–Obaseki, APC gubernatorial candidate in Edo State
Godwin Obaseki is the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship candidate in the September 10 Edo State gubernatorial election. In this interview, he expressed optimism that he’ll win, but raised the alarm over alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to unleash mayhem on election day.
How optimistic are you of victory having campaigned vigorously so far?
We have campaigned extensively and if you recall, this is the second time I am embarking on this kind of campaign. During the primary, I visited the 192 wards. The campaigns for the main election have been more elaborate; I went to communities I didn’t visit during the primary and, it has been quite revealing. First, it would be a miracle for PDP to win in Edo State, because we just don’t see their presence, we don’t know their message probably, because they don’t have any. In every community we have visited, we can point to a project the APC government has done and that explains the popularity of the party. The issue is most communities want more and it’s easy to argue that given our track record of performance they should allow us continue to provide for them unlike the PDP which doesn’t have anything to show in their ten years in the saddle in the state. That being the fact on ground, it has been easy to appeal to voters to vote for me and my running mate Philip Shuaibu. The second issue is that we have been able to counter their lies, because without any message they have gone round with their calumny to stoke tension and anxiety and prepare the state for violence. For PDP, the only way they can win is to unleash violence and steal ballot boxes to produce fake results and, we know clearly they are working on such strategies. There is evidence and we have reported to security agencies about people they are importing from neighboring states to cause mayhem so that the election can be inconclusive. We also have evidence of people they brought in to register during the voters registration exercise who do not even come from certain communities. This is obvious from the incident at llushi, where they attacked my campaign train and, it’s evident that their frustration and fear that they’ll lose encouraged some of their supporters who are acting their evil script even before election day as they unleashed mayhem on our supporters , destroyed our vehicles and beat people.
So, they are masters of propaganda. While we are campaigning, PDP leadership is using the money they stole for propaganda, so their propaganda machine is well oiled, misinforming people and this gives them the false confidence that they are winning. They’re trying to sell a message about the future when they destroyed the past and they go to the markets, trying to stoke fear, using the current economic crisis to campaign. But we have gone round to explain to voters that these are the same people who caused this economic recession and destroyed our economy. We know the PDP is working with the guys that caused the havoc and the killings in Rivers State. We’ve told security agencies , we know they’ve recruited many of them. You know we are campaigning in the riverine areas and these are their targets. Places like llusin, Gegelege and Agenebode, our borders, where they intend to perpetuate violence and, there is evidence they have brought thugs into Oredo, Egor and Ikpoba Okhai. They planted at least two militants each from the Niger Delta to each of the units in these areas so that they can cause mayhem and confusion and make the elections inconclusive. That is their strategy and we have told security agents. We won’t allow them to succeed.
But is the recession not affecting your party’s campaigns?
In this case, we know Edo people are very enlightened, we have been explaining to them that the recession is global but what is more important is what we have been doing to cope. Campaigning round the state, I discovered that in the rural areas, people are beginning to make money from price gauging. But we have told people prices will come down eventually. Most areas where we have tarred roads, we see people drying rice, going to their farms to harvest yams and lorry loads of food stuff coming out. So, we have been selling a message of hope that this recession is only temporary and because they trust us, they are buying it. The other advantage we have is that they have tested the PDP before and they don’t see PDP as an option. When we asked them they said sometimes they don’t even know who the PDP candidate is between Ize-Iyamu and Iduoriyekemwen. So, even their supporters are confused and many of them feel APC is their only hope and they are joining us daily. PDP has no hope in this election. For me,my real opponent is APGA’s Osaro Onaiwu and others. There are two PDP factions in Edo now; one controlled by godfathers and they are the only ones still in that party.The other is that controlled by some progressive leaders who have all decamped to APC. So, who is going to win for them in each of the wards and units? Nobody. I laughed when they resorted to making allegations which only exist on newspaper pages not on ground and for me, it’s another fraud so that their PDP governors will bring money for them to share. Of course those guys have been there since 1999 making money from deceiving people. But it is all over for them in Edo State. APC in Edo State led by Oshiomhole has buried them and we will continue to bury PDP.
Is there any tendency for anti party activities in APC?
Nobody in APC is into that. That was Ize-Iyamu’s wish, because he invited several APC members to play the deception game which he knows best and work against their own party but they shunned him. Our reconciliation drive has been very successful. You would have noticed that some of our colleagues who were aggrieved after the primary have been working very closely with the party in their various wards and local governments. We are all together. I was even touched to see some who contributed money to promote the campaigns in their various wards and I am so grateful to them. What is also interesting and that has helped us is the wave of decamping from PDP to APC, so anybody who was angry with us seeing them coming to us, is convinced that we have something good here. So, this factor and reconciliation just show that we are one, and people are working in unison, particularly in Orhiomwon and Uhumwonde over which we were concerned but which are now solidly under the control of APC and party leaders there are working together now.
People think you’re governor Adams Oshiomhole’s stooge. Are you?
I keep saying to them that if I was a stooge for the last eight years and that led to the progress we’ve made, I’d rather be a stooge to my people than looting our commonwealth. It’s nonsense. Here again, the issue is about development and utilizing our wealth for our common good. So, if being a stooge means utilizing public funds for the betterment of the people of Edo State, if being a stooge means I am not meeting any godfather to decide on how my budget will be implemented, then I’d rather be such stooge. Ize-Iyamu has all his life been a stooge to the Igbinedions both the father and son. He started as a PA to Lucky Igbinedion, then Chief of staff in his government and, later the most powerful Secretary to the State Government, SSG who signed contracts that were never executed. He authorized the sacking of over 7,000 workers who today are crying for their pensions which Oshiomhole’s administration is paying. Let me tell you, we need to begin to change the paradigm. I keep asking them to tell me in specific terms what Oshiomhole’s administration hasn’t done in the last seven and half years. So, what’s wrong about consolidating them? We must distinguish our politics from that of these brain-dead hawks who think they can continue to destroy and distract our people. Being in the back room of this administration in the last seven and half years, I directed the policies more. I pointed to the comrade governor, the direction we should go, so does that make Adams a stooge? Sometimes, try and understand their logic, because of their poor education which has prevented them from doing other things they make those stupid arguments about me being a stooge. Let Ize-Iyamu also accept that he is a stooge to Lucky Igbinedion and take the blame for the failure of the PDP for ten years. At least with that, you will expect him to toe the path of honor by withdrawing from the contest, because he will be stoned by our people next Saturday.
What’s your message to Edo people?
I want to first thank Edo people, because across the state, I discovered during our campaigns that groups and communities voluntarily endorsed me, assuring me that they will vote for me. My appeal to security agencies is to ensure that there’s no violence. If we have a free, fair and credible poll devoid of violence, I am certain we will trounce the PDP no matter who they decide to field as their candidate. I will pick at least 80 per cent of the votes come September 10.