Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, in this interview, says his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), will win Wednesday’s governorship election, saying the economic recession the country is facing will not affect the result of the election as Nigerians, particularly the people of Edo, are aware that the former ruling party at the federal level, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, squandered the nation’s riches, leading to the recession. He believes the PDP candidate in the poll, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is down and out already. Excerpts: How prepared is your party for Wednesday’s governorship election? We have always been prepared. Actually, we had what we called our final mega rally on the 6th of September because we were ready for the 10th (initial election date). Even the postponement is additional challenge for us. I believe people had already formed opinion as to what they will do. I had gone round the state and everywhere we went to, what made our campaign easy, which is the burden that the PDP has, is that there is no ward out of the 192 that we have, that we have not been able to list the projects that we have done. What I tell the people is, ‘Before we tell you what the next APC government will do, we have a duty to account for the support, the mandate you have given us this past eight years’. Then we tell them. ‘When the PDP leaders come to you, ask them what they have built in this ward or local government’. The truth is that the PDP leaders are not able to point at any project that they have in any ward, local government or senatorial district. They may have been able to escape defeat, assuming they are fielding a candidate who is not known to the people. You remember in 2012 when General Airiavbere was their candidate, they were saying it was a new PDP because their candidate then was new, so the people may just have said ‘lets give their candidate a benefit of doubt”. Even at that, Edo people said this general may be good ‘but the man we already know is better’. So if the PDP had brought a new face, they may have had the basis to interrogate whether this new face will change the face of the PDP. Happily for us, and very sadly for them, they brought a candidate who was at the center of PDP misrule through out their tenure in this state. He was SSG, Chief of Staff, and anybody who was up to the age of 14, at that time, would have good memory about the disaster that PDP and Ize-Iyamu represent in Edo. But you’ve said all these about the PDP. What makes you any different from the Nigerian politician? On our side, the people can see what we have done and also the fact that our candidate is not a stranger in government and we are not just picking him from the road to lead us. He has been at the heart of the progress in our government. Our candidate was the Head of our Economic Team; so, from day one till today, he has been the brain box. So you will, on one hand, look at APC and our track record and PDP and their disastrous record, and then at the fact that Ize-Iyamu was central to the PDP administration under Lucky Igbinedion. Everybody in this state knows that Ize-Iyamu was the resident governor while Lucky Igbinedion was the flying governor and they know the outcome. The two key issues in this election are: Our people want continuity of the Ogbemudia, Oyegun, Oshiomhole and then Obaseki legacies which have brought light to our people and not that of Ize-Iyamu and his band of home based and Abuja based godfathers! Security was the key reason the INEC gave and, therefore, decided to shift the election to September 28. Do you think those concerns have been taken care of? Though governors are chief security officers in their different states, we don’t control the army, the police or the SSS. But I think the point made by security agencies for the postponement, which many people did not listen to due to their fixation, is that they were committed to deploying about 24,000 policemen to Edo for the election. To do that, they had to mop them from other parts of the country and, if you have Sallah holiday, you will have to secure sites Muslims use to do their prayers and, if you do that, you may not have the projected number to secure Edo State for the election. Secondly, their is nobody who does not know that over the past four years, during such holidays, Boko Haram wants to attack to make a point. But the issue of militants…. Now there are two issues here. Do they have to import militants…? They’ve denied that they wanted to import militants? That is what they will say. They went for the militants’ option because all the youths they had used over the years for thuggery, through the opportunities we created for them to get engaged, have all left the PDP. The PDP infantry division, which they have over the years used to cause destruction, has left them. Because the boys know those who used them in the past and do not want to see them again, they now had to go outside the state to import militants to come and fight for them and undermine security. And for those who have doubt, recent events have confirmed this. Under the former Commissioner of Police, Ezike, some militants who came from Delta and Rivers were arrested. They came to register for the purpose of violence in Orhiomwon, Ikpba Okhai, Ovia South West and they were apprehended. Number two: We raised concern about the collaboration between some electoral officers and the PDP leadership. As we speak, during the registration, some EOs were found at the residence of some PDP leaders with data capturing machines, coercing youth corps members to carry out illegal registration not only of militants but also to distort