By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South
FORMER Member, House of Representatives and Vice Chairman, National Campaign Council, All Progressives Congress, APC, for the September 19 Governorship Elections in Edo State, Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, aka Igodomigodo, has described the political union of All Progressives Congress, APC, Candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as an unbeatable political force in the forthcoming elections.
Obahiagbon, in an interview with Saturday Vanguard, however, noted: “I am not one to deceive myself that the election is going to be a tea party for the APC, not necessarily because of the governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, but primarily due to the fact that you cannot dismiss the rival Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo state.”
His words: “The good news is that Edo state is predominantly a progressive state and the electorate have always voted for progressive politics which APC represents. Also of more fundamental importance is the fact that the combination of Pastor Osagie Ize lyamu and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an unconquerable political armada to contend with come September 19.”
“The political question in Edo state for a period of time has been are you with Oshiomhole or Ize lyamu? And now that they are together, Edo is guaranteed to be returned back to the trajectory of progressive politics with APC back in Osadebe Avenue, Benin City after the governorship elections,” he stated. Excerpts:
In a recent interview, you accurately saw the intervention of APC governors for Governor Obaseki as being too late – that was before he was screened out, but you did not see the calamity that befell your boss, Adams Oshiomhole, what really happened to Oshiomhole in your opinion?
Of course I spoke of the belated efforts of APC governors at that time to be one of locking the stable doors only after the horses have bolted, especially when it was the same set of governors that was largely feeding and masturbating Governor Obaseki’s sense of self-importance and outright spitting on the face of his political benefactor and mentor.
Nothing happened to Oshiomhole other than the fact that he was not ready to abdicate his authority as Chairman of a party to a coterie of some governors and other entrenched forces, who are inebriated in their own quagmire of power mongering. So his noble attempts to reformat the party and wean it from the grips of power mongers and domicile it in the hands of the people was partly the issue.
Another niggling issue was the 2023 presidential calculations. Once he has demonstrated his essential political persona as a man of strong character not ready to be anybody’s puppet and stamped his authority on the party, then a decision was taken by powerful forces to wrestle him and in doing that, all rules of decorum and democratic engagement were torpedoed.
Should he not have handled the feud with Obaseki in a different way to save his position?
Feud with Obaseki? I have said many times that he did not engender any feud with Obaseki and if anything he endeavored to eschew any altercation from day one. He never exercised any authorial paternalism on the governor in the running of his government. The governor was the needless aggressor all through and I think he regrettably lowered his flanks to all colorations of mercenaries, who instigated him to fight his political benefactor so as to fester their political and economic nest.
Was it not saddening that until he moved to PDP, majority of those that now held suzerainty in his kitchen cabinet were those that fought so bitterly against Oshiomhole’s decision to foist him on the party as governor four years ago? The government mobilized political urchins to the airport and to his house to embarrass him severally. They also gathered all manner of thugs from the streets of Abuja to protest against him randomly and the same government said he must obtain a permission from Government House before he can now enter his state and proceeded to join forces with others in the federation to wrestle him out of his Chairmanship position?
What is his offence? That he assisted Obaseki against all odds to become governor and that he has been kind and positively touched the lives of majority of those fighting him in Edo state today? Haba? As Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan would say, ‘dia ris God oooooo’ and am supremely confident that there is God in truth and indeed.
Many are waiting to see how Oshiomhole will campaign for Pastor Ize-Iyamu, the new APC governorship flag bearer after demonizing him in previous campaigns, is he morally right to come back to declare him a saint this time?
What unprintable names did former President Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP not call former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar? Did he not come back to later endorse the presidential candidacy of Atiku Abubakar and did heavens fall? It will interest you to know that some respected bigwigs and distinguished gentlemen in the PDP had also in the last election vilified the governor and demonized him. Is the governor not in PDP today and are they not going to campaign for him? So you can see that juxtaposing the above scenario with Oshiomhole’s statements against Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, four years ago, there is nothing new.
The important thing today is how does the Edo electorate perceive Pastor Osagie Ize lyamu? They perceive of him as a scintillating pastor, who has given his life to God. They perceive of him as a man that they can relate with on both elevated and mundane matters. They see in him a man of humility, amiability and conviviality. They perceive him as the man needed at this time to heal the wounds of a very fractious and violently divided state. They see in his SIMPLE AGENDA a workable and practical manifesto to take Edo into a state where the maximization of the happiness of its citizens shall be the driving force of government and more.
Do you know that the forthcoming election in the state is between Oshiomhole, his men versus Obaseki and his men, and whoever wins will be regarded as the strong man of Edo politics, are Oshiomhole and APC aware of this?
Oshiomhole is not on the ballot, Pastor Osagie Ize lyamu is the governorship candidate of APC and he is a man that has shown a single minded determination to the politics of Edo state all his life and this visceral commitment has won him a lot of fierce loyalists and committed allies all over Edo state, Nigeria and in the diaspora. So we in the APC are not reducing the governorship contestation to one between Oshiomhole and his men versus that of Obaseki and his men or a fight for the emergence of a strong man in Edo politics. Our driving force is the continuation and consolidation of the progressive and people -centered policies of APC in a Pastor Osagie Ize -lyamu’s government, which Comrade Oshiomhole conceived and nurtured whilst he was governor of Edo state.
Obaskeki has weakened APC in the state by taking most of the party’s strategists with him to PDP, don’t you think APC is going into the battle with its ranks depleted?
Not at all, do not also forget that the coming of Pastor Osagie Ize- lyamu into the APC has also increased our ranks at all levels in terms of political essence and substance. Those who had migrated to PDP with the governor are politicians on his monthly payroll and they have done so mostly under threat of financial fire and brimstone. It has been instructive to the discerning that most of his political appointees are turning in their letters of resignation by the day.
Do you see Chief John Odigie-Oyegun joining Oshiomhole and others to campaign for Ize-Iyamu?
He has no doubt been a supporter of Governor Obaseki , but as a true party man, who rose to become national chairman of APC, I like to think that he will have no qualms working for the victory of his party in the upcoming governorship elections. He remains a fine gentleman.
Ize-Iyamu lost the last governorship election in the state as PDP candidate to Obaseki, who was APC candidate, but both have switched parties, what makes you think Ize-Iyamu will triumph this time?
Pastor Osagie Ize-lyamu did not lose the last governorship elections to Obaseki. Not at all, he lost the last elections to Oshiomhole and several Edo voters, who wanted to say thank you to Oshiomhole for his strides in the development of Edo state. Please recall that Oshiomhole was the one who did all the campaigns for the governor at that time. He toiled day and night and it was through him that Edo voters saw Obaseki and voted for APC. Pastor Ize- lyamu will triumph this time by God’s special grace, Amen.
Do you think Edo people are going to sympathize with Oshiomhole, Ize-Iyamu and APC rather than vote Obaseki and PDP, what is the mood of the people over the political battle just ended?
The vast majority of Edo people are righteously indignant and morally vexed at how Comrade Oshiomhole has been rewarded by the governor for all his labours, toils and sweat in assisting him to become governor of Edo state. I can assure you that both Comrade Oshiomhole and Pastor Osagie Ize lyamu are coming into this election with humongous sympathy from a vast majority of Edo voters.