Publicity Secretary of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Joseph Osagiede, in this online interview by SAHEED SALAWU, addresses some issues surrounding the fortune of the party ahead of the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
What is the state of things in the APC in Edo State?
The Edo State APC is calm and focused, as it should be, as we are preparing for the elections later this year even though there is a bit of a lag as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The Edo State APC chairman, Anselm Ojezua, is in control of the party and has piloted the party’s affairs in the fairest possible manner.
As is common in politics, there are a few dissidents here and there. In our case, we have the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a group of politicians who, by their action and demands, are stuck in the old ways. We have learnt to manage their excesses, as their agitations are not unexpected seeing that we are in an election year. However, the party is very much whole and we are focused on delivering the dividends of democracy to the people with Governor Godwin Obaseki in the saddle.
There are reports that the governor is determined to intensify media attacks against all his opponents, including Oshiomhole and Ize Iyamu in the build-up to the coming elections. Any reaction to this?
Well, what I know is that some persons have been called out for undermining the health and wellbeing of Edo people. They took actions that have jeopardised the health of a lot of Edo people and a lot of stakeholders are calling them out on that.
These persons flagrantly disregarded the state and federal governments’ directives on public gathering of not more than 20 persons in a place, and they held a botched mock primary election in the state with over 50 persons in attendance and you expect that they shouldn’t be taken to task? If that is what some mischievous persons have termed media attack, then that is unfortunate. What is clear is that they are being called out for their irresponsibility and disregard for government and its policies. Nothing is more despicable than such a move at this material time.
What are the chances of Governor Obaseki in getting a second term?
Governor Obaseki’s re-election is non-negotiable. This a strong view held not only within the APC, but across the state. The opposition is even gunning for him. The governor has worked; he has delivered on his mandate to Edo people and has shown that when the chips are down, governance – as it ought to really be – is not rocket science.
Not only has the governor brought a refreshing panache to governance, he has won for himself followers from across all spheres of life in the state with his integrity and expert deployment of resources for the good of the people. The people are at the core of his policies. This and many more are the reasons why his re-election would be an easy one.
What have the APC leadership and government in the state done to make life easy for the masses amidst the COVID-19 crisis?
The Edo State governor has shown inspiring leadership in handling the coronavirus pandemic. Much as it is a given that the virus has really undone governments in developed and developing countries, it would interest you to know that the Edo State government rose up to the task and has been coasting steadily ever since.
In the wake of the disease, the government set up a response team, which commissioned an epidemiological study to develop a curve that predicted the spread and mapped how it can be contained. With such a tool, when other states locked down their domains, Edo adopted a partial lockdown, which allowed some level of economic activities to go on. This model was later to be adopted nationally. We were one of the first to mandate the wearing of face masks in public.
The state government has set up 300-bed multi-location isolation facilities across the state; purchased over 28 ventilators; set up two new testing centres and secured four PCR machines for testing, and even had to cede one to a neighbouring state. In all these, the state government is providing relief to about 190,000 vulnerable households in the state.
What do you make of recent reports of a primary allegedly organised by Comrade Oshiomhole’s EPM?
The former governor has rightly come under a barrage of attacks by different stakeholders for his decision to place petty politics above the health and safety of Edo people, who he supposedly led for eight years.
He may have been attempting to continue in his quest to destabilise the state, but it must be noted – and strongly, too – that the timing of his actions is most inhuman and uncharitable. We have made a call to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the police to fish out, arrest and quarantine the persons that attended the meeting. It is only the right thing to do as the violation spells danger for the entire people of the state. We have seen it happen in Lagos State, with the actress, Funke Akindele, her husband and their friends.
But those you are accusing of holding primary have denied it.
I will be very direct here, as these persons have continued to rely on falsehoods to advance their interests, which is unfortunate as these are supposed to be respected men in society. In a recent publication, one Mr Chris Azebamwan tried fruitlessly to extricate the person of Adams Oshiomhole from the botched ‘mock primary.’ Several credible sources, including newspaper reports, revealed that Oshiomhole mandated a serving member of House of Representatives to coordinate the affairs and ensure his prefered aspirant emerged as the consensus candidate. The list of invited delegates from the various local government areas is in public domain. They also tried to deny the presence of armed soldiers at the venue. This issue has since been brought to the attention of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, with a request to cause an inquiry to be carried out to determine why men of the Armed Forces should be involved in such a nefarious act capable of bringing the army into disrepute.
What do you have against other aspirants, especially those in the ex-governor’s camp?
Oshiomhole should know that this is not the time to take advantage of the greed and insatiable quest for power by his failed power seekers from Orhionmwon Local Government Area (LGA). They have all been tested and known as not only empty but lacking in intellectual, morale and administrative capacity to match Godwin Obaseki. Mr Oshiomhole himself has told us this much. Therefore, attempting to foist any of them on the good people of Edo State, will amount to total ingratitude and a slap on the face of Edo people, particularly the Benin people of Edo South. These are the people who against all odds picked Oshiomhole, supported, encouraged and even financed him to become the governor of Edo State.
Oshiomhole mounted the podium and gave Edo people a true analysis of who Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu truly is. He also ran down Dr Pius E Odubu calling him unprintable names. He told Edo people what they didn’t know about Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi and General Charles Airhiavbere. One wonders how Oshiomhole would market any of these aspirants and convince Edo people that they are now saints and better in any way than Godwin Obaseki. Does Oshiomhole think that any of these aspirants possesses half of the qualities of Godwin Obaseki?
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