‘Why Edo will vote for Ize-Iyamu’

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Prince Blessing Edigin, in this interview with Southsouth Bureau Chief BISI OLANIYI, speaks about the crisis in the chapter and the September 19 governorship election, among other issues. Excerpts:

WHAT is responsible for the face-off between a former National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is an ex-governor of Edo State, and his successor, Godwin Obaseki?

No doubt about the fact that Comrade Oshiomhole is a benefactor to Obaseki, especially how he assisted him to become the governor of Edo state in 2016.

We are humans and we are bound to make mistakes. Only God is perfect. Why will Obaseki capitalise on some mistakes of Comrade Oshiomhole to rubbish him, thereby plotting against him? Obaseki was behind the recent removal of Comrade Oshiomhole as the national chairman of APC.

Comrade Oshiomhole hails from Iyamho in Etsako West Local Government Area in Edo North Senatorial District, but he loves the people of Benin in Edo South Senatorial District, more than other tribes.

To confirm how wicked Obaseki is, all the campaigns Oshiomhole did for him in 2016 to become governor on APC’s platform, he turned them against him (Oshiomhole) in 2020 as evil campaigns during his electioneering on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In 2016, Comrade Oshiomhole, as Edo state governor, offended many people, because of his insistence that Obaseki must emerge as the governorship candidate of APC and he also campaigned for him throughout the 18 LGAs of the state, while supporting him to become governor. Otherwise, the 2016 governorship candidate of PDP, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a grassroots politician, who is more popular and more experienced, would have emerged victorious.

Some of the things I like about Ize-Iyamu, who hails from Edo South Senatorial District, and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu, from Edo North Senatorial District, are that they do not speak carelessly, but they are strategists and thinkers, who listen to other people’s views, pieces of advice and opinions. They are not rigid politicians and they know what to do to ensure good governance in Edo state from November12 this year. Ize-Iyamu will defeat Obaseki with a landslide on September 19.

If Obaseki has respect for the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, the crisis involving him and Comrade Oshiomhole would not have deteriorated to this point. The Oba of Benin tried his best to resolve the face-off between Comrade Oshiomhole and Obaseki, and he even took the matter to President Muhammadu Buhari, but to no avail.

I was shocked when Obaseki alleged that APC leaders wanted him to share Edo state’s funds with them, but the same Obaseki, in his desperation to get PDP’s governorship ticket and for Philip Shaibu to be retained as his running mate in 2020, he gave billions of naira and dollars to leaders of PDP, which made the PDP Governor of Rivers state, Chief Nyesom Wike, to describe most leaders of PDP as tax collectors.

Just imagine Obaseki also declaring war against the billionaire industrialist, Capt. Hosa Okunbo, a Benin indigene, who financed Obaseki’s election in 2016.

Capt. Okunbo wants good governance and better life for residents of Edo state, as well as unity in Benin Kingdom and for smiles to be put on the faces of Edo people, with the jobless people of the state to be employed and empowered. Capt. Okunbo, a philanthropist, will never ask Obaseki for money or contract, but everybody has seen what Obaseki has used to repay his kindness, goodness and support.

Why did Obaseki declare war against almost all the eminent persons that assisted him in 2016 to become Edo governor?

In 2019, a former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, did not leave APC, when he could not get the re-election ticket, but because Obaseki was disqualified by members of the screening committee of the APC in Abuja, he quickly defected to the PDP.

How can the crisis in Edo State House of Assembly be resolved, bearing in mind that 17 of the 24 lawmakers are against Obaseki, while only seven are with him, with two speakers in the Assembly?

Obaseki, not Comrade Oshiomhole, should be blamed for the crisis in Edo House of Assembly. Obaseki wanted to impose a stooge as Speaker, but majority of the legislators kicked against the decision.

