BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE, BENIN
SENATOR Odion Ugbesia is a member of the Senator Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Before then, he had represented Edo Central Senatorial Zone in the Senate for two terms and had also served as a minister in the President Olusegun Obasanjo cabinet. In this interview, he spoke on the vilification of Chief Anenih by the traditional ruler of Opoji, his expectation of the next week’s governorship election in Edo State and continued stance of Senator Ali Modu- Sheriff on the PDP crisis.
Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff has rejected peace options, so what is your next move?
Well, I am not surprised, and I believe strongly that it is only the court that can resolve this matter. He came into the chairmanship of the party through the wrong process, and the court has since said so.
To now continue to lay claim over the chairmanship of the party when all the organs of the party are not with him, the Governors’ Forum is not with him, the NEC of the party is not with him, the BOT is not with him, so who is he leading in the party?
Because he has some rabble rousers around him, he thinks he owns the party. The court has since vindicated us, and we are prepared to move the party forward.
What are the prospects for your party in the face of what PDP claim as the intimidation by the APC?
Oshiomhole does not have monopoly of violence. All that we are asking the federal government to do is to provide a level playing ground, that they should not bring federal might to intimidate PDP supporters. If the election is free and fair, PDP victory will be so overwhelming that even Oshiomhole himself will be shocked. The man’s popularity has waned; there is no way APC can win this election in Edo State. PDP victory will be so overwhelming.
What is your party doing now to educate the youth who are likely to be used to rig election?
All we are telling them is that they should allow anybody to use as cannon folder during the election. We will not use them as thugs, and we don’t expect them to expose themselves to be used by the APC as thugs. Oshiomhole has children, the question is? Are his children here whom he can use as thugs? They are not here. They should not take advantage of the poverty of our people to use our children as thugs against an opposition party. This is not fair, and I think common sense will come, and Oshiomhole will know that it is morally wrong to use the youths of this state as thugs because anything can happen.
The Ambrose Alli University has denied claims by your party that some courses in the school have recently been de-accredited?
My comment will be just speculative. I will not be surprised if that is done because Ambrose Alli University is underfunded, under staffed and the infrastructure there is nothing to write home about. It is not a good learning place and as at now, it cannot be called a university.
On the other hand, he is building a super-university in his village to the detriment to a university that already exists; it is immoral. If the NUC says that they are not accrediting these courses, it is because they find a deficiency in the place, and is it as a result of underfunding by the government. So it is not surprising, and if that is the case, why should anybody expect the youths who are the student there will support a government like that?
Still talking on the election, what are the indices that will likely favour your candidate to win?
We have a credible and marketable candidate, the person they have brought is unknown, I don’t think Obaseki has ever voted in his life, he has not played politics in this state, they just brought in a stranger and are saying vote for him. This is the height of impunity when he has neglected the people for a long time. I don’t think the people will bow, and it is acceptable.
Now that the election is just about a week, what is your advice to Edo people?
They should shine their eyes as we always say and vote according to their conscience. They should do everything possible to avoid violence. We are asking our people to remain calm irrespective of the level of intimidation; they should not be intimidated and even if there is any evidence of that they should remain calm but that is not to say that in this election, the PDP will fold his arms and allow Oshiomhole and the APC to intimidate them. It is going to be an eye for an eye.