…Jabs Obaseki, speaks on 2023 elections in Delta
Chief Ayiri Emami is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with Saturday Vanguard he spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s meeting with Itsekiri leaders at Aso villa during the week.
He also reacted to the crisis rocking the Edo State APC. He faulted Chief EK Clark over his comment on the Edo state House of Assembly, saying that his argument that the National Assembly had no right to take over the Assembly was wrong. Excerpts:
Itsekiri leaders visited President Muhammadu Buhari today, how was it?
It was a very good visit. Mr President welcomed the Itsekiri people and he appreciated the votes he got from the Itsekiris. The Olu of Warri made several demands, particularly bordering on insecurity issues along the Benin-Ore road. He made some request that security agents should be deployed along that road to check the activities of kidnappers and armed robbers. We also discussed the issue of the Warri Port and Koko Port.
We also discussed the EPZ project, the Ogidigbaen gas processing project. The foundation was laid by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, he pleaded with the President to kick start the project. We also made request for some appointments and also thanked the President for the appointment of Barrister Festus Keyamo, who is from Delta Central. It is a well-deserved appointment. The president assured us that he will look into our demands and he expressed joy that we came to pay the visit.
We seriously appealed to the Federal Government to work on the Ports in the Niger Delta so as to de-congest the Lagos Port where Nigerians are finding things extremely difficult. And we have Warri, Koko and Onne ports lying fallow. And we looked at the water ways security, we believe that the President has tried. It is just for us to do one or two things to further boost security in the water ways. And as regards illegal bunkering the contractor handling the job in Delta state, OMS I think they are doing very well. So we commended Mr President for that too, the contractor is doing very well.
For me, the party under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has recorded a lot of success particularly after the emergence of Mr President. That victory is overwhelming. As if that was not enough, Oshiomhole led NWC ensured the emergence of a leadership of the National Assembly anointed by the party.
He worked doggedly for that and he succeeded and today the entire nation is enjoying it. There is nothing as good as having an entire house intact and working in unison, that will facilitate progress for Nigerians. So far, the party leadership has done very well and we are very happy that for the first time in the South South, we are having the Deputy senate President coming from Delta state.
I read sometimes in the media people trying to criticize Oshiomhole over the loss we suffered in some states like Zamfara. I know that criticism is part of democracy but in this case we all knew the role of some political leaders in these states that led to the problem we had. It was not Oshiomhole’s fault. The man has been doing his best since he came on board. In fact some of us believed that if not that somebody like him with strong character came at this stage, our party would have collapsed before the 2019 general elections. But despite the challenges Oshiomhole held the party strong like his baby and today he has instilled discipline in the party. But you know everybody cannot like Oshiomhole. But I can tell you that majority of our party members are happy with his leadership. And in every situation, majority will always have their way while minority will have the opportunity to equally air their views. You can never satisfy everybody but I am glad Oshiomhole is capable of facing criticisms, he has taken the bull by the horns and the party is moving forward. So I want to commend the Oshiomhole led NWC because they have made us proud.
Do you think the current NWC will provide victory for the party come 2023?
Definitely, I don’t see any opposition to APC come 2023, in fact before then PDP could disintegrate and many will move to APC. People will always complain and you will think heaven will fall. You recall that before 2019, some said this will be the last election in Nigeria, some said APC would be defeated due to the propaganda machine of the PDP. But what happened at the end of the day? We went into the election and emerged victorious.
But what was the problem with Delta APC? Some people thought that the APC would make impact in the state in the last governorship election but it failed woefully!
Yes, I am aware we had serious issues in the party but even with that we did very well than in 2015. We won some seats in the Central districts, both senate and some seats in the House of Assembly. I believe that by the next election majority of Deltans will know that they have to work with APC. With the kind of votes we got in the last election in Delta state, I am very optimistic that by 2023, we are going to take Delta state. Now that we have the Deputy Senate President, and a vibrant Minister, we are going to work harder and the sky will be our limit.
Recently Ijaw leader, Chief EK Clark urged the National Assembly not to attempt to take over the running of the Edo state House of Assembly, what is your take on that as a chieftain of the APC?
When I read that I felt very disappointed because he is an elder statesman and he should know the laws more than many of us. I recall that Chief Clark never supported Governor Obaseki before he became governor, so if Obaseki is trying to be very ungrateful to people that brought him to power, I think, as a father, Chief Clark should have advised him better, not to cause chaos in Edo state because Edo and Delta are still the same.
I expected him to call Obaseki and advise him as a father but he did not do that, rather he took side immediately. Let me tell you, there is nothing about Edo state that we don’t know. The National Assembly has it as a duty to intervene in any state Assembly that has crisis. So for anybody to fault that move is unfortunate and that Is why I am shocked with the comment made by Chief EK Clark. All of us knew how Obaseki became governor of Edo state. He was never a politician. It was Oshiomhole who made him governor against all odds.
Oshiomhole offended many people loyal to him just because he wanted to make Obaseki governor. So it is unfortunate that today the governor sees himself as a thin god, exhibiting so much disrespect for the man that made him governor. That is ingratitude of the highest order and it is not good for him as a governor. To me, he’s an ingrate.
There is an adage in Itsekiri which says you must remember the good of yesterday. Whatever Obaseki is doing he must sleep and reflect the good time he had with Comrade. A couple of times I had an opportunity to sit with Comrade and he kept saying ‘Ayiri, you know how I labored to bring Obaseki so I cannot support pulling that house down. So I don’t see Comrade fighting Obaseki but Obaseki is just fighting himself. . So Chief EK Clark should concentrate on Delta state where he caused some problems for people and leave Edo alone because he does not know how Obaseki became governor.
Buhari’s policies in the Niger Delta
I will appreciate Mr President and his Vice for the dialogue they initiated in the Niger Delta and that is why we are experiencing peace there today. Without peace there will not be any meaningful development in the region. But President Buhari has continued to dialogue with the stake holders in the region and we are enjoying peace.
We told our people to embrace the peace process because we had opportunity of producing a president six years ago in the Person of Goodluck Jonathan, but we did not make good use of that opportunity. So let us give peace a chance so that in future other regions will consider us for the presidency. We must have learnt our lessons as a people, we will learn not to fight ourselves due to politics. I believe we must learn how to play politics from the Northerners or the South West so we can achieve our aims in this country.
But there is this impression that it will be difficult for APC to win in Delta state without the support of the former governor James Ibori, what is your take on that?
Let me tell you, in 2023, Ibori will neither be the one contesting for election nor Okowa. APC will field a formidable candidate and that person will win the election for us. And not just in Delta state but other South South states will come under APC because if you see the appointments made by Mr President now, you will observe that he is bringing in more politicians unlike in 2015 when he had a lot of technocrats in his cabinet. He has laid solid foundation for 2023 with the recent appointment of more politicians into his cabinet. So come 2023, APC will win more states in the South South and the South East.