Samuel Bello, Abuja
Former Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon Pally Iriase, has given reasons the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State did not give Governor Godwin Obaseki a second term. He also spoke on other critical issues. Excerpt:
The battle to the Osadebe house has started. Pastor Ize-Iyamu has picked his nomination form. Is the party divided against itself?. What’s your reaction to the government in Edo State?
Ordinarily, what is happening in Edo State should not be regarded as problem at all because when you have a political contest or any contest for that matter, there are two sides to it. Right now the field is clearer. It is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu versus the sitting governor Godwin Obaseki. It is the hyping over time by the sitting governor of what he regarded as his selling point that has made it look as if we are in crisis.
How do we really ensure that we don’t make a mistake and what played out in Zamfara and Rivers states does not happen in Edo State?
Thank you again for that question. Those who are referring to Zamfara and River states are using mischief to sell their view point. What is happening in Edo State is simply a situation where a sitting governor who had the field layed out for him to perform, has failed to perform to the satisfaction of the people. We have investigated and we have brought out sources of information that are incontrovertible as at April this year. This government under Godwin Obadeki has received over N350 billion in IGR, in FAC disbursement, in bailout funds and in Paris, debt excess deduction refund. So, when you put this together you have N350 billion and against the backdrop of the performance of the past government and him being a throw up from that government, Edo people had the right to expect value addition by way of capital projects, Infrastructural development that would be so obvious to the eyes not on pages of newspapers and television screens. Not from the mouth of the doer himself the governor, but the people who are enjoying his good governance. In good case whoever would have come against him to say you will not make a second tenure would have had the people to contend with, but right now what do you have? Compromised senior citizens are the ones who are singing the songs of performance. Edo people are not aware where those performances are, but they are aware of failed promises coming onboard. There were a number of promises that we have discovered were achievable against the backdrop of what God has done for Edo State within this period in terms of revenue generated. You talked about dry seaport, you talked about industrial park, you listed more than 330 roads that you said ambitiously you will do. If you listed two roads or three roads in my local government or any other local government for that matter and you were able to do one, we give you the benefit of doubt that it is due to constrained funds that you were not able to do the three you wanted to do, but when you do zero and some of the projects that have been practically completed which you would have taken possession of, you turned them into deadly political games. I give you an example, everybody is talking about the five-star central hospital in Benin, but there is a hospital in Otuo Owan East, my place, built, completed and while I served as House of Reps member, I directed my constituency funds for the standard equipment of that hospitals. While the ICPC was going round to investigate usage of constituency projects, they came to my place and they were shocked to see the amount of equipment that were in that place. I have begged, I have reasoned with the governor to please take ownership. Open this hospital for use today, we are under serious health challenge. The people are dying. In this age should you be blaming unknown ailment because they din’t have opportuinity to go to the hospital to be properly diagnosed. Strange ailement and so on and because the press is not able to cover every nook and cranny such go unnoticed.
What practical measures is your party puting up to wrest power from the incumbent?
We are not in trouble with ensuring that he will not return for his second term; the people have resolved except his mouth piece that he has paid to keep up his game plan. His game plan is simply to blackmail Adams Oshiomhole and all will be well, he does not know that he is going to contend with us. He has vilified politicians of which I am one. I never needed a dime from him rather during his election I contributed N10 million, my hard earned savings over the years, I parted with it because I thought he would continue to give good governance to us. He has been there for the fourth year now, I didn’t need a dime from him by the grace of God. Yet he announced to everybody; he sold pride to accuse people of corruption, saying they want him to open the treasury so that they will loot; who is looting your money. Do something let people start clapping. Thank God for a very thoughtful national working committee we have, Oshiomhole is not a sole administrator of APC, the national working committee in its sound judgment has come up with direct primaries and yet the so-called super popular sitting governor is running from pillar to post getting people to delegate the chairman and by extension the working committee. I want to prove to you that this time, the best option is what the national working committee has chosen. We are either for direct or indirect. Direct is everybody, every card carrying member of APC will line up in their various units within the ward going no where. No travels, no problem of social distancing because not everyone who is in a polling unit is of one party, and whatever number of APC members that you have there will be able to observe social distancing and will collate working from each unit and sum them together and know which aspirant won the election, that is direct primary. But under our constitution, indirect primaries is also mentioned as an option because the first mentioned is direct or indirect primaries what is indirect primaries? Indirect primaries is of two layers. The national working committee is empowered by the constitution in Article 20, Subsection 4 to determine the number of delegates. When you are determining the number, it goes further to say delegates shall be elected by direct method. The number of those delegates spread across the wards of the state; you first have to be elected which is the thing they are not averting their mind to or not telling the public. You first do direct to elect delegates, the delegates now become the electoral college and they are added into one spot and you cannot guarantee social distancing under such circumstance and national working committee in its wisdom has come out to say look we can’t afford two levels, one, first direct to elect delegates and then go ahead again for the electoral college in this period of COVID-19, but rather what is appropriate now is to decentralize this thing and what is more, it is more democratic. So, if you are popular what is the problem with Edolites who are of APC deciding whether or not you are good enough to go.
