Obaseki’s MOUs of no benefit to Edo – APC chair

Edo State All Progressives Congress Chairman, Col David Imuse (retd.), in this interview with ADEYINKA ADEDIPE, speaks of the plans of the party to wrest power from the PDP and the chances of the party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of winning next year’s general poll, among sundry issues

How have you been able to pilot the affairs of the party in the state to ensure it remains intact?

When you look at our history, you will see that it is a united and formidable party. We have gone through the processes that will enable us to present a formidable front for the 2023 elections. We had our primary state congresses and our national congress without any problems.

Have you been able to pacify those who aggrieved after the last congress in the state?

That was what I meant when I talked about the history of the party. We had issues in the run-up to the 2020 election with Obaseki’s exit from our party. He left the APC on his own. So, we put our house in order, had the revalidation exercise and registration of new members, and had our ward congresses to elect ward leaders, local government leaders, and state executives. The party is now on the right footing to advance.

Are you saying your party has a 70 per cent chance of taking over the state?

I’m not talking about a 60 to 70 per cent chance, but a 100 per cent chance of taking over the state. As it stands today, the APC is well-prepared, fortified, and united to take over the governance of Edo State. With what is on the ground, we would do a lesser job in our quest to take over the governance of the state.

Does the absence of your party’s candidate in the last governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the stakeholders meeting held some days back show there is a problem in the party?

This is speculative. It was not everybody that we invited to the stakeholders meeting that attended. Some had good reasons for not coming. Some had other engagements and they sent in apologies, while others were indisposed, so there is no need to narrow it down to an individual who equally sent in his apologies because he had to attend a burial that was fixed even before we chose a date for our own meeting. So, his absence is not unusual. He has attended other meetings, so his absence at the stakeholders meeting should not be linked to any problem.

What steps are you taking to ensure that those who felt short-changed at the last primary election and have gone to court do not jeopardize the chances of the party in the forthcoming election?

It is not unusual but expected that after every primary election or congress, there will be dissenting voices, which is normal in a political setting. People are also expected to approach the court to seek redress, and that is why the process is well laid-out. But what makes the APC unique is our ability to reconcile these differences, talk to the people behind these dissenting voices, and bring them back to the fold, just like we are doing already. Out of the 22 cases in court, we have been able to resolve 17. Those cases were withdrawn and settled within the party, while we are working to settle the remaining five before the campaign starts. Issues come up after primaries and congresses in all parties, and APC is not an exception. You will also agree with me that the conduct of the APC Congress cannot be compared to others. We had crisis-free primaries all over the state and no lives were lost, and you cannot compare that with what happened in other parties in the state. The APC has never had it so good in the state.

What are you doing to prevent sabotage in the next election, as experienced in your party at the last governorship election?

 That is not exactly what happened. Some people left our party and joined the PDP. Membership in political parties is voluntary. We campaigned for the election, and it was won and lost. That was what happened, and it has nothing to do with internal sabotage.

But some supporters of the governor who remained in the APC were said to have worked against your party?

Obaseki left with his supporters for the PDP. In the APC, we do not have political hermaphrodites. We did our best and campaigned, but the election was won or lost.

 How will you rate the chances of your party winning the state in the forthcoming election, with the campaign due to start soon?

As things stand today in the state, the government is non-existent. We have a government that has completely derailed and whose job is to destroy the legacy of Edo State. This is a state where there are not enough teachers under the EdoBest educational program. We live in a state where there are few health centres, not to talk of tertiary health institutions. This is a state where parts of the Central Hospital have been pulled down to give way for a proposed motor park. The government claims that it will build a port and dualize the Ekehuan Road, but all those programmes exist in the mind of the governor. The government says it is building an industrial park and brought the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to lay its foundation, but there is no such park on the ground. He claims to be a member of the PDP but has one leg in Labour. With all of this, the state government has provided the APC with a platform from which to take over power.

Do you think the supposed health challenges of your presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu will not affect your party’s chances in next year’s election?

I can say that this is just politics. People use whatever means to discredit candidates of other party. They use the opportunity to leverage on whatever they want and that is politics. Those who know that they are not going anywhere are the ones whipping up the sentiment that our candidate is sick. And who told them that it is the man who is very sick that will die first? The man is hale and hearty. He is campaigning all over the country. Dwelling on his health is a political gimmick that the opponents want to use to their advantage, but I will say it is an admission of failure on their part.

What are his chances in the election?

In a civilized climes, before you seek political office, you will tell people who you are by showing them your ancestry. People will look at your pedigree and see where you are coming from. In today’s Nigeria, you will agree with me that no politician can match Tinubu in terms of pedigree, performance, and democratic credentials. Apart from being the architect of modern day democracy in Nigeria, Tinubu is a visionary leader who knows how to identify talents, nurture those talents, and position them. It is not sufficient to be a leader. A leader without a worthy successor is a failure. We have all seen the transformation of Lagos, and it takes the wisdom of Solomon to have those things achieved. Today, Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa, and this is not by accident but by design. That design came from the brain of Tinubu. Nigerians are happy to have a man of his type, and we sincerely believe that the country will benefit from what I term “Tinubu-nomics.” A man who can survive the federal onslaught for almost four years without allocation, a man who improves the internally generated revenue astronomically, a man who has nurtured many brains that are well positioned in every sphere of human endeavor, should be trusted with power. For this reason, I think tinubunomics is a subject that should be studied in our tertiary institutions.

Can you link your loss of the 2020 governorship election to denying Obaseki the ticket?

I don’t think so. The party, in its own wisdom, felt he was not qualified. If you see what is going on in Edo today, you will agree that the party was right to deny him the ticket. Edo State has become a model for Memorandums of Understanding that have taken the state nowhere. I can’t really understand. We doubted his competence, and some of the steps he has taken didn’t show he’s as much of a technocrat or economist as is being portrayed. I can’t point to one thing he has successfully done. Benin City is the living room of the state, which shows what the house will look like. The governor has not added anything significant to what he said. He renovated the state secretariat but somebody else built that secretariat, so renovating it cannot be an achievement.

How would you rate the state government?

I cannot rate or score the government. Whether you score 40 per cent or five per cent, failure is failure. How would you score a government that has shut down all the colleges of education in the state? The state-owned Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma is in a hemorrhagic state. Several health centres are not working across the state, while the Central Hospital has been destroyed. The government said it has relocated the hospital to Stella Obasanjo. Can you relocate one hospital to another? The Edo Specialist Hospital, which was built by his predecessor and that he initially condemned, is the one that is now being used and unfortunately cannot be used by ordinary Edo men. You need N8,000 to register at the hospital, and those managing it (consultants) have no knowledge of health care. The only library that the children of the poor can read has been destroyed, and Shoprite is being built there. If the government needed foreign investment, the massive Country Home Hotel, which has been put up for sale for over three years, should be taken there instead of destroying the legacy he created.

What will your party do differently to win the 2024 governorship election in the state?

2024 is still far away. Right now, we are concerned about the 2023 election, after which we will unveil our plans for the 2024 election and reveal what we will do to re-vitalize the state when our candidate is elected governor.

How big a threat is the Obedient Movement to your party?

The Occupy movement and the Labour Party exist on social media. How many wards does the Labour Party have in the country? Elections are not won on social media. You win elections with structures. For us as a party, it has no bearing on the outcome of the election. I am not even sure Peter Obi can win Anambra State.

What message do you have for your members in the state?

When God is fighting your battle, you do not need to expend extra energy. We have told them be united and remain focused so that in 2023 we will excel in all the elections.

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