Former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Pius Odubu, in this interview, says, when he becomes governor, he would take actions towards human capacity development better than Governor Godwin Obaseki. He also speaks on other issues.
Don’t you think the misunderstanding in All Progressives Congress (APC) will create electoral doom for the party?
It is not the upcoming gubernatorial election that endangered and caused the misunderstanding in our party. It all came about because of the governor’s attitude towards the very people that elected him. The very people that worked hard, travelling the length and breadth of Edo State, for him to win the election.
Immediately he was sworn in, Mr. Governor developed a lethergy towards the political class. Some of us tried behind the scenes to bring this to the attention of the governor and the leadership of the party. Mr. Governor simply closed the political space against the political elite of Edo APC.
So, we were not happy. When I say we, I’m talking about the APC political class, the leadership in Edo State, were not happy with the inclination of Mr. Governor. Politics is about the people, for the people and by the people. By the time the leader of the party in Iyomiri constituency is averse to peaceful engagement with his people, what you have is misunderstanding.
This severally was brought to his attention and indeed we invited the national chairman to broker peace. National chairman would come to Benin, organise a peace parley, the leadership would be there and the governor would not come. He said he was going to retire all the leaders of APC. There is no letter of appointment in politics, you don’t appoint leadership, leadership evolves. The people themselves would decide who their leader would be. By the time someone sitting up there would come down to my local government and say he wants to impose a leader, you are going to fail.
As it were, this was completely unnecessary because nobody was after the governor. Nobody was pursuing him. All that the leadership wanted was to be carried along, to be consulted, and this certainly was not the case. The leadership tried their best to ensure that this thing was corrected. It was when all efforts failed that they resorted to the public outcry that you now see in Edo State.
Even now, the APC leaders in Edo State are desirous of peace. We want Mr. Governor to come down from his high horse, come and dialogue with your people, we put you there. Occasionally, you should revert back to us for our opinion. This is not the case. As for your question, if it would spell doom for the party? No.
You can see that, for quite some time, I don’t think you have heard of one APC member leaving for another party; instead, the reverse is the case. So, our fortunes are quite high, that was our concern and that was why we did our best to engage the governor to reposition our party. APC is a winning machine anywhere in Edo State, but the governor’s conduct was discouraging. That was why we spoke out in the overall unity of our party. We didn’t speak out because we wanted our party to be negatively affected. Instead, we wanted our party to remain strong and remain the winning machine in Edo. Our party, take it to the bank, will win the upcoming gubernatorial election, by the grace of God.
How do you intend to conduct primaries in a factionalised party?
There is absolutely no faction in Edo APC. Obaseki remains our governor, but what is bad now is whether he would come back for a second tenure. Anytime elections are around the corner, you are bound to have diverse interests, expressing their interest to contest. That does not mean they are creating factions in the body polity of that state. So, please, there is no faction in Edo. We remain committed to the core values of our party and everybody that you see referred to as those on the side of the national chairman, it would be a service to the national chairman to bring him to the local politics of Edo. He is from Edo, yes, but he’s not responsible for what is happening in Edo at all. He has no faction, he does not favour any group. The national chairman has no role in it at all. He has tried to bring the governor to come to talk to the political leadership. There is no crisis, it’s just because elections are around the corner, various groups are expressing their interest in contesting the primaries and indeed the election. So, APC remains the strong viable party here in Edo.
So, don’t go away with the impression that there is crisis in APC, Edo. I am too big to be saying I belong to a faction. By the special grace of God, I was two-time National Assembly member and Deputy Governor, director of logistics in President Buhari’s campaign. We don’t believe in factions.
What we want is for the right thing to be done. Inasmuch as Mr. Governor is not doing the right thing, we would continue to engage him. That does not mean that we hate him. We just want the best for our party and the good people of Edo.
As former Deputy Governor, what would you do right that has not been done before?
I’ll do what Obaseki is not doing. Others have done it, it’s just that Obaseki is not doing it. You saw when Oshiomhole came on board. He was all about the people. Government House on a daily basis was besieged by several groups protesting for one reason or the other. He would come out to personally address them or he send me or the secretary to the government. The doors to Government House were open not only to the political leadership, but to everybody, because it was their house.
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