Ikimi: We do not want ‘third term’ for Oshiomhole
High Chief Tom Ikimi CON, leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State told journalists that a critical issue in this election is to prevent a de facto ‘third-term’ Comrade governor from coming to power through back door. ALEMMA-ALIU OZIORUVA reports.
First, why are the stakes so high in this governorship?
MY dream of a Nigerian Nation as one that is politically guided by a structure founded on two balanced political parties, which provide viable alternative choices for our people has been partially fulfilled by the existence today of the PDP and the APC. I am proud to have played very prominent and historical roles in both parties. It was a very exciting experience for me to be the first elected National Chairman of the National Republican Convention, NRC, in 1990 -1992, during that very successful experiment of a two-party system in our country.
With the return of democratic dispensation in 1999, the PDP won custody of the governorship of Edo State. That lasted eight years, followed by another brief period of just over a year.My membership of the PDP at the time was short-lived – from 2002 to sometime in 2005. I became increasingly uncomfortable with the way an ideologically fundamental core was being insinuated into the party’s operations, as though the PDP were the sole party of Nigeria. A democracy must permit an alternative party. My political quest became an earnest search for an alternative to the PDP in our infant democracy.
I was therefore one of the two persons fundamentally responsible for the creation of the Action Congress (AC), which in 2007 admitted Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as a member and eventually the party’s governorship candidate. Everything happened virtually at the very last minute, preceding the governorship election of that year. My colleagues and I fought a titanic battle to secure victory for the Action Congress and install Adams Oshiomhole Governor.
Our team in that struggle was a formidable political family. We are still very much together today. One of the stars of the team is Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has been in politics for about eight years altogether, which covers the whole period of his Governorship. I have been in full time national politics at the highest levels, non- stop, for about 28 years now. There is a vast difference between the two of us.
It is true that I have been a leader of both the PDP and the APC. In 2012 we successfully installed Governor Adams Oshiomhole for a second term. A critical issue in this election is to prevent a de facto, third term Governorship by Adams Oshiomhole, through the back door. We want a state in which all the three Senatorial zones operate in harmony and have a sense of belonging.
What does this election mean for your political career?
A victory by the PDP and the installation of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu as the next Governor of Edo State will be the best thing to happen at this time for Edo State, the South-South geo-political zone and indeed the whole country. Edo State will breathe a gale force relief of fresh air and embrace a new lease of life. The Edo people need to regain their position of excellence in so many spheres once again.
Among the lot of governorship candidates, only Pastor Ize Iyamu has an agenda of reasoned policies. Virtually all the notable political leaders and respected national elder statesmen of Edo State are in the PDP. They are all in full support of our candidate. The victory will be a high note success for all of them in their political careers.
With the entry of Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu and with the support of all our leaders, we look forward to the restoration of Edo State in Sports once again. We shall have modern sporting facilities, rescued from the run-down, 40-year-old Sam Ogbemudia Stadium.I thank God for preserving my life with His blessings of good health and physical strength. I do not intend to end my contributions of serving the nation and particularly Edo State, the birthplace of my ancestors. The warmth of reception accorded me at various locations during this campaign in fact, energizes me.
Do you still insist the results of the September 28th elections in Edo State will shock Oshiomhole and his APC?
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, I believe is quite aware of how he got into power in 2007/8 and how he got re-elected for a second term in 2012.Adams Oshiomhole has no idea of how Etsako West, his LGA, was created. His “ajasko” dancing on the soapbox from place to place and insulting elders has not gone down well with the general public who are determined to pay him back on election day.
Your Senatorial zone, Edo Central, is allegedly marginalized. Has this influenced your current hardline position against Oshiomhole and the APC?
Let me tell you my vision of Edo land. I see it as a homogenous family in which we all should share and share alike. In 2007, I enthusiastically supported the zoning of the governorship seat to Edo North. Our reasoning was that Edo North had not been given a chance to govern the state. Even after the election, when Professor Osariemen Osunbor from Esan land – my Senatorial District – was declared the winner, I fought tooth and nail, shoulder to shoulder, along with other colleagues, through the court process, to have Adams Oshiomhole declared the rightful winner notwithstanding his origins in Edo North. This reasoning is in keeping with the lofty ideals of the founding fathers of Edo State who wanted an ethnically homogeneous state in which the three legs of Edo North, Edo Central and Edo South enjoy equal opportunity in the State.
