Tony Osauzo, Benin
As the political crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lingers, Chief of Staff to governor Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Taiwo Akerele, has predicted that the governor would win the party primaries because those opposing his second term bid are not in control of the party structure.
He faulted comments by some supporters of ex-Comrade governor Adams Oshiomhole and National Chairman of the APC that Obaseki was not continuing with projects and policies of his (Oshiomhole’s) administration, pointing out that it was not proper for the governor to continue with certain bad policies.
Akerele who spoke to journalists in Benin City, however, said Obaseki continued with the good policies of Oshiomhole in the educational sector and other areas especially, infrastructure development, adding that the governor was blending investment with politics and governance to ensure Edo people are happy.
He said there was no decision taken by Governor Obaseki that the party structure was not carried along.
”If the governor wanted to be a dictator, he would take charge and not concede these decisions. He does not want to appropriate authority to himself. He wants the will of the people to prevail. He had come under pressure to be in charge of the party but he said no that there is a party structure.
”There is continuity everywhere. Was the governor not given an award recently by the Nigeria Union of Teachers? It was as a result of the fact that we continued from where the former government stopped which we were part of. The former government built structures but now we are building the human capacity in the schools.
”We are now training teachers. That was not the priority of the former government. It made sure the roofs were not leaking; we have to make sure there are tables and chairs. We have to move and progress. We have to now train the human beings teaching the students and we have committed huge resources into building the capacity of teachers.
”They said continuity. There are certain things that were bad in the previous government that we cannot continue. The good ones we will continue with. They should leave the governor to work and allow him be the leader of the party in the state. The governor must be the leader of the party and nobody should wrestle that with him. We know how party structures are managed in Nigeria. Why will Edo State be different? There cannot be two captains in a ship,” Akerele said.
He, therefore, raised the alarm that democracy is under threat in Edo State, vowing not to keep quiet and allow those who never took risk either openly or secretly to fight the military to appropriate democracy to themselves, their pockets and their cronies.
He warned mischief makers with machinery of violence whom he alleged were being aided by personalities in high places that “those who genuinely fought for democracy are still alive, hale and hearty and capable of defending democracy all over again till all pseudo anti renegades are defeated.”
The Chief of Staff who explained that he was speaking in his capacity as democracy activist and concerned citizen of the state, said he was angry because of the unfolding dangerous political scenario in the state, pointing out that the Obaseki-led government has good thoughts for all segments of people of the state and therefore, cannot be intimidated out of office by miscreants who are out to drag the state into chaos.
“The scenario that is building up in Edo State if not tamed, is capable of derailing Nigerian democracy where an elected governor who has been adjudged as civil, well trained, educated and working hard to make Edo State an industrial hub, eliminated youth unemployment, eliminated multiple taxation, streamlined land ownership to encourage private investment, promote citizen engagement and popular participation of the people in governance, making Edo safe for all, building institutions and providing conducive atmosphere for civil servants and building a state where merit, excellence and social values are held high will be attempted to be intimidated by those who claim they brought him to office.”
According to him, this is against the spirit of June 12 that we celebrate every year, stressing the “will of one man must not be manipulated to mean the will of the people; I stand by the principle of farewell to poverty; I stand by the principle of No to dictatorship in all guise.”
He explained that the state government had opened “several channels of communication with those who are genuinely aggrieved both within and outside of the party (APC) to come for dialogue and peaceful settlement of the issues if really they exist, but those of them who do not mean well for the people of the state have remained recalcitrant and hell bent on causing disharmony due to selfish interest.
“Those who supported military government are those now superintending over politics in Nigeria. I am angry, I am genuinely angry that this is not the democracy we fought for. For the past six months government has been distracted as a result of inordinate people,” Akerele said.
He added: “Let those whose palm kernels were cracked by the benevolent Chi (spirit) remain humble”, warning that “quietness and peaceful demeanour does not mean cowardice. Silence does not mean foolishness; there is blood in human system yet we sweat out water; a goat pushed to the wall will react and for the first time the pursuer will realise that the goat has teeth.”