Chief Clement Ben-Edo-Osagie is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. In this interview by Isaac Olamikan, among other issues, he spoke about the performance of Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the chances of the PDP in next year’s elections. Excerpts:
During the countdown to the last national assembly election, you predicted that your party’s candidates will win in Edo State and your prediction came to pass. But the situation changed during the State House of Assembly polls two weeks later. What do you think went wrong?
As for the election into the national assembly, PDP had a good strategy. People of the state were very impressed with the performance of President Goodluck Jonathan. It was based on this that people felt that giving the party’s candidates the support to go to the national assembly; they’ll complement the achievement of the then president so that he can do more when he returns to the office. The result of the House of Assembly election two weeks later was not a reflection of the people’s voting consciousness. It was an election decided purely on the amount of money available to the contestants. Also, you will notice that the number of voters who participated in the House of Assembly election reduced drastically in comparison to what obtained in the national assembly polls. The All Progressives Congress (APC) used money to lure the voters this time around to bail themselves out of the ugly experienced they had during the national assembly election. The APC in simple language bought the votes with which they won the House of Assembly votes. The state governor, Comrade Oshiomhole, was quite desperate to ensure that the APC won the House of Assembly election. He knew that he had done nothing to win the votes of the people and the only way that he could get the needed votes is to use money. I have never seen any election where money was massively used. Each voter were given at least N5,000.00 as bribe to vote for the APC
candidates. Is that the way democracy should be practiced? Monetisation of the conscience of the people? That is what they did. It was more or less a fallowed winning.
In time past money played less role in politics. What do you think the latest trend portends for the polity?
What you have just said is real. I have contested election in the past under well defined political parties. Our campaign those days was
based on what you intend to achieve based on the party’s policies. This is why people were not bribed, they came out to vote based on their conscience. The progressives as at that time were always winning. But today, we have more or less adulterated democracy. The democracy that is defined by the amount of money you’re able to spend. For example, in this state it is a common knowledge that bags of money with choice cars are been given to people perhaps to be convinced to vote for the APC. That was what actually downplayed the mood of the people in the state where the will of the people is no longer respected rather the amount of money… Today, you’re hearing the state governors crying that they are broke. Why should they be broke? They have their allocations from the federated account every month. The money is there. Instead of using this money to pay salaries and do other development projects they don’t. Rather, they stack this money for elections without due regard for the people of the state who are civil servants and other working class citizens. To me, it is a sort of democratic apparition that we are practicing.
Some politicians in the state have started subtle campaign towards contesting the 2016 governorship election. What would you say about this?
To me, everyone who feels that he is capable or qualified to aspire for any position can do so. As you have the right to aspire the people have the right to decide who to vote for. That is the normal thing.
And within the various political parties they too believe that contesting is normal but sincerity is important. When it is time who is qualified to carry the party’s banner would be decided by the different parties’ stakeholders. As per the governorship election in the state next year, I think the people have learnt their lessons.
Today, you have a sort of industrial turbulence in the state. Teachers are not being paid; local government councils’ workers are also not been paid and people are been harassed by the various tax agents of the state government. They are draining the purses of the people who today live on poverty level. All these will determine what the masses will rely on in the next election. I am in the PDP. At least, for eight years now APC have been in power in the state. They knew when the PDP too was in power. I believe strongly that today the happiness that people exude in the days of PDP in this state is no longer there.
There is great despondence among the vast populace of the people of the state. They are fed up with the draconian rule of one person who believes that he knows all about the state. That is causing the people a lot of headache. I have no doubt that the PDP will sweep the poll in 2016 through the will and the divine power of the all mighty God.
Several weeks after former President, Goodluck Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in the estimation of many Nigerians nothing much has happened and as we speak the incumbent has yet to appoint ministers. What is your take on this?
Politics is not gambling. Politics in which you let everyone have a feel of what you have in stock for them. This is why any well defined political party before contesting an election would have made public its manifestoes and other objectives. Within the party itself it must
do a sort of analysis of those that will occupy the various strata of government immediately it wins an election. So, there must be that organogram well prepared ahead of the election because a party that fails to project into victory and what to be done immediately is not a political party. I believe that the APC were not ready on how to govern the country. Their desire was to win the election, to take over power through bitterness, making a lot of promises that cannot be fulfilled. It is a political party that bites more than it can chew.
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