Obaseki should try an un­known party to test his pop­u­lar­ity — Osagie

A mem­ber of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress and for­mer mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Edo State, Mr Samson Osagie, shares his views with TUNDE ajaja on the cri­sis rock­ing the rul­ing party in the state

The Punch - - INTERVIEW -

What do you make of the cri­sis be­tween Gov­er­nor God­win Obaseki and the Na­tional Chair­man of the party, Mr Adams Osh­iom­hole?

First of all, let me clear one point, which is the fact that it is a mis­con­cep­tion to sit­u­ate the cri­sis in the party as one be­tween the gov­er­nor and the na­tional chair­man of the party. It is far from be­ing a prob­lem of any ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences be­tween the two of them. as a mat­ter of fact, no prob­lem started be­tween them. The prob­lem started when a vast ma­jor­ity of party lead­ers across the state took an ex­cep­tion to the modus operandi of the gov­er­nor when it comes to party af­fairs. The gov­er­nor had at the be­gin­ning of his ten­ure be­gan to alien­ate party lead­ers and mem­bers across the state so as to cre­ate new lay­ers of party lead­er­ship to sup­plant the ex­ist­ing party struc­ture that brought him to power. He came in with the Machi­avel­lian prin­ci­ple that ‘de­stroy the king­maker so that he doesn’t make any other king when the time comes’. and that is why the peo­ple said they can­not al­low it. Those who pro­vided the plat­form for you to be­come what you are will not just fold their arms and al­low you to sweep them away. and it is within their right to re­sist be­ing sup­planted.

At what point did Osh­iom­hole come in?

at the be­gin­ning, the in­cum­bent na­tional chair­man was a me­di­a­tor. He set­tled a num­ber of is­sues be­tween the gov­er­nor and some of these lead­ers who dare to com­plain loudly about the ill­treat­ment they were get­ting. a cer­tain leader from Edo South wrote a let­ter that he was step­ping aside from the party be­cause of the way the gov­er­nor was treat­ing him. The gov­er­nor had brought in a com­mis­sioner to re­move this man as the leader of the party. The com­mis­sioner had gone ahead to start op­er­at­ing as if he was the leader of the party in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment and he had got the full back­ing of the gov­er­nor to do ev­ery­thing. So, the man said he was step­ping aside. But the na­tional Chair­man had to step into that mat­ter and set­tled the two sides and then they came back. That is one of those peo­ple now abus­ing the na­tional Chair­man. So, the prob­lem is not be­tween the gov­er­nor and the party chair­man, and it’s un­for­tu­nate that the gov­er­nor, rather than con­cen­trate on gov­er­nance and em­ploy the tool of emo­tional in­tel­li­gence and in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ship skills to re­late with every­body, has cho­sen this path. you can­not say you want to re­tire from pol­i­tics a par­tic­u­lar class of politi­cians that you met. Did he em­ploy them as politi­cians in the first place? That is the chal­lenge.

Would you say that was all that caused the cri­sis?

Also, the po­lit­i­cal class didn’t find funny his method of im­port­ing peo­ple from out­side the state and dis­pens­ing pa­tron­age to them. It was one of the things that made them to say they would find a plat­form to re­sist the gov­er­nor. So, the na­tional chair­man was at best a me­di­a­tor set­tling is­sues and giv­ing as­sur­ance to party lead­ers and mem­bers un­til the mat­ter went out of hands. Im­me­di­ately the party lead­ers de­cided to go pub­lic to re­sist the gov­er­nor, the gov­er­nor then said it was the na­tional chair­man. So, he (Obaseki) was the one drag­ging him (Osh­iom­hole) into the fray, with­out re­spect for the of­fice of the Na­tional Chair­man. The com­rade has even sug­gested a num­ber of ways to re­solve this cri­sis but they fell on deaf ears, be­cause the gov­er­nor’s agenda is to re­tire every­body, in­clud­ing the na­tional chair­man, from the party and drive them away. you saw when he said he no longer recog­nises him as the chair­man of the party. The na­tional chair­man of your party! So, he wants to drive every­body away and bring •Osagie in other peo­ple. But, as you can see, he’s not also bring­ing any­body in. Since he be­came gov­er­nor, he has not held rally to re­ceive mem­bers of op­po­si­tion party or any other party and he does not want any­body to come. How do you win an elec­tion when you are driv­ing away peo­ple? and this is our party; we can­not say we should al­low this man to go this way be­cause it will af­fect the for­tune of the party. If there is any prob­lem with APC in Edo State to­day, it is the gov­er­nor him­self. He has this fake im­pres­sion that he is so pop­u­lar among the masses. He doesn’t know that it is the po­lit­i­cal class that mar­kets his can­di­dacy and it is the party that con­tests the elec­tion.

