Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih has asked the state governor, Godwin Obaseki not to celebrate, despite the Supreme Court’s judgment upholding his election, saying there is yet a pre-election suit challenging his qualification for the job. He spoke to Iyobosa Uwugiaren who presents the excerpts:
The Supreme Court had declared Godwin Obaseki as duly elected governor, what is your party’s next move?
It may interest you to know that the judgement just given by the Supreme Court is a judgement given in respect of one out of the two cases we have against Godwin Obaseki. One was the process itself–during the election, the election as conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The other one was about his qualification to contest the election. Our position is that ab initio, he was not qualified to contest that election, and all the documents are there. That case is still on at the Federal High Court, it is a pre-election matter. I would not want to go into the details of that since the matter is already before the court; it’s already being heard. It was adjourned till after the vacation. I would not go into details, but I can tell you that that is one leg of the issues we have against Obaseki. I have informed our stakeholders that we would pursue it to a logical conclusion. We need to test our laws and see exactly what the position is. If he was not qualified to contest, he has no business being in that office.
Was your party disappointed about the outcome of the judgement?
Well, naturally, you do not expect us to be celebrating the outcome of that judgement; but like I said, that is not the end of the struggle. Ours is a political party and outside contesting election, we also have our role to play in sustaining democracy, and that I can assure you we would continue to do until we effect a change in the government of Edo State.
The judgement appears to have demoralised your supporters in Edo State?
Not at all; In fact our membership is swelling because, come to think of it, just like in other states, the people in Edo State have come to see the failure in APC, in their electioneering promises, and they have been able to come to the fact that among the political parties, PDP stands out not just as a national party, but as a party that has been able to show concrete evidence of what it had been able to achieve when it was the ruling party. The people now have a basis to compare what it was — when PDP was in government, and what it is now. In fact, now people are saying that we now have a government where the vehicle driving it, is on autopilot. There is no person directly in charge of the affairs of the nation, and Nigerians are clamouring for the return of PDP, to bring its wealth of experience to bear in the governance of this country.
What role will PDP play in Edo State along that line?
Well, don’t forget that Edo is truly a PDP state. The National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun, is from Edo state, a prominent son of our state. It may interest you to know that during the presidential elections, PDP won Edo State. It may also interest you to know that out of the three senators in Edo, we have two elected senators; we also have majority of the members in the House of Representatives. So, nobody can wish away the strength of PDP in Edo State. Like I said, the failure of APC government has turned out to be an advantage, not just to Edo PDP, but to PDP in Nigeria. Let’s wait and see what would happen in 2019. Nigerians are totally disappointed by what we are experiencing now. All that was promised by the APC, they have failed to deliver. It is just that in a democracy, you have to wait for the appropriate time to effect a change in government, and Nigerians are waiting anxiously for that moment when they can show these people the way out.
Is true that some members of your party in the National Assembly are preparing to defect to the APC?
I am not aware; I am only aware that quite a good number of APC members in the National Assembly, who left PDP at one time, having seen the situation in the country, and also in appreciation of the restoration of the party by the verdict of the Supreme Court, are on their way back to the PDP.
How will the recent judgement of the Supreme Court which restored power to the Ahmed Makarfi-led leadership affect the political calculations in 2019?
In the past few days, not just PDP members, Nigerians are jubilating that PDP has been able to put its house in order. In a democracy, you need a very strong and viable opposition. Where that is lacking, you have opened the gates to dictatorship. That judgement has rightly placed the leadership of the party in the hands of those who are prepared and are willing to play that role effectively; so that we can sustain democracy and remove these evil agents.
Will the party capitalise on the judgement to bring everybody on board and ensure there are no crises in the party again?
One thing you must give to PDP is that we have our own way of resolving issues inter alia. That we have already started doing. At the last NEC meeting, we took decision to put in place reconciliation committee and disciplinary committee. These two committees are very vital towards realising the goals you just mentioned. That shows clearly that the party is more than ever determined to ensure that we do what we need to do to give Nigerians the needed platform to effect a change in the government of this nation.
You said the APC led government has disappointed Nigerians, can you be specific?
They said they were bringing change, unfortunately we have witnessed negative changes; look at the exchange rate, what it was before they came to power and what it is today. For the ordinary man in the street, they are experiencing biting economic hardship. People used to buy a bag of rice very cheap; but now, they must have three times that amount to buy a bag of rice. A government that has not been able to provide the basic needs of the people has no business in government. I can tell you that all over, the people are tired of the APC. What happened in Osun State that led to the election of Senator Adeleke, is a sign of greater things to come. Don’t forget Osun is at the height of APC in the South-west, and the APC has a sitting governor, who has been in office close to eight years, a man who even threatened that he would resign if he loses the seat. They were beaten silly at the election; that shows clearly the level of resentment against the failed promises of the APC.
But the ruling party blamed its failures on the rot left behind by the PDP government in the past 16 years…..
That cannot be correct. The reason why they came together as an assemblage of different political parties, all in an effort to wrestle power from the ruling PDP government at that time, was that they wanted to give Nigerians a different form of government, and they took their time before taking that decision to contest elections. They contested and they were declared as the winner of that election. I am shocked if anybody would now be complaining about their non-performance because the PDP was in government. In America, Obama came into power at the time of great recession, he took the issues headlong; he did not lament the situation he met at the time he came into government. He confronted the issues that were before him, and by the time he was running for second time, it was a different ball game; the changes were visible to everybody. Americans compensated him with a second term. A situation where people took their time to study the situation in the country before coming to power, they cannot now start blaming their failure on those who were in office. The reason for their coming in, was to make a difference; now that they have failed, they are blaming their failure on others. It is like the case of a bad worker who is blaming his tools for a poor job. Let them accept that they have failed. Good enough we still have some courageous members of the APC like Senator Bello Kanti, who has come out to tell the world that his greatest regret in politics today is contributing to the election of an APC federal government that has failed completely to deliver on promises made to Nigerians. I think that sums up the situation. Did you see him apportioning blames? He knew exactly what the situation is, there is no doubt they have failed; they have failed woefully. They should start from now packing their bags and luggage out of the villa because Nigerians cannot wait to see their exit.
Is PDP losing hope in Edo State?
I don’t think anybody is losing any hope; all I can tell you is that to the average Edo person, the state has been robbed of giving an opportunity to Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu to do it differently from what they have witnessed in the past eight years under Adams Oshiohmole, who incidentally handed over power to his business partner, Obaseki. To that extent, I would tell you that the people are more than determined to ensure that whatever they did to rob them of this victory, they are prepared to resist it headlong in subsequent elections.
A government that has not been able to provide the basic needs of the people has no business in government.