Chief Charles Idahosa, a former Commissioner for Information and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state, speaks on the controversy trailing the mode of primary to be adopted by the party in selecting its governorship candidate. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI brings the excerpts:
As one of the major stakeholders in the state, what is your position on the thorny issue of primary in Edo APC?
On the issue of direct or indirect primary, it is very clear that primary is a domestic issue of a political party. There is a Supreme Court judgment on that. I think Oshiomhole is just out to do a lot of destruction just like he did in Zamfara and other states. What surprises me most is that all the leaders of the party are just waiting for him to destroy the fabrics of the democracy of APC. Why they are doing that, I don’t know.
When people try to change story to suit them, it is very painful. Everybody is aware that on the issue of Edo state, Oshiomhole is a principal actor, in fact, he is an interested party in this matter. He wants Obaseki out at all cost even though the wider majority believes that the governor has performed well. Oshiomhole was governor in Edo state when Obaseki contested the governorship primary in 2016 .
The method used was indirect primary and it was held at the Ogbeh stadium, supervised by Oshiomhole himself. I remembered then that the people with Oshiomhole now were abusing him, telling him that he was influencing the outcome of the primary because he wanted Obaseki to win. There was no COVID-19 then but he used indirect primary. Why he is now calling for direct primary at a time we are all trying to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state? Odigie-Oyegun has spoken and he advised that Oshiomhole should excuse himself. As national chairman of the party, Oyegun never supported Obaseki but he did not interfere in the process; he did not disturb Oshiomhole from doing whatever he wanted to do then. So, what is it that is so special about Oshiomhole that nobody wants to stop him?
There are insinuation that Governor Obaseki and those loyal to him are afraid of direct primary which is why they are against it. How will you respond to that?
In Edo state, we don’t care if it is direct primary or indirect. What we are saying is the fairness. If Oshiomhole is involved whether direct or indirect, there is going to be problem because he is bias and he is a major part of the crisis rocking Edo APC today. He should explain to the world, how did he bring Obaseki in as APC candidate in 2016. Was it not through indirect primary? Now, he wants all of us to go and crowd ourselves in all our local governments just because he wanted Obaseki out at all cost? The reason why he is insisting on direct primary is because it is very easy to manipulate. I have a very good example. I contested the governorship primary with Oshiomhole in 2007. He was barely 10 days old in the Action Congress (AC) then and I defeated him hands down. But what happened? They changed the result. These were results you bring from different locations so it is very easy for the people at the party headquarters to change it. Those who did the injustice are alive and they have apologised to me.
What gives you the impression that Oshiomhole will not be fair in supervising the primary?
The situation has been revealed to us by the Deputy National Chairman (North), Lawal Shuaibu who said last week that Oshiomhole personally constituted both the screening committees for the governorship and senatorial elections, as well as the final appeals committee, all in violation of the extant constitutional provisions of the party vesting the power in NEC. He said Oshiomhole also made himself the chairman of the appeals committee so that he can have the final say. I repeat, we are not afraid of direct or indirect primary, but we are concerned about fairness. If Oshiomhole is allowed to be a judge in his own case, there will be no fairness. That is all we are saying. Oshiomhole should excuse himself from the primary in order to ensure justice and fairness. That is our position. We will not fold our hands and allow Edo go to the opposition like Oshiomhole is doing.
That was how Oshiomhole harassed Governor Samuel Ortom until the man left APC and contested under PDP. Today, he remains the governor of Benue under PDP platform. Is that what a national chairman who knows his onions be wishing for? We are tired of Oshiomhole’s lies and deceptive antics. Few days ago, he was asked what his problem with Obaseki was; he said he has no problem with the governor and he only wants him to carry everybody along. Meanwhile, he was busy organising mock primary that later resulted in violence. As a former governor, he is not concerned about assisting the Edo state government in finding solution to COVID-19 pandemic in the state, all he is concerned with how to deny Obaseki a second term. We are waiting for him. Let’s see how that is going to be possible. The insinuation out there is that Oshiomhole is doing all this not just because of Obaseki but he and some few people want to kill APC in the South-South and weaken it so that the party dies when President Buhari is leaving and then they will float a new political party. I am one of the founding fathers of this party from AC, so I know what is going on.
If Oshiomhole used indirect primary to produce Obaseki then like you said, why do you think he is insisting on direct primary now?
When you see a man that lies from both sides of his mouth with ease, then that man cannot be trusted. I have always said that Oshiomhole is not competent to be a national chairman of a political party and he has proven me right on many occasions that he is unfit to lead this party or any other party.
I was ashamed of him as his former Political Adviser when he was lying on national television recently. When the reporter asked him about his opinion on the Bill in the House of Representatives barring Nigerians from going abroad for medical treatment, Oshiomhole replied that he is in support of the Bill. The reporter then asked him ‘Have you ever travelled abroad for medical treatment’? Oshiomhole said ‘No’. When the reporter probed him further, he now capitulated and said ‘yes’. We know Oshiomhole very well. As a governor of Edo state, he was going abroad for medical treatment. By that Oshiomhole was indirectly indicting President Buhari knowing full well that the President, during his first term was away for almost seven months on health issue. When Oshiomhole’s mother fell in a mosque, he took her abroad for treatment. Oshiomhole then ordered his Special Assistant on Protocol, John Akhigbe who is now the Chairman of Etsako Central Local Government Area to go and stay in a nearby hotel to watch over his mother who was being treated in a private hospital. Her mother who only fell in a mosque; whose legs were not broken, stayed in the hospital for months. When I heard the mother was in London, I called Oshiomhole and I told him I will be going to London. He said I should call Akhigbe to give me the name of the hospital and I went there to visit the woman. But this same man sat on national television, lying to Nigerians that he has never gone for treatment abroad when his mother who only fell went to London to go and relax with Edo people’s money. Here is a man that has been indicted on the fraud he perpetrated on the Edo Specialist Hospital project in Benin. He goes into the party secretariat with few of his loyalists who called themselves NWC and they said they have taken decision. We are waiting for the official announcement in Edo so that we know what to do. All he busies himself with from morning till night is how to remove a governor who is performing to the admiration of all. We are not going to allow him have his way.
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