–Senator Domingo Obende, APC National Campaign Council Publicity and Media Chairman
By Ayo Alonge
Senator Domingo Obende is the All Progressives Congress, (APC), National Campaign Council Publicity and Media Chairman.In this interview with journalists in Lagos, he spoke on the postponed governorship election in Edo State and declared that the PDP in Edo State lacks credible leaders that can deliver their factional governorship candidate ,Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu victory.
How is your party taking the postponement of the election?
I think we have prepared so hard and we believe and know that voters are behind us; that we are going to win. Secondly, I am also happy, because Edo has not been known to be a place where violence is the order of the day. If for security reasons as stated by both the police and the DSS, this shift is realized, I think I am happy, for it resupposes that come September 28, the election will be peaceful. We have heard talk about APC forcing postponement, but first and foremost, APC never imported any thug. Secondly, we are not harbouring anybody, thirdly we did not bring any body from outside Edo State to come and register. What do we have to lose? Nothing.What is more, our strength are voters and we have them behind us, they are not going to die or shift. So, for us, any time, any day, we are ready for the election and I can bet you, we’re going to win by a wider margin than we had imagined.
Would you say that the current economic hardship is affecting your party, APC, this election period?
Things are tough but it’s not peculiar to Edo State. Here in Edo State, there is no governor that you can compare with Oshiomhole. You can talk about Gen.Ogbemudia, yes, but Oshiomhole is fantastic. If you compare Oshiomhole’s work with that of other governors, if they had any at all, you will find out they are not at par at all. And that is a big plus for us in this election.The two weeks they gave us are two weeks of grace during which we will showcase all the things we have done. And what is more, it has given us the opportunity to reintroduce our candidate across the state. Regarding the economic situation, everybody knows that the whole world is in total recession and PDP brought us into this problem.We cannot ignore the past and blame the current persons in government who are trying to find solutions to the problems. APC promised three things, security, economy, fighting corruption. Right now, we all know who collected our money without doing anything. Right now we all know why the economy nosedived. What APC is doing is trying to rebuild Nigeria and put it on a solid foundation for growth.
PDP leaders in Edo State are boasting they will win. Are you worried?
There is this adage that says “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.PDP as we speak today, has no clear cut leadership and I don’t think anybody would want to take PDP seriously in Edo State. They have two factional governorship candidates Ize-Iyamu and Iduoriyekemwen, so how can they win? PDP’s leadership in Edo State for more than ten years did not yield any development. Comrade started in the past seven and half years, in fact, I should say six and half years, because for a year he was still grappling with the whims and caprices of the PDP-controlled House of Assembly and Chief Tony Anenih. Anenih controlled the budget for the whole one year bearing in mind that Zakawanu Garuba was the Speaker of the assembly as at that time. Within that one year, Comrade did nothing in the state.But immediately he surmounted that, in his second year, he started performing due to the failure of PDP leadership.For me, I do not think any Edo man, having suffered these experiences with PDP leadership, is convinced that PDP leaders will allow any elected person in PDP to perform. When you look at it clearly, you will ask, who are the people that actually destroyed PDP in Edo State?Lucky Igbinedion could not do much, because the leadership was sharing the money.The moment money came, they shared and I don’t think any Edo man wants that anymore.I know clearly that we clearly studied this issue and that’s why a lot of us have resolved that it must be APC all the way.It’s APC all the way, because Comrade in seven years has given us development we never anticipated. He may have his private issues with people, but has he performed? The answer is yes.Has he done what exactly he was voted in for? The answer is yes. Did he as a politician deliver on his promises? The answer is yes. Go and check, after Ogbemudia’s days who else can compare with Comrade? Nobody else, because he did not have any unwieldy leadership controlling him.In the same way, we feel Obaseki will consolidate Comrade’s development thrust. Yes, they’re not the same .
Everybody knows Comrade as a fighter, he has been a labour man, he likes challenges but there are people who navigate around their challenges, Comrade does not navigate around challenges, he confronts them. So for me, PDP has no leadership that can guarantee them victory in this forthcoming election.
Former governor Lucky Igbinedion recently boasted that the next governor of Edo State will be produced by the Igbinedion family in the person of Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Chief Ikimi also boasted in the same manner. What’s your take on that?
First and foremost, my brother Lucky Igbinedion knows who Oshiomhole is. He was one of those who brought Oshiomhole, so you can say Oshiomhole is equally part of that family. So, we have already produced two governors from that family, Igbinedion himself and Oshiomhole. Now, we cannot allow three brothers to rule us in Edo State from the same family. Oshiomhole came from Lucky’s angle and as at that time, Chief Anenih was angry until they met and had a meeting point.
Meeting point? But….
But as you know, Oshiomhole needed to be his own man, so as to fulfill his campaign promises and that was where he had issues with these people which is good for the people of the state. Lucky is our brother, so he brought another of our brother, Oshiomhole, who is completing his eight years, so we don’t want him to go and bring another person from the same family. We are satisfied with Oshiomhole that he gave to us and we are going to get another governor from another family, in the person of Obaseki.
What about Chief Ikimi?
Of course for Ikimi, he is a man that likes talking big and that is his style.But I will advise him to win his polling unit first for his party before talking about winning the governorship election. He knows what I mean, so I don’t need to expatiate on that.And talking about our current situation, what we are facing today as a nation, is a product of PDP’s conduct and we don’t want to lament about it.We are still working in Edo State and Edo will keep working. So, in this light, we do not think we need a change of government in Edo State.The strategy we have been using, particular three years to Oshiomhole’s exit that is working for us we want to maintain and the people behind this success is the Chairman of the Economic and Strategy Team, which is Godwin Obaseki.
And of course I must tell you clearly that Ize-Iyamu will equally agree that this government has worked. But when things have become personalized, he cannot say the fact as it is any more. Everybody wants to have his own way.On this, Edo people cannot be short-changed, Edo people are wiser, Edo people will stand to claim what belongs to them by speaking our minds on September 28th with our votes and we will make sure that we suppress and oppress PDP where they are right now. They can never resurface anymore, because as far as we are concerned, we have the people who will use their votes to suppress them.The problem for Ize-Iyamu too is that while Obaseki has been able to point at what his party, APC, has done, Ize-Iyamu has nothing to point to, because his boss while he was SSG to government, that is Lucky Igbinedion, performed woefully. But you can see what Comrade Oshiomhole has done today. He’s a fantastic governor that all of us will miss.
Can you justify the postponement of the election?
For me the threats that led to the postponement of the election have been justified. First and foremost, we saw militants being charged to court in Edo State. Some are still facing interrogation.Secondly, the tension in Edo State has abated drastically, you don’t find people walking as if tomorrow we are going to die again.Everybody has calmed down. And security agencies have strategized, they have now known the positions to place their men.
For me, the postponement of this election is going to give us the wide margin we need to satiate our election. For PDP, I think they will keep crying wolf because they know why. It’s like I have made an arrangement that tomorrow I will do something and it’s like that thing is dispensable. PDP is lost now,because they are finding it difficult to re-strategize and energize, that’s their problem. For us, in APC, we are going to win the election because we have fine-tuned our strategy, we are doing more work to ensure that we win and we are going to win.