Former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
Hon.Charles Idahosa,a former commissioner in Edo State,was one of the founders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) .In this interview with journalists in Benin, Idahosa spoke extensively on the party’s chairmanship in the forthcoming national convention of the APC and other crucial issues affecting the polity. Excerpts:
I am happy that President Muhammadu Buhari is giving a strong leadership and direction to the party and those prophets of doom who said the party will die are disappointed today. I am aware that the President has endorsed Oshiomhole for the national chairmanship of the party. I am happy the party took the right decision. I worked with Adams Oshiomhole as his political adviser for eight years after I served as Local Government Chairman and Commissioner in previous administrations. His endorsement will help the party because I know how he works. I just returned from London after I buried my mother but I was following all that has been happening. I believe that Oshiomhole will give all to the party and I want to urge our party members to work with him because this is a new life in the party. With Oshiomhole it will be fire for fire and I can tell you that the PDP is dead. I want to urge our party leaders to give him the desired support at the convention.
But some persons tried to read ethnic colouration to it, trying to say Oshiomhole who is from Edo North is trying to take the job of Chief Oyegun who is a Benin man.
That is rubbish. If they are saying that, then what do you want the people of Esan to say when Oshiomhole stopped Chief Tom Ikimi and supported Oyegun. Those making such comments don’t even know how Oyegun became the APC chairman. What has ethnicity got to do with the national chairmanship of the APC? Oshiomhole is an Edo man just like Oyegun. Long before now I was one of the party leaders who opposed Odigie-Oyegun, but I am a Benin man like Oyegun because the party was not growing well under him. I felt Oyegun did not do what he is supposed to do to keep the party together. So this has nothing to do with tribe, if it is ethnicity I will be the first to support Oyegun. In 2014, myself and Oshiomhole played a very major role to the emergence of Oyegun but a lot of people do not know that. Chief Tom Ikimi was already coasting to victory as the unopposed candidate from Edo State. But I made the State Working Committee to reopen the agenda after we all agreed on Tom Ikimi and it was Oshiomhole that called me to say please move the motion at the state Working Committee level. “We want Oyegun. Please Charles do it for me. We want Oyegun. Do it for me.” And I moved the motion which changed the state earlier support for Chief Ikimi in favour of Oyegun. Oshiomhole is from Edo North but why did he not say because Oyegun is from Benin so he will not support him? Oshiomhole is a detrabalized Nigerian if you know him very well. But I can understand that some persons were sponsoring some stupid write ups that does not make sense against him.
However when Chief Oyegun got there as National Chairman, he was not putting the party together the way I expected and because I don’t hide my feelings I started attacking him. It does not mean I don’t respect him but he has tried his best and we need a change. When I lost my Mum he called me to commiserate with me. But I felt he was not doing what he is supposed to do as a national chairman of a ruling party and that is why we have too much crisis in the party today. There was a time I granted an interview I said APC is in tatters and I knew what I meant and people are seeing that today. That time some persons thought I wanted to leave the party. But nothing like that. I was lamenting that we are trying to make the same mistake that the PDP made. How can we be the ruling party and we are not in control of the National Assembly. The National Assembly is acting as the opposition leader number one to APC. That does not mean Oyegun is a bad man. He is a gentleman but I think he found himself in a terrain that is new to him. He is a civil servant he really does not know much about the in-tricks in politics.
You cannot give what you don’t have. So we need that change. That is why I said Oshiomhole will do better and bring the party together because he knows the intricacies of politics and he will deliver. I do not have any fear as regards whether Oshiomhole will perform or not. He will because he is a team player and he will not allow his party to be destroyed because he particularly suffered under the PDP and will never allow the PDP defeat the APC. And I can assure you that in 2019, the APC will not only win the election but we will win more states.
You sound so optimistic but there is this fear that the killings across the country may affect the chances of your party?
I feel very sad when Nigerians get confused and misled. I said in one of my interviews that corruption will fight back. I recall when President Buhari visited London shortly after he was sworn in as President. He said when he gets home he will release the list of looters. But for strange reasons the party did not release the names then and that gave room for those looters and thieves to retreat and go planning. What we are seeing today are not herdsmen. These are terrorists imported into this country by the looters to cause mayhem and create a situation of crisis in the country. The PDP guys who looted this money and the former leaders who don’t want Buhari back want to create a situation of insecurity in the country so he will not return. How do you explain when one will go to a village and kill 73 people and you call them herdsmen. We grew up in this Benin. The herdsmen we knew carry stick and dagger but now you see people carrying AK47 to kill and you call them herdsmen so as to give Buhari a bad name. These are trained killers imported into this country by the PDP looters. Corruption is fighting back. These people know that if Buhari is re-elected, many of them will be in jail. Look at former Presidents writing letters to him telling him not to run. What moral justification do they have to advise Buhari. Buhari was former governor of the North East Region which was about five states then but he has no house in Benin or Lagos. And he has no property in Dubai or London. But look at other former presidents who came into power without a penny they are all billionaires today. Babangida never wanted to leave office, he set up an interim government and planned how to kick out the interim government. The freest election in this country was conducted under him but he nullified it. He will still sit down and be advising Buhari that has integrity and is respected worldwide. Nigerians are being respected today in the world because of Buhari.
Atiku cannot go to America and he is one of those talking. It was Orji Kalu that dropped money for Obasanjo when they wanted to make him President. He rigged elections in states including the AD states in the South West. Here is a man that wanted third term even after people helped him into power without him winning his region. So this country is funny. Look at the General who told Nigerians that he has so much money he does not know what to do with it. Today, he is one of those still talking that Nigeria wants to break. Generals who retired at 39-40 years and became billionaires. I know of soldiers who are retired but are selling cement at Ekiosa market. Generals who don’t’ have a dime. What Nigerians should ask them is why are they interested in this man not continuing? Babangida ruled for nine years but what did he do for Nigerians? Obasanjo after his second term wanted a third term and was bribing people with N50million each. A man is going for his second term that Constitution allows so why do you want to stop him by all means. But as long as I am concerned, Nigerians know better. Let them continue to sponsor terrorists across our borders to be killing innocent people to create stupid impression. I read how they attacked a Catholic Church and killed the priest. What are they trying to do? They are looking for reaction so there will be a religious war in Nigeria. But they are going to fail because the heads of millions of Nigerians are better than the heads of few of them. As far as I am concerned Buhari is a great man. He has transformed the country. The naira now can be used for some transactions in the UK. We are out of recession. It was Okonjo Iweala who said when there was oil boom she told Jonathan and others to save but they refused.
As far as I am concerned the insecurity in the country is being perpetrated by corrupt people who want to frustrate the war against corruption that Buhari has been dogged fighting.
But there is this strong rumour that some leaders of the APC may dump the party before the 2019 elections. Don’t you think it may affect the chances of your party?
I agree with you. I have heard the same rumour too. But we are waiting for them to leave. If they leave the world will not come to an end. But sometimes some of these things are not true. Again, it will be difficult for these parties to defeat APC. Even Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP national chairman, has said that PDP cannot wrestle power from APC alone. We are watching them until they make the move. For instance, it is being rumoured that Tambuwal is one of those that wants to leave. But after he lost his SA media, I got in contact with him to express my sympathy because he is a very good friend. But he did not tell me he was defecting to another party. So let’s see what happens but I don’t see any threat in 2019..