From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Chief Francis Inegbeniki, the Uzoya of Esanland, is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State.
In this interview, he spoke on the regrets of Edo people in electing Governor Godwin Obaseki, the crisis within the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and how the APC will run away with victory in the forthcoming general elections.
The APC is an opposition party in Edo and there is no vibrant opposition to checkmate the ruling PDP in the state. Why is the APC looking complacent?
Let me start by telling the whole world that Godwin Onogheghase Obaseki, the governor of Edo State is a complete failure because he has failed Edo people.
I remember that in an interview, I told Edo people not to vote Obaseki for a second term because he was in APC and we saw how he ruled the state and we saw it was not to the good of the state and we warned Edo people not to vote Obaseki for a second tenure but he sold a dummy to Edo people that APC asked him to give them Edo money meant for infrastructural development to share but that he refused to give them Edo people’s money to share. That is the genesis of the whole problem. It was an outright falsehood and I am sure that Edo people now know better.
Those who clapped for him with the slogan of 4+4 have seen the colossal failure of the 4+4(Ogbane) mantra which has turned out to be a catastrophic outing which all his supporters are regretting and licking their wounds quietly in frustration.
We of the APC have decided to come out again to cry out so that our people would not be deceived again by Obaseki.
This is electioneering time and this is the most appropriate time to criticize and let the people see the true colour of Obaseki so that they would not be deceived again.
At this coming election, Edo people will not vote for the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP) because Godwin Obaseki can no longer deceive the people.
He has nothing to show the people in his score card as achievements because he has achieved nothing in particular.
The issue of some elected APC members of the House of Assembly who were not inaugurated along with other elected members is still a lingering issue in Edo polity. As a party chieftain, what does this portend for your political party and Edo politics in general?
What else can we do as a party? Twenty Four members of our party, Edo people voted for them to represent them. The 24 of them had confidence in us as a party and were duly elected by Edo people. You saw what happened.
The Edo State governor who believed based on mere assumption that these particular members would become troublemakers in the house and could possibly turn around to impeach him.
Based on this euphoria of fear, he went ahead to truncate their inauguration based on mere assumption.
These are just newly elected members who have not even been inaugurated. This goes to show that Godwin Obaseki is not an experienced politician. One would have expected him to wait and allow them to be fully inaugurated and wait for them to be members of the house before he starts thinking which of the members is with him and who is not. But instead, what did he do? He went ahead, at the middle of the dead of the night to select the few ones he believed will be loyal to him, 10 of them, took them to Ring Road at the middle of the night and inaugurated them. In fact, that was why we vowed never to give him a second chance for a second tenure because already he had divided the party.
His belief was that those other members he did not inaugurate were loyal to our leader, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
Obaseki is a product of Oshiomhole but because he believed the other 14 members would be loyal to Oshiomhole, he decided to lock the door against them.
We are very disappointed, we have gone to court but we cannot resort to self help. The highest thing one can do is go to court and we have done that, but again, we all know the judicial system in Nigeria today but that is a subject for another day.
You all have copies of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states that a House of Assembly shall not be less than 24 members but today, look at democracy, Obaseki has murdered democracy here, the constitution has been desecrated and murdered here. But what can we do? Obaseki is the governor here who has power over everything. You all are witness to his tyrannical style of governance which is worst than that of a military regime.
He tries to suppress real imaginary oppositions. To a very large extent, he has got it right just the way he has ever wanted no opposition and that is why Edo is quiet without opposition even though things are going from bad to worst under his administration and nobody dare criticize him because of his fear.
They threw a bomb into my house because I dared criticize them. I will not be surprised that after this interview that they will come after me and force me to come and pay N30 million for my house but if the money is too much, I will go to court. If you speak the truth, one will die and even if you refuse to speak the truth, one will still die. For me, Chief Francis Inegbeniki, I will continue to speak the truth till I die. Obaseki’s reign in Edo is worst than military regime.
You have painted a picture of a tyrant at the helms of affairs in Edo. And election is just around the corner. What are the chances of APC winning the forthcoming presidential elections, the National assembly, House of Representatives and the state House of Assembly elections?
If you mention Godwin Obaseki, always remember to add PDP because he is a product of PDP. PDP brought him on Edo people. If Obaseki has failed, PDP has failed. Nahun 1: 9, Affliction will not arise upon Edo people again. I read a statement credited to Godwin Obaseki on a social media platform where he was quoted as saying that the APC Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, will not get 25 per cent votes in Edo.
