Chief Charles Idahosa, a former Edo Information Commissioner, is a Democratic People’s Party (PDP) chief. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he talks about the state’s new developments ahead of the September 19 governorship election and other sundry matters. Remarks:
What are the chances of your candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, before the September 19 governorship election? Think he’s got what it takes to win?
The governor has done excellent performance and I think his performance will give him an edge over his opponents. He has also previously defeated his main opponent, and is able to do so again. Then Obaseki gained 319,483 votes in the 2016 election, while Ize-Iyamu had 253,173 votes. That is a 66,000-plus vote difference. In percentage terms, Obaseki received 52 per cent of the vote to 41 per cent of Ize-Iyamu. So, if he can do that when he just came on board in 2016, what do you think will happen four years after he’s been tried and the state’s people are calling for him to come back for another term?
What do you think the main campaign points are going to be for the governor?
I don’t think that Obaseki has anything to fight for. Adams Oshiomhole, a man who engages his mouth more than his brain did the Obaseki and PDP initiative, did the job for him four years ago. Anything that he said about Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki four years ago we are now bringing together. They would put it on billboards and other places for people to listen to what he said four years ago about the two candidates and then leave the good people of Edo to make up their minds. Most of the things that Oshiomhole said were then in the public domain, and came from his heart. Ize-Iyamu has not come out to state that Oshiomhole was telling him lies or suing him in court.
But most of the things that Oshiomhole said about him did not come from his heart, he said. What do you think of that?
Why hadn’t he said this before? Four years ago, most of those allegations were levied against him. Why has he kept quiet ever since? Edo ‘s people are very enlightened people and they’re going to decide whether or not what Oshiomhole said about those two candidates is from his heart.
Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said on September 19th that the people of Edo State should come out overwhelmingly and support APC and that Obaseki will lose. What’s your answer on that?
This is an absolute joke. The truth of the matter is that Obaseki has already won the election, and no-one can do anything about it. I know they are not going to dare to rig the election. President Buhari I know is not going to rig anybody’s election. He’s never believed in that because he’s an integrity man. I recalled when, after Governor Obaseki ‘s resignation from the APC, Oshiomhole went to see President Buhari and he said, I heard this man is very famous. Oshiomhole said it doesn’t support reputation or incumbency. What matters, he said, is feelings. I suggest to them just not to do anything to subvert people’s will. Ganduje will sit in Kano and talk trash. It is the structure that made him accept. A man who was seen in his babanriga on video stuffing dollars and who also has problems with traditional rulers in his state is now thinking about elections in Edo. How much margin did Ganduje take to win the election to Kano Governorship? And that’s the guy who says he’s going to take Edo over to APC.
There are those who believe the Governor has not delivered, particularly members of your former party, APC who work under EPM aegis. What threat do you believe they posed to the governor before the election?
When you look at all those who criticize Obaseki, none of them say that he is not working or that he is involved in making fake contracts out. All they’ve said is he didn’t carry them along. I keep asking ‘For what will I bring them along? How did Governor Obaseki become an orthopedic doctor who will bring disabled and injured people everywhere he walks? Where do they want him to move them to? Are they pregnant or what? To me, that was a common way of suggesting the governor didn’t spend money with them. The Governor I know Obaseki is not willing to share any capital. Everyone in Edo has the opportunity to work and the governor has built an enabling environment to enable that. The Governor will buy from you if you produce things that are useful to society. I have long been in the farming business. In my home, in Urhumwonde, I ran a cattle ranch. I also have a big flock. The governor is buying everything that I make now from me. So what’s their problem, then? There is no free money in the state of Edo and that is the message that the governor passes through. We have an extreme, concentrated and determined governor in Edo and we will do all we can to ensure that he continues the good works that he has begun for another term.
This fear of federal might exists with APC as the governing party. How do you want to treat this?
We’ve heard them say they ‘re using federal could. They have forgotten the opposition former national chairman Oshiomhole contested the Edo state governorship election. He contested under Congress of Action (AC) and won his reelection under Nigerian Action Congress (ACN). The PDP, which was then the ruling party, never used against him any federal power. We ‘re waiting for them to come here in Edo at the end of the day and use federal might. As I said, the war in Ondo state between Akin Omoboriowo and late Adekunle Ajasin in 1983 will be a child’s play, if they try to subvert the will of the people of Edo state. I put them on alert when they read this interview and we advise them not to try anything funny here. Any effort to subvert the will of the Edo state good people will be resisted. In Edo state we have a lot of very seasoned political leaders. From the districts, to the wards, to the local government areas, and from there to the state collation centre, we must police our votes. Some attempt at binding, just let me leave it at that.
What is your opinion on the investigation of Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?
This is quite misleading. A friend of mine sent me a message about the issue on What s App and when I read it I said, where are we going from here? We have a situation where the thief is now chasing a thief-catcher. I read what Mike Ozekhome said as far back as 2017, that he raised an alarm about Magu ‘s activities. Right now it is only an accusation, let us wait for the verdict. I trust Justice Ayo Salami a lot, a very experienced legal mind. Let’s hope for the report’s outcome.