Why PDP Is Still In Court Over Obaseki’s Emergence……. Orbih
Dan Orbih, is the Edo State Chairman of the People Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview he spoke on the aftermath of the Supreme Judgment and some Contencious issue in the polity in the Edo State with PATRICK OCHOGA
Sunday Leadership, 30th July 2017
Sir, the recent Supreme Court Judgment on Edo state governorship election is one shocker your party, the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are yet to recover from contrary to the high expectation that it would be in your favour. How will you react to this?
Well, I must say that for us as a political party we have moved on from the Supreme Court judgment, more so, we have two issues with Governor Obaseki; the one pertaining to the conduct of the actual election and the declaration by the INEC and the second issue that deals with the qualification to contest the election. You would recall that even before the election we went to court challenging Obaseki as someone who is not qualified to contest the election. We knew from what he submitted to INEC that he was not qualified to contest that election. So, that case that we took to court that ab initio he was not qualified to contest the governorship election, is still very much alive at the Federal High Court and one out of the two cases had been decided, it is just to say that it is not all over. You see the same issue relating to the man from Kano state where the Supreme Court recently gave a pronouncement that the person who had the highest votes at the election next to the man who was occupying that post should immediately be sworn in because the other man was not qualified to contest the election. So, the man who had the highest votes among those who were qualified to contest the Supreme Court said they should swear him in the man. These are decided cases, and it is good just like we have gone to court to say that APC did not have a qualified candidate, they did not field a qualified candidate for the election because the man they put forward was not qualified to contest the election.
Don’t you think that proceeding to court again would amount to shadow chasing?
(Cuts in) We are not going to court again, the matter is already in court; it is a pre-election matter. You see, we must learn how to deepen democracy. Some people are saying, oh why don’t you leave him alone. If a man is not qualified to be in a place is there any basis to beg to say why don’t you leave him; it is not a matter of I beg. It is a very serious matter. We must take a lot of pains to bring democracy to the level where people, men who are eminently qualified for public offices, men with requisite qualifications, men of impeccable characters are allowed to contest elective positions because these positions are positions of trust. They are not Christmas gifts, you just give to everybody in the name of celebrating Christmas. You earn the position; you must be qualified to occupy the position. These are the issue; I don’t want to go into details of the matter because it is already in the court. We wish our legal team well as they go ahead to prosecute the matter.
What is the next line of action for your PDP in the state?
For the party, we have put quite a number of things together and you will agree with me that PDP is strong and alive in Edo state. Putting aside the issue of governorship election or no governorship election, this is one state that we defeated Oshiomhole who was serving as a two term governor; we defeated APC and Oshiomhole during the Presidential election. This is one state that was once won overwhelmingly by President Goodluck Jonathan during the Presidential election. In this state, we elected two PDP senators out of the three; in this state we elected majority of members of the House of Representatives, and of course we have very able and capable members in the state house of assembly elected under the platform of the PDP. it may even interest you to know that the member representing Oshiomhole’s constituency in the state house of assembly is a PDP member. So, PDP in Edo state is very strong and nothing has affected that followership which is already in the state. We now have a government that has continued in the tradition of Oshiomhole; propaganda and nothing. We now have a government that has not deemed it fit to discard Oshiomhole’s preference of using security vote as an avenue of defrauding the state. The people are solidly behind the PDP in the state; because they see it as the channel of hope for the people of this state because in the past eight years of the APC, the ruling party brought hardship to the people of this state.
However, observers of events in the state are applauding Governor Obaseki because of works within the metropolis. Don’t you think he should be encouraged?
Have you taken pains to know how many roads we have in Benin City and how many roads you are talking about all to promote one man who owns cement somewhere; they are talking about using concrete cement to repair or do roads. If people want to say thank you to those who helped them in one way or the other in the cause of their political journeys, they should find other ways to do it. We are not in a water logged environment. So, this idea of using cement concrete to say you are repairing or wanting to repair or to be seen making an attempt at doing, let him do 30 kilometers of cement road then we know that that has come to be an option to what we had all these years. I think it is all diversionary posture of the government trying to satisfy certain economic interest that are alien to Edo interest.