I just laughed. I challenge Obaseki. The APC will surely get 75 percent votes in Edo. I repeat Tinubu will get 75 percent votes in Edo. Obaseki is not an experienced politician, that is why he says some of the things he says. I will not want to indulge him on how Bola Tinubu is going to get the 75 percent votes in Edo but I don’t want to analyse how that is achievable but surely, Tinubu will get 75 percent votes in Edo. Obaseki is not an experienced politician, that is why he cannot see that he is under an umbrella that is shattered into two, a house divided against itself. Why has he not seen that his party is a house divided against one another. Is he thinking that a divided PDP will come together to work for him? It beats my imagination that Obaseki cannot see the bold handwriting on the wall.
The stage is set where we are about to witness heavy epic political battle of the titans in Edo where the governor and his deputy will fight fiercely and the APC will be clapping, laughing and urging them on.
The stage is set, the venue of the fight is in Edo and beyond and the time is fast approaching and every body is sensing it.
We have not been talking. We went to the wilderness to pray on behalf of Edo and look at it; God is hearing our prayers. He says APC will not get 25 percent votes in Edo. Is it the people he has taken their lands that would come and vote for Obaseki and his divided PDP on the election day? Where has he not taken lands in Edo?
He has taken the whole land in Edo. Am I the one saying it? We saw protests in Ring Road. They carried god of Sango, Iromila, Osusumaye to be cursing the one who took their land and I know that Godwin Obaseki has taken nearly the whole forest of Edo State.
Edo South people, they are waiting for him so that they can pay him back with his coin.The deceit of Obaseki are legendary. We saw the Vice President came to Edo to commission an Industrial Park. Industrial park? He has deceitfully collected those people’s land and they are all crying.
I am member board of trustee, Host Communities Of Nigeria producing oil and gas; part of them are my area where I am a BoT member and he has taken their land and has gone to do Certificate of occupancy (C of O). Where is the industrial Park? Is that not deceitful? How many can I count?
He has collected Gelegele land for a phantom Sea Port. Where is the Gelegele Port? He has collected their land and done a Certificate of Occupancy. Their land is gone. Billions of naira gone with the winds in the name of MOU and consultancy. Consultancy here, consultancy there, consultancy every where, every time. It is all gimmick.
He cannot deceive Edo people again. So, we will win even more than 75 percent in Edo. The All Progressives Congress and Bola Alhmed Tinubu will win more than that 75 percent in Edo in the coming general elections.
Are you not worried about the upsurge of Labour Party in Edo State?
I don’t want to say so many things in order not to give Obaseki any lead.
Who are the Labour Party members in Edo? They are disgruntled people from PDP that went to Labour and students who are not even based in Benin City. Most of them are not even registered here.
You saw the rally they said they held in Benin City, it was merely a jamboree. They just hired some of our artistes to glamourize the occasion to make them look popular. Where are they popular? Such jamboree can not translate to victory. I am from Opoji in Esan Central in Edo State. Where is Labour Party in Esan Central? Is the House of Assembly or their House of Representatives member who is based in America who does not know how many wards we have in Edo Central? Where are the labour people? What you see is a little upset by Labour in Oredo.
Those are the civil servants and teachers who are very angry that Obaseki closed their schools at the College of Agriculture at Iguoriakhi and the Ekiadolor College of Education and drove them away without paying them.
Those are the teachers that have gone to Labour Party, they will teach Obaseki a lesson of his life. It is Obaseki they want to teach a lesson not APC because APC is still as strong as the rock. APC is daily receiving defections from the PDP and our number is swelling by the day and that is why I said earlier that APC will get more than 75 percent vote in Edo.
Very soon when Obaseki looks back he will not see anybody with him except Anselm Ojezua. Only Ojezua will be following him about. Philip Shuaibu, the Deputy Governor would have been long gone and it is then he would know what politics is all about. He does not know yet because he has been riding on the back of comrade Adams Oshiomhole. He is beginning to know what governance is all about. Let him lead now and let’s see. He has taken their land, civil servants not paid, lecturers driven away from their schools. Go to Ambrose Alli University and see what he has done there.
The University that used to produce the best law student is now in a shamble and an eye sore. Lecturers are dying because they have not been paid for several months running. Those who are managing to survive are now into farming in the surrounding villages and have abandoned the school for Obaseki because even if they go and teach, they are not sure of their salaries.
Obaseki has finished AAU. Go and check the paltry subvention he releases for the school yet is perennially at loggerhead with ASUU. I, as the Uzoya of Esanland, tried severally to intervene between him and ASUU. I called three different meetings.
The immediate past VC implored me to intervene since I am from Esanland. Three times I came from Lagos for the meeting I called, ASUU would honour the call but the VC who would always take orders from his master, the governor won’t allow him to come and that is why we are where we are today.
Are you worried over the non existence of the APC presidential candidate billboards in Edo State?
