LUCKY Imasuen served as deputy governor to Prof. Oserheime Osunbor in Edo State between 2007 and 2008 when their election was upturned by the Court of Appeal. Interestingly, both men have now switched from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which gave them the platform to public office to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Even though Osunbor is still working to return to office in the forthcoming governorship election, Imasuen in this interview gives reasons why he is supporting another aspirant, Godwin Obaseki, for the governorship. Excerpts:
By Gabriel Enogholase
The number of governorship aspirants in the APC are not less than 14 and you are said to be working for Godwin Obaseki one of the aspirants. Why do you support Obaseki?
Well, as far as I am concerned, the numbers of governorship aspirants is because of the success story of Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Why did I say so, it is because everybody wants to be identified with success.
The Comrade Governor has done wonderfully well, has reconstructed Edo State, transformed the State and where necessary constructed primary and secondary schools, changed all the roofs of these schools and now they have fences and gates. In terms of road construction, the governor has done well in the three Senatorial districts. He has transformed Benin City from an ancient to modern city.
So, why your special interest in support of Godwin Obaseki?
I have read in the pages of newspapers that the comrade Governor now is supporting Godwin Obaseki and some people like it, others don’t.
Yes I am supporting Obaseki because Obaseki came to me to solicit for my support and I asked him a few questions and he answered me to my satisfaction.
Good history student
I know some people are complaining, “we don’t know Obaseki, how much do you want to know Obaseki?
But his great grandfather, Agho Obaseki is accused of betraying Oba Ovonramwen following the British invasion of Benin?
Yes people are carrying this rumour that Agho Obaseki of blessed memory, the great grandfather of Godwin Obaseki betrayed the Binis. I don’t know where they got that information from. I am a good history student and a son of the palace; I think I call myself the son of the palace because I am a subject of the Oba. The Oba is my father. I know very well that the Obaseki’s respect the tradition of Benin. I know very well that the Obasekis have played many roles in the development of this kingdom.
They have joined the Oba of Benin to develop this kingdom. The Agho Obaseki we are talking about died as the Iyase of Benin.
Before he became the Iyase and before the invasion of the Benin Expire in 1897 by the British, Agho Obaseki was given the title Inneh of Benin. Once you are the Inneh of Benin, it shows that you are very close to the Oba.
The Inneh of Benin is responsible for taking care of the wives and children of the Oba of Benin, after that, he elevated him to be the Iyase of Benin which is the number one chieftaincy title. Unfortunately, the incident of 1987 came about and that led to the deportation of the Oba of Benin to Calabar.
You know the rest. When Oba of Benin left for Calabar, there was a vacuum. Agho Obaseki was the highest Chieftaincy title holder in Benin.
He never tried to the best of my knowledge from what I have read in history to become the Oba of Benin. I don’t know, he may have played a role as the number one chief.
I don’t want to dwell on that because, you will recall that a few years later, information got to Benin that Oba Ovoranmwen has passed on and his son Oba Eweka became the Oba of Benin and after Oba Eweka became the Oba of Benin from around 1914 or so, few years later he passed on. His eldest son, Oba Akenzua who was a grandson of Oba Ovonramwen became the Oba.
He also blessed one of the Obaseki, Gaius Obaseki and made him the Iyase, the highest Chieftaincy title in Benin.
After that our father came on board, the current Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa Uku’ Akpolokpolo. He did not only give them various titles, Justice Andrew Otutu Obaseki was made the Obaseki of Benin, a hereditary title and when you get that in Benin it show that yourself, your families has contributed immensely to the development of Benin Kingdom.
In addition to that there are about 7 to 9 other Obaseki’s who are chiefs in the palace of the Oba of Benin.
Now my question is, if the Oba of Benin past and present believed that the great grandfather of Godwin Obaseki, Chief Agho Obaseki did wrong to the Benin Empire, how come they have continued to honor them with one of the highest chieftaincy titles?
Few years later, Gaius Obaseki became the Iyase of Benin, one of the highest chieftaincy titles. So you can see that these things are just mere rumor designed to stain a very good man from a very noble and humble family.
The Obasekis are respecter of Benin tradition. And I think those people who are peddling these rumors should desist from it and focus squarely on the election at hand. They should advice whoever that are contesting the election to go round like Obaseki is doing, to convince people why they should be voted for instead of resulting to mudslinging.
The Benin Leaders of Thought headed by respectable Prince Edun Akenzua recently advised Governor Adams Oshiomhole to create an open field for all the aspirants when they heard he was supporting Obaseki. What is your advice to this noble group?
Well, the Benin Leaders of Thoughts headed by our father, the Prince of Benin Edun Akenzua, a well known journalist, a father and gentleman to core. I am happy that they met recently and yes they said they have a report on who should succeed the Comrade Governor. What gladdens my heart in their purposeful meeting is that they have all agreed including our father, Prince Edun Akenzua that the comrade Governor’s shoe is very difficult to fill. They congratulated him and even prayed for him and wish he could run one more term.
This is simply because the comrade Governor has done very well he has been a successful Governor. But to the best of my knowledge, Prince Edun Akenzua and members of the elders form are not members of APC; they are doing the right thing at the wrong time.
While did I say that, the constitution of the APC is very clear, the primary election will be held according to INEC timetable, it is coming up in June and those who are authorized to vote in this election are clearly stated out in the constitution of the APC.
12 delegates from each of the 192 wards in Edo State, local government executives, then state executive of the party and other special delegates would vote to decide who the governorship candidate becomes.
On that particular day, all the people will be at Ogbe stadium and all those asking to be the Governor would have completed their campaign tour of every ward and talking to the delegates and only one of them would emerged. It is my hope that my aspirant will become a candidate that day that is, Godwin Obaseki.
Then as the APC is doing its own primary election, the PDP will also do its primary election, the labour APGA and other political parties.
At the end of the exercise, APC will be represented by one candidate; the labour, PDP, APGA and every other political party will come out with one candidate.
As far as I am concerned, it is at that time that the Benin Leaders of Thought can now invite the winners of this primary elections to a meeting and then use whatever perimeter they want to use to judge their ability to govern and to be able to continue from where Governor Aliu Oshiomhole stopped.
Not until that time, it will unfair for them to decide who becomes the candidate of the APC. After the primary election, they will listen to them; they can now endorse anyone of their choice.