Edo State will be heading to the polls in the next few days, the first since the demise of Chief Tony Anenih.
The candidate of the PDP, Governor Godwin Obaseki, has promised to hand over power to an Esan man if Edo Central would vote for him to rule till 2024. Others have countered that Obaseki was not sincere with such promise as he has also promised Edo North that his deputy, Philip Shuaibu, will succeed him.
The politics of Edo State and indeed Esanland will continue to thrive in the memories of the late political icon, Chief Tony Anenih, whose political wizardry produced Esan governor in 2007, though short lived. Monday Okpebholo, a product of Anenih’s political structure, bares his minds on the road map to achieving Esan governor, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, relationship with late Anenih and the September 19 gubernatorial election. He spoke with our reporter in Abuja.
The campaign for the governorship election in Edo State is getting stiffer as September 19 2020 draws nearer. How optimistic are you?
The campaigns have been interesting. Edo is a peculiar state, because almost all the politicians on both sides of the divide know each other. Some are professional politicians while some are genuinely interested in the development of the people. For me it should be a passion. I am a businessman but I sacrificed a lot to join my people back home to make a choice and that’s what we have been doing. Politicians have a way of intimidating our people at home with money, fake news and fake promises. It is very sad. Edo people know the two frontline candidates very well, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Governor Godwin Obaseki. Both of them were here before in 2016. Now is the time to make the choice again and the people know what they want this time. Governor Godwin Obaseki has been in power for four years and if he has performed creditably well, he wouldn’t be worried the way he is doing. The people will make their decisions based on what he has done in the past four years without sentiments. Pastor Ize-Iyamu has lived all his life in Benin city as a politician, farmer and servant of God. The people know him more than you think. So far so good, the future is bright and the people are ready for change.
You come from Edo Central where the late Chief Tony Anenih hailed from and you were quite close to him. What lessons did you learn from him?
The late Chief Tony Anenih was a man of strong character. He was a great mobiliser. I was lucky to be mentored by him. One thing about him is that he did not promote laziness, whether in politics or not. He was very disciplined and loved the truth. Let me tell you this story. There was a day he gave me a note to meet somebody for a job. When I got there, the person told me there was nothing on ground but because I was coming from chief, he offered me N20 million cash and told me to go. I was surprised how the name could earn me such big favour. So I took the money straight to chief and told him what transpired. After listening to me, he asked me to return the money. Though I was surprised, I immediately returned the money to the person. I just told you this story to explain how disciplined Chief Anenih was and how he would not encourage dishonestly and free money. My relationship with Chief Anenih was like father and son.
If Chief Anenih were alive, will he have supported Pastor Osagie Iyamu as APC governorship candidate?
I know you were going to go there. I will answer you this way. During the PDP primaries ahead of the 2018 general elections, I returned to Abuja from the village and went to see Chief Anenih. He asked me how it went. I was supporting a candidate for the state House of Assembly. So he wanted to know how it went and I told him my candidate won the primaries and he congratulated me because he knew my candidate emerged against several odds. Then the issue of the next governor came up in our discussion and he said he wished Pastor Ize-Iyamu becomes the next governor. He said it clearly that he trusted Pastor Ize-Iyamu to hand over to an Esan man whether he was alive or not. Three days after that encounter, he fell ill and passed on to the great beyond. For those of us who believed in Chief Anenih, this should be our driving force. The party Ize-Iyamu is contesting under is not the issue here since he is still the same person that was trusted by the late Chief Anenih. For your information, Pastor Ize-Iyamu holds Esan agenda dearly to his heart more than most Esan people and the governor. Chief Anenih gave us Esan governor in 2007 with Senator Oserhiemen Osunbor but it didn’t last long. By the grace of God, after eight years of Pastor Ize-Iyamu as governor, the atmosphere in Edo State will be conducive to produce an Esan governor. Eight years is not far away. It is better to wait for the one you are sure of than the one that will have stories when the time comes.
Apart from trusting him to hand over to an Esan man, what other qualities do you think qualify him for that exalted office?
(Laughs…) If you know Pastor Ize-Iyamu one on one, you will understand what I want to say. The man has a very broad mind, he is humble and knows how to carry everybody along. He knows both the people and the land very well. To a very large extent, we can predict the person we are dealing with. I am sure you know he is an anointed man of God. Such characters are rare in politics. You see the way he picked Mallam Gani Audu as his deputy? That was a perfect one. From this handwriting, Ize-Iyamu is coming to pacify the state after Obaseki’s crisis that has crippled governance and destabilized Edo State.
Even if Obaseki wins election today, there will not be peace in Edo State. The governor has hobbies in fighting and disobedience. As we speak, many of his followers are in confusion because they don’t know where they actually belong anymore. The PDP leaders in Edo were described as tax collectors by Governor Nyesom Wike. For Wike to say such a thing means a lot.
But Obaseki was also promoting the Esan agenda….
But I just told you how the Esan agenda came about. In the first place, Obaseki is not a politician and I am sure he is not a businessman too even though he claims to be one. If he was a businessman, he will not be giving government money to politicians for unnecessary political fight. If he was a politician, he would have avoided the fight at a time like this. See how he has spent so much money on politicians than on the people. Which right thinking politician or businessman will do that? Apart from Oshiomhole’s records in Edo State, Obaseki does not have any project to show. If he had projects to show, he will not be relying on a false agenda to win election. We want to know, at what time did he realize there was need for Esan agenda? Was it when the going was good in APC or when he ran to PDP? The few roads constructed in Edo state under Obaseki administration were actually Oshiomhole’s projects, awarded or started by him and completed by Obaseki. That was the idea why Oshiomhole brought him as governor to finish his projects. You saw what he did with Edo Hospital in Benin City. Rather than complete it, he abandoned it for four years so that he can blackmail Oshiomhole with it. Why did Obaseki not appoint Esan person into his kitchen cabinet when his Chief of Staff resigned few months ago? For your information, Governor Obaseki plans to hand over to his deputy and nobody can do anything about that. Philip Shuaibu will spend another eight years before talking about Esan agenda. The best assurance like I said is to work with Ize-Iyamu. He is reliable and has strong political will to achieve Esan governor.
The momentum that came with Governor Obaseki’s movement to PDP was captivating. Does that not connote his overwhelming acceptance?
The noise was high at the time for nothing. Now that the dust has settled, can you hear anything again? The events of today are turning around to favour Pastor Ize-Iyamu. Edo Central has also realized that Esan agenda by Obaseki is a scam. See how they have been insulting Captain Hosa who assisted him to become governor. He is also using small boys to insult our respected Oba Ewuare the second; the most respected traditional ruler
in the world. Ingratitude is not in our character in Edo State. Pastor Ize-Iyamu as governor will not do that; he will not prevent elected legislators from representing their constituencies. If Obaseki can do these things like an emperor in his first tenure, just imagine what he will do when he gets a second term. He was elected the same way the 14 House of Assembly members were elected but he decided to block their road while preventing others from blocking his own way. What we have in our hands is executive recklessness and we must all resist it.
The post What Anenih said about Esan Governor – Monday Okpebholo appeared first on Vanguard News.