- Says Oshiomhole not his godfather
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has described the case involving him and four others for allegedly diverting N700 million campaign fund by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a twist of information.
Ize-Iyamu, who spoke in an interview monitored from BBC Pidgin English programme, said the money did not come to him and it was not paid into his account.
Ize-Iyamu, along with others, is currently being tried in court over the allegation.
He said when he received information about the money, as the Director-General of Goodluck Jonathan Campaign in Edo State in 2015, officials of the bank where the money was lodged refused to part with it except someone came to sign for it.
The APC standard bearer added that he was just one of those who signed for the money before the bank officials took it to the house of the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state where all the party’s local government chairmen in the state took turns to sign and collect the money meant for their various local governments.
He explained: “When we got to the bank, the officials told us they cannot release the money and asked us to sign, which we did. We also agreed that the bank should carry the money which they took to the leader’s house. From there, all those concerned, including the local government chairmen, signed for the money to their various local governments.
“No single kobo was given to me but after the election, the EFCC said we were the ones who signed for the money; we must account for it. And I said no money came to my account; no money was given to me and that the money was carried to a leader’s house where those concerned came and signed for it.
“I even told them that those who signed and took the money have all agreed that they did so with the papers tendered, signifying that they signed for it. Not one of them came back to say they didn’t sign and that it was Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu (that collected the money).”
He said the story about the N700 million was all blackmail as his conscience is clear.
Ize-Iyamu also noted that those who knew the story are aware he did not take any dime, stressing that the bank where the money came has not testified that he was the one who collected the money.
Reacting to the claim that former APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, is his godfather, he described it as not only laughable but ridiculous because anyone familiar with politics of Edo State back in 2005 would attest to how he formed a political pressure group called Grace Group with the slogan “No Man is God.”
He stated that Oshiomhole’s own slogan “No Godfatherism,” is an offshoot of his, adding that in the first place, nobody can play God.
“Not even the president, governor or any political leader can play God because none of them is God,” Ize-Iyamu added.
He said some persons had come to ask him who was his godfather but he had told them that nobody apart from God.
According to him, he is one person that respects elders, traditional rulers, religious leaders and people who have made a mark in various fields even as he respects his junior ones as long as they believe in themselves.
He said Oshiomhole could not be his godfather because when “he (Oshiomhole) wanted to contest for governorship in 2007, people told him to come and meet me because I have similar ambition.
“Oshiomhole came and met me to say please I want to contest and I had to agree with him because nobody from Edo North has produced the governor of the state. I told him it is good we consider your place. So, I supported him and he won.
“In 2012 when he wanted to recontest, he made me the DG (director-general) of his campaign. Besides, I was the national vice chairman, South-south of the party.
“Is it this kind of person who wants to be governor that would be looking for who to be his godfather? The answer is no. Godfather is for those who are just learning like in the Catholic Church where before a child is baptised, the parent will be asked to get someone to be his godfather.
“In politics, I am not a child. Neither am I a learner. There is no part of the state I don’t have friends as a result of the relationship I have built years back.
“As far back as 1999, I was chief of staff. In 2003, I became SSG. So, there is nobody who does not know me and respect me,” he stated.
Ize-Iyamu said the goodwill he is enjoying today was as a result of the role he played when he was occupying those positions.
He noted that it was when he was occupying those positions that most of the employments either in the civil service; teaching or medical personnel were done.
However, he stated that he has respect for Oshiomhole as an older person, a former governor of the state and former national chairman of APC.
According to him, “I respect Oshiomhole and he respects me also. Ours have been relationship built on mutual respect. Luckily we belong to the same party.”
Ize-Iyamu said all the talks about Oshiomhole playing godfather were just comments made to paint him black.
He said when Oshiomhole imposed Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, when all the leaders did not want him because they regarded him as a complete stranger, he was a good godfather.
He added that now that Oshiomhole refused to do the same thing he did in 2016, people are still saying he is playing godfatherism.
He said: “Oshiomhole became godfather when he imposed him as the governor. The same man is going about saying the man that imposed him in 2016 wants to be godfather because what he did before, he refused to do now.
“That was how the quarrel started because then he solely imposed him on the people.
“They now say he is playing godfather just to blackmail him because then the governor could not talk because he was a baby. Nobody knew him.
“Ask the governor if he had ever voted anywhere in Edo State before he became governor? The answer is no. He was a complete stranger. Where is his house in Edo State before 2016?”