Prince Greg Ogiogwa is the Executive Director, Public Affairs and Social Media, in the office of the Edo State governor and Deputy Director in charge of Communication, Media and Publicity, Godwin Obaseki Campaign Organisation. In this interview by BANJI ALUKO, he speaks on the manifestos of the APC, governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki, alleged forgery of certificate by Obaseki and other issues.
It appears the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not allow the alleged forgery of certificate to die. What have you to say on the issue?
If they (PDP) said Obaseki didn’t gain an admission, how then did he get a degree? If that was not what he used to gain admission, let them bring out the one he used to gain admission. He who alleges has the burden of proof. If you say something was forged, you have to bring out the original. In 1973, I remember they used to have concessional examinations as JAMB did not exist then. As at that time, universities set their own entrance examinations called concessional examinations. Obviously the university admitted him. If he did not pass and meet the university’s qualifications, he would not have been admitted or graduated. We are talking of 1973 and not 1978. JAMB started in 1978 and I was among the very first set. If a university decided to admit you on whatever criteria they used, then you are admitted. He was admitted and he graduated. He has a university degree and did his national youth service. He went on to attend schools in overseas. If he was not qualified, why did the university admit him?
What they are trying to do is to divert attention from the fact that they don’t have a manifesto that works. They don’t have the fact and figures and cannot deal with issues affecting Edo State such as employment, industrialisation and human capital development. They just want to distract us from their shoddy past of N700 million Dasuki-gate money they collected and their involvement in the administration of Lucky Igbinedion. That administration has been described as the most abysmal in the history of the South South states. He (Ize-Iyamu) wants to distract people from his closeness to that administration. Ize-Iyamu was Chief of Staff and later Secretary to the State Government to the most woeful government in the history of Edo State. Now, he is trying to say that the SSG has no power or say on government policies. In reality, Ize-Iyamu was de facto governor in that administration.
You said Ize-Iyamu has no manifesto. What about his Simple Agenda?
The Simple Agenda is not simple; it is a simplistic piece of paper that has no basis for reality. I have not seen any figure in the simplistic agenda where they mentioned hectares of land that they intend to cultivate in an agricultural scheme…
So, you have read the Simple Agenda?
Yes, I have read it. I have not seen where facts and figures are written in it. Any document that does not tie itself to specifics is a simplistic and superficial document. If you are talking about agriculture, how many hectares of arable land do we have in Edo State? What are the crops we have comparative advantage over? Those are the issues we should be talking about, not whether somebody has a certificate or not. Bill Gate does not have a certificate.
But Bill Gates was not alleged to have lied over it.
Obaseki didn’t lie either. The PDP has never been known for the truth. Anybody who listens to the PDP and assumes that what they are saying is correct is a bigger fool than the PDP leaders themselves. They said the same thing about Oshiomhole in 2012, that he didn’t have certificate. Oshiomhole has come out to be the best performing governor. They said Buhari did not have a certificate, but Buhari contested the presidential election and won and is now doing his very best for the country now.
What are they talking about certificate for? Is that the criteria for being governor? Obaseki never lied anytime. He couldn’t find his certificates at a particular time, now he has found them. Now that he has found his certificates, they are now saying that his certificates are not good enough to get him admission to the university. Are they now the authorities of the University of Ibadan? If that is what they want to focus on, good for them, but we have other important things we need to do. We need to look at how to progress and increase the GDP of Edo State, create jobs and how to take Edo State to the next level using the infrastructure that Oshiomhole has already built as a leverage.
So much has been said bout the promise made by Obaseki to create 200,000 jobs. Do you honestly think that that dream could be achieved?
My biggest worry is not about creating the jobs, but if we will get enough people to take the jobs. It is very simple and straightforward. Right now, Edo State has eight large scale agricultural concern from South Africa, Holland, Vietnam and Katsina State. These investors have collectively received certificate of occupancy for about 150,000 hectares of land. The World Food and Agricultural Organisation has estimated that it will take at least three people to work on one hectare of land. If you multiply three people by three hectares of land, you will get 450 000 straight away. These jobs are not necessarily those that give you salaries at the end of the month as some of them belong to what we call Out grower Scheme. The 150,000 hectares of land will now be parceled out to smaller farmers, who will now be supplied with seedlings and other agricultural inputs including fertiliser and mechanised equipment.
These farmers, when they harvest their produce, multinational companies will buy from them, meaning there is already a market for farm produces. That alone is 450,000 jobs.