HON. CHARLES IDAHOSA is a seasoned politician, journalist and former Board chairman of the Nigerian Television Authority {NTA}.  He was also a one- time Local government chairman and Commissioner for Information under the lucky Igbinedion administration in Edo State. Under the administration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, He served in various capacities, as Director of protocol and public affairs, Director Edo liaison office in Abuja, and also as Special Adviser on Political Matters. Presently, Idahosa is a member of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Board.  A grassroots politician with so many followers in the state, Idahosa spoke, June 29, in an exclusive interview with AKEEEM OGUNTAYO, Assistant Editor, Verbatim Magazine in Benin, Edo State Capital. In the interview,  Idahosa gave insight into the circumstances leading to the exit of Governor Obaseki from APC and his ultimate emergence as PDP candidate for the upcoming governorship election in the state; political crisis in the state  and the role Oshiomhole played, Why Governor Obaseki stands a better chance of returning as next governor again ; and why he (Idahosa ) , now a PDP member, will not want to stand for elective position again. EXCERPTS:

Verbatim: As a key supporter of Governor Obaseki, who is now a PDP candidate, what do you think will happen next in the countdown to election. Will it be a new round of reconciliation, since the governor has just joined a party that was formerly the key opposition in the state?

 

Idahosa: There is no much problem. In my interview with other media houses, I said i was very impressed with the Peoples’ Democratic Party ,PDP, where Governor Obaseki and myself are now members. I was a founding member of PDP.  I joined the PDP at Foundation in 1998. like you rightly said, I am one of the backers of governor Obaseki. We have a very long relationship outside politics . We went to the same school, so I understand  him very well. I gave him that massive support because I know he was doing the right thing. I was also the Political Adviser to Adams Oshiomhole as Governor  for eight years . I stood by him in all the battles to wrestle power from PDP then under late Chief Anthony  Anenih to stop godfatherism. But at the end of the day he made a u-turn. In all the controversies,  Oshiomhole has never accused Obaseki of stealing money. All he has been saying is that he has not been carrying  people along. Are they cripples that you need to carry along? If you understand politics very well, that idea of carrying people along simply means to share money. The man said he needs money to do all the projects he wants to do, and he said he does not have money to share.  My brother , I don’t see that  as an offence.  The truth of the matter is that, when I returned back to PDP, I discovered that a whole lot have changed. Their mechanism of settling things was so shocking to me.  They have improved so much, we left because we felt late Chief Athony  Anenih was becoming too overbearing . May his soul rest in peace, he was so overbearing.  That was how we left in 2004 to form ACD then in the state. I was very shocked with the speed PDP  was able to put things together within few days. So, at the end of the day , governor Obaseki left APC because of the fake disqualification Oshiomhole put in place. All the leaders couldn’t tell Oshiomhole anything , the national working committee became a rubber stamp but in the PDP , the leaders just called all aspirants and told them that if  governor Obaseki comes told their party, they should give him a chance without fighting , Edo will definitely become a PDP state and all they need do is to go and prepare for election .so why don’t we just take advantage of it and give him the support he needs.

Verbatim: Do you think Obaseki merits a second term.?

Idahosa: Yes.  Of course . Are you not in this Benin?  I have been in politics for over forty years, the young man has done very well .I moved with all my structure and I was the leader of APC in the state. In 2004 when I left PDP, I was the leader in my local government.  I am 67 years this year, it’s not like am looking for political appointment . In 2003, I contested for senate with Daisy Danjuma.  PDP then said no primaries.  They gathered us in the house of one party chieftain and they said its Daisy Danjuma they want . In 2007, i was to go for governorship ,  the party said its Adams Oshiomhole they want. A person who was just two weeks old in the party. We thought PDP  was the worst, but today, PDP it’s so beautiful with the way they settled themselves .They listen to leaders.  Two days to deadline for the primary, they tried to blackmail governor Wike of Rivers state because of the support he was giving to Obaseki , but within 48 hours about four governors, all of them went to Port Harcourt, including Obaseki,  met and told all the aspirants to step down.They did this within 48 hours and when I saw all the aspirants raise the governor’s hand at the stadium , venue of the primaries, I was so impressed .For three years , everybody spoke  to Oshiomhole , he refused to listen until he went down. So, it is a big shame.

Verbatim : What are the key things that can serve as advantage for Obaseki,  over his major opponent,  Ize_ iyamu  ?

