Six key takeaways:
*On Zamfara: S/Court vindicated National Chairman
*On Rivers: Centrifugal interplay of political forces is a problem
*Airport attack on APC leader opprobrious, lugubrious, anti-democratic, Machiavellian
*Godfather accusation is arrant bunkum and a farrago of baloney
*June 18, 2019 shall remain a day of anti-democratic infamy in Edo
*With or without Obaseki, Edo remains APC state
By Chris Onuoha
Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, a former member of the House of Representatives and Chief of Staff to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State, is popularly known for his genre of grammar. In this interview, the close associate of Oshiomhole, who is the current National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), speaks on the many crises rocking the ruling party at the centre. Excerpts:
Que: Let’s start with the incident of last weekend in Benin when Comrade Oshiomhole visited. There are conflicting accounts of the incident. Some reports said hoodlums hired by the Edo government attacked Oshiomhole at the airport. Another said there were gunshots at the airport. Yet another report said Oshiomhole house was blocked by people believed to be state agents. It has been a fall out of the ‘roforofo’ fight between Gov Obaseki and his predecessor. As someone who should know, what happened last weekend?
Ans: The macabre dance that played out last weekend where agents of the Edo government sought to prevent the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, from leaving the Benin airport to his house was not only opprobrious, lugubrious, anti-democratic and machiavellian but it was also a deprecable gambit of state terrorism. I watched Edo State governor justifying the disgraceful act on television that he had requested that Comrade Oshiomhole should always get his official imprimatur before each of his peregrinations to the state. Really? When you juxtapose this vacuous rationalization with his earlier threat to deal ruthlessly with his predecessor if he dared come into Edo without his approval, then you can’t blame people who finger the state government for that act of brigandage with a view to intimidating and manacling the National Chairman of APC. Anybody who is in doubt as to the fact that the Benin weekend airport show of infamy was sponsored by the state government must have had that doubt dissolved and pulverized with the additional fact that the two trucks deployed to block the two ingress and egress points to Comrade Oshiomhole’s residence after he got home allegedly belonged to the Edo Waste Management Board. Let us not also forget that there was an audacious attempt to attack Comrade Oshiomhole’s residence on the 13th of October 2019, and the fact of Edo turned into a theatre of war and sanguinary piazza on the 13th of December 2019 when the APC National Chairman arrived Benin to receive over 50, 000 PDP stalwarts that adjusted into APC. This same act of political vandalism and corrosive apacheism was also demonstrated against the APC National Chairman on the 25th of January, 2020 when he again received over 20, 000 PDP stalwarts at Auchi who adjusted to the APC. What about the widely reported invasion of the Iyamoh residence of Comrade Oshiomhole by state agents on the 3rd of November 2019? Should all these be happening, given where we are coming from only about four years ago? No.
Que: How do you see the role of the police in the weekend incident?
Ans: In all the unfortunate incidents thus far, the police have largely turned blind eyes because these state merchants of violence are no spirits and it is the belief of reasonable men of our society that the police are seised of their identities, and that it is the cavalier and Olympian predilection of security agencies that has emboldened them with each macossa orgy. The time has come for the police and indeed all security agencies to stop playing security chichi dodo before it comes face-to-face with a Frankenstein monster and ambience.
Que: Many people think Edo may eventually explode ahead of the election later this year. What do you think?
Ans: That position may not be a mendacious one to take because but for the self-restraint of the APC National Chairman and the numerous party leaders and activists unalloyed loyal to him, Edo would have witnessed political topsy-turvydom by now but the burden of peace is that of the APC National Chairman and those of us he enjoys his loyalty. But given the early signals of political despiradoism and harum-scarum brinkmanship, that is all the more reason the police and security agencies should be decisive, trenchant, intrepid and personage blind in the discharge of their constitutional and statutory responsibilities. There is the Akande committee in place and there are so many issues between the governor and the National Chairman.
Que: To what extent do you think the committee can bring truce taking into account that the election is close?
