* Defecting APC members yet to be accepted in PDP
By Clifford Ndujihe
Chief Charles Idahosa, former commissioner for Information in Edo State and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in this interview, speaks on the brewing crisis between Governor Godwin Obaseki and some leaders of Edo PDP and offers way forward.
On the petition of Edo Chairman of PDP, Anthony Aziegbemi, to the National Chairman, Uche Secondus to stop Governor Godwin Obaseki from dissolving the state executive and problems in the party.
I was present at the meeting they mentioned in the letter. It is rather unfortunate that the state chairman of the party, who was present at the meeting went back to call another meeting of their own group and narrated to them what they wanted to hear. Unfortunately, he didn’t give them the true picture of what happened. He claimed they were only three at the meeting and those who came with Obaseki were 10. That is not correct. Both sides had equal representations at the meeting. Five were from the other camp and five were with Obaseki.
The other three people that were there were what we call ‘statutory members.’ These are the governor, deputy governor and Secretary to the State Government, SSG. They didn’t come as members of any group. So, the five people that came from the old APC and the PDP people were equal.
Unfortunately, Dan Orbih, the South-South National Vice-Chairman didn’t turn up for the meeting. We knew he was in town. He knew that Tom Ikimi, former minister of External Affairs; Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, former Chief of Staff to the President and former deputy governor of Edo for eight years has been completely ostracised. They are broken into two. What the governor wanted to do was to balance it. That was why he called Orbih and others but they refused to come for the meeting.
Chief Lucky Igbinedion, a former governor of Edo State, was invited to the meeting too but he called in and said he was in South Africa, and couldn’t make it. So, for the Edo PDP Chairman to claim that they were ambushed at the meeting because they had just three members while the governor has 10 members with him is not correct.
What was the purpose of the meeting?
During the meeting, the governor said he has been unable to form his cabinet and he is not happy about it because the public is waiting. When he joined PDP, a lot of people came with him from APC. The state exco, local government chairmen and many people joined him in PDP. The same Aziegbemi said immediately the governor joined PDP that they had run out of membership cards because over 120,000 people from APC joined them. They were even asking for more cards from Abuja. These same people were shut out of power for 12 years in Edo State and were nowhere to be found. Adams Oshiomhole got power drunk and denied Obaseki the APC ticket and that was why we ended up in PDP.
Most importantly, I joined the PDP at its foundation in 1998. Most of the people calling the shots in PDP now were not in PDP when I was there. I was a leader in PDP. In 1998, I was a member of the National Committee that organised the convention in Jos that produced Olusegun Obasanjo as PDP presidential candidate. Our anchor man was Ambassador Yahaya Kwande. He was our coordinator and we stayed in his place in Jos two weeks ahead of the convention. Emeka Ihedioha, Doyin Okupe, Chris Mamman and Onyema Ugochukwu were with me then.
Coming back to Edo State, I organised the first primary in Edo State that took Senator Rowland Owie and Idahosa to House of Representatives in 1999 in the premises of Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia. So, this same way that you see them doing, trying to usurp power is exactly what drove us out of PDP in 2004. I resigned as Commissioner in 2004 and joined Tom Ikimi, Lai Mohammed and other well-meaning Nigerians to form the Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD, with the late Alex Anielo as chairman. That party today is what has become APC.
On allegations that most APC members that defected to PDP with Governor Obaseki have refused to register at their wards
That was another lie from them. When Obaseki was in APC, I said if he was forced out of the party, I would follow him to any party he goes to. I followed Obaseki to PDP secretariat to pick his form. The next day, I registered in my ward and the picture was everywhere. How can they now claim that we didn’t register in our wards and we have not been attending meetings?
Since we joined PDP, we have been having problems. All the people that came with us from APC are not holding any position. They said they already constituted their exco, what about our people that came? In other words, I, Charles Idahosa cannot produce a councillor in my ward. The governor from Ward 4 in Oredo cannot produce a councillor because the delegates that will choose councillorship candidates are all PDP. No person that came with Obaseki from APC to PDP can have any political ambition to be anything. That is why we are saying let’s harmonise.
Funny enough, this thing has a precedent. Obaseki is not the first governor to leave APC for PDP. When Aminu Tambuwal left APC for PDP in Sokoto, they said you are the governor, you are bringing us power. The PDP gave him 60-40 sharing formula. That is 60 percent of the executives and they will take 40 percent. The same thing happened when Samuel Ortom left APC for PDP in Benue. But in the case of Edo, they are just greedy. They did not come with a single House of Assembly member. Out of the 18 local governments in the state, they did not come with a single chairman. Out of the 192 wards, they did not have a single councillor and these were the issues I raised at that meeting. All these people came with Obaseki from APC to PDP. But Obaseki said we should carry everybody along and we said okay.
At the end of the day, they are still refusing to let our people in and they keep saying we will bridge the gap. We, on our part said, let’s harmonise. If it is 60-40, 70-30 or 55-45 sharing formula, let’s agree. You can see the lame excuse they are giving. They are talking about SSG. Yet, this same people will come to Government House and say we are not interested in SSG, Chief of Staff positions because they are personal to you. Now the governor said I want to form a cabinet, how do I do it? Chief Ikimi now said, ‘if we say 60-40 sharing formula, if the governor takes his 60 percent, how are we going to share the 40 percent because we have factions?’
In my local government, the PDP has three factions. One person will just hand-pick all the party executives and the rest will be looking. So, we said enough is enough! We are going to write to the national leadership because the governor of the state, by the PDP constitution, is the leader of the party. They should give us the sharing formula for harmonization and dissolve the exco so that we can go for fresh election. Any of them that is holding current position can still contest but let us have a feeling that they were not chosen. That was what we agreed at that meeting.
What is the way out?
They have written to the national body, we have also written to them to dissolve the exco and organise a fresh election. So, let the national body decide.