Your party recently turned down the olive branch the state government extended to it and If your party is more concerned about the interest of Edo people, why is your party bent on rocking the boat?
We don’t intend to rock the boat. You see, some of the problems the present day democracy is facing is that we have too many bread and butter politicians, food is ready politicians who will just move over forgetting that most times when you get to the restaurant where you see a sign post ‘food is ready’ and often times you see the food is ready sign post as early as 9 o’clock it must be left over food; food that was cooked the previous day. The food will not be fresh, not tasty and sometimes it could be stale but for those who want to put anything in their stomach, they go to food is ready. We must develop the patience of waiting for fresh meals that will be prepared with fresh ingredients. We are not food is ready politicians. We have our program which we believe that will best serve the interest of Edo people. If you canvass for support on a certain platform, you should be allowed to go ahead to execute the promises and programmes you used in canvassing for support before the election so that the people can put the failure as is already evident squarely on his fragile shoulders not to get us involved. His offer is purely a Greek gift. We have also come back to tell the people that we are contesting his right to occupy that office because ab initio we said he is not qualified to contest the election. So, why should we now go and be part of his government that we said the man who is there is not qualified to be there. It will be contradictory. We as a political party have our own programmes; we have the man who was eminently qualified to be there, who contested the election and among the qualified candidates he had the highest votes. That is our position. So, until the court says otherwise we believe strongly in this position and we will pursue it to a logical conclusion.
Some of your critics have blamed the problems in your party on you; that you have overstayed your position as the chairman of party and for that some of them are not comfortable with your leadership. How do you respond to this?
Well, if you are in a political party, people are entitled to their opinion. I also want to let you know that when I indicated interest to contest for a second term as chairman of the party, I did not get any challenge; nobody re-contested against me. That shows the confidence members of the party in the state have in my leadership. Whatever you see today as a fall out of PDP years in government I was not part of it. I don’t think anybody can put anything on me. Instead, I have given a leadership that is not just constructive, but also a leadership that has become the conscience of the people. In Oshiomhole’s years, I was able to put a check to some of his excesses. When he told a widow that she should go and die, I brought it to the attention of the world that because he is a governor does not give him the right to condemn an innocent widow to death just because he is a governor. I forced him to go on his knees; he did not only apologize to the woman, he also gave an appointment to the woman even though she was not educationally qualified for the appointment she was given as an SSA. All these were done to placate the damage that incident brought on Oshiomhole. I championed the cause. When he was on an economic voyage to sell Edo house, I told him that it will not happen, that I will use every available legal means to stop the sale of Edo house, more so when we got privileged information that very key members of his government were working with a Chinese company to come and turn the Edo house into a five star hotel and they were there to sell it for a peanut. When I told him we would not allow it he thought it was a joke. I personally led a protest match to Edo house in Lagos with over five hundred Edo citizens to say that the house should not be sold. And immediately I went and instituted a legal action at the court in Lagos. That matter as we speak is still a subject of litigation between Edo state government and us who said that the man who did not know how Edo house was built, what it took the then government to build that edifice, has no moral right to want to dispose off the house just for selfish economic reasons at a little or no cost. They had even shortlisted the fake company they wanted to sell it to. While they were busy at the executive office deliberating on it, I was already issuing a statement that we will not allow it. Today, that house is unsold in spite of all he tried to do by organizing public stakeholders forum at Imaguero Grammar School. I said this man is playing with Edo people and we will not let him go with it. So, the issue of PDP in Edo state, whether anybody likes it or not this is the most organized opposition party in any state in Nigeria. It is the best in terms of being able to keep the government on its toes. A few weeks ago, I came out to say that Edo state government had concluded plans to privatize the Specialist Hospital, the APC chairman who is more like a stranger in the scheme of things opened his mouth to say that I was ignorant of what the government was doing; that government had no such plan, that he doesn’t know where I am getting my information from. A few days after the same governor came out to publicly declare that they are at the verge of privatizing the hospital because they