Only a fool will say Obaseki has not performed-Idahosa

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Says APC must watch its guard ahead 2019


Chief Charles Idahosa is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state and was Political Adviser to the immediate past governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for eight years. In this interview with Sunday Vanguard, the veteran politician reviewed the administration of governor Godwin Obaseki in one year and also the recent resignation from the party, by former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He also spoke about the crisis between the Benins and Ijaws over the ownership of Gelegele community.


Sir how would review the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki, being a veteran politician that have seen it all?

There is no doubt that Obaseki has done well. We are very happy with him, he has not let us down. He has brought sanity to the system, the way they now collect taxes is more civil, nobody is being harassed anymore. The school system is being reformed. The only area we as party leaders are not too happy with is that he should carry us along. Carry us along in the sense that the infrastructures he is developing across the state he should also develop in our stomach. It is not the stomach it is not the Fayose stomach infrastructure. He is a strong governor and honestly there is nothing he is doing today that he did not say he was going to do during his campaign. But my advise is that the developmental efforts should be gradual because most of the things he is doing now is for the future but he must be able to do something that we can be breathing on now as leaders because at the end of the day we have a lot of followers that come to us for one problem or the other. But as a party, we are happy with them. He has an idea of where he wants to take Edo state to and he has said he does not want to be distracted and that was why he decided to stay off all the leaders. But I think after one year now, he has been. Able to lay a solid foundation that will take the state to the next level. Like the Alaghodaro Economic Summit that he organized, only few people in the urban areas understands his ideas and it is we leaders that will always pass the message or the ideas to our supporters in the rural areas. We know where he wants to take us to and I can tell you Edo people are happy with him. He is thinking of Edo state of the future. But the truth is that Oshiomhole over pampered we politicians in Edo state and that is why it seems we are feeling left out by Obaseki. But we now understood his style better, not as if he does not want to see politicians, he only does not want to be distracted which is good. But the governor is doing very well that is the most important thing.

But the PDP said he has done nothing in the last one year?

What do you expect from people who get drunk every day out of frustration? The PDP in Edo state are bunch of confused people. What they don’t understand is objective opposition, when the governor has done well say he has done well where he failed say it. But you just don’t always say he has failed that is rubbish. Only a fool will say Obaseki has not done well in Edo state. Do you know that some times when I am driving out I don’t even know this is Benin. He continued from Oshiomhole’s effort and today we no longer experience traffic at Ring Road where you see people fighting every day. But today you see gentlemen of the EDSTMA doing their work diligently without harassing anybody. From what we are seeing today, you will agree that our great leader Osiomhole laid a solid foundation that Obaseki is building on. PDP will not change, they must talk to survive but I am not bothered about their criticisms of the government. As we speak today, I am the oldest member of the legacy party that formed the APC because we started with the ACD. The two senior ones are my leader, Senator Rowland Owie who is now in ADP and Chief Tom Ikimi who is now in PDP. After them I am number three but now I am number one because I went with them to Abuja at the formative stage of ACD that became AC, ACN and today APC. So I know PDP better than they know themselves. Most of us came from there.  I don’t expect the PDP to clap for us but I know that every promise Obaseki made during his campaign is what he is doing. The ordinary people are happy with Obaseki and I believe that he will get better every day. All we are trying to do is to ensure that the party leaders are carried along because without the party and the leaders who lead the people to the field on election day and the youths who protects the votes election will be difficult.

As a chieftain of the APC are you worried with the resignation of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from the party?

It is very troubling, I have made some calls about it and my worry is that I don’t want our party to go through what the PDP went through in this country. It will be wrong for any APC supporter to say Atiku is not important that he can go. We should not talk that way at all. Though I know it will not affect the party in the 2019 presidential election because I believe that if he joins the PDP he is going to create another problem for them because some persons in PDP have been waiting for the presidential ticket too over the years. Secondly,  a lot of people came to the APC when Atiku was coming and you don’t know what will happen now. So we really need to be on our guard so that we will not be caught unaware. Some politicians who are his supporters might be pretending to be inside but at the last minute that will betray APC, that is my area of worry. But we have a lot of experienced politicians in the APC that we can cover our tracks as much as possible by making up with other aggrieved people then we stand and face them in the election. But I don’t think we should just sweep it away. But the PDP should also expect that problem because some people are going to resist Atiku as their presidential flag bearer.

I understand the game that Makarfi is playing and only a fool will under rate Fayose with what he is doing. He understands the game he is playing by saying he wants to go for the presidency but I know that he is working for somebody and at the end of the day if they cede the Vice Presidential ticket to the South West he will take it. And I am happy that President Muhammadu Bhari and Tinubu are getting on well now because nobody can push Tinubu aside, he made the success of the APC administration at the national level possible whether you like his face or not. However, I believe that with proper planning and unity of purpose the APC will not have problem. But we must guide against our members leaving to the PDP. Because honestly, we don’t really know what is going on but I know a lot of things are happening ahead the 2019 presidential election. I know also that Atiku is not a small fish. Don’t forget that when he came from PDP, five governors and senators came. You remembers that Tambuwal moved at the last minute to APC from PDP. That is why I am warning our leaders to watch their back, anything can happen. I read the governor of Adamawa state saying that he will remain and die in APC but that is bullshit. You will see that such person will move after helping the PDP to destroy the party. Those who always dump the party last minute at the once that gives ruling parties problem. So we must watch out because that was how the PDP collapsed. I know Atiku will not leave APC alone and that is my worry but the strategy they are using is what the APC leadership should look into. They should monitor what they are doing. They may not do it the way the PDP members who joined APC then did it, this time they may decide to stay in APC and wreck the party that the last minute.

How do you react to the on-going crisis between the Benin and Ijaw people in Gelegele?

I am really surprised with what the Ijaws are doing in the Niger Delta since oil came. I have Ijaw friends when I was growing up and they are very good people. But I think oil wealth spoilt them. The issue of Ijaw owing any place in Edo does not even arise so I don’t know where they got this idea from. Let not go far, check one hundred years ago, 1897, the Ijaws are tenants in Benin land and they are so insignificant in the whole arrangement. Prof.Igbafe is an authority in Edo history. Ade Ajaiyi is an authority too. I have been to the British museum in England, I learnt more about the Benin massacre more in England as a young student. When they talk about the invasion of Benin, have you seen anywhere where they mentioned the Pere of Gelegele when the British came or the Ijaw man they met at Gelegele when the British came. The British came through Gelegele to come and carry Oba Ovonronwe. My great grandfather Gen.Ologbosere was the one that accosted the British people at Gelegele and told them you cannot come into Benin now, we have a festival. And luckily for me, as a journalist at NTA, I did a documentary on the execution of the seven British people at Igbine. The people that came with the British through Gelegele were Itsekiris, their names were documented. I did not see any Pere or any Ijaw name there. If the Ijaws say they own Gelegele they should tell us how many Ijaws were killed when the British came. So the issue of who owns that area does not arise because it belongs to the Oba of Benin. This matter came up during Ambrose Ali’s tenure and it cost him his second term in office because he failed to handle it properly. But I am happy with the way the state government is handling it. When the whites came, they did not know their way in so they took the Itrekiris to help them locate the road. When Ologbosere came from Benin and ordered the trial of the seven British people and ordered their execution and   their graves are still there, who were the Ijaw people there. We have Itsekiris in Benin but they have never claimed this place. So they should stop creating tension where there is none.

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