Monday, November 17, 2014 12:40 pm
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, last week marked his 6th anniversary in office. In this interview with ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE, editor and IDOWU OGUNLEYE, photo editor who snapped the shots, the Governor spoke on his labour activisim days, his road to the governorship seat, his achievements in office and the state of the nation
Do you entertain fears about 2015, because some people are saying by that time, Nigeria will cease to exist because of this insecurity matter and plans to rig election?
Well, there is room for fear, but I cannot be detained by fear. And like I said today, I have personally conquered fear; I can’t be afraid. There is nothing else to live for because coming from my background to live up to my age, I have already crossed the Nigerian average age of 48. But you see, there is no question. When the President says Edo will fall to PDP, Rivers will fall to PDP, is it on account of PDP’s performance in this state? The threat is clear that they intend to rig, but they cannot govern with a stolen mandate. That would be absolutely impossible.
Some of us were in the trenches, we fought military governments, we gave military governments ultimatum––not on wages––on political issues. We marched on the streets of Abuja, we demanded for the release of Abiola, we fought on the streets of Lagos, we resisted tear gas. So I cannot be intimidated by anyone, not at this point, because really, it’s better to die on your feet in a cause you believe in than to be wasted on your knees because you lack the courage to rise and be counted. My advice to the federal government is that they should forget any attempt to rig; let the vote count. If the people want anybody to continue, let him continue. If the people want anybody to go, he has to go. That is the promise of democracy. The country is bigger than any of its citizens and I think for any man who is a parent, like any one of us, he must worry about the future of his children.
There is no question that the language of PDP is that whether you people like it or not, we are going to rig. And we have seen the way they are managing the way they are going to rig, even within the PDP. When you elect delegates today, and then the senators say they were handpicked by the governors, it means that even though the primaries have not yet been conducted they have already known how the delegates are going to vote because of the person who appointed them. Are delegates supposed to be appointed? And when you have shown that you can harass and you go on strike for two days, then you are called––as we read in papers––that something will be done to give you automatic tickets.
I read stories about why automatic tickets have attractions; in order to retain experienced senators. Does that not suggest that there is somebody in PDP who is saying that once we have given you ticket, we are also guaranteeing you; as you have automatic tickets, so you’ll have automatic victory? For PDP senators to have automatic victory in a popular election, there is no better statement than the fact the they intend to rig, because some of those senators can’t win their wards. You know it, I know it, they know it. How can every governor be sure of being the next senator if he has not foreseen how he is going to rig election?
Why are primaries so important? Is it on account of their performance? What is the performance? Today, federal budget is 85 per cent, 90 per cent recurrent. The other 10 per cent is borrowed, which means 100 per cent of their direct earning goes to recurrent expenditure. They are servicing loans with more than N1 trillion. So the federal government is actually bankrupt. So what is the performance that you’re going to use in order to guarantee that people will return you to office if you do not intend to rig?
There is no question. But the fact that people plan to rig doesn’t mean they will succeed in the rigging. Half of the job is done when you are aware that people are planning to break into your house. It will then be up to you to go and sleep and start snoring, leaving your doors and your windows open. But if you know that people are coming then you get ready. And people like us, we are products of struggle. And I think APC understands the language very clear. It is clear to me too.
People have been speculating about your political future. Some say vice-presidential ambition and others. Please we want you to talk on it
There were people who wanted me to contest for the president, and not for the first time. You know, in 2007 many eminent Nigerians, not to talk of many anonymous Nigerians who said, ‘Comrade, contest for the presidency of Nigeria because after all, without the instrument of cohesion, history will record it in my favour along with my comrades, that we are the only ones in history who, without owning television stations or newspapers, through the power of our message and the fact that the message connects and addresses the critical concerns of the masses, we were able to shut down the economy for one week. Nigerians in the North, in the East, in the South and in the West, Moslems, Christians, including those who are Boko Haram members now, they were in Nigeria, they were obeying my orders, staying at home, because we made the case for everyone.
We made the case for business, we made the case for the poor, we made the case for the unemployed, we even spoke for the media. We spoke for NBA. When they shot and killed an NBA chairman in Anambra State, we carried coffin to the Villa and carried coffin to the police headquarters, asking that they must produce the killers, with Mbadinuju as governor of Anambra state. We fought for everyone, and so there is no village you go to in Nigeria where I am not known.