By Isaac Olamikan
Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the 2016 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State is the director general, DG, of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council in the state. In this interview he spoke extensively on a variety of issues including how and why Atiku will beat President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo in next month’s presidential poll.
What are the chances of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP in Edo State in the forthcoming general elections?
In the absence of manipulating or altering the results it is very clear that the PDP will win. If you do an opinion poll on the streets of Benin or any part of Edo State you will find out that of every 10 persons that you meet about eight would tell how they would vote for the PDP. Out of the remaining two, one might tell you that he will vote for APC while the remaining one might tell you that he has not made a decision on whom to vote yet. So, the support is overwhelming. The truth about it is that people gave APC the chance to come into government almost four years ago and the story is awful. They have had the opportunity to compare and contrast.
If you ask anybody today “during the time of President Goodluck Jonathan and now which one would you say is better” they will tell you that Jonathan’s time was better. So, the job has been made very easy for us by the very poor performance of the APC. Every area that you talk about is a disaster.
President Buhari came to Edo State on Friday. When he was just sworn-in he came here and the major project he came to commission was the so-called five-star hospital. That hospital till today is not functioning and the president has done nothing about it. How could he have allowed himself to be used to perpetrate such a fraud? Three and a half years, a hospital that you commissioned is not working. And the same man who pretended that he had commissioned a five-star hospital, the president elevated him and made him national chairman of his party. That’s the same man who is bringing the president to Edo for campaign. Edo people are not stupid. I can assure you that they (APC) are going to be overwhelmingly rejected during the elections.
Considering the spate of defections of PDP members to the APC especially in some states in the northern part of the country, how do you rate Atiku Abubakar’s chances in the North?
Talking about defections, the APC has been the worst hit. If you look at the calibre of people who left the APC to join the PDP you will see that there is no comparison. Many of those who are leaving the PDP to join the APC are people who are facing corruption charges; people who are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. One can understand why they will need to move to a place where they will be given a clean bill. For many of them their electoral value is nil. But if you are looking for governors and eminent politicians moving it is much to the advantage of the PDP. On a scale you can’t compare them at all. Let me tell you, the number of those who have left the APC is nothing compared to those who have remained in the party and want to sabotage the party. They are very dissatisfied and disillusioned. But some of them know that if they want to leave the party now they will begin to persecute them. So, they want to remain in the APC to ensure that it doesn’t return to power. I can assure you that they have more problems within than those who have left them. Their only hope is to see how they are going to rig the election. By the grace of God we are going to make it impossible.
On what stands Atiku out in the race for the presidency?
Atiku is a better manager of men and resources of men, and a team player. He has a track record. And of course, by the time you compare him to the incumbent president, you know that the choice would be obvious. Atiku has been able to address fundamental issues. He has talked about how to create jobs. He has talked about how to improve the education sector. He has even talked about how to deal with insecurity. He has talked about restructuring which is a key to the survival of our country. Atiku is by far more qualified, knowledgeable, and competent than the incumbent president.
On comments that Atiku Abubakar has, more than any other Nigerian, shown a lot of desperation to be president starting from his days in the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, then to his early days in the PDP, then to Action Congress (AC) later to APC and now back in the PDP?
Our use of the word, desperation, is very wrong. Between Atiku and Buhari who has been desperate to be president? A man who is desperate is a man who is ready to subvert the system in any way. In what way has Atiku demonstrated desperation? Is it wrong to have an ambition? Is it wrong to want to be something? A man wants to be a lawyer, is that desperation? A man wants to be a doctor he continues reading no matter the setback. It is something that you should applaud. It’s only in Nigeria a man who is qualified for a position, wants to go for it people would say it is desperation.
Desperation in what sense? Have you heard that Atiku planned a coup or killed anybody because he wanted to be president? He has never done any such thing. But people who have done coups you are not saying that they are desperate. People who when they lost election said that Nigerians will die; they will kill Nigerians, etc. You don’t know that they are desperate. A man who has always done his elections peacefully without violence, how can you say he is desperate? Atiku is not desperate. He has only shown that he is interested in the job. He is prepared for it and has the capacity for it. And Nigerians must look for a man who is prepared and not a man who is not prepared. Not a man who is dragged into the position.
Atiku has persistently talked about his support for restructuring of Nigeria. Can we hold him to his words?
Yes! If he doesn’t perform he knows that four years would be around the corner. When the APC were making their promises they thought that four years would be like four decades. But four years have come. If Atiku makes a promise and he does not fulfill it, it simply means that in the next four years he will also leave office. That’s the beauty of democracy. If you cannot keep your words, if you make a promise and you cannot fulfill it, just know that around the corner there will be reelection. But I believe that Atiku is sincere, he wants to leave a legacy, he wants to leave a mark and the issue of restructuring is fundamental to the survival of our country.
What message of hope do you have for the people of Edo State?
I think that the only hope we have is this election. God forbid they rig it. The future would be very bleak. It is very clear. You don’t need a prophet to know that if we continue like this our country is in serious trouble. But if we vote for Atiku and the PDP then we are talking of meaningful change not the next level of suffering, poverty and imprisonment. We will be talking about bringing joy, satisfaction, job, etc for all Nigerians. PDP is promising total transformation of our country.
Are you still interested in governing Edo State?
When we get to that stage we will talk about it. For now, the issue is the presidential election. Governorship election is next year. We thank God for life. Let us wait until next year.