Ken Imasuagbon, a major stakeholders and former governorship aspirant on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says Governor Godwin Obaseki’s second term will yield greater dividends for people of Edo State. KUNLE ODEREMI brings some excerpts of this interview with journalists.
DO you agree with many observers that the September 19 governorship poll in Edo State would be fought majorly in Edo North senatorial district?
You are correct. But the scenarios favour Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is fighting a lost battle. You know Shaibu was a student union leader; Oshiomhole would not be on the ballot. So, the people have more to gain from the deputy governor than Oshiomhole, who is neither here nor there. Oshiomhole is gone; his era has ended. Obaseki will win with landslide victory; believe me the governor will win. There is no basis for any right-thinking person to be talking about the APC now. No, not with all that they have been doing. How would a right-thinking person talk of voting APC with what they did to Edo State? They depleted the state more than the PDP left it. Oshiomhole didn’t allow Obaseki to work; he distracted the governor and put spanner in his works. But, thank God for democracy; it is time now for the people to speak. That is why I stepped down for Obaseki. I salute his courage and decision to dislodge the rampaging godfathers. The massive votes the APC got during the last presidential election was from Edo North, but they cannot get that because Phillip Shaibu is their son. He will be in the ballot. They will prefer a younger generation of leaders to expired forces represented by Oshiomhole and the APC.
Are there guarantees that Obaseki will not try to play godfather and are there compelling projects to underscore his reelection?
It is not possible. Obaseki is a God-fearing man, a gentleman, civilised and educated. Of course, in his second term, he will continue creating jobs for Edo people. He will improve on what he has done in the first term. He will not be distracted anymore. The money they wanted him to share, he will not share it. Obaseki’s problems with the APC cabal started when he said he would not share the state’s money. In his second term, Edo people will have more value for their votes. He will certainly perform better. He will improve what he has done. Yes, because there will be no Oshiomhole or APC hyenas to distract him.
Obaseki is a pure bred intellectual passionate about Edo. He was determined to bring about a change, but the evil men in the society could not allow him. I was happy he stood up to them. He challenged them and he has defeated them, because this election will be one way, this time around no Esan man or woman will vote for APC. Moreover, there is no person from Edo South that will not vote for Obaseki and the PDP more than the APC. They cannot afford the failure of APC again. There’s no how an Edolite will contemplate voting for APC that is the gospel truth. The few ones you see in the APC are political jobbers. They will play themselves 419; those people are jobbers, and they will job one another. This is not Kogi State; there will be ‘no taataa ta’ (gun trotting). They should just forget about writing result either. This is not Kano State, they should forget about writing result. It is not going to happen. We will all be there. We will vote and escort the ballot to be counted and results announced. Who is coming to rewrite result; rewrite result and face the consequence?
APC chieftains insist that Edo State has always voted progressives and will not play opposition politics?
Which opposition politics? Is there any person left in the APC again? The APC is an empty shell, a piece of carcass. The sepulcher is empty! The truth is that nine out of 10 voters in Edo want the PDP. The APC government of four years is wasted. You saw the House of Assembly. One godfather in Abuja called Oshiomhole decided to hold everybody to ransom. People should learn that one day, they will drop all these siren and pepper soup and face God in judgment. What is political party and party politics all about? It is for the development of people or a community or a race. Anything outside that, you are on your own. You are just a thief. We are tired of thieves in Edo now. We are tired; we want real people to be in charge. Obaseki is sincere. He is passionate. He was distracted in his first four years by Oshiomhole and APC jobbers. We will meet them at the polls. No Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official should try to write fake results or rig. Nobody should try it. Nobody born of a woman should contemplate it. Rig where? Where do you want to come and rig? If you rig in my unit, you are on your own. Rig what?
Many have continued to talk about the role of the erstwhile APC national chairman on the election. Is the election going to be a referendum on Obaseki’s four years or referendum on the past four years of the APC?
It will be a referendum on Oshiomhole’s years of failed influence. He and all his people did not allow Obaseki to work. That was what happened. The election is going to be a referendum to reject Oshiomhole and reject the APC.
