In this media chat, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the upcoming governorship election in Edo State, speaks on his chances, why he thinks Edo People have had enough of the Peoples Democratic Party, and the alleged plot to cause mayhem during the election. Olaseni Durojaiye brings excerpts
How optimistic are you of victory having campaigned very vigorously so far?
We have campaigned extensively, if you recall this is the second time I am embarking on this kind of campaign. During the primaries I went through the 192 wards. The campaigns for the main election has been more detailed, I went to communities I did not have the opportunity of visiting during the primaries and it has been quite revealing. Firstly, it would be a miracle for PDP to win in Edo state because as we have gone round the communities we just don’t see their presence, we don’t hear their message, probably because they don’t have any message. In every community we have gone to we can point to a project that the APC government has undertaken and that explains the popularity of the party. The issue in most communities is that they want more and it is easy to argue that given our track record of performance they should allow us continue to provide for them unlike that of PDP, their track record was so bad that in their ten years nothing to show the people of the state. So that being the fact on ground it has been easy to go round to appeal to the voters to vote for me as APC candidate and my running mate Philip Shuaibu.
The second issue is that we have been able to counter their lies because without any message to send they have gone round to tell lies to people, campaign of calumny, lies to create tension and anxiety and prepare the place for violence. Going round has also given us the opportunity to counter those lies. For them the only way they can win is for them to unleash violence and steal ballot boxes to produce fake results and we know clearly they are working on such strategies. There is evidence and we have reported to security agencies, the people they are importing from neighbouring communities to come and cause mayhem so we can have inconclusive elections.
We also have evidence of the people they brought in to register during their Voters Registration Exercise who do not even come from those communities. You could see from the incident at llushi, where they attacked my campaign train, you could see due to the frustration and fear that they are going to lose the election some of their supporters are even acting the violent script even before the day. They cannot even hold it back. They unleashed mayhem on our supporters which was totally uncalled for and wicked. They destroyed our vehicles and people were beaten up. So they are masters of propaganda, while we are campaigning the PDP leadership are using the money they stole for propaganda, so their propaganda machine is well oiled, misinforming people, most of their proposed theory is to deceive people, giving them false impression that they are winning. No concrete message for the people, they are selling a message about the future when they destroyed the past.
So they really don’t have a message they go to the markets, trying to create fear, using the current economic crisis to campaign. But we have gone round to explain to people that these are the same people who caused this economic recession, destroyed our economy. So the only other plans which they are confidence is violence which they are masters in. We know that the PDP is working with the guys that created the havoc in Rivers state, the killings there. We have told security agencies, we know that they have recruited many of them. You know we are campaigning in riverine areas and those are the areas they are targeting. Places like llusin, Gegelege, Agenebode, our borders are the areas they intend to perpetuate violence and there is evidence they have brought in people in Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba Okhai. They planted at least two militants each from the Niger Delta in each of the units in these metropolitan areas so that they can cause mayhem and cause confusion that may lead to inconclusive elections. That is their strategy and we have told security agents. The PDP has no message to give so they want violence but we will not allow them.
But is this recession problem not affecting your party in the campaigns and the elections ahead?
In this case of Edo we know that Edo people are very enlightened, we have been explaining to them that the recession is global but what is more important is what we have been doing to solve the problem. Campaigning round the state, I found out that in the rural areas, people are beginning to make a lot of money due to rise in prices of goods. But we have told them prices will come down as a result of these productions we are seeing. Most areas where have tarred roads, we see people drying rice, people going to their farms to harvest yams and lorry loads of food stuff coming out.
So we have been selling a message of hope to say look this recession is only temporary and because they trust us, they are buying it. The other advantage we have is that they have tested the PDP before and they don’t see PDP as an option. When we asked them they said sometimes they don’t even know who the PDP candidate is, whether it is Ize-Iyamu or Iduoriyekemwen. So even their members are confused while many of them felt APC is the only hope and they are joining us every day. So PDP has no hope in this election. For me the real opponents I have are that of the APGA, Osaro Onaiwu, and others, but not PDP.
