Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Former President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Peter Esele and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC), believes that why corruption persists in Nigeria is because there are usually no consequences for the perpetrators. In this interview, he spoke on various issues including the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State.
In this interview, he spoke extensively about his party in Edo and politics generally and gave reasons why he decided to support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for his governorship’s quest.
What is the political situation with APC in Edo State?
Right now, I think APC is in a good place. I must be very frank with you, when Godwin Obaseki was disqualified from the party, I will tell you, if the election was held in that same week, I tell you, we will have been in trouble; but right now, with the way the election is going, I don’t believe in all the other propaganda we are hearing about people using federal might; no, I think politics is not played on the social media.
APC is on ground and I will tell you that we are in a very good place and there is every likelihood that Ize-Iyamu will be the next governor of Edo State.
There is a claim that Governor Obaseki has promised Esan people governorship after the expiration of his tenure and because of that the Esan people are going to vote for him. You are an Esan man, what is the situation in your area?
First thing we are going to ask ourselves is, where are they playing it? Have you seen it on TV and there is no video to show that the governor has made that promise and there have been two occasions that were not made public, where the governor has alluded to the fact that it is still long time and that when they get to the bridge, they will cross it and these are not statements that you will tell people from Edo Central that when you get to that bridge, you will cross it.
And we all know that this current administration, I don’t see him winning the election and handing over to Edo Central.
Why am I saying that? I am happy that Obaseki is a Stock Broker. If you are going to go by that, in stock broking, you do market projection. You say okay, this stock is doing so well and this is the history of the stock. So, let’s now use that. I am using his own area of specialisation to explain this. So, when you want to invest in a company, the first thing you do, is to look at the history and the track record of the company. If I now put Obaseki vis-a-vis a company, and I say I want to invest in Obaseki, the next thing you need to ask yourself is what is his history? Does he have a history of keeping to his words? That is one. Does he have the history of dealing with people in fairness, equity and in a just manner? That is two. And now let me now go to what is on ground. And let us now look at his past history. There is a parable in my place that says when a child is washing his hands that you will know the one that will eat in a hurry. Example, the executive arm, the engine room of the executive arm, the governor is number one, the deputy governor is number two, the SSG becomes the three, the chief of staff is number four. Those are the engine room of it. Now, that is the parable I just told you earlier. Now let us look at this company that we call Obaseki and Sons. If Obaseki and Sons in all of these, deputy governor, North, SSG South, governor, South, Chief of Staff, South. So, if he loves the Esan people, how has he shown it? This is his fourth year in power and what you have is that the engine room for the executive aspect of government does not contain an Esan man. So, everything Esan people have got in his administration is statutory.
So, if you are looking at it, I don’t believe in it and that is why I am very worried for the Esan people because they are saying that they want to put their stock and we are also letting people know that they cannot put their stock there and if you want to put your stock in Obaseki, you will know that you are going to be disappointed but unfortunately, Obaseki is not winning this election.
And then, if I am also going to look at Ize-Iyamu, let us put them side by side. I am buying Ize-Iyamu’s Share and why am I buying that? Let’s also look at Ize-Iyamu’s track record. Ize-Iyamu campaigned that the state is not balanced. That they have had a governor from Edo South, they have had a governor from Edo Central, late Ambrose Alli, we have also had another from Edo South, Lucky Igbinedion and Samuel Ogbemudia and that is only Edo North that has not produced.
So, Ize-Iyamu is also in the forefront for having somebody from Edo North become a governor which resulted in him having the person of Adams Oshiomhole as a governor. Adams can still agree to that, Ize-Iyamu was the main driving force.
There is worry over violence for the forthcoming election, does that bother you?
Yes, in the sense that, that also means that the security agencies should live up to their billings. If the security agencies live up to their billings, it may not be as it is but one thing I am looking at is, for people who are running for offices to also know that if you really want to serve the people, you don’t kill people to serve them.
The picture you just painted, a laisse-affair kind of politics in Nigeria where money is easy to come by. How can we change that narrative?
It is the system. And when the system comes, how do we look at ourselves? Our problem is systemic. That is also why you find out that most people in political power cannot stand people who will tell them the truth. They want somebody who comes to them to tell them good morning everyday and anything you do as a commissioner or president, is okay. One of the fundamentals of that is that there is so much poverty in the land and the political class with all due respect, is as if it is entrenched because what you have now is, so many people in the poverty level and when it’s close to the election, they give them N1,000 or N2,000 and they are all jumping at it and they vote for you.
So, what you have is that the people cannot stand up for themselves. It is easier for me to tell you if the president is doing certain things I don’t like. I don’t say because I am a member of APC, I will not say it. When the governor was also here when he was a member of APC, if he was also doing something wrong, I would say it. Oshiomhole, you know how close we are, when he is also doing something wrong, I will say it. The fact is that I don’t need these guys to survive. I don’t need them to live my life. So, it gives me that degree and sense of independence. And also my upbringing; I give credit to my parents too who will also let you know that it doesn’t matter what goes on and that if you have to go hungry, be yourself because nothing last forever.
That is why you call it a systemic failure on the part of the political elite but the mistake they are making is that over a period of time, everything is like an ark, it goes up and it comes down but the danger in what they are doing is that, they are going to do it in such a way that everybody runs out of ideas and when there is no idea, one day, the people are also going to get tired of it. It doesn’t mean that such things don’t happen in America, politicians all over the world are the same but they put a system in place to make sure everybody has something to look forward to. So, if you are hopeful that tomorrow is going to be good, then, the society and everybody will live.
You still have poor people in America but the fact is that there are certain things they take for granted, shelter, education, food. That basic elements of survival have been taken over from them. How do you know a society that is growing? When the people no longer concern themselves with those things that are basic because the government has already provided them. If you look at Maslow’s Laws, we are at the base. Nigerians are at the base of Maslow’s Laws. We are all fighting for survival but if you go above Maslow’s Laws, the people that are more difficult to lead are those who looked out for the intangibles. How are you addressing me, this is my rights and privileges but if we don’t put all of that in place, one day, the poor will have nothing to eat anymore, you pushed them to the end of the wall, they will start looking for the elite to eat and that is one of the reasons that we have not been able to nip insecurity in the bud. These are the fallout of all of these.
Another aspect of this is that there are no consequences. You just saw what happened in NDDC, there is no consequence and now, the probe by the House of Representatives has been suspended indefinitely. That invariably means that it has been swept under the carpet.
So, when you sweep that under the carpet, what do you have now? And the young ones who are the leaders of tomorrow, there is that 10-year old who watched that thing, he will now think that that is the normal way to live life. And now the joke in town, couple of friends when you are talking, they will say it is okay, off the mic. That is the joke in town. Everybody is now seeing it as a joke. People are not seeing the seriousness behind it. So, the legacy is what a politician should look for, you even make more if you lead very well. When you are out of the office, your legacy and your goodwill sustain you for the rest of your life. Imagine you have been a governor, you have been a president, what else are you looking for? If you know what it takes to leverage on that office even after you left the office and you led very well while in office, you are made and how much do we even need to live this life? What do you need all this billions for? Thirdly, is our value. Our system is that we celebrate wealth over intellect, meanwhile in other parts of the world, intellect leads you to wealth.