I have all the pictures of the billboards of our presidential candidate which Obaseki has destroyed and put his own.
I told you earlier on that he runs a tyrannical style of governance where he is always out to silence the opposition.
He has again demonstrated this by destroying the billboards of his opposition. Our presidential campaign billboards were strategically located in the Benin metropolis but Obaseki destroyed them and erected his own.
He removed the one at Uselu Lagos Road, the one at Airport Road, Kada Plaza, Sapele road, etc. Is that not tyrannical?. Obaseki, seeing Tinubu and Shetima alone, he gets cold.
Has president Muhammadu Buhari done enough to motivate the electorate to vote for yet another APC candidate?
Buhari tried as a president. The current hardship being experienced in Nigeria is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. It is a global issue. This is an administration that experienced serious recession twice followed by Covid 19 pandemic. Even America has not recoverd from the pandemic.
Poverty or hardship is all over the world. It is a global phenomenon. Watch your television, you would see foreign nationals migrating and some of them dying in the high sea. These are not Nigerians. Majority of them are even Europeans who are also facing hunger, hardship and discomfort in their own countries. So, this is not restricted to Nigeria alone.
Esan land used to be the home of the Peoples Democratic Party. What then happened now?
Yes, Esan land used to be the home of the PDP. That was when the BoT Chairman, Chief Tony Anenih who was the numero uno of the party was alive. Then, there was discipline in the party. There was hierarchy. Then, once Chief Anenih talks, every other person tows the line.
He was then popularly referred to as Mr Fix It. He says it, it is final. That man was from Uromi. That man was from Esan land. At a time, the affairs of the whole Nigeria was decided at Uromi. I was in chief Tony Anenih’s house one day and two governors were fighting over who sleeps in a room in Chief Anenih’s house. One arrived first and put his luggage in the particular guest room, a serving governor. And another governor and his wife also came. He wanted to take the room but observed that another person has taken over the room.
In protest, the governor who just came went straight to Chief Anenih to protest the development. I was there watching the drama. Chief Anenih inquired to know who put the luggage in the guest room and he was told that it was the first governor that came first. But the second governor would not have any of the explanations as he insisted that the room was his place in the chief’s place in Uromi in Esan land. Two serving governors fighting over a room in Uromi. Esan land was that tough. But that man is gone now. Since he left, unfortunately, the PDP has never been the same again in Esan land. You can see that PDP is also divided into two in Esan land and that is to the advantage of the APC and that is why I told you that we are going to deliver 75 percent of votes for Tinubu and Shetima. The PDP in Esan land that used to defeat us is now a house divided against itself.
One group will never work with the other. So, for that reason, this is the time we are going to dislodge the PDP completely from Esan land. The APC is taking over Esan land. A group that used to fight us are now enemies to one another. We will simply take one and use it against the other and the tyrant.
When he left APC, he went to PDP. We warned them to know that they were about to take a man with leprosy that would infest them. They did not listen and the leprosy has spread and has divided the once united house.
I must tell you that the Legacy group of the PDP in Esan land is the formidable one. This other faction is feeble. All this other group knows how to do is shoot guns. You heard what happened in Ewu recently during their primaries there few days ago. People died. I am not the one who said it. It was Anselm Ojezua who said so on national television. He said they have cancelled the campaign because of the violence. Who went to campaign? PDP. Who shot guns? PDP. Who died? PDP but an APC Youth leader was also shot. That is a case for the law and we are going to court. PDP thugs brought their guns and shot the innocent man in front of his house.
These are people who were merely doing an internal primaries yet they could not manage but ended up in violence, blood and deaths. Just primaries. They started shooting each other. I have the video here. Mr Speaker coming out in commando style shooting. I have the video.
This time around, we are going to curtail their violence in Esan land. If they dare it against APC, we will curtail it because nobody has monopoly of violence. We have seen that they are violent people. But as for Esan land, the APC is taking over.
Despite the statement made by the governor that he has solved the problem of kidnapping in the state, look at what happened. How would you react to that looking at the kidnapping incident that happened at Igueben in Edo State?.
I have said it over and over again that Edo people should disregard the antics of Godwin Obaseki. Do not allow him to fool you again as he has done before. Edo people should not have any reason to listen to Obaseki and vote for his candidates because he has polluted majority of them by his Obaseki style of governance.
We are calling on the United Nations to come to our aid. We have cried to Mr President that our governor has not only failed in the area of infrastructure but has also failed woefully in the area of security. He has failed in the primary responsibility as the chief security officer of the state as the governor to protect lives and property of the citizens.
In Esan land today, we can no longer sleep with our two eyes closed. We cannot walk freely in some parts of Esan land. The governor has also failed in the area of security.