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‘How Oshiomhole will restore Edo back to APC’
Hon. Simon Ebegbulem is the Commissioner for Special Projects in Imo State. Before his current assignment, he served as the spokesman to the immediate past National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. In this interview, he spoke extensively on the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State and explained why he is confident that the APC will recapture the state it lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when Governor Godwin Obaseki defected. He also touched on Oshiomhole’s tenure as APC National Chairman, ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, reports. Excerpts:
Campaigns have started in earnest ahead of the governorship election in Edo State. What is your take on the happenings so far?
I am glad it is Comrade Oshiomhole that is once again leading the party in the state ahead of the governorship election. Even in the heydays of the PDP, he won the 192 wards in the 18 LGAs of the state; which had never happened before. Aside his popularity, he built infrastructure; schools, hospitals, markets, roads, name it.
He worked with the good; the bad and the ugly to get results. That was how he achieved success and solidified the APC in Edo State. Each time I read that Oshiomhole wants to turn himself to a godfather and that this is the reason he fights Obaseki, I know that is not true.
All Oshiomhole wanted was for him to carry on with the developmental programmes which he started; to bring party men and women together, so that the APC will continue to be a household name in Edo State.
But the governor has vehemently denied many of these allegations you are raising against him.
How can he deny? He even tried to destroy the political structure of the APC that was solid during the Oshiomhole years.
He enthroned neophytes. Yet, Oshiomhole was patient; pleading with the party members that Obaseki will change. For instance, during the 2019 General Election, Oshiomhole wanted the APC to field strong candidates capable of defeating those of the opposition PDP.
The governor refused, and rather, fielded weaker ones, all of who lost woefully at the poll. In Oredo, for instance, where he (Obaseki) comes from, Oshiomhole wanted Osaro Obaze to run against Ogbeide Ihama of the PDP, the incumbent House of Representatives member, because he felt Obaze is more grounded in Oredo. But the governor felt otherwise and imposed his lackeys.
Oshiomhole was even trying to save him from disgrace in his own home, but he insisted and imposed a neophyte who eventually lost woefully to the PDP candidate and that was how he lost in his polling booth, lost his Ward and lost his local government.
That was why in the State Assembly Election, Oshiomhole became angry, put his foot on the ground and rallied all the people Obaseki had offended. He even brought in the business mogul, Capt. Hosa Okunbor, to help the APC rescue Edo State.
Oshiomhole jettisoned the failed tactic of Obaseki and made way for the APC to win the entire 24 State Assembly seats. You can now understand why Obaseki refused to swear-in 14 members of the State Assembly who rejected his decision to foist on them an unpopular member-elect as Speaker.
Mixed reactions have been trailing Oshiomhole’s apologies to the people of Edo for fielding Obaseki in 2016. What is your take on this?
He was apologising because Benin leaders had earlier warned him to be wary of Obaseki. I am happy that the campaign is on now and the people are fully aware that the four years reign of Obaseki is a total fraud.
He made a promise to the people on the Gelegele seaport, but today, if you go to Gelegele, you will not see a single block, while billions of naira has been exhausted in the mirage of a seaport.
He promised 200,000 jobs in four years, but rather, made more people jobless in Edo, because he has sacked thousands of people who Oshiomhole empowered, particularly youths. He brought in foreigners who are getting richer while they are of no political value in the scheme of things.
So, I am happy that we have a governorship candidate today, in the calibre of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is a guru when it comes to the politics of the state and who comes from a well-respected traditional family in Benin Kingdom.
If you may know, his father was the former Esogban of Benin Kingdom. He understands the vision and mission of the APC, being one of the founding members of the party. He is a former APC Deputy Vice Chairman South-South.
There is no place for Obaseki. Pastor Ize-Iyamu will not only bring back jobs meant for the people of Benin Kingdom, but those of the other two senatorial districts. You could see that since his emergence, the APC in Edo State is rejuvenated and waxing stronger.
You were an insider back then at the APC national secretariat. What is your assessment of the Oshiomole-led National Working Committee?
As far as I am concerned, the tenure of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, my boss, as APC National Chairman was most successful, considering that before he became the chairman, the party was in turmoil.
There were threats of defections here and there. In the National Assembly, there was some kind of implosion, so to say.
Anybody following the politics of the APC will know that these problems were there before Oshiomhole came in. But, he made efforts and brought the party together. If not, majority of the lawmakers, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, would have left the party. But, of course, people like Saraki, Dogara and co had already made up their minds because they were no longer comfortable with the leadership of the party then, before Comrade Oshiomhole came in.
What are some of the legacies of Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC?
While others were playing 2023 politics, Oshiomhole was busy trying to ensure that the government remains focused in what it promised to Nigerians.
His removal from office is all about 2023, and the funny thing is that Oshiomhole is not even interested in 2023. He is only interested in how to ensure that the president remains undistracted in delivering on his promises to Nigerians.
He is a man that believes that only God knows the future. The bottom line is that some of these people want to dictate who must succeed him in 2023 to the president, but Oshiomhole believes that it is only the president that must be allowed to so decide.
‘How Oshiomhole will restore Edo back to APC’