Per­haps, he be­lieves that it is the peo­ple that would vote and that once he’s on their good books he would be fine. Do you think he is mak­ing a mis­take?

yes, he is. The party would need to give him the plat­form via the ticket be­fore he can face the vot­ers. He can’t be an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date. If he feels so se­ri­ously now that he has that po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal, he should go to an un­known party and for­get about APC. If he’s al­ready a house­hold name, let him try it out.

There are in­sin­u­a­tions that given the num­ber of peo­ple the gov­er­nor has of­fended in the party, he may not get the party’s ticket even if he wins?

It is not for me to say; it will be a demo­cratic process. He’s the one that is not a demo­crat. Other peo­ple will con­test with him and that is what he doesn’t want. If Osh­iom­hole has told him that no­body would con­test against him, Osh­iom­hole would not be a god­fa­ther to­day. The prob­lem now is that he doesn’t see Osh­iom­hole openly cam­paign­ing for him the way he did in 2016, and that is the prob­lem. noth­ing else, and I’m telling you the truth. Do you think if Osh­iom­hole were to come out to­day to en­dorse Obaseki he would be fight­ing him? He’s no longer get­ting that free lunch, which Osh­iom­hole served him in 2016. That is why he wants to black­mail every­body into do­ing it. I’m op­posed to his gov­er­nance style and I didn’t even sup­port him. But, like I said, if he wins the pri­maries through a demo­cratic process; the pri­mary that the na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee would con­duct, he will get the ticket. Other peo­ple would have to con­test and he can­not close the po­lit­i­cal space against other peo­ple from con­test­ing, which is what he’s do­ing. and that is not democ­racy. you heard when he said he should be the con­sen­sus. Is that democ­racy? He doesn’t want any other per­son to con­test or hold rally. Is that how to op­er­ate a democ­racy?

There are peo­ple who feel he’s try­ing to fight back hav­ing lost the sup­port of some party el­ders.

How you fight mat­ters is im­por­tant. In pol­i­tics and for a man in his po­si­tion, he needs to bring peo­ple close rather than drive peo­ple away. How many of these el­ders has he spo­ken to or made over­tures to? He doesn’t. He’s ar­ro­gant. With that dis­po­si­tion, how do you want them to work with him, or should they go and beg him to work with him? That is the prob­lem. you can’t force any­body to sup­port a cer­tain per­son.

There is a be­lief that the is­sue es­ca­lated be­cause the chair­man of the party was try­ing to ex­er­cise some over­bear­ing in­flu­ence on him, es­pe­cially as the gov­er­nor said few weeks ago that the chair­man wrote the names of his com­mis­sion­ers in his sit­ting room in 2016?

There is noth­ing like that; it’s all black­mail. It’s like call­ing a dog a bad name to hang it. The chair­man is not look­ing to be­come the gov­er­nor again; he’s only try­ing to help him to suc­ceed but he wasn’t ready. The gov­er­nor thought he had be­come a new Sher­iff in town. His own is au­to­cratic lead­er­ship where no­body else talks ex­cept him. He wants to be the only one to re­main in the po­lit­i­cal fir­ma­ment and no other per­son mat­ters again. That is not democ­racy and that is not lead­er­ship.

Be­fore these is­sues got to this level, did the ag­grieved party lead­ers ap­proach him to re­solve the is­sues?

I per­son­ally made over­tures to him, not that I had a quar­rel with him, but to work with him. But he told me he didn’t want me in the pol­i­tics of my lo­cal gov­ern­ment and of the state. He told me that point­edly. We were not quar­relling. I only went to see him to tell him that I had got an ap­point­ment at the fed­eral level and that I felt I could also use that to con­trib­ute to the In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment in the state. He lis­tened to me, af­ter which he told me he didn’t want to see me in the pol­i­tics of my lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

He said that?

yes, he told me that. Let him deny it. That was on Septem­ber 27, 2017. you must have read about how he (al­legedly) sent text mes­sages to peo­ple to re­sign their po­si­tions as ward chair­men and women lead­ers. So, un­der that cir­cum­stance, how do you work with him; do you beg him to work with him? Is he god?

