now, let me give examples: at the close of the membership exercise, a few appointees of the governor, whether partly on their own or under direction went back and inflated the registers.
In Ovia South-West Local Government Area for example, in a few wards, the register was inflated with by about 800 names; so, these names were clearly faked and they do not exist. The plan was that in the event that the registers would be used to conduct congresses, strangers would be brought in to answer these fake names, but unfortunately, the congresses took place at the same time throughout the country and that meant that there were no persons to be hired, so, the registers which were bloated could not be used.
The second problem was that overnight they printed fake registration slips which were circulated during the congress. You know, wards are the smallest registration units for political organization and if you say you are in my ward, it is most likely that I will know you or you will know me, it is not like in Benin-City which is a metropolitan city. Even, in Benin-City, if you are from Oredo Ward 2, people that have been living there for a long time will know you either from one end or the other.
So, ultimately, people were dissatisfied with the state of things with everyone converging in Government House. Government House has no business with the organization of political activities but political activities are organized by political leaders.
Don’t forget that some of us were attracted to the APC by the fact that this is a progressive party but only to discover that the choice of the name was a dishonest decision in Nigerian polity. There is just nothing progressive in this political party judging from the way its activities are run in Edo State, I don’t know of other states.
One had thought that when the ultimatum was given to the Comrade Governor who is the leader of the party in the state, that he would tow the path of honour. If you cannot redress all, redress some; he was just busy running about making promises without doing anything, people read through him that he was simply playing on the intelligence of more experienced politicians.
We saw through the lies and decided to convey the first Wesley Conference where we formalised the first ultimatum and then, of course, you know what happened when he did not meet the ultimatum.
We conveyed the second Wesley Conference and resigned enmasse including political office holders who did so gladly. It was the first time in my political career that I saw such a number not just resigning, but resigning with joy, they were happy to be freed and I am glad to note that.
But you have been accused of not allowing the ultimatum to expire before rushing to meet Mr. President?
My dear brother, don’t forget that when the ultimatum was given, we had a prior appointment to see President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discuss matters of general interest. They tried to impress on us that we should not pay that visit and we said, no.
We had made an appointment with Mr. President and not going there would be unfair, so, we chose to go there and remember, while we were away, we were in touch with the Comrade Governor and he kept saying that he was going to do this, he was going to do that; our representatives held meetings with him before we came back from Abuja and the ultimatum we gave ended last Friday and we deliberately waited for four calendar days more after the ultimatum, nothing was forth coming.
In fact, in their last meeting with the governor, the man was telling them that he had the power to commute death sentences to life sentences and vice versa; in fact, he was just emphasizing the almighty powers that he had and thoroughly lectured them that they were not the only group that know the way to Abuja, that other groups can equally go to Abuja; that he was not going to make any sacrifice for any reason. We were left with no option.
The APC leadership has said that it is the inordinate ambition of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to be the next governor of the state that is responsible for the crisis?
If Governor Oshiomhole was not ambitious, he would never have been a state governor.
In fact, let me recall and I would want you to record this that in his ambition, he went to the ANPP and he could not get the ticket; he went to the PDP and he was told that he should stay on the queue and he went to Labour Party and it was in Labour that he almost settled down.
But when Ize-Iyamu and others were deregistered from the PDP, and moved to form the ACN, they now went to offer him their platform with which he became the governor.
What is your next destination?
My next destination is to run for the Senate seat. I am passionate about representing Edo South in the Senate and I think that I have the confidence that I have the credentials. And I think that we are moving into an era driven by pedigree and reputation.
I have it and I don’t see why I should be sitting at home when less qualified people are seeking the office. Definitely I will not fold my arms.
Would you say that you regretted leaving the PDP for the APC at the time you did as you are now heading to the same party?
To be honest with you, if I had not been a member of the APC, I would not have known the value of the PDP. You remember that in my resignation letter from the PDP, I stated that I have problems with some leaders of the party.
But do you know what? I owe those leaders an apology and I have come to see that they are the faces of angels. Having experienced what I saw in the APC, you cannot breathe in this party without bringing information from the governor and you cannot aspire without seeking permission from the governor. There is no use calling yourself a member of a political party where people are treated like slaves.