Martins Ifijeh in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State and Deputy Governor of the state, Hon. Philip Shaibu, has alleged that the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, is grooming ‘soldiers’ to destabilise the forthcoming September 19 gubernatorial election in the state.
He also said he entered into politics long before Oshiomhole and that the ex-governor rode on his structure in Edo North to become governor during his first tenure.
But in a swift response, APC denounced the allegations by Shaibu, describing him as a distressed politician approaching the end of his career.
Speaking on Arise News Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY yesterday, Shaibu said the APC was putting thugs together to cause violence because it was obvious it would not win a free and fair election in the state.
Shaibu said: “During Oshiomhole’s tenure as governor, he raised thugs and then pacified them to sustain his government. When Governor Godwin Obaseki came on board, the same ex-governor insisted that we should leave these thugs to collect revenue and do all manner of things, but the governor told him his government did not intend riding on thuggery.
“Before we disbanded these thugs, they became a nightmare to Edo residents. They would stop your vehicle and demand for all manners of levies. They would even go as far as asking you to pay for the radio in your car. If you don’t do these, they would break your windscreen. When people are building houses, they would come to destabilise the place.
“Because we didn’t want these, Oshiomhole now believed we dismantled his infantry. Some of those thugs who made themselves available to us were trained, rehabilitated, and then made enforcers. But those who refused to make themselves available are the Tony Kabakas who are being groomed by the ex-governor to cause chaos.”
He said although he describes Oshiomhole as his father, the ex-governor rode on his political structure to become governor, adding that while he was mobilising people for the ex-chairman of APC, Governor Obaseki was mobilising resources in Lagos for the success of his election.
“Oshiomhole rode on me and my boss to win his election. Obaseki mobilised over 70 per cent of the funds that helped Oshiomhole to win. He told us he didn’t have money at the time, and he didn’t have a political structure. He came to my structure. I entered politics before him. I introduced him to his structure; took him to those he needed to meet.
“So, he can’t say he made me win my elections. I was known by my people. I was there when they needed shelter; I shared my food with those who were hungry. When they are doing ceremonies, I go to celebrate with them; I am there for those who lose loved ones; during rain and sun, I have umbrellas to cover them, and so on. So, he knows I am fully on the ground hence the plan to stop me at all cost.”
Emphasising that he will continue to block alleged plans of Oshiomhole and the APC flag bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to cause chaos, he said: “If these two people tell me ‘good morning,’ I know exactly what they mean. Obaseki may not know them so well as I do. That is why they keep dropping my name anywhere they go as the person fomenting trouble.”
Dep Gov Distressed, Ending his Political Career, Says APC
Meanwhile, the APC has denounced the allegations by Shaibu, describing him as a distressed politician approaching the end of his career.
In a statement released by the Chairman, APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, the party described the state deputy governor’s outburst and his petition to the Police as a makeshift plan to feign sympathy after his initial plot to stage an attack on his own convoy and blame it on the APC was foiled by the party with a public alarm that revealed the shameful strategy.
“Mr. Philip Shaibu is a distressed politician who is approaching the end of his political career in Edo State. He has failed his people, betrayed his region, and has been rendered homeless by his greed and a desperate ambition to replace Obaseki as governor in 2024.”
“He is a politician without a base; an earthly roamer who cannot find solace anywhere. He is not one to be taken seriously and we hope that upon his departure, the Police dispatched his petition to its shredding room,” Mayaki said.
APC described the petition filed by the deputy governor asking the Police to arrest Oshiomhole as a cheap ploy to use the authorities to carry out the plans his allegedly armed thugs couldn’t fulfill and urged the Police not to waste their resources on it.