In this media chat, Chairman, Publicity and Media, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Campaign Council, Senator Domingo Obende, speaks on the upcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State insisting that the Peoples Democratic Party lacks the leadership and record of stewardship to win. Olaseni Durojaiye brings excerpts
How is your party taking the postponement of the election?
I think we have prepared so hard and we believe and we know that the voters are behind us that we are going to win. Secondly, I am also happy because Edo has not been known to be a place where violence is the order of the day. If for security reasons as stated by both the police and the DSS, this shift is realized, I think I am happy for it presupposes, come 28 of September the election will be peaceful. We have heard talk about APC forcing postponement, but first and foremost, APC never imported any thug. Secondly, we are not harbouring anybody, thirdly we did not bring anybody to come and register that are not from Edo state. What do we have to lose? Nothing. What is more, our strength are the voters and we have them behind us, they are not going to die or shift. So for us any time any day we are ready for the election and I can bet you that the gap is going to be even wider now than we had imagined. We are going to win.
Will you say that the current economic hardship is affecting your party, the APC, in this election?
Things are tough but it is not peculiar to Edo state. Here in Edo state there is no governor that you can compare with Oshiomhole. You can talk about Gen.Ogbemudia yes but Oshiomhole is fantastic. If you compare Oshiomhole’s work and that of other governors, if they had one at all, you will find out they are not at per at all. And that is a big plus for us in this election. The two weeks they gave us is a two weeks of grace, where we will showcase all the things we have done. And what is more, it has given us the opportunity to reintroduce our candidate across the state. For the economic situation, everybody knows that the whole world is in total recession and PDP brought us into this problem. We cannot leave the past to blame the current person in government for not finding solution to the problem. APC promised three things, security, economy, fighting corruption. Right now we all know who collected our money without doing anything. Right now we all know why the economy has tilted to this way. What APC is doing is trying to rebuild Nigeria and put it in a solid foundation for growth.
PDP leaders in Edo state are boasting they will win, how do you see this?
There is this adage that says a house divided against itself cannot stand. PDP as we speak today has no clear cut leadership and for that I don’t think anybody would want to take PDP seriously in Edo state. They have two factional governorship candidates Ize-Iyamu and Iduoriyekemwen so how will they win? PDP has had a pattern of leadership in Edo state for more than ten years and that did not lead us to any developmental stride as far as Edo state is concerned. Then Comrade started in the past seven and half years, infact I should say six and half years because within a year he was still within the whims and caprices of the PDP House of Assembly then and Chief Tony Anenih. Anenih controlled the budget for the whole one year bearing in mind that Zakawanu Garuba was the Speaker of the House as at that time. And within that one year Comrade did nothing in the state. But immediately he left the hook, in his second year he started performing and that was part of the failure of the leadership of the PDP.
For me, I do not think any Edo man, haven seen or known these experiences on the part of the leadership of PDP, that any body will believe that PDP leaders will allow any elected person in PDP to perform. When you look at it clearly, you will ask, who are the people that actually destroyed PDP in Edo state? And of course development in Edo state. Lucky Igbinedion could not do much because the leadership was sharing the money. The moment money comes they share. And I don’t think any Edo man wants to do that right now.
I know clearly that we have taken clear study about this issue and that is why a lot of us have resolved that it must be APC all the way. Why is it APC all the way because Comrade in seven years have given us development we never anticipated. He may have his private issues with people, but has he performed? The answer is yes. Has he done what exactly he was voted for? The answer is yes. Did he as a politician deliver on his promises? The answer is yes. Go and check after Ogbemudia’s days who else can compare with Comrade, nobody else. Because why he did not have a clear cut leadership controlling him. And that is the same way we feel that bringing in Obaseki, he is going to be following the same way of Comrade’s development strategy. Their character are not the same, their training are not the same so you don’t expect that the social indices of Comrade is going to be the social indices of Obaseki.
Everybody knows Comrade as a fighter, he has been a labour man, he likes challenges. But there are people who navigates around their challenges, Comrade does not navigate around challenges, he confronts it. And that is what makes him different from the Obaseki that is coming in. So even from the debate, you could see the differences when you put questions across to Obaseki. So for me, PDP has no leadership that can guarantee them victory in this forthcoming election.
Former Governor Lucky Igbinedion reportedly boasted that the next governor of Edo state will be produced by the Igbinedion family in the person of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Chief Ikimi also boasted in the same manner, what is your take on that?
First and foremost, my brother Lucky Igbinedion knows who Oshiomhole is, he was one of those who brought Oshiomhole so you can say Oshiomhole is equally part of that family. So we have already produced two governors from that family, Igbinedion himself and Oshiomhole. Now, we cannot allow three brothers to rule us in Edo state from the same family. Oshiomhole came from Lucky’s angle and as at that time, Chief Anenih was angry until they met and had a meeting point of revolution.
Meeting point? But….
But as you know Oshiomhole needed to be his own man so as to fulfil his campaign promises and that was where he had issues with these people which is good for the people of the state. Lucky is our brother, so he brought another of our brother Oshiomhole who is completing his eight years so we don’t want him to go and bring another person from the same family. We are satisfied with Oshiomhole that he gave to us and we are going to get another governor from another family, in the person of Obaseki.
What about Chief Ikimi
And of course for Ikimi, he is a man that likes talking big and that is his style. But I will advise him to win his polling unit first for his party before talking about winning the general election. He knows what I mean, so I don’t need to expatiate on that. And talking about our current situation, what we are facing today as a nation is a product of PDP because we don’t want to lament about it, we are still working in Edo state and Edo will keep working. So in this light, we do not think we need a change of government in Edo state.
The strategy that we have been using even in the state of nothing, particular three years to Oshiomhole’s exit that is working for us we want to maintain that and the people behind this success is the Chairman of the Economic and Strategy Team, which is Godwin Obaseki. And of course I must tell you clearly that Ize-Iyamu will equally agree that this government has worked. But when things have become personalized, you cannot say the fact as it is anymore. Everybody wants to have it his own way. But on this Edo people cannot be short changed, Edo people are wiser, Edo people will stand to claim what belongs to them by speaking our minds on 28th September with our votes and we will make sure that we suppress and oppress PDP where they are right now.
They can never resurface anymore because as far as we are concerned we have the people who will use their votes to suppress them. The problem for Ize-Iyamu too is that while Obaseki has been able to point at what his party APC has done, Ize-Iyamu has nothing to point to because his boss while he was SSG to government, that is Lucky Igbinedion, performed woefully. But you can see what Comrade Oshiomhole has done today. Fantastic governor that all of us will miss.
There are allegation of rigging by PDP and can you justify this postponement of the election?
For me the threats that led to the postponement of the election have been justified. First and foremost we saw militants being charged to court in Edo state. Some are still facing interrogation. Secondly, the tension in Edo state has come down very drastically, you don’t find people walking as if tomorrow we are going to die. That has calmed down. And security agencies have strategized, they have now known the positions to place their men.
For me, the postponement of this election is going to give us another wide margin we need in our election. For PDP, it think they will keep crying wolf because they know why, its like I have made an arrangement that tomorrow I will do something, is like that thing is dispensable. PDP is lost now because they are finding it difficult to re-strategize and energize, that is the problem they are having. For us, in APC, we are going to win the election because we have embarked in more strategy, we are doing more work to ensure that we win and we are going to win.