There are two PDP in Edo now, the ones controlled by the godfathers and only them are still in that party and the one controlled by some progressive leaders and that faction has moved to APC. So who is going to win for them in each of the wards and units, nobody. So I laugh when they resorted to making comments in the papers, they only exist in the papers not on ground and for me it is another 419 so that their PDP governors will bring money for them to share. Of course you know those guys are 419 guys who have been there since 1999 making money from deceiving people. But it is all over for them in Edo. APC in Edo state led by Oshiomhole has buried them and we will bury and bury PDP continuously.
Any fear of anti party activities by your members?
Nobody in APC will do anti party. That was Ize-Iyamu’s prayers because he called several APC members to come and play the trick he knows best and work against their own party but they shunned him. The reconciliation effort we have done has been very successful. You would have noticed that some of our colleagues who were aggrieved after the primaries have been working very closely with the party in their various wards and local governments.
We are all together. I was even touched seeing our members contributing money to fire the campaigns in their various wards, quite touching and I am so grateful to them.
What is also interesting and what helped us is the wave of decamping from PDP to APC, so anybody who was angry with us, seeing PDP coming to us would say, I think we have something good here, let us remain. So the factor of many PDP members decamping to APC and the depth of reconciliation just show that we are one and people are working in unison, particularly in the local governments like Orhiomwon, Uhumwonde, those are the areas we have concerns before but those areas are solid now and under the control of APC, the leaders of the party there are working together now.
People see you as a stooge to Governor Adams Oshiomhole?
I keep saying to them that if I was a stooge for the last eight years and that led to the amount of development and progress that we have made, then if being a stooge will lead to the progress of my people I rather be a stooge to my people than being a none stooge that will steal our common wealth. It is nonsense.
Here again are the issues, the issue is about development, about utilising our wealth for our common good. So if being a stooge means utilising public fund for the betterment of the people of Edo state, if being a stooge means I am not going to meet with any godfather to decide on how my budget will be implemented then I will rather be such stooge. One of the PDP candidates, Ize-Iyamu, has all his life been a stooge to the Igbinedions, both the father and son.
Starting as a PA to Lucky Igbinedion, Chief of staff to his government and later the most powerful SSG who signed off fake contracts that were never executed. Who signed the sacking of over seven thousand workers who today are crying of pension which the Oshiomhole’s administration is paying today. Let me tell you, we need to begin to change the paradigm. I keep asking, tell me in specific terms what the Oshiomhole’s administration has not done in the last seven and half years.
So what is wrong about propagating and continuing with those strides? So we must redefine our politics from these brain dead hawks in our politics who think they can continue to destroy and distract our people. The issue is what did you do with political authorities. Being in the backroom of this administration in the last seven and half years, I directed the policies more. I pointed to the comrade governor the direction we should go, so did that make Adams a stooge?
Sometimes try and understand their logic, because of their poor education which has never allowed them do other things in their lives they make those stupid arguments about being a stooge. But let me tell them, if with all we have achieved under Oshiomhole made me a stooge, I accept. Then let Ize-Iyamu also accept that he is a stooge to Lucky Igbinedion and let him take the blames of the failure of the PDP for ten years. At least with that you will expect him to toe the path of honour by withdrawing from the contest because he will be stoned by our people next Saturday.
The election is just around the corner, what is your message to Edo people
I want to first thank Edo people because across the state, I have found out during our campaigns that we have groups and communities which voluntarily on their own endorsed me, assuring me that they will vote for me. My appeal is to security agencies to ensure that they monitor the process to ensure we have no violence. If we have an election, free fair and credible, that is devoid of violence, I am certain we will trounce the PDP no matter who they decide to produce as the candidate. I will pick at least 80 per cent of the votes come September 10.