Interview conducted by Emmanuel Aziken
Chief Dan Orbih, national vice-chairman, South-South of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was the chairman of the PDP Edo State Campaign Council. Orbih, one of the state’s most connected political operators, in this interview, reviewed the election campaign, noting the help he got from Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in marketing his candidate. While he appreciated the strategies and systems employed, he equally gave thanks to God in bringing about the victory.
Que: What was your advantage going into the Edo State election?
Ans: For us we had the advantage of being able to tell the people that the trouble was not Obaseki, it was about Oshiomhole trying to play ‘god.’ A man you presented as your candidate the last time, you turn around and to now say that the man is no longer qualified to contest the election. And of course Nigerians are beginning to show more interest in politics especially as to who governs them because the times are hard, people are experiencing very difficult times and they believe that if we have the right leadership they would be able to turn things around. Having tested Obaseki in the last four years we believe that if given a chance to build upon what he has done, he will certainly do far better.
Que: What were your selling points?
Ans: One thing you cannot take away from Edo PDP is that the party platform is very strong. We had two serving senators out of three, and we won the presidential election with Adams as national chairman of the party and he could not deliver his state for Buhari in the last presidential election. So, we had a very strong platform. So, Obaseki coming to join the PDP further gave us the advantage. A party that was already very strong now having the incumbent governor coming to join forces with us, it was clear that we were not just going to win the election but win with a landslide. And again, I believe that the future of Nigeria’s politics is going to take a new dimension with what has happened. It has shown clearly that when people are determined and they have a strong will to elect and protect their votes that their votes will surely count. So, the wind of change has started and it is starting from Edo State and it has given hope to others that if we can do it without the federal might that others too can do it. and I think that is really, really good for our politics and for our democracy.
Que: What was the difference between now and in 2016 because some believe that you won that election. Do you believe that?
Ans: One thing I want to say here is that in 2016 that the APC candidate in this election was then our candidate and won his own Local Government Area with about 1,000 votes. However, in this particular election he lost in his Local Government Area with about 3,000 votes. So, you can see when we talk about platform. When he won his Local Government Area it was not about him, it was about PDP. The fact that he lost his Local Government Area in this election is pointer to the fact that the party that gave him the platform in 2016 was already a very major platform.
Que: Some saw this election as a battle of wits between you and Comrade Oshiomhole. Did you see it in that light?
Ans: It was not just about me, I think it was the resolve of Edo people to free themselves from one man who would say something today and say something different the next day. Wear khaki during the daytime and put on the best dress that money can buy in the night. I believe that no matter how you try to deceive the people, you may succeed for sometime but eventually the people will come to find out the truth and I think the Edo case is very clear. When Oshiomhole came to power, there was so much expectation, he commanded a lot of street support from those who probably did not see some of those things which some of us saw very early when he came into the political stage in Edo State.
But after these years, a lot of the people started seeing what some of us saw. So, I think it was more of the resolve of the people to resist one man who initially came with the impression that he was out to fight godfathers and they saw the political metamorphosis of a comrade into a godfather and they said ‘no, this was not the impression you gave to us when you were talking about fighting godfatherism.’ They never knew that that journey was to terminate in your first wanting to emerge as a godfather and it was so vigorously resisted by the people.
Que: You were a strong associate of the late Chief Tony Anenih. What do you think would have been his thoughts on this election?
Ans: We cannot actually talk about the rise and fall of Adams Oshiomhole in the politics of Edo State and of Nigeria without looking back at what the leader stood for in the politics of Edo State in particular. In the years of Oshiomhole’s governorship when he constantly rained abuses on him, he never, for one day, replied. He kept telling me Dan, don’t worry. By the time Oshiomhole is going to fall, a lot of people will not believe it, but I already see that he will not go too far. Today, while a lot of people are celebrating the victory I make bold to say that for the years that the party was in opposition there was a man who stood firm and with a strong belief that it was a question of time that the party would reclaim power in Edo State and that man was Chief Anenih. My only regret is that he did not live to see the day we won back our state and I believe that he will be very pleased wherever he is seeing the party coming back to power. It was a crushing defeat for Oshiomhole and all he stood for in the politics of Edo State.
Que: Without Oshiomhole, do you think Ize-Iyamu would have done better?
I want to recall what I said in an interview where I said that “Oshiomhole has done more damage than good to Ize-Iyamu’s campaign.” I would rather leave it at that. For the first time in the governorship campaign of our state, we had the man who was leading the campaign of our opponent campaigning at the same time for our candidate based on all the nice things he said about Obaseki when he campaigned for him and all the bad things he said about Ize-Iyamu when he campaigned against him.
(Culled from Saturday Vanguard, September 26, 2020)