Those Waiting for Oshiomhole and Obaseki to Fight Will Wait Endlessly -Idahosa

In the immediate past administration in Edo State, Hon. Charles Idahosa was the Special Adviser to Governor Adams Oshiomhole on Politics. In this interview the erstwhile journalist cum council chairman talked at length on his former boss; the incumbent governor of the state and also the perceived infighting in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)in the state. Excerpts:

Towards the end of last year, your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was hit by infighting among some of the key officials. As we speak now some of them are incarcerated on account of the issue. As an elder of the party we want you to proffer solutions on how the crisis can be resolved.

I don’t think there is any problem in the party. There is no problem in the party at all. It is very easy to work together to secure victory in an election. But after the victory managing the success is usually a big problem. What you peopleare calling problem is not really a problem. It is just a little disagreement among leaders in some local government areas. This thing happen when the governor wanted to meet with some leaders of some wards in Edo  South to say thank you after the election. There was a meeting before then where he said one leader  should represent each ward. That created problems so he had to increase it to three leaders each in the next meeting. It started with Edo South  with seven  local government areas and 77 wards being represented by three leaders each. That was a bit problematic considering the crowd that was involved. Some people felt that they ought to be at that meeting which is very usual with political parties. “why should A be there and B should not be there?’ I think that is what led to the misunderstanding. But I can assure you that that aspect would be settled soon. The other aspect has security implications which the security operatives are tackling. There were certain things that were said in the course of the argument and some people wee not comfortable with such pronouncements. Thus, they now involved the security people. I was not at that meeting but I was told the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to  the governor  who was trying to help control the crowd the crowd was assaulted as well. I cannot comment I cannot comment on that second aspect which is now in court. As per the party leadership aspect, I have spoken with the party leader in the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole former governor of the state. I have also spoken with the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki . machineries are been put in place. Infact, the former governor assured that the matter would be resolved via the leaders caucus.

A lot of people are insinuating that what has been playing out is a kind of   faceoff between the former governor and the present governor?

That is what people are expecting because it has become a regular thing for a governor to handover to a new governor and they start having issues of contestation. Like I just explained, I spoke with the former governor and thereafter I spoke with the incumbent. There is no problem between them. It is just what people expect. Don’t forget the role the former governor played in the election of the incumbent. They have worked together for eight years. They understand each other well and there is no problem that they cannot resolve between themselves without involving outsiders. As far as I am concerned there is no problem between them. I was the Political Adviser to the former governor and I was close enough to him. I was also schoolmate of the incumbent governor. It was not difficult for the former governor to seek my support for the gubernatorial ambition of the incumbent ahead of the primaries. Godwin Obaseki is not that kind of person. If they expect that he’ll have an open spat with his predecessor they’ll wait for ever. He is a complete gentleman. I have heard a lot of people complain that since he won the elections he has not given them audience. But I tell them that he has just assumed office so they should let him focus on how hhe will take the state to the next level. As I speak with you, he is outside the country talking with some investors on how to improve the economic fortune of the state. He is not going to seat down for hours having meetings with party leaders. He has to actualize his campaign promises to the people. There is a complete difference between him and his predecessor. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a labour unionist. He is comfortable been in the midst of artisans and the likes. Obaseki comes from a different background. He is a technocrat. He knows he was elected as governor based on his promises. On that score he must deliver on his mandate. We should give him time to do his job. We cannot judge him yet. Comrade Oshiomhole has done his bit and has left the stage.  People are making all sorts of insinuations. I am suggesting that we should look into all outstanding matters that would foster peace. For instance, the issue of the deposition of the Onojie of Uromi. I think we should have  a second look at it because the Esan people form a very important segment of the society. The deposed traditional ruler is from an area that we quite respect. I took up the issue with Comrade Oshiomhole. He told me he was no longer in a position to do anything about it. I told him that we need to siit down and proffer solutions to the issue. We have brothers and sisters who are members of the All Progressives Congress from the area. We should consider their feelings about the matter. There is no cause for alarm. We are talking. Whatever is happening right now by the grace of God everyone would be taken care of. Government is like a big aircraft taking-off. When it is taking-off it is turbulent but later it will stabilize. We’ll stabilize and everything will be ok.

People are raising eyebrows that Governor Godwin Obaseki has been in office for close to a month now but he has not constituted his cabinet

I don’t think that the period that he has been in office without having a cabinet is any major problem. It should not give cause for alarm. When he came in he said that he should be given six weeks to form a cabinet. He has promised that party leaders would contribute to the formation of his cabinet. He also said that hhe wants to concentrate on the civil service first before knowing the shape his cabinet will take. All party leaders in each local government area will have to team up to nominate their choice of cabinet members. Presently, there is a lot of divisions in some of the local government areas. We need to sort out whatever the problem is and speak with a single voice. Some politicians are still smarting from what transpired before the APC governorship primary.

As a political technocrat, what caliber of people will you tell the governor to select as his cabinet members?
I am not a technocrat. As a journalist I do not think I am qualified to be called a technocrat. I worked with the NTA for some time. Thereafter, I moved into politics. I will advice him to select the right people with the right educational background and experience to form his cabinet. He should also confirm the record of such appointees so that they can key into his laudable programmes. As the chairman of the state Economic and Strategy Team in the last administration he is no novice in such issues.

Recently, Governor Obaseki stopped the collection of revenue by some category of people in the state and this caused some reactions that it could lead to an upsurge in criminality in the state.

I don’t know what you mean by an upsurge in criminality. The governor was quite clear in his pronouncement. He said that the collection of revenue would be the work of staff of the federal, state and local governments. What he is doing is to ensure that people pay their taxes and the like without rancor or bitterness. He has also said that some of those who arre going to bbe laid off from collecting revenue may be absorbed in other sectors. And how would you expect those who are not accountable to be collecting revenue on behalf of the government. If anyone go contrary to the good intentions of the government the law is there to deal with such person.

What is your take on the governor’s plan to bring Gelegele Port to life?

It is a good plan and long overdue. Gelegele is the state’s outlet to the sea. Many people normally feel that the state is landlocked. But with this noble project that the governor has promised to commence we will become a state with a huge economic potential. I have no doubt that it will serve as the hub of activities in the South East and South in no distant time.

There are ongoing debate by the national assembly to amend the constitution in the area of local government autonomy. Been a former council chairman, what is your take on this?

  I was council chairman over 2o years ago. That was during the military era. Majority of the local government councils in the country are not functioning properly as it were. Autonomy will help to address some of these problems. But talking seriously, how many of them are viable? How many of them can generate enough funds from Internally Generated Revenue to keep afloat? Just recently it was revealed that Uhumwode and Orhiomwon operate under zero allocation. Meanwhile they cry that they are been shortchanged by the state governments. If they operate zero allocation ystem how much will the state government take from them?

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