Idahosa : Look my friend , the governor beat ize_iyamu in the last election, I don’t know why this thing is becoming a frequent question  for so many people. He beat ize_Iyamu with over 60,000 votes when he was not tested. Nobody knew him then and he has performed. Now, four years after, what do you think is going to happen? ize_iyamu is my younger brother , I would not  like to talk about him.I find it very difficult to talk about him because of the closeness .what I see is that, the Binis are in majority and they want to push our heads against each other .When ize-Iyamu celebrated his birthday , myself and the governor were there. They had a rapport, they are very close and they are both from big families in Benin. But what Obaseki has done which everybody has seen, he will definitely win. Somebody told me that since Obaseki started moving around over PDP ticket, he said oh, they won’t pay salaries again because they are using their money for politics.  He said while they were raising his hands at the stadium, he got his alert. Another of my brother who is a pensioner said he has received his pension. So what will they say this man has done? The other day, they were trying to turn the water storm project into another thing anytime it rains. It is not Obaseki who awarded the contract, it was Adams Oshiomhole .And who did he give the contract to? He gave it to Bola Tinubu of Lagos State. Oshiomhole awarded  it to Tinubu’s company called Hi-tech .There is no doubt about it  that  politicians are not happy with him because it is no longer business as usual like before. The era of just sitting down because you are a politician to share money is over. I served as commissioner in a government in this state when we were owing workers six to nine months’ salary. Then while driving towards ring road, pensioners will block everywhere because we owed them. Today, you don’t see that anymore. In this country we forget so easily.

Verbatim: The issue of certificate was a reason used by APC screening committee to disqualify Obaseki, how will he overcome this challenge in election?

Idahosa:  Let us not get ourselves worked up. You know that was a witch-hunt .  Oshiomhole that is checking certificate, does he have certificate? The school Oshiomhole said he went to, unknown to him, his greatest political opponents, the Orbih family in his area own the school. Their late father was the owner of the school. The year Oshiomhole claimed he left the school, the school was not founded then but years after that time. When they asked Oshiomhole to go and bring his primary six certificate, he did not see primary certificate to present. At the end of the day, where they store certificates in ministry of Education got burnt till date. Lets not talk about certificate because it was a witch hunting .We know the people that came with Toronto degrees from Canada , from  America and other places. The governor said he went to university of Ibadan and UI wrote to say we know him.

Verbatim : Oshiomhole was with you in the same party, with what happened to him, what would you proffer as way forward for him?

Idahosa : I feel so sorry for him. I feel so sorry the way he ended up. I saw it coming, I warned him. Like I told you, I was his political adviser for eight years. We were able to guide him here and people didn’t notice anything. I was his solid adviser; he relied so much on my advice, which I still credit him with. When he wants to do anything, he tells me, we argued it but he bows to superior argument but he can be very stubborn sometimes. Unfortunately, when he got to Abuja as national chairman of APC, members of the national working committee saw him as a thing god. And he turned the national working committee to a rubber stamp, three out of that lot, that did not listen to him, he threw them out. In my last interview, I raised an issue , that how can you write a letter to INEC on the 19th, and you held a national working committee meeting that decided the mode of election on the 22nd?  The national publicity secretary said no we already had conversation. He was just blabbing. In the meeting, INEC showed us the day the letter was received and stamped, it showed the letter was received on the 19th, the publicity secretary was the first to run away at that meeting .Immediately they dropped Oshiomhole , he was the first to run away .It is unfortunate that he only did two years and two days as national chairman . It is a big loss to our people.  We talked, we tried to settle, and he wouldn’t listen. What is his interest in trying to control the state assembly? When he is no longer the governor of the state, because there is ulterior motive. Everybody knows what the president suffered when Bukola Saraki and co double crossed the party took charge of the national assembly compare to now when he has his men there. You have served your eight years, why do want to come to the state, and control the house of assembly, so that you tell them anything you what them to do.  That is where the fight started from, it is unfortunate.  I didn’t want Oshiomhole to end this way, I saw it and I warned him.

Verbatim : If you are to do a projection or permutation, how will the election end, outright win or a rerun in favour of who?

Idahosa : It is going to be an outright win. The situation we are now makes it easier, PDP in the past wins most of the national elections and this time around, we are together. I don’t think we will have any problem.

Verbatim : You have being around for so long as politician, we were thinking after you tried the senate and governorship in the past , you may want to try again or you just want to remain  a party leader?

Idahosa : Am no longer interested in any elective position .I thank God for the opportunity given me. I was an elected council chairman under the military ,I became a commissioner ,director Edo Liaison office Abuja, I was a director of protocol and public affairs , I acted as chairman of NTA board when I was on the board and I worked in the NTA as a reporter. To have gone through the system, became a member and after the chairman for a long time, am grateful to God in a state of about 4 million people. I tried senate, it did not work, I tried governorship, it didn’t work too, I just said to myself that am no longer interested. The only thing I accepted is to serve on the board, as I speak, I am on the board of Nigeria Railway and we meet four times in a year. I enjoy politics, I will continue to play my part but not to run around anymore because am 67 already.  But I can help people to get into office but elective position not for me anymore

Verbatim : AS leaders of PDP,  what are you people doing to bring on board those who have not joined Obaseki project?

Idahosa : we are working on it. Obaseki is already the candidate of PDP, what we are doing now is to bring our people together. The APC executives across the state.  Although , some of our APC executives are saying where are we now? You know people don’t like to be displaced from office; you can’t go and ask the PDP chairman who has being there to step down for you who is just coming. we are trying to manage it in such a way that we won’t lose our members . But the PDP have been very wonderful, they are happy that we are now one. After this election, Edo will be one party state.

Verbatim : What should the electorates expect from the second coming of Obaseki?

Idahosa : To do more than what he has done. He has laid a foundation, he is going to consolidate on it. The state will experience more development, more infrastructure and all development across the state.

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