‘Obaseki has mismanaged Edo Assembly crisis’ – The Nation Newspaper

All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole spoke with reporters in Abuja on the protracted crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly, how Governor Godwin Obaseki is handling the conflict and how it can be resolved. TONY AKOWE was there.

What is the bone of contention between you and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki?

This has been an issue I have tried to avoid. I watched people talking about Oshiomhole’s faction and Godwin’s faction. The truth is that I don’t have any faction. Everybody in Edo State particularly those of APC stock, are my people. We founded the party from ACN, to APC. It hurts when people can’t make a distinction between policy positions and unhealthy debate about options in dealing with specific issues. Now, I remain convinced that it is not in the interest of our democracy for nine members at 9:30pm, which I understand the Supreme Court in another judgment has described as nocturnal hours, for an elected parliament to seek to secretly inaugurate a House so that a particular person can emerge as a Speaker and in the process you exclude 15 members of the House. Nine persons cannot elect the Speaker or Deputy Speaker on behalf of 24 members. Number two, it is also the tradition and the law that when you are elected by your various constituencies, the day of your inauguration, the proclamation is not a state secret to be shared by those who are favoured. The proclamation must be published stating time and date.

The Speaker, Frank Okiye, accused you of planning to impeach the governor with your loyalists and the governor also accused you of orchestrating the crisis from Abuja…

First of all, Okiye is not the Speaker. He is member elect. I watched the governor say those things but the truth of the matter is that he knows better than that. The question I will put to you is, is it within the discretion of a state governor to decide who becomes the Speaker? The only option for him is to lobby and if he lobbies and in the end, he is unable to get everybody to toe his line, he has to concede that these are not his Commissioners or Special Assistants for which he has absolute monopoly to appoint. But even at that, if they are commissioners, they must be screened by the House of Assembly. That is the law.

Read Also: Edo Assembly crisis: Obaseki hails Judiciary for upholding rule of law

So, I ask you, which section of the constitution says when the governor had decided on who should be the Speaker, so be it. Number two, Okiye, being the beneficiary of the purported inauguration says the agenda is to impeach Obaseki. Did he tell you what offence Obaseki has committed? Is he known to have committed any impeachable offence? Is impeachment a tea party? It does not make sense. By the way who is Okiye? Does he know what was invested in the making of the governor? Can he possibly lay claim to loving the governor more than those of us who went round the state and stake our reputation and invest our energy and persuasive skill to market the governor to the people? If there is one man that wants governor Obaseki to succeed so that everything I said on his behalf comes to pass, I think it will be me.

But, we thought the issues were resolved when the governor visited you in your town during Salah?

The governor has slept in my house countless times before he became a governor and even after he became a governor. He is my friend, he is my brother. But I am surprised that Nigerians don’t appreciate the fact that even as brothers, if I feel strongly that what my younger brother is doing is wrong, I should advise him quietly and when I do, it becomes factional war, that impression is wrong. Secondly, the governor knows that there is no quarrel between us. Because what could have caused us quarrel, I consciously made decision from day one to avoid it. Namely, I was never going to decide for him who he pays. I was never going to suggest to him who he appoints.

But, he alleged that politicians want him to share the money of the state?

Political leaders in Edo state, after a year in office, two years, started complaining that after they have worked hard to elect the governor, only three people are in government. The governor, the deputy governor and the SSG. What is their evidence. That the governor immediately dissolved all the boards and two and half years after, he has not reconstituted the boards. These boards are not to be occupied by Oshiomhole. I am not going to hold any position in Edo State any more. These boards were dissolved and the governor after two and half years have not reconstituted the boards. These were part of the complains. The third one was the governor’s decision to create new political leadership.

What basically is your point of disagreement with the governor?

We do have genuine disagreement about what to do with the young people who were our foot soldiers. I usually refer to them as our infantry division. These are young men and women who on election day steps to protect our votes. To engage those who want to steal our votes. At a time when we were in opposition, when the PDP ruthlessly deployed the Army, deployed the Police and even the DSS to make sure that opposition does not win. Don’t forget that I was rigged out in my first election, thanks to the courageous judiciary, I reclaimed my mandate. So, I do not think it is right. My idea of leadership is that when people have worked with me and make all those sacrifices and I am elected, I cannot abandon them. I think I have a duty to rehabilitate them and give them a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership of the outcome of the elections. Motor parks will always be motor parks whether it is in Lagos, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, they have their code. The responsibility of government is to engage them and manage them in a way that they can do their lawful business because the Road Transport Workers Unions and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, are registered trade unions in Nigeria. They have a right to operate. And it is not for a governor to proscribe them. I defended those rights when I was President of the NLC and I cannot accept that particularly when have supported us to win election. That When you give those jobs to political leaders who are competent contractors, you are empowering your people and you are empowering the political class. And they in turn have the resources to sustain. Now, if this is sharing money to people, then I disagree.

The governor set up a probe into the construction of the central hospital…

I felt terribly bad and embarrassed that as governor, I decided that we should not lament the poor state of health facilities in Edo state particularly the Central hospital that was built in 1903. So we built what I call a 5-star hospital and I deliberately went out to look for a competent commissioner for Health, a professor of Medicine from UNIBEN to superintend over the procurement process and ensuring that we bring state of the art equipment to that hospital. We built the hospital with Edo tax payers money. We gave the contract to Vermed Nigeria Limited, Vermed is well known for manufacturing hospital equipment. They operate in many African countries. We placed orders for them to supply equipment which they did even though at time we gave the contract the exchange rate was 195 per dollar. By time they finished their processes the naira has been devalued. But thanks to the governor of Central Bank, he assisted to ensure that we had access to forex at the old rate, they got their dollars at N308 to a dollar. Before I left government I paid 75 per cent of the total value. All I expected my successor to do was to pay the balance. At a point I felt so embarrassed and I went to Aliko Dangote who is a mutual friend of the governor and myself and I said, I am unable to understand why the governor is unable to open the hospital. Aliko Dangote, God will bless him. He told Godwin that if he builds a factory and lock it up for two years, the deeds that will happen is that the grease will dry up, the oil will dry up and you will invest a lot of money to service the machines before they can be operated. Not to talk about sensitive hospital equipment. And I am no more the governor so I cannot go there to defend myself. And I live with this pain even though I did my best to provide that facility.

The inquiry was set up by the former Speaker (Adjoto) who is aggrieved because he lost the House of Reps ticket to Peter Akpatason who is an incumbent lawmaker. So, based on his open bitterness, he was encouraged by the state government to set up this panel to rubbish themselves.

Are you saying that there was never a time you had disagreement over money or appointments?

We have no argument over money, we have no argument over appointment. Infact, at a meeting that we held with four governors including governor Bagudu, Fayemi, Niyi Adebayo now Minister and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, I asked the governor, how many Commissioners did I nominate in your cabinet. And he agreed that I nominated only one person out of twenty commissioners. And after that first meeting, the governor decided to remove that one commissioner along with seven others. The governor will not tell you that I dictate for him. But the only thing I feel worried about is that some of the projects we started together have been abandoned.

But, will you support him for a second term?

Have we gotten there? Let us get there first. As it stands right now, has he told you he is contesting? And has he told you I am opposed to him?

He is being told he is going to be given the Ambode treatment?

Who told him that. What will I gain if Godwin does not run a second term? Is Oshiomhole going to run a second term? If I did what I did, whether he acknowledged it or not, people know what I did to support him to be governor.

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