Sunday, April 3, 2016

Edo 2016: Why the people will vote Oshiomhole’s candidate, by Esogban of Benin

Esogban of Benin Kingdom and Chairman of the
Benin Forum, umbrella organisation for Binis
home and in the Diaspora, Chief David Edebiri,
in this interview, speaks about his group’s tour
of projects executed by Governor Adams
Oshiomhole of Edo State. The revered Benin
chief, fondly referred as the ‘Oracle’ of Benin
Kingdom, also speaks on the administration of
President Muhammadu Buhari and the politics of
Your group recently went round to assess
Governor Oshiomhole’s projects. What are
your findings?
It is true that the Benin Forum went with
Governor Oshiomhole on inspection tour of
some projects. From what we saw, it is very
encouraging that something is happening in Edo.
We would have loved to invite people from
other states to come to our state and see what
is happening. It is not enough to make
statements on the pages of newspapers to say
this man is not doing anything, it is better you
come and see what is happening here. Even with
the current economic down turn, Oshiomhole
continues to build and construct. We were
impressed and every human being who is good
will be impressed with what the governor is
doing. We love him, we have confidence in him
and we will continue to support his government.
We went on behalf of the Benin Forum,and the
BF is the apex organization of all Benin people
at home and in the Diaspora. What the governor
is doing is marvellous and all the Benin people
at home and abroad appreciate it. Those who say
he is not doing enough ought to know that there
is no way one can eat his cake and have it.
Oshiomhole could not have been stealing Edo
money and still have money to do what he is
doing. So the only thing one can conclude is that
whatever penny the government is generating
through IGR, is being put into the construction
that is going on everywhere in Edo. The governor
is doing well and the Benin people are most
favoured and blessed by whatever project
Oshiomhole has brought to the state. We are
But what effort are the elders making to get a
credible successor for Oshiomhole?
The process of selecting a successor is first and
foremost the work of politicians. They have their
own method of producing candidates. At that
stage, those of us who are not politicians can
only be onlookers. When they finish and a
winner emerges, we will look at all the
candidates, not from the APC alone, but also
any one of them we feel can do more than
Oshiomhole, one who will be able to do
something for the majority of the people of the
state. Then we will advise our people
accordingly. But, currently, the parties have the
show because they will conduct their primaries
and at the end of the day, we pick somebody we
feel will do well for us. We are not restricting it
to only APC alone. We will look at the candidates
of all the parties, PDP, APGA or Labour Party. So
if we find, for instance, that APGA has produced
somebody we feel can work for the greater
number of the people of Edo, we will support
him and advise our people accordingly.
But don’t you have the fear that APC
governorship primary may create crisis in the party?
My advice is that APC, if they want to retain their
dominance of political power in Edo they should
go in for a credible nomination process. If they
can come out with a credible process, nothing
has happened to change the political pattern that
brought Oshiomhole to power. Nothing has
happened to change that situation if the ruling
power in Edo can conduct a credible primary
election. Oshiomhole is still going to be the issue
whether he is contesting or not. To their
advantage, Oshiomhole has performed, so
whoever is chosen by the party will rise on the
back of Oshiomhole as against their opponents
who will not have nothing to show us what they
have done. And from what is coming from Abuja
today, how they looted when they were in
power, I don’t think that is a credit card for any
party. So, it is up to the APC to put their house in
order and see that whosoever emerges as the
candidate of that party is the popular choice. He
is going to be someone that the majority of the
people will accept. I am not aware that
Oshiomhole is imposing anybody. Once APC
conducts a credible primary, there is nothing
changing the calculations or the voting pattern of
the people.
But the Binis betrayed Oshiomhole during
the last National Assembly elections. What
makes you think that will not repeat itself?
I do not agree that the Binins betrayed him
during the National Assembly elections. Many
factors went into play during the elections and
many of those factors cannot be seen again.
Some of those factors that affected the elections
may never come back. Binis did not disappoint
Oshiomhole. The question of the National
Assembly elections was not a Benin affair. And
to tell you that the results of those elections
were a fluke, two weeks after, the results of the
House of Assembly elections changed. So I
disagree that the Binis disappointed Oshiomhole.
I recall that you actually predicted President
Buhari’s victory. Are you satisfied with the
current economic situation in the country?
Definitely. I hold the same view about Buhari. As
a matter of fact, the views is stronger this time
than when we supported him to win election. I
believe that those things most Nigerians believe
he will do if he becomes President are within
possibility. As a matter of fact, it was on
November 12, 2013 at the Samuel Ogbemudia
Stadium that I first made it public that the party
that was being formed them, that is today the
APC, will form the next Federal Government. I
predicted it that time and, as God will have it
and because we speak with the authority of God
Almighty, the prediction has come true. And on
several other fora, I did say that Buhari will
become President from 2015. We met severally
and I told him he will become the President of
Nigeria again. On a particular day when he
visited the palace of the Oba of Benin, before I
broke the kolanut to pray for him, I make the
remark that if I knew that Buhari will not win the
coming election, I would not have left my home
for the palace. The fact that I was at the palace to
break the kolanut and prayed for him, showed
that he will be the winner of that election.
Although many people did not take kindly to it,
God has vindicated us.
Now, since he assumed office, I want to say, with
all the emphasis, that he has shown a very
decent and civilized mode of administration. The
three principal targets of his administration have
been followed diligently so far. I have not seen
where he has failed in the implementation of
the promises he made to the people. On
security, it is now public knowledge that he has
succeeded, using the Nigerian armed forces, to
defeat Boko Haram. Whatever the terrorists
are doing today is just to say they are still
somewhere but, in the actual fact, they have
been so dismantled that they can never have a
formidable force any more to do damage to
On the economy, the way he is battling the
problems is also commendable and I know we
will still get to the destination. I am surprised
that many Nigerians are not showing enthusiasm
as they ought to show at the disclosures coming
out of Abuja, how people conspired to loot the
Nigerian treasury. But for President Buhari
sitting, I am not too sure that any other Nigerian
would have gone so far in digging out these
people who looted our money. Even those who
we entrusted powers to rule us were all co-
conspirators to loot the treasury of this nation.
Even we did not know that many of them we had
thought were genuine leaders were all partakers
in corrupt practices to the extent that the
money that was meant to buy arms for our
armed forces was shared for political purposes.
The old regime arrested soldiers who refused
to go to the war front without guns, weapons and
they were tried, court martialled and sentenced
to death. I am happy that they have been given
reprieve but as a Nigerian, I want to call on the
Federal Government to further look at the issue
of the soldiers with a view to discharging them
without any punishment. And to bring the people
who had brought this shame, untimely death to
our people, bring them and try them for being
cruel to humanity. And I see that while people
have been dancing around the corner, the real
culprits are outside. If you cannot charge them
locally, charge them at the International Court
for crimes against humanity. So I think the
Buhari revolution is on course and I have no
doubt that he will lead this country to a safe
But he is being accused of being selective in
his war against corruption?
Any time I hear that allegation, I ask myself,
will Buhari leave those who stole and go for
those who did not steal? When Dasuki was
arrested, he told them the people he gave
money to. So will Buhari go and arrest somebody
that was not mentioned? I think these are the
same people, trying to derail the good work of
the President. There is nothing selective in this
war against corruption. Those who were given
the money have admitted receiving the money.
So I think it is all blackmail. I want to urge that
this inquiry is ongoing and should not stop until
the last penny is returned to the treasury of this country.

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