What conditions did you demand from Obaseki in exchange for your support and did you make any specific request?
Of course, I am a politician. Why will I not make request. The point is that in 2024, my senatorial district will be supported to produce governor. We were able to negotiate that. We are Nigerians and not Togolese or Ghanaians. Since 1999, no Esan man has been governor of Edo State. I may not be to wrong to say we are the only senatorial that have not produced governors in Edo State. So, I told him to make serious commitment to say that Esan will be supported to produce his successor. Without even prompting Obaseki declared that it was fair and just to Esan to produce governor. That is what struck me. The governor is a God-fearing man. In fact, politics apart, Obaseki is a good man. If I see a good man, I know him. Obaseki is a good man. I also know a con man if I see him. The APC are con people, they are 419niners. They are one-chance kombi bus. People in APC are one-chancers. I am quoting (Michael) Bloomberg, the United States billionaire. The APC is a con party, if I see a con-organisation or party, I know. The APC is a con-party, they have conned Edo State these past 12 years, replacing chairmen and removing governor. Enough is enough. We will stop them by the power of our votes. No INEC official should come into Edo State and attempt to rig the election.
Some critics of the INEC alleged that the commission can do mischief by declaring the poll inconclusive and juggle the arithmetic…
Forget that, nobody will accept that. This is not Osun State; nobody will accept that in Edo State. With COVID-19 now, with the way the world is going now, don’t we need the real people to lead our country? Don’t we need the real people to lead our community and society, our family? Wherever we are, we need patriotic and passionate individuals to develop our community. So, which INEC? INEC will not provoke anybody. Nobody will take it. Which postponement? Those who have held down development for four years in Edo, are they the ones the people want? In 12 years, we have seen it wasted years. They wasted Obaseki’s time and that of every Edo person. Nobody is interested in them. What we want is a demonstration of the power of democracy that after four years, you do a referendum. In fact, Edo people have been punished with impunity. So, nobody is going to accept any disruption or distortion. So, this election is going forward to define democracy for Nigerians and Edo. We have made up our mind; we are going to reject the APC. That’s why I stepped down. I was not forced to step down, because we need to reject godfathers and stand with democracy. We need to reject oppression. We need to reject unemployment. We need to reject political jobbers, especially the frustration and hopelessness in the hearts of our people. That is what this election is going to be.
You said that there will be no room for shenanigan and all that, but you know that Edo State shares boundaries with Kogi. Are there guarantees against violence?
There will be no violence. We will resist thuggery and the people will resist anyattempt to use the youth to levy violence. Parents should advise their children; nobody should give gun and cutlass and tell them to come and carry ballot boxes. You should not. Nobody should try that. They should tell their children to stay away. Let the politicians bring their children to come and be shooting the gun, not the children of the poor, the children of the farmers, the children of the mechanics, the children of the tailors, the children of the teachers. Let the politicians if they want to do ‘ taataa ta’ bring their children to do the ‘taataa ta.’
The COVID-19 protocol will play a part being a novelty, because this is going to be the first election under the COVID environment. Are you not worried about voter apathy, which also gives room for manipulation?
Well, I am worried there may be. But because people are tired of the APC: youths are tired, women are tired, boys are tired, and the aged are tired. People will defy the pandemic to come and vote out the APC. It’s going to be a referendum, as I told you, a referendum against the APC, a party that has come to represent confusion; a house of commotion that cannot answer to anything. The APC is a clueless party. We will vote against the APC in Edo, you will see, they will know defeat in the 18 Local Governments. Is it my local government they want to win or where in Esan and where in Edo South? Even in Akodo, in Etsako west, Oshiomhole will lose out. Do you know the pain in the heart of people? Do you know frustration in their mind? Do you know the torture?Do you know how many people beg me just for N2 to eat in a day? Do you know there are people that cannot eat? Do you know how many people have died for inability to even buy malaria medicine? Coupled with the pain of COVID-19. This election will be the freest election; it will be free and fair and peaceful, because the people will stand and resist and do the right things. They will vote, they will defend it and do the right thing and announce the result and Obaseki will win.
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