want a firm that will come to equip and manage the hospital. Well, it is rather unfortunate that Obaseki has continued in the fashion of Oshiomhole. The Specialist hospital is the greatest fraud ever committed by any government since the creation of this state. An existing hospital, you awarded a contract running into billions for the construction of a ward, not a new hospital. You don’t build a ward, an emergency ward or whatever they call it and in the cause of the construction of that ward, the building collapsed. I have a document here showing the report of the panel setup by Oshiomhole to look into the reasons why that building collapsed. As I speak to you that hospital is still a death trap because they did not take the necessary step as written in the document on what should be done to avoid future disaster in that place, because the panel insisted that the entire structure should come down. In the event you don’t want to bring down the structure, they recommended the erection of pillars which at the end of the day will be as expensive as bringing down the entire building because of the colossal sum that was already paid out to the original contractor, Oshiomhole wanted to avoid the scandal to discontinue constructing another structure. He jumbled up the figures and they asked him to continue. So, the reconstructed aspect of that Specialist Hospital is to my mind a disaster waiting to happen because they did not follow the recommendation of the technical panel that was setup to look at what caused the collapse of that hospital and recommend what should be done by the governor to avoid future disaster. every day we hear of collapsed building in Lagos, collapsed building there; I pray to God that innocent people should not suffer as a result of government total negligence of that technical committee’s recommendation. Having said that, I want to say clearly, that the decision to privatize the hospital is not only fraudulent and mischievous but it is also insensitive on the path of government to privatize that hospital. The government has a social responsibility to provide health facilities to the good people of this state. When you privatize it, the company that is coming in will come in to project its economic interest to make profit out of the situation. The ordinary man in the street will not be able to have access to the facilities in that hospital. Come to think of it, have you heard the federal government even in the thick of the privatization programme of the ex-President Obasanjo regime and subsequent governments, have you heard federal government privatizing the National Hospital or Garki General Hospital or any of the hospitals built by the federal government? Have you heard about the privatization of Teaching Hospitals? The moment you do that you are now denying the citizens their access to these institutions. Government is not a business enterprise; government has a social responsibility to its citizens, providing health facilities that the citizens can access is part of government’s social responsibilities. Of course, it is not news the level of decay of our health institutions in this state; sometimes ago I drew the attention of people to the fact you use candle light at the General Hospital in Agenebode to do surgery. That is one of the examples; even this Specialist hospital. You need to go there, it is sorry sight when you go into the wards. Recently, I commended the group that went there to try to even help patients who have been held hostage for their inability to their hospital bills. There is a lot that I wrong with Obaseki’s inhuman decision to privatize the Specialist Hospital. More so, when the hospital was being commissioned by President Buhari, they told us that it was a five star hospital with best equipment in the world. Now, we are getting to know there is not equipment. What Oshiomhole built was a hall without a needle, not even a syringe. That was what he calls a five star hospital. I think some of these people will bury their heads in shame for deceiving people.
Sir, at the national level your party, the PDP, is struggling to retrieve back power from the ruling APC. Taking a look at the recent victory secured by the Senator Markafi led NEC of the party at the Supreme Court. What are the chances available to your party come 2019?
Well, I want to thank you very much for this question, but I want to make a slight correction. The party is not struggling to get power back from the APC. The party is on the path of recovering power from APC. We are not struggling in the sense that the apparent failure of the APC government at the federal level and in most of the APC controlled states has made the task easier for the PDP and there is no better way to put it. The ordinary man in the street is feeling the pains of the hardship that the APC led government has brought to bear on the citizens of this country. well, I think we need to have a government that will take charge of the deteriorating state of affairs and put in place measures that will reserve the negative economic indices that we are seeing today. Suffice it to say that yes, granted that the President as at today is sick and been away out of the country to get medical attention, it is also proper to say that the government itself is sick and the country is sick. It requires immediate attention from concerned Nigerians to save this country from the situation we find ourselves. This is where the PDP comes in.
© Sunday Leadership.