Chief Charles Idahosa is a former Political Adviser to Adams Oshimhole, when he was the governor of Edo State. He also served as the Commissioner for Information. In this interview by SUNDAY ADEPOJU, he speaks on the renewed resolution of the National Assembly that President Muhammadu Buhari relieve the Service Chiefs of their appointments and the on going probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
As candidates step up campaign for the September 19 governorship poll in Edo State, what do you think are the chances of the standard-bearer of your party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Godwin Obaseki?
The governor has performed excellently well and I believe that his performance will give him an edge over his opponents. Also, he has defeated his major opponent before and he is poised to do so again. Then, Obaseki won the 2016 election with 319,483 votes, while Pastor OsagieIze-Iyamu had 253,173 votes. That is a difference of more than 66,000 votes. In terms of percentage, Obaseki scored 52 per cent of the vote to Ize-Iyamu’s 41 percent. So, if he can do that in 2016 when he was just coming onboard, what do you think will happen four years after when he has been tested and the people of the state are clamouring for him to return for another term?
Many people have expressed concern that politicians often focus more on came-calling instead of issues relating to the welfare of the citizens. What would you like to see in the ongoing campaign by the candidates?
I believe Obaseki doesn’t need to campaign much. The job has been done for him four years ago by Adams Oshiomhole; he has done the campaign for Obaseki and the PDP. We are already putting together all that he said about Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki four years ago. We are going to put it on billboards and other places for people to listen to what he said about the two candidates four years ago and then leave the good people of Edo to make up their minds. Most of the things Oshiomhole said then are in the public domain and Ize-Iyamu has not come out to say Oshiomhole was telling lies about him.
The National Assembly has been embroiled in crisis with the Presidency over the tenure of Service Chiefs and activities of some ministers. How do you see the development?
I have been following the activities of the National Assembly and the ministers. The truth of the matter is that a lot of Nigerians have no clear picture of what they are dealing with. I think the whole issue started after the dissolution of the National Working Committee (NWC) and the removal of Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Like I have always said, whether people care to listen or not, what we are witnessing right now is an attempt by the National Assembly to frustrate and deal with the executive arm of government so that they can prove who really is in charge of government. As far I am concerned, what is also happening is a fight for the 2023 presidency. We all know who Adams Oshiomhole is rooting for as candidate for the 2023 presidency. So, what we are witnessing right now is a fight to show who is in charge, especially when you consider the manner in which the APC was formed. The biggest partner in that merger, which produced the APC is Senator Bola Tinubu from Lagos State. He came into the merger with the highest number of governors and legislators. In the first tenure, we all saw what happened in the eight National Assembly and it is the same thing that is happening now.
I know Oshiomhole inside out and what he is capable of. I was his Political Adviser for eight years. He gave the President the impression that he was doing his bidding with the election of the principal officers of the ninth National Assembly but he was only pursuing his own agenda and that of his preferred choice for the 2023 presidential election. Now that he has been thrown out, they want to make sure they destabilise the presidency and the Federal Government in preparation for their final breakdown of the party.
During the governorship primaries of the Edo APC, Oshiomhole said the rubber-stamp NWC, which he headed, is the high court; the appeal committee is the Court of Appeal and he himself is the Supreme Court. That is what we are seeing now. It’s an organised attempt to paint the government in bad light. Those calling the current National Assembly rubber stamp are wrong. They are not rubber stamp but are only doing what they were instructed to do. That was exactly what they did in Edo. We all saw the video of his younger brother, SeidAliyuOshiomhole. At that time, I granted interviews telling the National Assembly to disown that statement but they never listened to me. That was the same thing he wanted to do when he wanted to plant 14 legislators in the Edo State House of Assembly so that he can hold the governor to ransom.
So, you believe the National Assembly is dictating to the executive on the issue of the Service Chiefs?
A situation, where the National Assembly will be dictating to the executive arm of government on service chiefs is uncalled for. Also, if you look at those who are being targeted by the National Assembly, they are mostly from the South-South and are not on Oshiomhole’s side. The Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo is on the side of Obaseki. We also know the position of GodswillAkpabio. During the NEC meeting of the APC, where Oshiomhole was removed, President Buharirecognised Victor Giadom as the acting national chairman and we all knew that Giadom was pro-Obaseki. During the meeting, after the President’s opening remarks, Giadom wanted to give a speech as the person who convened the session but the leadership of the House of Representatives shut him down because they were already angry with him. All of them are working for Oshiomhole and that was why they took sides with him during the Edo Assembly crisis.
The response of the Presidency to the fresh call by the National assembly for the removal of service chiefs was that it can only be done by President Buhari. We all know the duties of the National Assembly. It is not their duties to dictate to the President on who to appoint or sack. Look at their unnecessary confrontation with Keyamo over the 774,000 jobs. Even when the President said that Keyamo should proceed, they were still raging that it is the national directorate of Employment (NDE) that should handle it. Is this not the same National Assembly that promised to work hand-in-hand with the President in delivering his Next Level promise to Nigerians when they were elected? So, what has changed? They are just embittered because of Oshiomhole’s removal. Nothing more!
What is your take on the probe of the NDDC and the back and forth claim by the Minister of Niger Delta, GodswillAkpabio that most of the contracts were given to National Assembly members?
The man, who said they are taking most of the contracts, knows what he is talking about. He is the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, supervising the NDDC; so he is bound to have documents to back up his claim. He has been told to produce the list of the lawmakers who got contracts and he has not said he doesn’t have it. We all know that the NDDC is in a mess. Look at the role of Oshiomhole in the crisis in the NDDC. He created the problem for Edo people with the board appointment when he was the APC national chairman. He made use of the National Assembly members to hurriedly confirm the members of the NNDC board. He tried to create problem among the Edo South people. He nominated Pius Odubu despite knowing that the law setting up the NDDC made it clear that the appointment of chairman should be based on an alphabetical order.
The first state that produced the chairman of NDDC was Abia in the person of Chief Onyema Ugochukwu. The last state that produced the chairman of the NDDC was Cross River, the next state was Delta but Oshiomhole jumped Delta and moved it to Edo. When the attention of the President was called to it, he immediately dissolved the board and Odubu was removed. Look at what happened in Edo State last weekend. I never believed that after all that Oshiomhole had gone through, he would still come back to Benin in the night and arrange motorcycles, taxi drivers for a rally while his people in his constituency was still mourning the sudden death of a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Zakawanu Garuba.
People were mourning but Oshiomhole was moving about with okada riders in the night saying he was campaigning. We even heard that other relations were kidnapped between Kogi State and Okpella in Edo, while on their way to Auchi for the late Zakawanu’s funeral ceremony. He went to Abuja to represent us as APC national chairman for four years but he could only do two years and two days before he was booted out of office.