We were most unlucky that in selecting and backing the outgoing Governor we chose a man who did not share our passion of homogeneity. Even so, in penalizing Edo Central Comrade Oshiomhole set a new standard all of his own. The state, which had always operated peacefully with the three top political positions of Governor, Deputy Governor and Speaker rotated among the three Senatorial zones ended up through a series of manipulations, with Governor in the North and Deputy Governor and Speaker to the South. Adams Oshiomhole soon revealed his true character of arch clannishness with an attitude that Edo Central being the so-called least populated could be sacrificed.
Even in his senatorial district he preferentially favors his Local Government at the expense of the other five. The Esan peoples in the five Local Governments of Esan land are not happy that they and their territory have suffered such neglect.
What are the clear advantages of your governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu over that of APC’s Godwin Obaseki?
The PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu is a consummate politician who has endeared himself to a vast majority of the politicians in the state, and that is across both political parties. He is a qualified lawyer who has acquired good working experience in government, as a former chief of staff and Secretary to Government. Osagie Iyamu’s late father was a respected high chief of unblemished record in the Oba’s palace – the Esogban of Benin. Their family house, still standing, is an historic relic being the first storey building- Egedegenokaro in Benin City. Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, who was the Director-General of Adams Oshiomhole’s second term campaign organisation is fully groomed, knows all the ropes and has submitted faultless documentation to INEC. Osagie Iyamu has personally led his own campaign to all the nooks and crannies of the state and has interacted with all our peoples big or small.
Indeed, controversies surrounding Obaseki’s qualifications are the subject of a case before the courts. He certainly did not have the basic qualification to be admitted to the University of Ibadan. Oshiomhole does most of the talking at rallies, which is why people see Obaseki’s campaign as an ill-disguised struggle for a continuation of the policies of the outgoing Governor.
The APC and PDP have a lot in common, particularly in terms of membership. How do you begin to differentiate the ideological tendencies?
Over the past two and a half decades or so, I have related with the political leaders of our state within the framework of different circumstances and interests. These interests are sometimes influenced by leaders’ relationships in the wider national context. I have therefore had the privilege to work closely with most of our leaders under a variety of circumstances and at different times.
For instance, I worked very closely with Dr Samuel Ogbemudia and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion in my days as National Chairman of the National Republican Convention. At that time, Chief Tony Anenih was in the Social Democratic Party, which eventually fielded Chief Odigie Oyegun as governorship candidate. I am aware that Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia is quietly retired now and not a member of the APC. He leads a group called EMM – Edo Mass Movement.Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has not got the benefit of long-term relationships with any of these leaders.
When I was a member of AC, ACN and APC, I was leader in Edo State. A primary issue then was to form a party that would stop the PDP becoming the sole party in Nigeria.
The circumstances that connived to make Chief Odigie Oyegun National Chairman of APC are very interesting. There were other contributing factors from outside the state.
All that was then. Today the Edo political leaderships’ priority is overwhelmingly in favour of establishing harmony between the peoples of the three senatorial districts of our state.
What are the promises for the people should your candidate emerge victorious?
The State will be in very safe political hands in which the politicians will play their role, the executive and legislature will play their roles side by side. Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu has campaigned round the state and everywhere he went he presented a document containing his agenda titled The SIMPLE agenda.
S -Security and Social Welfare
I – Infrastructural Development
M- Manpower Development and Training
P – Public Private Partnership
L – Leadership By Example
E – Employment and Empowerment
I trust that as an astute, God-fearing politician our candidate will keep faith with his pledges. During the Channels TV sponsored Governorship debate, he made a pledge that he will restore Edo’s lost glory in sports.
Are you committed to free and fair election?
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies comprising the Police, the Military, Department of State Security, DSS, and the Para-Military forces can only guarantee a free, fair and peaceful election. INEC who had met several times with the security forces conveyed to all stakeholders that all was set to go for the elections. The PDP is in the opposition and cannot influence the deployment of these forces.The PDP is set for a free, fair and peaceful elections and we plead with President Muhamadu Buhari to maintain his stance of neutrality.
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