the voters register. Some of the militants were arrested while one has been remanded in prison with the EO because a youth corps member confessed that he was kidnapped by this PDP leader and forced to his residence in collaboration with the EO. So these are no longer speculations but facts. Last week, at Ologbo, about four militants came in, and security agencies apprehended some of them who are in prison awaiting trial. Three days ago, the DSS got intelligence and they picked up a number of militants from different parts of the country who came in two buses. One of the buses was registered in Delta State which confirms my point that militants are coming-in from there. Very significantly, one of them has been confirmed to be one of those on the wanted list of the Nigerian Army. And they found with him military ID card which has expired and other ID cards. They came into the state at about 1am and quartered in a hotel. PDP leaders are making phone calls explaining to security agencies to insist that these people be released as they are journalists. But my worry is that are these politicians NUJ members to ask for the release of the so-called journalists? By the special grace of God, they will be neutralised. By the special grace of God, one man one vote will prevail and we will defeat them. You have been fighting Edo political god fathers. Now you say they are after you in this election. How successful has been this your war against god fatherism because some people say you are attempting to become the new godfather? I believe my war against god fatherism has been won and lost. The fact that today there is angst against the godfathers is proof that they have been defeated. The Lucky Igbiendion boast that they will produce the next governor sounds funny because Nigerians know that he had to do plea bargain and you only do plea bargain because you’ve been caught; so if he says his family wants to bring a protege to come and govern, they have made our job much easier. I do not have anything personal against anybody. But I am committed by my training and background to fight those who think it is their birth right to oppress the people. And I think Edo people are now aware of the real reason they are campaigning. Lucky Igbinedion said a member of his family will be the next governor in the person of Ize-Iyamu and they also have this plan of making Igbinedion’s birthday a state event if they come into government. And I think what this struggle is all about is that the resources of Edo will never again be used for the comfort of one family. It must be used for the development of the state. The other god father from Esanland went to the Enogiefor support, saying the Enogie should not allow me to cause them shame as an Esan elder. The Enogie reminded the chief that when Ekpoma produced Ambrose Ali, he collaborated with others to remove Ali as governor. He also asked Onolemenme that as Minister of Works, he never visited any Enigie in Esan land and the only small job he did was only in Uromi. That he did not see Ekpoma as part of Esan land, he did not see Opoji as part of Esan land, he did not see Irrua or Ewohimi as part of Esanland but the Comrade he said marginalised them constructed a major road in Ekpoma, we have built several primaries schools in Ekpoma; we have built secondary schools there, constructed roads linking Irrua to Usigbenue, to Ugbegun, Ugbegun Ujuoba, Igueben to Ewohimi, Ewihinmi to Ohordua, Ohordua to Emu. We have provided water in Ekpoma, Iruekpen, even in Anenih’s village Uzenema. Then you go to the other man, Chief Ikimi. We thank God that he has returned to where he belonged because he was in PDP. He said he was frustrated out of PDP and he joined APC. And he wanted to be National Chairman of APC but everybody in APC said no. When he was the leader of our party in Esan land, our party was never able to win Igueben where he comes from. We have always lost there because of his one-man show. The moment he left for the PDP, we have continued to win election in Igueben. Today he is being represented in the House of Assembly by an APC lawmaker. Today we have connected Igueben to several communities. Chief OGBEMUDIA recently endorsed OBASEKI but… The only person we respect as a leader is Dr Samuel Ogbemudia. He is an outstanding elder you must respect on account of his own record of having laid foundation for the old Bendel State. And it is not a coincidence when Ogbemudia said he is withdrawing from politics, he knows the qualities of a governor that can make a difference in the life of a state and he has openly endorsed Obaseki because of what he knows about him. This is the easiest election we are going to have and I have no doubt that Edo will punish the PDP for their crime against Edo people. We have heard they are planning to rig by using fake result sheets, using thugs but we are waiting. This is going to be the final final burial of the PDP. Their final burial will take place on the 28th and our sons and daughters will participate in this burial with their PVCs. I am in the best of shape, I am ready. They even lied that I was fighting with my deputy, but I and my deputy have been campaigning together. But in the PDP, Ize-Iyamu and Iduoriyekemwen cannot see eye to eye and even most of their leaders are not with Ize-Iyamu. We are not even sure, even as we speak, who is the actual candidate of the PDP but the court will decide that. But there is this fear among APC members that the current recession may affect your party in this election. Do you nurse such fear? It will not affect us because Nigerians understand the root cause of the present economic recession. The PDP here is using that against us but it will not work. I have listened to most