By Ozioruva Aliyu
Mr. Oteghe Adams is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. He was a supporter of the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole but now one of those supporting Governor Godwin Obaseki. In this interview, he says only the exit of Oshiomhole would bring lasting peace to the state chapter of APC.
Why is Edo APC still in crisis?
The word crisis is devoid of its real meaning. It has not been contextualised to make us understand what is actually happening. I have heard a lot of people say crisis. Let us take it into context. What is happening is being brewed, formulated, and implemented by the National Chairman of APC. A crisis does not just fall from the sky. I don’t know what is in his mind but every issue around the so-called crisis comes directly from him. Any time people ask me this question, fingers point at him. He is aggressive towards the government of Edo State and it is rather unfortunate that the chairman of a party would be seen as trying to pull the pin from a grenade. The house he built is being destroyed. I am trying to be very modest but there is nothing to say other than the facts before. That is what majority of the members of the APC in Edo see.
What went wrong?
I think it all started from the 2019 election primaries. If he had issues before then I am not aware but it was evident that it was during the primaries that these things started. The way the primaries were conducted left much to be desired. APC has a tradition of either going by indirect primaries, direct primaries or by consensus and it is in our constitution. The way the primaries were conducted was stressful for the aspirants. It was the first time I was seeing a different approach where aspirants were sent to Abuja to pick forms. Everything revolved around the National Chairman. We had an agreement on various positions but the National Chairman turned everything on its head. I still remember when we were called and all the aspirants came out and thanked us as leaders of the party. An hour after leaving the meeting, we heard an aspirant saying he had been asked to take another form, throwing the whole thing into chaos. I think it was a result of this that the so-called crisis came up because the National Chairman tried to assert his authority and undermine the leadership of the party in the state by single-handedly choosing who goes where. If we were not careful, Edo State would have ended up like Zamfara. People were already on their way to Abuja for the presidential convention when they were asked to return at Okenne. Some were just arriving in Abuja when they were asked to come back and conduct another election. People spent 14 hours on the highway just to be asked to return and nobody apologised for it. Nobody took responsibility for that mistake. The governor and the state chairman said the instruction of Oshiomhole should be obeyed and we did. I wonder what else he asked for that the state chairman and the governor did not do.
There is an impression that the governor has not been reaching out to critical stakeholders. Do you believe that?
Sometimes it is laughable when people driven by self-interest accuse the governor of not reaching out to them. What do they mean? What exactly do they mean by reaching out? Do they mean putting hands into the common patrimony or what? As far as I am concerned, I am being carried along because the man is the most transparent governor I have ever seen. He is fixing roads, he is fixing schools, he is building technical colleges, he is fixing courthouses, completing the building of the new secretariat, and restructuring the civil service. Pensioners are no longer protesting. He was brought into government by over two hundred thousand votes. My vote was only one so what makes it critical than that of the man on the streets? Who are the critical stakeholders? When people say all kinds of things, I wonder because governance is not about individuals. It is about people. If we want to make this sate great, we must put self-interest below the interest of the people. God made Obaseki governor. I am a progressive. It is not about what I can get from the government. Oshiomhole did not make Obaseki. We are all stakeholders in this journey. I thought Oshiomhole would be the one that will take power back and give it to the real owners which are the people because he has hijacked it and he is micro-managing everything. I volunteered to work for the re-election of Oshiomhole. Did he give me one naira? It is ironic that the same people that called him all sorts of names are the ones dining with him today.
Why was the party not able to supervise the House of Assembly members?
APC is the brand the people know. It is the party that stands for the voiceless but the chairman that is supposed to be the father of us all created the avenue for what is happening today. How can a father create an avenue for this? For instance, I am not happy that the state governor would present a budget before the House of Assembly and my representative is not there to make any input.
Are you not creating an opportunity for the opposition to take over the state?
Nobody is comfortable but we must deal with the situation. I will be lying to you if I say I am not disturbed. I care because I have invested time and personal resources into this party. I think we would be okay if majority of the people within the party understand what we are going through. It is self-interest versus collective interest.
What is the way forward?
For the survival of APC and the survival of progressives in this country, the National Chairman of APC must step aside. He has displayed ineptitude in leadership. He must come down from his high horse to understand that APC is the last hope for this country. I believe in it because the larger progressives within the party still believe in building this nation