Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Clement Ugbikile, in this interview with MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE, explains why the party should field a technocrat as candidate for governorship election.
How would you assess the preparation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Edo governorship election?
It is going to be a landslide victory for the APC in the coming election. If you look at the last election held in the state, with the money at the disposal of the PDP, it would be right to say the APC gave a good account of itself. The party won with more than two third in the Edo State House of Assembly and left only three or four seats for the PDP. If you use that as a yardstick to analyse the next election, it will be a victory for the APC. Now, you will say the PDP won the senatorial election in two places. That has to do with the kind of voters we have in Edo State. That election was done along with that of the Presidency. The voters thought that former President Goodluck Jonathan would win the election. They thought that everything would favour the PDP. That was why we lost some of the senatorial seats in the state and also some seats in the House of Representatives. But, immediately that election was over, and they discovered that the PDP did not win the Presidency, they had to re-strategize. Given that the next election was going to be the House of Assembly, they had to rally round the comrade governor. It was being speculated that, if the PDP won the majority in the House, they were going to impeach the governor. The Edo State voters are often appreciative any good done to them. They were appreciative of what Governor Adams Oshiomhole had done. That was why they voted for the APC in the last election. It was a landslide for the APC. My prediction this time around is that the governorship election is going to be a landslide for the APC. The issue is, who are the people coming up for the election? On the side of the PDP, they have many candidates, but three foremost are Prince Solomon Edebiri, Matthew Iduoriyekenwen, Osaro Onaiwu and Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu. Among these people, only Ize-Iyamu looks the most potent of them. He has been preparing for it long ago. I assume that he is going to be the candidate of the PDP. Any person who emerged from that camp will square it up with the candidate of the APC.
The speculation is that the governor has an annointed candidate…
When Oshiomhole said he was supporting a candidate, he did not say I will not provide a level playing ground for the aspirants. In fact, I have read what he said at a meeting for all the leaders of APC in Edo State. He said it would be foolish of him, your governor about to vacate office, not to have sympathy for one of my children, who is aspiring to replace me. A leader who is leaving a position and is not thinking of somebody to replace him is not a good leader. He said if I had my way or if the constitution had allowed it, I would have said this is the governor. But, the APC constitution does not allow it. The constitution does not equally bar him from saying this is my preferred candidate. So, what he has said is that this is my preference. Why the governor said so, is that he works with many people under him both in government and outside the government. And from his experience, he believes that certain person will be a better governor. But who are those people that are actually aspiring to replace him? I can assure you that my analysis of who they present will see the light of the day. In APC there are so many candidates, they have one Godwin Obaseki, Deputy Governor Pius Odubu, Dr. Chris Ogemwonyi, General Charles Airhiavbere, Prof. Osarhiemen Osunbo ect. There are other people, but we are just using this as a basis for our analysis. These are the top contenders. If the rumour going about that Oshiomhole support is for Obaseki, I think it is in order. Obaseki is not a politician. He is more of an economist, otherwise a technocrat. From behind, he was the head of the economic team advising the governor from time to time on the policies that he should pursued for the good of Edo State. And because of the situation in the country which is looking gloomy then the successor must have the economic wherewithal. If it was gloomy last year, it is going to much gloomy this year. In the past, our governors go to Abuja to collect Edo State allocation and begin to distribute. If you could make money internally good for you, if not, there was no problem because Nigeria had lots of money then. It was no issue because any fool could be a governor because you had the money that comes from Abuja. The situation has changed because Nigeria is a mono economy state. That means that we rely solely on oil for revenue. Now oil revenue has dwindled, it takes an economist to draw a good plan. We are not even too sure that it is not going to slide further. This has some adverse effects on how much we will be able to get from Abuja. The governor that Edo State like other states need is the governor that can think. They must reflect on how they can get revenue to run the state. Assuming no money is coming from the federal allocation, the person must be capable of doing what an economist should do. This is certainly the job of an economist. He will sit down and analyze all the variables and come to the conclusion that he is not going to rely on the money that comes from the federal allocation. This requires somebody who is very vast on the economy of the state.
The Benin monarch plays a major role in the emergence of the governor. Will the governor’s candidate get the palace’s support?
I respect the Edo traditional order in great deal, the Oba of Benin is highly revered monarch. But, there is a different between tradition and politics. By law, the traditional rulers are not supposed to meddle into politics, but that is only theoretical. The Oba too is interested in somebody who will govern his state creditably well. The rumour making the round that Obaseki will not get the support of the Oba because of what happened many decades ago cannot be true. The rift in both families happened during the period of the great-grandfather, during the Oba Ovonramwen’s time. Assuming that the great-grand-father offended, which may not be true, why would you visit that on the son? I am aware of members of the Obaseki family that are holding position in the Oba of Benin Palace.