To ensure their safety, the anti-Obaseki lawmakers decided to relocate to Abuja and they recently returned to Benin City, elected a popular speaker and they are sitting regularly in a neutral place in Benin City, in view of Obaseki heaping granite and sand at the entrance to the House of Assembly complex, as well as the removal of the roof of the House of Assembly and taking over of the complex by Obaseki’s hemp-smoking thugs, who decided to loot the House of Assembly and also defecated in the offices and the premises.

The seven pro-Obaseki lawmakers are sitting inside Government House, Benin City, on the pretext that the House of Assembly is being renovated.

Just wait and see how the residents of Edo state will massively vote for Ize-Iyamu on September 19, particularly concerning his well-articulated SIMPLE agenda, which will surely ensure good governance in Edo state from November 12 this year.

You were an ally of a former national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, until recently. What went wrong?

I really respected Chief Odigie-Oyegun, because of his level of education and the positions he has occupied, starting from being a Federal Permanent Secretary. He later became the governor of Edo State and the national chairman of APC. As a Benin man, I opted to work with him, but one thing that got me angry was that he accepted Obaseki that removed him as the helmsman of APC. The same Obaseki told Comrade Oshiomhole, who is also a former governor of Edo State, that the national chairmanship of APC was good for him, because he (Obaseki) was eyeing a second tenure as Edo governor, unknown to Comrade Oshiomhole.

When they were about to remove Chief Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman of APC, it was the same Obaseki that contacted APC governors. My greatest shock was that the same Obaseki later became Chief Odigie-Oyegun’s best friend.

I also made up my mind to leave my former boss, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, because he could not live by his words. When he was about to clock 80 years, he told me that when he would turn 80, he would become a father to all younger politicians, but I was surprised that when he became 80 years and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is now the governorship candidate of APC in Edo state, paid him a visit to inform him of his intention to vie for governorship on APC’s platform, Chief Odigie-Oyegun refused to support him. I do not like pretence. I prefer to be where emphasis is placed on truth and love.

As a foundation member of APC, how did Obaseki emerge as the governorship candidate of your party in 2016?

Obaseki has displayed what the Benin indigenes want to forget. Godwin’s grandfather, Agho Obaseki, betrayed the then Oba of Benin, which made Benin people to be scattered, with the then monarch taken to a strange land and most of Benin’s valuable artifacts were taken to Britain. We have been trying to forget the ugly past, but another Obaseki is reminding us that the family is known for betrayal. Godwin Obaseki betrayed the APC and Comrade Oshiomhole. Obaseki did not know how APC was formed.

Comrade Oshiomhole, as Edo governor, made Obaseki the Chairman of his Economic Team and later imposed him in 2016 on other APC members in the state as the governorship candidate.

Comrade Oshiomhole was seriously warned in 2016 not to support the governorship aspiration of Obaseki and that he would betray him. A high chief of Benin Kingdom (name withheld) met with Comrade Oshiomhole and told him not to pick Obaseki as the governorship candidate of APC, declaring that Obaseki would betray him, but Comrade Oshiomhole did not listen, as he moved from one community to another, across the 18 local government areas of Edo state, begging people and campaigning for the election of Obaseki.

When Comrade Oshiomhole was the governor of Edo state, he took the path laid down by the late Samuel Ogbemudia, when he governed the state. Comrade Oshiomhole made all residents of Edo state happy and he also embarked on many capital-intensive and people-oriented projects and programmes.

Instead for Obaseki to express gratitude to Comrade Oshiomhole and other people that assisted him to become Edo governor in 2016, he decided to reward them with evil.

Obaseki is now accusing Comrade Oshiomhole of godfatherism, but the former Edo governor (Oshiomhole) was not a godfather in 2016. Obaseki is the real godfather with a snake side that has come to swallow the people of Edo state, but we will not allow him. We will resist him. Let us thank God for our king, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Ogidigan of Benin Kingdom, as he is not sleeping. The Benin Kingdom is not sleeping to bring the truth to reality and put the evil one to permanent silence, because Obaseki has come for his selfish interest.

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