APC crisis, poor performance will ensure PDP victory in Edo —Chairman

The chairman of the (PDP) in Edo State, Dr Anthony Aziegbemi, speaks with HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE on the preparations and chances of his party in the governorship election in the state, declaring that the party is set to take over the reins of power next November.

HOW has it been since you took over as the chairman of PDP in Edo State and what is your agenda for the party?

It has been interesting, intriguing and very exciting because you get to hear a lot of things from your party faithful. It is quite educative most times but we are good. As you will recall, after the inauguration on March 15, during my very first press conference, I said the PDP, under my watch, has one agenda and that is to take the party back to the Edo State Government House.  The second agenda is to take PDP back to the Edo State Government House. The third is to take the PDP back to the Edo State Government House.


What is your roadmap for victory now that the governorship election is just around the corner?

I will not discuss our strategy but I can tell you that the lockdown and curfew as a result of the COVID-19 has given us time to take a look and we have an idea on where we are weak and where we are strong across the state. Once the lockdown is relaxed a bit, we will now clearly roll it out. The first thing that we will do after the lockdown is to have a working tour of the local government areas. This is not the normal PDP tour; we are going to meet with the executive and selected leaders in each of the local government areas. This will not be more than 20 and we will rush them through the data that we have gathered and everybody will know what happened in the last three elections in their local government areas. That will be a starting point.

We expect that the primary is going to be very free and credible. We expect that the aspirants should go about campaigning and taking their message to delegates in a very robust and peaceful manner while also helping them to bring in more people to the party so that, at the end of it all, everybody will be satisfied with the primary. We should expect them to accept the result of the primary. It is a combination of making sure that every aspirant believes in the system that we are talking of and taking the message to the party structures at the different local government areas for the purpose of the governorship election coming up in September.


The PDP is known for zoning. Are you contemplating zoning the governorship to any of the senatorial district?

No. The party, before I came in, had taken a decision before now that the two positions, the chairmanship and governorship, will not be zoned. That is the decision I will abide by. The position of the governorship has not been zoned and will not be zoned. Anybody from any of the three senatorial districts can contest for the governorship position.


What are the major challenges confronting you since you emerged as chairman and how do you intend to tackle them?

The major challenges are basically with the little dissatisfaction. As a result of the congress, some people are still not too happy. We are dealing with that and talking to a lot of people. I think we will get them to believe in what we are doing. For the PDP, it is the bigger picture which is perhaps the most important; getting us to Edo State Government House.  Every other thing is supposed to be subsumed under that major interest for the party. If we win, all these little disagreements can be taken care of easily. So, we expect that people should give us a chance. We will continue to talk to anybody who has issues. We expect them to listen to us; give us a chance. We expect them to know that we are in this together for the good of all of us and that our personal interest should not override the interest of the majority of members of the party.


Don’t you think that the recent gale of defection affected the fortunes of the party?

The question should be why do people defect? I think people defect because they believe that their interest will be better taken of where they are going to. I wish them well. We don’t have any grudges against anybody who is defecting, just as we expect other people whose interests are not been taken of where they are. Our doors are wide opened to such people; the party will not look at them as people that just joined us. They will take their rightful position in the party. As some people are leaving us, we expect some others to join us. In fact, I have held meeting with a lot of people in the other party. What they are waiting for is to see how it goes with their issues. I think we are going to get a large chunk of their supporters. I think up to 50 per cent of members of the other party will join us, no matter what happens at their primary. We are talking to most of them. It is a two way thing; some goes, some come.


There is the rumour that Governor Godwin Obaseki has a hand in the PDP and intends to defect to the party and contest the governorship following his falling out with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole…

I am not aware that Governor Obaseki wants to defect to the PDP, as we speak, but as I have said before, the doors of the party are opened. Anybody that comes in will go through the process. Anybody that wants the ticket will have to go through the process. I don’t dwell in the realm of rumours, however, as I have said, the doors of our party are opened to anybody who wants to come in. I expect people to take advantage of the fact that our doors are wide opened.


How would you assess Governor Obaseki almost four years after he took over the reins of power in the state?

I think you cannot remove the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the happenings around Obaseki. Fighting is in the DNA of the APC; there is lack of harmony in the party; they have to throw bombs at each other; they have to do things negatively at each other. I am sure that the quarrel within the APC, even if after their victory, is one of the reasons perhaps the Edo people are not enjoying the dividends of democracy.

You would have expected that a party has the total members of the House of Assembly will have peace but that is where you have a major problem. If the PDP was there, people would have said that the party instigated the crisis but they are there with 24 over 24 and they cannot handle the crisis. That is why Edo people should look at that and look at how disharmonious the party is. The people should look at how they lack cohesion and love for themselves. I think that their performance has not been very good. That is why we think that the PDP is a better option for Edo people. We know how to handle and manage resources. I think the APC lacks that and clearly does not have the capacity to manage resources and human beings. That is why the PDP is asking Edo people to please consider us in the next governorship election.


How do you tackle the issue of vote buying? Are you not worried?

That is a major issue. We will enlighten our people; we will tell them that the money that is being given is their money. We are telling people to take the money and do what they have to do. If we tell our people not to take the money, I think some of them will still take it somehow. So the idea is take it and still vote according to your conscience. Are you happier than you were four years ago? The answer will be a resounding no because many people are suffering. Unemployment rate is about 35 per cent. All the economic indices in the state are on the downward trend. There is no area that you will look at and say that the APC government has done well. I think it is a major issue but unfortunately the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the various security agents that are supposed to help in dealing with that are not helping the matter and so it will be left to us to up our game plan, through enlightenment and letting the people know that is their money and should take it and do what they feel is right.


Are you not worried about the spate of bomb blasts in Edo, a state which has been known to be relatively peaceful?

I am not worried because I expect that when the campaigns starts, violence should not be the tool which we will use to campaign. The PDP is not a party of violence; we do have disagreements but we have a way of dealing with our differences. Unfortunately, it is in the DNA of the APC not to know how to sort themselves out and that is why they always resort to violence. Violence is the base of human beings and it is not high up there in what makes a human being. When they resort to violence that means they lack the wherewithal to continue in a decent conversation. But we expect the security agencies to do the right thing and let the campaigns come up in a very peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. That is what we expect and that is what we should get.


Most times, there are moles within political party who leak out party strategies to the opponents. How do you intend to tackle moles in the PDP ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections?

That will not happen during this exercise. It will not happen because we have instruments and ways to fish out moles. I can guarantee you that that will not happen. There are going to be multiple stages of checking people. If you are sent on errand, somebody will be sent after that person. In the end, the person will not be able to think he will be able to sell our information. That will not happen.





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