By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor
A former Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Mr Samson Osagie, in this interview, dismisses the assumptions that the crisis rocking Edo State House of Assembly is between the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and Governor Godwin Obaseki, saying the latter’s alleged failure to carry party leaders along is at the root of the impasse. Osagie, an insider, who also describes the recent inauguration of the state House of Assembly as illegality, speaks on other angles to the controversy.
Is the crisis the House of Assembly truly between Oshiomhole and Obaseki?
I think there is a general misconception about the crisis bedevilling the APC in Edo State. It is far from being a crisis between the governor and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It is a crisis emanating from the governor’s conduct towards party members and party leaders. It is between the party leaders and the governor. Those mentioning Oshiomhole are only trying to use the man’s name to seek relevance. Indeed, the administration’s pursuits of some policies that are considered inimical to some sectors, especially in the agricultural and education sectors, are partly responsible. This is someone, who became a governor on the platform of a political party but shut his door against party leaders. He began to describe the party leaders as greedy people, whose only occupation is to make money from the government, and these were the people, who provided the platform for him to become governor.
The conscience of a few party members
When he started, people thought that with time he would understand that one cannot deride a platform that brought him to power. However, in the course of doing this, he was able to buy the conscience of a few party officials who out of fear of what to eat are falling for his antics. Unfortunately, not many people accepted his plan across the three senatorial districts in the state. Party leaders in the state are disappointed. Even the National Chairman of the party has even become his victim because he has further accused him of being responsible for the crisis through a statement issued by his Media Adviser. He is blaming everybody for the crisis except himself but he is actually the cause of the crisis. Even the National Chairman, would have been able to step in but the governor does not take advise from anybody. He knows everything more than any other person.
What other issue is responsible for the crisis?
How do you explain a situation where a governor will shut down institutions of learning? For example, the College of Education, Ekiadolor that was upgraded to the status of a university has since been shut down. He is busy hiring consultants to come and train teachers in the state, it does not add up. And it takes a lot of money to carry out these training whereas the institutions that are meant to train teachers in the state have been shut down. The College of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi was also shut down for over a year now.
What do you make of the claims that some party leaders are at war with the governor for refusing to share the state’s resources for them?
That is hypocrisy at its best. Some of us have asked him to publish the names of the leaders, who asked for money. In any case, to prove the hypocrisy, has he not been scheduling meetings in the last two months since this crisis started? There are persons, who are with him today because he is bringing out money. If sharing money is the problem, why was he not able to buy everybody with money despite the fact that money is flowing all over Edo State today due to his second term ambition. Some of us are genuinely concerned about his attitude towards the party which may affect the chances of the party. Some of the projects he is doing which made people feel he is working are not sustainable. Any person in Edo State today, would say that the projects still visible are those executed by Oshiomhole. Nobody has asked him to share money, he should name them or keep quiet. Can anyone look at the political horizon of the state today and name person, who he has helped?
People from different parts of the world have now been brought to superintend over Edo State.
2019 general election in Edo
He was responsible for the colossal loss we suffered during the presidential and National Assembly elections. On the day of the presidential election, a governor superintending over the exercise went to play golf. Eventually, he lost his unit and ward. Party members were not galvanized. During Oshiomhole’s time, he monitored elections from the beginning until results were announced. Oshiomhole never lost his unit in Iyahmo or ward in Uzairue. This is the same man who came in as governor and made a law that those, who lost their units and wards, would not be given appointments. Now, we are saying he should abide by that law by not bothering himself to run for a second term so that APC will not lose the state. He does not stand a chance within the context of his own rules. Apart from that, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, House of Representatives member in Oredo, Ogbeide Ihama, defeated the governor in Oredo. The implication is that if Ihama emerges the governorship candidate of PDP and Obaseki emerges as APC candidate, we would lose Oredo and to a large extent, Edo South. That would be the end of APC in Edo State. Who is asking him for money? Is Henry Idahagbon hungry? The truth is that they want to make Edo a place where there will be no criticisms of the actions of the government. It is not possible because we are too sophisticated. Even in the days of Oshiomhole, who did marvellously well in terms of infrastructure, he had critics but his approach to criticisms was different.
Is your camp likely going to accept the election of the Speaker of the House of Assembly by nine men out of 24 elected legislators?
It is an illegality that cannot stand. I have consistently maintained that emotional intelligence shouldn’t be used against people by office holders. The governor clandestinely issued a proclamation without making it public and decided to inaugurate some loyal members because he does not have the numbers. Four elected members were kidnapped and they carried out the inauguration at night. What happened was that the governor could not manage 24 members of his own party. These were people who became candidates in September 2018. He could not develop a relationship with them. You may have a person as your preferred candidate for the position of Speaker, which is legitimate but that does not call for what they did. I sympathise with my friend, Okiye, who is the beneficiary of this illegality. It is unfortunate that he is the one. The state governor is responsible for all the crisis. The inability to develop a good relationship with the legislators is responsible for the illegality. All lovers of democracy must rise to condemn that action.
What is the solution to the crisis?
Justice must be done. The Edo State House of Assembly must be properly inaugurated. When it is properly inaugurated, the members should decide, who their Speaker would be. Look at the National Assembly, the party took a position on who they wanted as Senate President and Speaker. They worked towards it, engaged the members, who elected the candidates of the party. That is how it should be. It is not what we are seeing now in Edo State.