On the crisis in Edo State House of Assembly, what do you have to say about that?
Lack of performance has been mentioned, the desire to destroy democratic structures is yet another reason that Edo is regarded as comparatively well educated and will not stand by and allow this to be curtailed. Edo State House of Assembly is made up of 24 members of our party because of the superlative performance given to the people by former Governor Adams Oshiomhole; people have come to embrace APC almost as a one party state that is why APC won 24 over 24 in the last election. You don’t expect that as enshrined in the constitution, we would make a simple proclamation convenient to the extent that people will not be looking for venue and the people will not be taken by surprise as to when the house will be inaugurated. People will not be asking did we say the governor has made his proclamation; who heard it, what source, is it credible. People will not be faced with a situation where people who were kidnapped and hijacked are forced into the chambers of the House of Assembly in the night. Why was this, Obaseki knows that he is not a performing governor. He wants a jackboot method to ensure that no one can critisice him. Certainly, he cannot leave with a robust parliament and so he went shopping for maliable candidates, candidates for the leadership of the assembly and the poor gentlemen said let us get to know ourselves and like the constitution said elect amongst ourselves who will be speaker, who will be deputy speaker and other principal officers and he said no he has a list for you and those who said sir that is not how it should be done, they were marked for elimination.
Obaseki still has the likes of Oyegun and Tom Ikimi and other top gladiators by his side. What’s your take?
I said the man has gathered a mutilated crowd of compromised elders. I’m very sorry, if I have a quarrel with Oshiomhole, I will wait for a proper opportunity not the feature of the people. I take it out on him. Everybody knows why Chief Oyegun will be against anything Oshiomhole decides. Take your mind back to the chairmanship contest, you get the point. So people can be by and large bad leaders. In the case of Obaseki, Oyegun never supported Obaseki before, but it is easy for somebody who is not doing the right thing to gather around himself those who are incensed against the fellow he wants to blackmail. Alhaji Olawale Shaibu, Oyegun. So you mentioned among the names Chief Tom Ikimi, i have the greatest respect for him. He had issues with Oshiomhole you get the point and he is not even a member of APC today. So if he is singing the praise of Godwin Obaseki right now, it buttresses what I have told you but direct primaries will unravel all of that.
The PDP is waiting to capitalize on all these crisis to get to power. Is this possible?
The reason Obaseki is running from pillar to post is because he knows that once APC has chosen a candidate and it’s not him even if he goes to PDP he loses. I have told you Edo State witnessed a lot of development, urban renewal, rural development under Oshiomhole. Edo people are by and large lovers of good governance. They regard what is going on now as an aberration that must be stopped. Not to turn their back on APC, but to change the persons who have refused to add value the way they expected it in the face of the persons amongst us because the hard times are here now. Nigerian crude oil is selling at a price that is not sustainable for our infrastructural development. Consistently, you were receiving well over N5 billion from revenue allocation every month. You were making over N2 billion from IGR every month. If it’s only that on every month basis after you pay salary and rebrand your recurrent expenditure you should be able to pick one major capital intensive project and deal with it, that’s what we are talking about. Edo people know where the shoe is pinching them and I don’t wish PDP win. I do not see them getting their acts together. Nobody should be scaremongering here, we will resolve this thing and the misrule will stop. APC will be in charge.