Chief Dan Osi Orbih, the Edo State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), speaks on the performance of the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the petition forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by a cleric, Bishop Osadolor Ochei, against APC national chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other issues. HENDRIX OLIOMOGBE presents the excerpts.
What is your assessment of the Edo political situation under Governor Godwin Obaseki?
The Edo political situation is going from bad to worse. In fact, it has gone worse under the incumbent governor, Mr. Goodwin Obaseki. It was bad under former Governor Adams Oshiomhole. The interesting thing is that we never expected anything good from Obaseki. He was the head of Oshiomhole’s economic team. The agenda of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Edo State is to deprive Edo people their resources and cart away every allocation hence Oshiomhole’s desperation to see to the emergence of Obaseki both in the primary and the governorship election of 2016.
We in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not surprised; this is a man who promised Edo people 200,000 jobs during the electioneering campaigns. Now as governor, he has been sacking workers, closing down institutions where people are supposed to be gainfully employed. This is the tragedy of Obaseki’s emergence as the governor of Edo state. It is obvious that he does not have the interest of the people at heart.
You will recall that even the bags of rice sent to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp were stolen by some crooked top government officials and nothing happened. These actions have only gone a long way in painting a sordid picture of the kind of people running the affairs of Edo State. The APC led government in Edo State lacks human feelings, and it is like it is made up of people from another planet. His facial expression gives away the true Obaseki. This is a man who appears angry with the world for reasons best known to him.
Your party has been vociferous about what you called apparent inaction by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the petition by Bishop Osadolor Ochei against the former Edo State governor Adams Oshiomhole, now national chairman of the APC. What is the state of the petition now?
Going by the petition, which has been before the EFCC for two years now, Oshiomhole was accused of authorizing, and awarding a highly inflated contract and making payment within a few hours, for the construction of a 168-room hostel in Edo State University, Iyamho, for the sum of N1.88 billion. The average cost per room translates to N10 million. The contract was awarded to the firm of A & K Construction Limited without compliance with due process. Similarly, the petitioner stated that the APC national chairman authorised and awarded the highly inflated contract of building the teaching hospital of the said university for the sum of N12.2 billion also without compliance with due process.
Again, Osadolor charged that Oshiomhole allegedly authorized and approved the diversion of N1.2 billion approved for the construction of a new Accident and Emergency Ward complex and renovation of existing structures in the Central Hospital, Benin City, for the payment of additional 10 per cent advance payment to A & K Construction Limited for the construction of the teaching hospital of the University of Science and Technology, Uzairue (also known as Edo University, Iyamho) without compliance with due process and against public interest.
These allegations are very weighty and must be thoroughly investigated by the EFCC. They should not be swept under the carpet if the war against corruption is to succeed. It is cause for great concern that nothing has been done on the petition, two years after Bishop Osadolor submitted it with tons of evidence. The EFCC must act on it.
What do you think of the federal government’s plan to create cattle colonies or ranches across the country?
I have seen that the actions of Governor Obaseki as regards this issue are not in the interest of Edo State. All that I have seen in the past one year and some months is that there is a conscious attempt by the governor to turn the state into a grazing field for cattle rearing by the Fulani herdsmen.
Let me say it here that he had concluded plans long ago to use great parts of our land for cattle ranching. Let me send a strong message to Obaseki that on no condition must he cede an inch of Edo land to the Fulani herdsmen to give to these cattle men. Going by the public outcry against this move, he came out with a statement that appears like speaking with both sides of his mouth. In one breath, he said he would not give land and in another breath, he said the government is prepared to welcome all those who want to invest in any private business, because we know that ranching is a private business
When you want to force the people and take their land by force and turn that land into cattle ranches, it is like going from here to the North to tell the people there that you are going to use their irrigation fields for pig rearing and farms.
We know that it is not in their culture to rear pigs. Will they not resist it? That is how we will resist the attempt to turn Edo State into a grazing field for cattle
Your party has been commenting on the situation at Tayo Akpata University of Education and the recent closure of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi. What is the situation right now?
We are shocked. If the government is not closing down institutions, it will close down government establishments where people are gainfully employed and convert them to female mechanic workshops. Obaseki is not supposed to be an APC governor but Edo State governor. He should leave politics to politicians and behave like a statesman. He should take decisions based on self-conviction, rather than the dictates of a master from Iyamho. What we have witnessed in the last one and a half year since Obaseki was sworn in is a miserable execution of government’s policies and the looting of the treasury. A case in point is the Sobe Agricultural Project where over N500 million was allegedly spent on the farm without anything to show for it. It is now very clear that Obaseki understudied Oshiomhole and even perfected his acts of noise making with nothing to show.
Governor Obaseki was recently quoted as saying that he will produce two million votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s election. What is your take on that?
Oshiomhole could not even win Edo State for Buhari after eight years, not to talk of Obaseki who has not done anything for Edo people. The PDP under President Goodluck Jonathan won the 2015 presidential election in Edo State. I can confidently assure you that the PDP will win the state for the next presidential candidate of the party again in 2019. Make no mistake about that.
The president was quoted recently as saying that the opposition had amassed so much money for the 2019 election and that he was scared. Is this true?
For a sitting president to say that the opposition has so much money to fight him is a bad omen for the APC. PDP will do him good by sending him home to enjoy a quiet retirement at his hometown of Daura, Katsina state. That is what President Muhammadu Buhari truly deserves now.
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