Chief Charles Idahosa, a former Commissioner for Information in Edo State in this interview, speaks on the resolution of the National Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari on the September 19 election, ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and other issues.
Ahead of the September 19 governorship election, what are the chances of your candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki? Do you think he has what it takes to win?
The governor has performed excellently well and I believe that his performance will give him an edge over his opponents. Also, he has defeated his major opponent before and he is poised to do so again. Then Obaseki won the 2016 election with 319,483 votes while Ize-Iyamu had 253,173 votes. That is a difference of over 66,000 votes. In terms of percentage, Obaseki scored 52 percent of the vote to Ize-Iyamu’s 41 percent. So, if he can do that in 2016 when he was just coming onboard, what do you think will happen four years after when he has been tested and the people of the state are clamouring for him to return for another term?
What do you think will be the major campaign points for the governor?
I believe Obaseki doesn’t need to campaign much. The job has been done for him four years ago by Adams Oshiomhole, a man who engages his mouth more than his brain has done the campaign for Obaseki and PDP. We are already putting together all that he said about Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki four years ago. We are going to put it on billboards and other places for people to listen to what he said about the two candidates four years ago and then leave the good people of Edo to make up their minds. Most of the things Oshiomhole said then are in public domain and they came from his heart. Ize-Iyamu has not come out to say Oshiomhole was telling lies about him or sue him in court.
The National Assembly has been embroiled in crisis with the Presidency over the tenure of Service Chiefs and activities of some Ministers. Do you think this is in the best interest of the country?
I have been following the activities of the National Assembly and the Ministers. The truth of the matter is that a lot of Nigerians have no clear picture of what they are dealing with. I think the whole issue started after the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman. Like I have always said whether people care to listen or not, what we are witnessing right now is an attempt by the National Assembly led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila to frustrate and deal with the executive arm of government so that they can prove who really is in charge of government. As far I am concerned, what is also happening is a fight for the 2023 presidency. We all know who Adams Oshiomhole is rooting for as candidate for the 2023 presidency. So, what we are witnessing right now is a fight to show who is in charge especially when you consider the manner in which APC was formed. The biggest partner in that merger which produced APC is Bola Tinubu from Lagos. He came into the merger with the highest number of governors and legislators. In the first tenure, we all saw what happened in the 8th national assembly and that is the same thing that is happening now. I know Oshiomhole inside out and what he is capable of. I was his Political Adviser for eight years. He gave the President the impression that he was doing his bidding with the election of the principal officers of the 9th National Assembly but he was only pursuing his selfish interests and that of his preferred choice for the 2023 presidential election. Now that he has been thrown out, they want to make sure they destabilise the presidency and the Federal Government in preparation for their final breakdown of the party. During the governorship primary of the Edo APC, Oshiomhole said the rubber-stamp NWC which he headed is the High Court, the Appeal Committee is the Court of Appeal and he himself is the Supreme Court. That is what we are seeing now. It’s an organised attempt to paint the government in bad light. Those calling the current National Assembly rubber stamp are wrong. They are not rubber stamp but are only doing what they were instructed to do. That was exactly what they did in Edo. We all saw the video of his younger brother, Seid Aliyu Oshiomhole where he said ‘ Gbajabiamila and Lawan dey pursue us with dollars’. At that time, I granted interviews telling the National Assembly to disown that statement but they never listened to me. That was the same thing he wanted to do when he wanted to plant 14 legislators in Edo state House of Assembly so that he can hold the governor to ransom.
So, do you think the National Assembly is dictating to the executive on the issue of the Service Chiefs?
A situation where the National Assembly will be dictating to the executive arm of government on Service Chiefs is uncalled for. Also, if you look at those who are being targeted by the National Assembly, they are mostly from the South-South and are not on Oshiomhole’s side. The Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo is on the side of Obaseki. We also know Akpabio’s position. During the NEC meeting where Oshiomhole was removed, President Buhari recognised Giadom as the acting chairman and we all know that Giadom was pro-Obaseki. During the NEC meeting, after the President’s opening remarks, Giadom wanted to give a speech as the person who convened the meeting but the Speaker, Gbajabiamila shut him down because they are already angry with him. All of them are working for Oshiomhole and that was why they took sides with him during the Edo Assembly crisis. Now that Oshiomhole who facilitated their election as Senate President and Speaker has been removed, they want to scatter everything. That to me is unacceptable.
What is your take on the probe into the affairs of NDDC and the allegation by the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio that most of the contracts were given to National Assembly members?
The man who said they are taking most of the contracts knows what he is talking about. He is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, supervising the NDDC, so he has the documents to back up his claim. He has been told to produce the list of the lawmakers who got contracts and he has not said he doesn’t have it. We all know that NDDC is a cesspool of corruption. Look at the role of Oshiomhole in the whole issue. He created problem for Edo people with the board appointment when he was national chairman. He made use of the National Assembly members to hurriedly confirm the members of the NNDC board. He tried to create problem among the Edo South people. He nominated Pius Odubu despite knowing that the laws setting up the NDDC made it clear that it is alphabetical order. The first state that produced the chairman of NNDC was Abia, headed by Onyema Ugochukwu. The last state that produced the chairman of NDDC was Cross River, the next state was Delta but Oshiomhole jumped Delta and moved it to Edo. When the attention of the President was called to it, he immediately dissolved the board and Odubu was removed. Look at what happened in Edo last weekend. I never believed that after all the humiliation Oshiomhole has gone through, he will still come back to Benin in the night and arrange motorcycles, taxi drivers for a rally while his people in his constituency are mourning the sudden death of the former Speaker, Zakawanu Garuba.