The raging crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has become worrisome to many party faithful. In this interview with TONY OSAUZO in Benin, one of the party chieftains and member, Ambrose Alli University Governing Council, Elder Matthew Emiohe, bared his mind on the issue. He also warned that insecurity may affect APC’s chances in 2023.
Edo State chapter of the APC, is presently enmeshed in crisis. As a party leader, what are your thoughts?
If I tell you that I am not disturbed about this crisis I am telling a lie. What is happening in the state is a very big distraction, the problem is that the principal actors, Obaseki and Oshiomhole have not really declared that they have problem with each other. What I see is that supporters of the two leaders are either coming out to defend or promote either of them or highlighting this crisis. I know that a lot of lies are told on both sides. Yes, we know that there are problems because things are not the way they should be. The major problem is the lies and people are benefiting hugely from it.
They will go to Oshiomhole and lie to him to get money and then they go to Obaseki and tell him what he wants to hear. These two individuals must sit down and put the interest of the party first above any other interest. The party must move on, otherwise we stand the chances of losing.
If you want to believe those saying Oshiomhole is unhappy or angry with the governor, I want to ask is it not the same Oshiomhole that brought Obaseki to power? He has not come out to tell us why he is angry with Obaseki. Today, you cannot say that Obaseki is not performing, if not I will be the first to go against him. If there are personal issues we expect Oshiomhole to come out and tell us because we all know how he helped Obaseki to become governor. If it is because of performance, the governor has done well because in my constituency he is delivering on his promises.
In my local government through the council chairman, a lot is going on there. Not too long ago we had a senatorial meeting where we addressed a lot of issues and of course, one of the major problems we discussed was his relationship with Oshiomhiole. I suggested that if there is a problem the governor should look for a mutual friend and I did mentioned Aliko Dangote. In fact, a week after, I understand that a meeting was held with Oshiomhole, Obaseki and Dangote but few days after we heard that their meeting didn’t yield the expected outcome. I don’t really know what is going on.
Leaders are the ones causing this problem; they are the ones who go to Abuja to complain that Obaseki is not taking care of them. Maybe they want the governor to share money with them. But I know that from my local government most leaders have been empowered whether from local government or state. In my ward, we have two major markets where construction is going on. For example, work is on-going in Eguare and Egbodi market, maternity hospital is being upgraded, reconstruction of Ewuare primary school and roads construction are handled by party leaders. The contracts in my ward are shared among five leaders and that is empowerment to me, not necessarily sharing money. It is the leaders now that will now reach out to other people.
Are you not worried that the lingering crisis is creating a fertile ground for the opposition to take over the state and the tendency that some people will move to other party?
I am very worried. For the sake of our national chairman, I don’t think he wants this kind of problem in his own state. I think Oshiomhole is concerned about that. Today, people are talking about how we lost some APC states, it will be disastrous for us to lose Edo and that is why I said whatever the problem, we need to know now so that we can begin to address the issue. We all know that Oshiomhole brought Obaseki and he must have known that he will perform and continue with his legacies. I am sure Obaseki must have done something that convinced Oshiomhiole that he will perform as governor and he supported him.
We all know that Obaseki too must have helped Oshiomhole as well through his contacts to raise money. I also expect Obaseki to be loyal to Oshiomhole too.
What is your advice to Obaseki and Oshiomhole on how to end the political crisis in Edo State?
My advice to them is for Obaseki and Oshiomhole to sit down and put their personal interest aside to resolve the issue. Oshiomhole needs to resolve the matter because of his national integrity. For Obaseki, he wants the state to move forward and I don’t think he wants anything to derail that. He must make some concrete and genuine steps to reach out to Oshiomhole too. For the meeting they have held not yielding results there must be a reason not known to any of us. All we are interested in is peace and stability in the party.
Looking at the state of the APC generally, what is your suggestion on how to resolve pockets of problems in the states’ chapters of the party?
You see I am very concerned about Edo State. The national chairman of our party Adams Oshiomhole needs all our support for him to be focussed. He must come home to first of all put his house in order. When you have problem in your home state you can’t go to other states and say you want to solve their problem, they will always point to your home. That is why we are praying that Obaseki and Oshiomhole must come to terms and reason together for the sake of APC.
The new federal executive council will be inaugurated soon. As a member of the APC, what should they do differently to move the country forward?
I think President Buhari should give them a clear guideline on what they need to do. I was not too impressed with many of the ministers, look at the road in Ekpoma, my domain, it’s a write off and we had to travel through Delta State to get to my village in Edo. There has to be a clear guideline and direction that they have to work on so that Nigerians can begin to see some real positive change.
One of the greatest talking points today is the insecurity in the country. Do you think your party can still maintain power if this trend continues in 2023?
This question worries me. I am disturbed about killings in the land. Just like I said earlier, the President must set the tone, the bulk stops on his table; he must be firm and take bold steps that will send strong messages to these people behind the insecurity. But if he is silent, it means consent. People need to know what he intends to do. In the United States, people are reacting to the President’s body language and statement. People want to see that what he is saying is matched with actions. Buhari must come out and be decisive if not it will impact negatively on our party. But I hope we are able to find a solution.
What is your take on the call for revolution?
Yes, people may not be happy with the state of affairs in the country but that doesn’t warrant a call for revolution. If there are problems we must all sit down and tackle them, revolution is a serious thing to toy with. If anybody wants a change of government there are constitutional ways to go about it and we must come together to dialogue to achieve what we want.