Governor Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has accused his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, of turning into a political bully after he emerged National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“When he became the APC national chairman, he became worse than a godfather; he became a political bully. Nobody could talk where he was,” Obaseki said.
Obaseki who spoke during an interview with journalists revealed his disagreements with Oshiomhole.
Asked what happened between him and Oshiomhole, Obaseki noted that he helped Oshiomhole became governor. He noted that he raised money for Oshiomhole and helped him became governor of Edo State.
Why did you and a former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, fall out?
When I became governor, we had an understanding of how we were going to run the state. We had agreed to put an end to the use of non-state actors in revenue collection. These persons had been harassing women in markets. We had young men who didn’t respect the enigies and onogies (traditional rulers); they took over land assets and sold a plot to three to five people. They went about with guns and constituted a nuisance. Some people also came and promised young people jobs abroad, only for the young people to make journeys to Europe through Libya and the Mediterranean Sea. The whole place was crisis-ridden. Nobody wanted to come to Edo to invest.
I said we couldn’t continue this way. We needed to change the status quo. I barred thugs from the roads and markets and ensured that they stopped harassing market women and other persons in the state. But some of the leaders said they would have none of that because, according to them, they helped me get into the office. They didn’t help me. The people voted for me and God helped me.
As for sharing of the state’s money, I insisted that we must use the money for the people and change their lives with it. Crude oil prices were low and are still low. There was a lot to do. Debts had piled up. There was work on the ground to be done and if we used the available funds to entertain politicians, there would be nothing left to work for the people. I said no to them. I came to serve God and my people. Whatever is available to us, we would manage it to work for the people.
And today, many of our people are happy. Pensioners get their pay at the end of every month. They don’t protest anymore. As at the time I assumed office, they were always at Ring Road, adorned in black attire, crying that they had not been paid. These are old people with families. I asked, ‘How will we be sharing money in government while we haven’t addressed this sort of challenge’.
I came to work pro bono for government for seven years. Oshiomhole said this himself. I don’t see him as my godfather. He helped me just as I helped him, even before he became a governor. I called people, raised money and helped him to become governor. That relationship is not godfather-godson relationship. When I said I wanted to run for office, he reciprocated and helped me. We moved together to campaign. I staked my money on it and got friends to fund my election. He didn’t pick me up from the roadside, gave me clothing and put me in Government House. That was not the case.
From what he has done from the point when he became the national chairman of the APC, he doesn’t seem to be the same person I worked with. It also goes to show that he was hiding these tendencies from us before now. When we analysed his actions, it dawned on us that this was what he meant all this while when he was fighting godfathers. He called the late Tony Anenih a godfather and said a lot about him. We agreed with him.
When he became the APC national chairman, he became worse than a godfather; he became a political bully. Nobody could talk where he was.
One of the allegations against you is that you didn’t complete some of the projects started by your predecessor in office. Why is that?
This is absolutely false. Most of the projects of the previous administration are the outcome of my work as Chairman, Economic Team in the previous administration, and we continued with many of them. In some cases where some of these projects were not being properly executed, some structural adjustments were made to correct them and ensure the sustainability of the projects.
What is delaying the completion of the refinery project the state government is involved in?
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private sector investor, on the Edo Refinery and Petrochemical project. I am glad to announce to you that the project is over 70 per cent complete. We contributed N700m as project support fund for the project to accelerate its realisation. The pace of work has been phenomenal. We are excited that this noble milestone has been achieved by the government in such a short period of time.
The Presidency recently sent emissaries to Edo State to inspect the project and get a first-hand assessment of the level of work done and they were impressed with what they saw and the extent of local content contribution to the realisation of the project. The project is designed in such a way that it houses a fabrication yard which would be a training ground for youths in Edo State and it will create local capacity for refinery building and installation.
The MoU with the Chinese consortium working on the project also includes a clause for the building of a Department of Petroleum Engineering in the state-owned university, Ambrose Alli University, to deepen the local content drive of my administration in the oil and gas industry.
Why should the people of Edo State re-elect you for another term?
When I came into office, I had a social contract with my people and the underlying principle of that contract is to work for them and protect their best interests. To put their interests, yearnings and aspirations first has underpinned the focus of my administration. For the past three years and nine months, I have, by the grace of Almighty God and the support of my people, done my best to uphold their interests against all else.
It is consequent on these that I believe that my people have rallied in large numbers to support me, giving me the assurance that they would troop out en masse to re-elect me on September 19, 2020.
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political correspondents. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.