Ana: I subscribe to the dictum of the late Prime Minister of Great Britain, Leonid Spencer Winston Churchill when he asseverated that “it is better to jaw than to war-war”. But I must be brutally frank with you that there can be no truce now if we understand truce from the rosette lenses of getting all the political stakeholders to automatically become political Romeos and Juliets. That expectation would amount to locking the stable doors after the horse has bolted. But of course, there can be true if we understand it to mean getting all the stakeholders to see themselves as brothers and agreeing to pursue their respective ambitions within the democratically acceptable rule of play devoid of violence and acrimony. I am very sanguine as to the capacity of the Chief Bisi Akande reconciliation committee to bring the latter about, given the solid antecedents of the committee chairman and those of its members, but with the sardonic Benin airport weekend event hereinbefore mentioned, I doubt if the political aggressors are ready for any modicum of reconciliation.
Que: So many claims have been made concerning how the feud started. The account from the Obaseki side shows that Oshiomhole wanted to be a godfather after being governor for two terms and the governor was trying to resist it. Is that the correct situation?
Ans: That accusation is arrant bunkum and a farrago of baloney. I can say this from mountain Olympus that it is simplistic and fallacious to reduce the Edo political imbroglio to one between the governor and National Chairman. The issues are between Mr Governor and the majority of APC stakeholders who were and are still being handled with an iron fist, lackadaisical, aloof, shabby, megalomaniacal and contemptuous manner. All the National Chairman did was to advise a change of strategy to accommodate and molly coddle those who worked tirelessly and laboriously for Mr Governor’s success and let nobody play ducks and drake’s with people’s emotions by interpreting this to mean a call to share state resources with politicians. After all, Comrade Oshiomhole himself has proven beyond doubt that you can pay attention to the sensibilities and sensitivities of your party members without compromising on your onerous duties to Edo citizens. l know for a fact (because he told me so ) that Oshiomhole deliberately stayed away from his house in Benin because it became a Mecca of complaints to everybody who felt horrified and alienated from their government. I also heard Mr Governor on national television complaining that the National Chairman overturned the party primaries conducted by both government and party in the state. Need I state here that the Supreme Court has since upheld the position that the conduct of party primaries does not belong to the state government and chapters of the party? Let us not also undermine the pestilential and insidious role of political contractors, carpet baggers and mercenaries who have warmed themselves to the power sanctum sanctorum of Mr Governor.
Que: Another claim is that Oshiomhole wanted to manipulate government when he made two of his loyalist’s close aides of Obaseki in the hope that they will constantly fight and always run to him for resolution. What was Oshiomhole game plan really? To continue in office by other means?
Ans: You are certainly referring to the Deputy Governor of Edo and the Secretary to the State Government. I have certainly read that from some propagandists but that is an overdrive of goebbelianism. I have my doubts that both the Deputy Governor and Secretary to the State Government will corroborate that mischievous claim even in the heat of this political fracas.
Que: The governor’s side said Oshiomhole appointed most of the people into the Obaseki government initially. What actually happened?
Ans: That again is another canard not sustainable and falls like a pack of cards in the face of unassailable evidence. Nobody can refute the fact that Comrade Oshiomhole only had one nominee as commissioner into the government of Edo when it was constituted and that nominee he had to ask the understanding of Mr Governor. He didn’t request to nominate anyone else into any other position and he was not also offered one. To him, everybody was his own and his overriding interest was the consolidation of his legacies in terms of infrastructural deliverables and people’s empowerment.
Que: What is the situation now in the House of Assembly after the controversial inauguration by Obaseki?
Ans: I am happy you referred to it as controversial because that’s exactly what it is. That fateful day, June 18, 2019, shall remain a day of anti-democratic infamy when under the paternalistic and argus eyes of the Edo government, the state House of Assembly was illegally inaugurated with nine members out of 24, viet armis and at an ungodly hour, about 9.30 pm, with a plethora of cases dogging its trail. All attempts to make the government see reasons to reverse itself has failed and the House continues to sit illegally in my view whilst we await judicial pontifications on the matter.
Que: How do you feel that many people who were with Oshiomhole are now against him?