people and commentators about the economy. One of the things they blame the Federal government on, including the Emir of Kano, is that it delayed the devaluation of the naira, that they should have allowed the naira to start floating immediately they came in because they knew that the economic fundamentals could not sustain the official exchange rate that General Buhari inherited. But President Buhari was relunctant to oblige these proponents of devaluation because he knew what the immediate consequences will be, namely that when an economy is so hopelessly dependent on imported food, when you devalue the currency, the price of imported items, including rice, will go up and that is what has happened. Now after pressure from these economists, the CBN caved in and the naira was floated and it suffered heavy devaluation. And once that happened, anything that is imported, the price goes up correspondingly. So you cannot blame this government for this high cost of product because it is the result of the devaluation which establishment economists have argued for. Because they argued and I believe correctly that because of the huge gap between your in-flow of forex and your out- flow, your in-flow has dropped considerably not only courtesy of the drop in oil price but compounded by the sabotage of our pipelines which affects not just the price but also your volume. When your foreign earning is far less than your import, there is a lot of pressure on the exchange rate and, if you refuse to devalue and you allocate dollars to bankers, the banker simply sells the dollar at the black market rate. So the government earns revenue at the official rate and transfers wealth to bankers and others who have access to official allocation to collect rent. They also argued that by not devaluing, those who get forex for the purpose of importing raw materials found that it is better to divert the forex to black market and earn money without effort. So in bowing to this public pressure from economists on both sides of the divide, the naira went into a fluctuating regime which has led to huge devaluation and, of course, the consequence is that anything you import, the price goes up to the extent of the devaluation. Devaluation is not PDP’s problem but that of this…. So you cannot but locate the foundation of this problem from the looting which even these same people had pointed out that Sanusi raised the alarm about billions of dollars that was never accounted for under the PDP. And you know for raising that alarm he was removed as CBN governor. What Sanusi did not know then was that money was taken from CBN directly to the NSA’s office and shared to PDP leaders and they are all confessing today. So we are explaining to the people – and this is the truth – that the PDP created this problem with their looting. What is more interesting for us here in Edo is that among those who allegedly participated in the sharing of the money from the CBN is the PDP candidate and the god fathers behind the candidate. So they cannot delete themselves from the crisis. These people are refunding money as I speak. Also, importantly, we remind our people that this is a state election and not a federal election, and the price of food in Edo is not higher than the price of food in Asaba, Rivers, Bayelsa or Akwa Ibom. The issue in this election in terms of the recession is that the poverty in our sub region is worst in PDP controlled states as the hardship is more in Delta and other PDP states because their own hardship is compounded by the fact that Delta is not paying salaries. When they pay levels 1-9 and are owing several months of arrears to their lecturers, they are in default in the payment of primary school teachers, they are in default in the payment of civil servants and, of course, in the payment of local government employees and pensioners. Now the cumulative effect of the inability of Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa to pay workers salaries means that their landlords in those states will not get rent. And because they are not paying their people salaries the markets in these PDP controlled states have been depressed. But in Edo, we are up to date in the payment of salaries and pensions. We even increased our minimum wage to N25,000 and we are paying. But in Rivers, teachers have served Wike notice to shut down, the same thing in Delta. So if you talk of the impact of the economic recession, Edo is far ahead of the rest of the PDP states in the South-South because our economy is booming, people get paid to spend in the market. Poverty is more endemic in Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa States. And what makes the difference, we receive the least allocation from the Federation Account in the South-South zone. Secondly, we also receive the least IGR because the oil companies are based in these states; inspite of that, the PDP states in the South-South are serial defaulters in meeting their contractual agreement with their workers even though they are raising money for their PDP candidate in Edo at the expense of the salaries of their employees. And today, you see teachers, workers endorsing Obaseki because they recalled that during the PDP government here, they sacked over seven thousand workers, closed down Ambrose Ali University for one year; so they know the difference and they will reject PDP any day any time. I am very proud to say that Edo is working and Edo will continue to work with Godwin as governor after my tenure. Our people know who caused their problem: The PDP.
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/09/edo-gov-election-pdps-final-burial-will-take-place-sept-28-oshiomhole/
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