Chief Charles Idahosa is the Political Adviser to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State. In this interview with Ben Ogbemudia, he berates those alleging that his boss intends to rig the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Excerpts:
The alleged backing of Mr. Godwin Obaseki by your boss, Governor Oshiomhole, is creating tension in the party. Are you not worried?
It is so strange that many aspirants are talking the way they are talking because many of them are old in this business of politics. And they know how this thing is done. There is no way a governor will not have an interest in who succeeds him, particularly when you talk about Edo State that was dead when Oshiomhole came in. Today, we know how Edo State looks like. Oshiomhole has worked very hard; whether anybody likes his face or not, there is nothing anybody can do about that. He has worked very hard and he must be very concerned about who takes over from him.
They are also alleging plans to change the delegate list by the governor. how true is that?
I can tell you that Obaseki has worked harder than any of the aspirants; he has covered the state ward by ward. Obaseki has met the twelve delegates in each ward in Edo South, Central and North, one on one in their domain. These people are not working; they sit down here and boast how they will frustrate the governor, which will not work. Nobody is changing any list. What is happening is that, for instance, let me start with Uhumnwonde, my own local government. When we changed to the APC, one of the governorship aspirants of the PDP, Solomon Edebiri, who came in from the ANPP, out of respect, we allowed him to choose the executives from his ward. He is from Isi, the same place with our leader, Senator Owie.
But, when he decamped, the executive left with him, but their names are still the names in Abuja while they are now PDP members. Ize-Iyamu who was in the APC then was virtually the sole administrator in the party in most local governments in Edo South. So, what do we now do? Do we now allow PDP members to become delegates in the APC election? Some are dead, some have moved to PDP, some travelled. So, these are the areas we are looking at and we told the national leadership to check and make the necessary amendments.
We cannot allow Edebiri or Ize-Iyamu’s delegates, who are now in the PDP, to come and vote in the APC governorship primary. Yet, you see some people who declared for the APC yesterday, saying we will use 2014 delegate list when a lot of things have happened since then. So, it’s funny when they go to town accusing the g overnor of trying to change the delegate list. I was convinced about what the Governor said about Obaseki and I believed him because Oshiomhole is very passionate about Edo project.
Where these people who are making noise today got it wrong is that their calculation is that radical Charles Idahosa will oppose the governor. This time around, I said I will not be used to destroy the progress of this state.
Are you not worried by this rumour that the Binis may not want an Obaseki as governor?
Godwin Obaseki’s father was not even born when this matter happened. There is none of the people saying it now that witnessed what happened. Let me tell you, Agho Obaseki was the man they accused. It was the Oba that nominated Agho Obaseki as the representative of the Benis to the white man. He was the one negotiating between us and the white people. When Oba Ovonranwe died in Calabar, it was the same Agho Obaseki that advised that the son of the Oba should be crowned and Oba Eweka became king. Let’s even forget that. I am Idahosa; my great grandfather was one of those people they took with Ovonranwe to Calabar; he spent 14 years there before they released him.
That was how we ended up in Ehor. Our area in Ehor is called Ologbosere’s camp; we are from the line of General Ologbosere, who killed those white people. That was why we ran from Benin to live there. It took them five years to come and capture him there. As we speak, we have seven to eight Obaseki’s who are chiefs today in the palace of the Oba. The grandson of Agho Obaseki became the Iyase of Benin, the number one chieftaincy title. The Agho Obaseki they are calling a traitor was Iyase of Benin and Omo N’Oba Erediauwa has now turned Obaseki title to a hereditary title. So, does that in any way tell you that the palace hates the Obasekis? You see, because of political reasons, some lazy politicians want to re-write history. Can the Oba make his enemies chiefs in his palace? This is just a weak way of running somebody down.
How optimistic are you that the APC primary will be free and fair?
We are going to conduct a free and fair primary; our strategy is to canvass for votes from the delegates and that is what the Governor will do; not to impose anybody. People are already crying wolf because they know they cannot win; so they want to create this impression so that if they lose, they will say the Governor rigged the primary. Nobody is going to rig the primary. We are going to have a free and fair primary. But I hope they should accept defeat after the primary and work for the party because I accepted defeat after Oshiomhole defeated me in the general election and today I am his Political Adviser. That is true loyalty.