Ans: Some people think it says something that is not complimentary about him as a leader, that his style of leadership is probably faulty. Of course, I feel very disturbed and pained that majority of those fighting him today were not only just close to him but you can confidently assert that they have benefited from his gesture and generosity immensely and, in fact, they have benefited from him the most in all ramifications.
Que: Does this speak to a faulty style of leadership?
Ans: All I can say is that Comrade Oshiomhole, like all human beings, is not perfect. He certainly has his own foibles just like we all do but I can emphatically say that he is not just only a good man but he has a divine heart and passionately committed to friendship. He certainly doesn’t deserve this.
Que: There have been twists and turns in the Edo crisis. Some people think some other governors are fighting Oshiomhole because they are sympathetic to Obaseki cause. Do you share that perspective? And there are calls for the resignation of the National Chairman especially after APC lost Zamfara and Rivers States and now finally Bayelsa. How do you respond?
Ans: It is a fact too plain to be contested that the National Chairman of APC is also being fought by some external forces not necessarily because they are sympathetic to the Edo Governor. Far from it! Truth is that at the time he became National Chairman of the APC, several entrenched forces had impunity as their middle name with almost irreconcilable political schisms gnawing at the heart of the party in most state chapters. He had two options: To play along and become a political hallelujah boy to these ossified forces or enforce party rules and discipline. He chose the latter with the attendant backlash from those who felt their entrenched apple cart upset. These are the people fighting and that is even the more reason Comrade Oshiomhole should be robustly supported. Look at the Zamfara case for example. He insisted on enforcing the mode for conducting party primaries as legally canonized and he was resisted. Where are we today on Zamfara? Did the Supreme Court not eventually vindicate his position on Zamfara and mischief-makers now blame him? On the Bayelsa issue, did he not set up a screening committee? Yes, he did. Could he have proceeded to screen candidates by himself? No. Did he not coordinate a campaign that led to the electoral victory of the party? Yes, he did. Again on Rivers, we are all conversant with the centrifugal interplay of political forces there. You can see, therefore, that the protests are being orchestrated by nattering nabobs of political negativism.
Que: Many people believe APC will lose Edo if the crisis does not end now. What is your take?
Ans: Edo is an APC state; it is safely in the democratic kitty of APC. Edo people are not in a hurry to forget the impact APC has brought to their lives. We will retain the state by the grace of the people’s ballot. Some Edo officials say Oshiomhole regularly stokes a fire in Edo APC especially by not informing government anytime he visits.
Que: Why should he not inform the state government as an elder statesman anytime he visits?
Ans: Haba my brother! That is a vexatious violation of his fundamental human rights. It’s outrageously provocative. An ad hominem porous policy somersault. It is a cascading condescension from the sublime to the ridiculous. So all former governors will have to inform the government of Edo State before they get into Benin. l beg ask me the next question jare.
Que: The Obaseki administration obviously does not recognize Oshiomhole as the leader of the party, saying he is under suspension. What is your take?
Ans: His non-recognition of the leadership habiliment of the APC National Chairman does not dejure and defacto de-robe him of that status and the so-called suspension of the APC National Chairman was a cabaret show for entertainment purposes and Comrade Oshiomhole cannot stop people from entertaining themselves.
Que: You are more popular as a man who speaks big grammar than a notable politician. What inspires you?
Ans: I don’t know about not being a notable politician ooo. But I have been a councillor in my local government. I represented my state constituency in the state House of Assembly for eight years and my federal constituency at the federal House of Representatives and also served my state as Chief of Staff to Governor Oshiomhole (as he then was) for four years. For big grammar, I hope I have not spoken any big grammar today. I feel humbled, however, that about two people, to my knowledge, have written their doctoral thesis on what they call my genre of grammar. What inspires me? I am just a visceral lover of words.
Que: You wanted to go to the Senate but, unfortunately, didn’t win the last election. What is your next political move? You probably want to throw your hat in the ring at the Edo governorship election?
Ans: Governorship contestation is for big boys. My power has not reached that one. As for my next political move, I am a robot in the hands of God.
Source: Vanguard newspaper