With the cracks in the Edo APC, do you think your party could still win the gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion?

yes and it will be very easy. The only prob­lem we would have is Obaseki. If he’s out of the way, the party would win with a land­slide. How­ever, the party is still strong enough to win and if he sub­mits him­self to the demo­cratic process in the party, if he wins the ticket, the party will win and if an­other per­son wins the ticket the party would win.

What about the House of Assem­bly cri­sis?

What has hap­pened in that House of assem­bly is part of the shenani­gans to per­pe­trate il­le­gal­ity, be­cause the gov­er­nor ex­hib­ited po­lit­i­cal naivety and then he was wrongly ad­vised that if he didn’t do that the assem­bly mem­bers would im­peach him. What has he done that would war­rant im­peach­ment? a sit­ting gov­er­nor who un­der­stands the power game can re­late eas­ily with the assem­bly mem­bers and they would work with him. They are just 24. But he er­ro­neously be­lieved that they would im­peach him. The ques­tion is that did he do any­thing as of that time to war­rant im­peach­ment? So, he de­cided to fall for the wrong ad­vice that the best thing was to use the mi­nor­ity to in­au­gu­rate the House, re­gard­less of how it hap­pened. Let me tell you the im­pli­ca­tion of that; Obaseki is run­ning an un­con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment.

Some peo­ple still be­lieve it’s the Assem­bly mem­bers that didn’t present them­selves for inau­gu­ra­tion that should be blamed; do you think it’s the gov­er­nor’s fault?

yes. you see, Lord Den­ning in Mac­foy vs uac de­cided in ap­peal cases in the 1950’s that you can’t put some­thing on noth­ing and ex­pect it to stand. The way and man­ner that House of assem­bly was in­au­gu­rated fell short of ac­cept­able stan­dard, norms and le­gal­ity. He se­cretly is­sued the procla­ma­tion and at 9:30pm, nine mem­bers were con­scripted for inau­gu­ra­tion and you shut out the oth­ers. That is not the pro­ce­dure for in­au­gu­rat­ing the House. and when the oth­ers kicked, thugs were sent af­ter them think­ing they would meet in a ho­tel and elect a speaker. He didn’t want a par­al­lel House of assem­bly. They cre­ated fear in them and were sent out of Benin.

Could you ex­pa­ti­ate on why you said the gov­er­nor is run­ning an un­con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment?

If you look at Sec­tion 91 of the con­sti­tu­tion, the House of assem­bly must be made of not less than 24 mem­bers. This is not a House that was al­ready fully in­au­gu­rated and then some mem­bers de­cided to ex­cuse them­selves. This one, from the very be­gin­ning, didn’t have the cor­rect num­ber. So, he’s run­ning an un­con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment in that he does not have a House of assem­bly that is con­sti­tu­tion­ally recog­nised. Edo State is not a lo­cal gov­ern­ment, so 10 peo­ple can­not make a com­plete House. The other mem­bers are chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity and le­gal­ity of that process in court and that is why they can­not sub­mit them­selves to the il­le­gal­ity they are chal­leng­ing in court. Even if they had de­cided to sub­mit them­selves, the grand plot was to frus­trate them and af­ter some time they would still sus­pend all of them. They would have al­tered the sta­tus quo and they can no longer com­plain.

The tra­di­tional rulers have de­clared fast­ing and prayers for peace in Edo State, what is the so­lu­tion to these crises?

The ball is largely in the court of the gov­er­nor. The chair­man has said he has no en­e­mies; it is the gov­er­nor that has de­clared en­e­mies around his friends. Let him con­vert his en­e­mies to his friends and there would be peace. It is his shadow that is pur­su­ing him. He’s the one that has cre­ated the sit­u­a­tion on ground. He’s the gov­er­nor and he has ev­ery­thing it takes to get peo­ple to work with him. Lead­er­ship is get­ting oth­ers to fol­low you and it takes a lot of skills and abil­ity to do it. It’s not about shar­ing money. How much can you share to peo­ple? and what he’s do­ing all over the place, is it not cost­ing him more to fight cri­sis rather than main­tain peace. His gov­ern­ment has come to di­vide us against ide­o­log­i­cal lines and we ac­tu­ally need a leader that would unite us again and I don’t think he has the qual­i­ties.

Since he be­came gov­er­nor, he has not held rally to re­ceive mem­bers of op­po­si­tion party or any other party and he does not want any­body to come. How do you win an elec­tion when you are driv­ing away peo­ple?’

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