Chief Charles Idahosa, is a former Commissioner for Information in Edo state. In this interview, the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is one of the major backers of Governor Godwin Obaseki, speaks on the outcome of last Saturday’s governorship election in Edo state. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI brings the excerpts:
As a major stakeholder in Edo, what is your assessment of last Saturday’s governorship election which was won by Governor Godwin Obaseki of the PDP?
The governor’s victory in the election is my biggest birthday gift ever. I said so because this is a project I am a major stakeholder in. I have never fought any political battle and lost and I’m glad that we have been able to prove that nobody can take the people of Edo state as slaves. We have proven to Adams Oshiomhole and his likes that Edo is not Lagos. I have always said that Edo may go the way of the opposition given the impunity with which Oshiomhole was running the affairs of APC as national chairman. He feels his words were law and nobody can question him. I have said it severally that only Obaseki can win the governorship election for APC and any attempt to replace him will spell doom for the party. I also said if by omission or commission Obaseki was forced out of the party, APC is dead. I also said we will go anywhere he goes. When Oshiomhole masterminded the qualification of the governor from participating in the APC primary, I knew that was the end of my stay in the party. When Obaseki moved to the PDP, I also moved with my supporters with him to PDP. We knew we were going to win by a landslide because we control the structures in the state. We are closer to the grassroots, unlike Oshiomhole who went and bring someone from Lagos with bullion vans, thinking that they can buy the people of Edo with money. So, I am very happy with the victory of Governor Obaseki and the PDP, especially on my 67th birthday. We have successfully liberated Edo from the shackles of godfatherism. Our next port of call is Lagos.
Some people are of the view that the election was the best conducted in the history of Edo since 1999, do you share that view?
The election was free and fair. The people of Edo have spoken and their voices were reflected in the outcome of the election. Before the election, they boasted of federal might but they were disappointed. I want to especially thank President Muhammadu Buhari for rising above party politics and providing an avenue for a free and fair election. I have always known him as a forthright man; a man of integrity and he has again proven that in the Edo election. I had to go to my village with fear because they withdrew all the police. All the policemen attached to VIPs were removed. Even Government House was devoid of policemen except three or four that were attached to the governor. They did all this to show that the security agents will be neutral and the election will be free and fair. In all, I feel so sorry for Oshiomhole that he had to end his career this way. God raised him from nowhere but he wanted to assume the power of the almighty. A man without primary six certificates; a common sailor who was privileged to become president of NLC and later governor. I contested against him in 2007 during the AC primary. They rigged the primary for him saying because he was already popular. They said I should be his running mate but I rejected it saying deputy governor is not what I wanted. I said I knew what I wanted and I will do it at my own time, in my own way. I later accepted to be his Political Adviser for eight years and he knew what I did for him. All the battles against godfatherism in Edo, we fought it together. We fought the biggest godfathers that ever existed in this state.
The APC has rejected the outcome of the election and has said they will announce their next line of action soon. How will you react to that?
It is expected. You don’t give a child such a serious beating and expect him not to cry. Let them go to the Tribunal. They did that in 2016 up to the Supreme Court and they lost; the same will also happen now. You want to go to court for an election that is so transparent, free and fair and was commended by local and foreign observers. Do you want to go to court for an election that was not even a close contest between the two parties? Let them go. We are waiting for them. Now, they are saying they want to go to court, let them go because the lawyers to are waiting to make their money. I feel so sorry for Oshiomhole because he allowed himself to be deceived. Most of the commissioners that worked with Oshiomhole when he was governor, I gave them to him. He didn’t know many of them. Most of them are lightweight people who only begged to get appointments. But after getting these appointments, they assumed big title such as ‘Chief of Staff ’; ‘Special Adviser’; ‘Minority Whip’; and feel they are in charge of the political situation. Immediately they got an appointment, they forgot how they begged and rolled on the ground to get to where they were; they abandoned their people and thought they can buy them over with money after four years. Here we are today.
With the victory of PDP, what becomes the fate of Adams Oshiomhole on his dominance of Edo politics?
Oshiomhole tried everything in the books but he couldn’t succeed. This election was the last card for him and everybody could see that everything he did was like the last kick of a dying horse. Oshiomhole refused to believe that he is finished politically. He is politically finished and there is nothing he can do about that. He was removed as national chairman after two years and two days. He instigated 14 lawmakers to come and be living with him in Abuja so that he can put a rope around the governor’s neck. This is something he never tolerated when he was governor of Edo state but he wanted to do it to his successor. He instigated 42 appointees against Governor Godwin Obaseki and they left the government because they fell for Oshiomhole’s lies. I just looked at them with pity because they failed to realise that money is not everything. They didn’t know what politics is all about. They are coming up with sensational headlines that a Commissioner resigned from Obaseki’s government.
Who is the Commissioner without a party leader? The leader put him there. Now that they have left, other party members are waiting to take that position. Despite all their boasting in my local government that Samson Osagie, former Minority Whip will win, he lost his unit and ward. Since 1999, it was PDP all the way. In 2007, we moved to form Action Congress (AC) and we fielded Oshiomhole as governorship candidate. From 2007 till date, APC has been winning my local government until I turned it around for PDP now with my supporters.
We are now back to PDP. All these commissioners, Special Advisers who resigned and are making noise in the media are the creation of party leaders who are silent operators. The leaders are in the ones in the village who controls what happened at the grassroots. But when the leaders now nominate these people and they get to the centre, they feel they are popular and they can do and undo. All of the 14 lawmakers who were making noise alongside the multi-billionaire who was saying he will spend his last kobo to ensure Obaseki is removed, none of them won their wards. I read a news analysis where they said Obaseki will lose because the 14 lawmakers will get sympathy votes from their constituency. No one sympathised with them and they lost because they were not on the ground.