By Gabriel Enogholase, Benin
In this interview with Don Pedro Obaseki, he speaks on why he pulled out of Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary, and his decision to support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP candidate in the September 10 election in the state and maternal cousin, against the wish of his family.
When you took the decision not to participate in the APC governorship primaries, what was actually on your mind?
Actually, it was a very painful decision and my decision to run for the governorship was also originally based on my belief that it was time for people to step forward and rescue the state. I believe that we should change the wrong notion that politics is for the never-do-wells and insincere people.
What actually led to my withdrawal from the APC primaries was that when I got to Abuja, I sensed that the primaries would be rigged. I pulled out of the primaries because it was not all about winning, but letting people know that they have choices and that is why I started shopping for other parties that might give me a chance to run. Principal among the parties was the YDP, Labour Party which actually gave me honorary membership card and Accord Party.
I looked at the YDP, it is a party for the future, I looked at Labour, there were too many hiccups; Accord Party, their structure was just coming up, so, I decided to settle for Accord Party. My belief was that I would run and going forward, I never knew that we will get to where we are today.
As fate would have it, the Accord people met me and we went to the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja, completed all the formalities and offered the nomination since I was the only one who has purchased the nomination form and we came back to Benin.
The date of the primaries was fixed for the 4th of July, 2016, and it was held with relevant observers from INEC and security agents.We heard on the date of the submission of the nomination form that there was a court injunction with a 48 page supporting affidavit by one Samson Isibor and Isaac Adeniyi alleging that the National Executive of the party was not the actual National Executive, although that National Executive was the one recognized by INEC on its website. The only alternative for me when it was just seven weeks to the election to start fighting a court case when the court was on its vacation to resume on September 29, was to opt out of the race because it was a coup that was planned against me. When INEC did not publish my name as a result of the court injunction the only reasonable thing to do was to wait and see or move back to my business.
Why did you decide to support Pastor Ize-Iyamu?
Pastor Ize-Iyamu apart from sending emissaries to me drove to my house on one of the Sundays with the entire PDP state executive led by Chief Dan Orbih to solicit for my support. He gave me his manifesto, I asked questions and he gave me satisfactory answers and I also insisted that some of those pet projects that I had in mind must be added to his Simple Agenda for Edo people.
So, anybody that I am going to support must have that. It is not a matter of family issue because I love my family but I love Edo State more. So, if Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has solicited my support, it is beholden on me to listen to him and it is beholden on me to look out of the two that would best serve the interest of my children and the children of all those who work, live and are indigenes of Edo State. I realised that the best thing for the future of our children, their children’s children that it is better for me to support Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. And the Accord Party also decided to cooperatively support him and on Sunday, the Accord Party executive hosted Pastor Ize-Iyamu and opted to support him.
But members of the larger Obaseki family seem not happy with you over your decision to support Pastor Ize-Iyamu who is your first cousin…?
I don’t want to reply them because my family is not a political party, my family is not a political pressure group, and my family is my family. The act of a few members of the family particularly those who have gone to the press, Mr, William Obaseki and Chief Oyuki Obaseki, to disparage me in the public will not make me to degenerate to replying them, but it is on record that they are neither the head nor spokespersons of my family. If the official head or spokesperson of the family does that, I will reply because I am not the only Obaseki who is on the Pastor Ize-Iyamu campaign train.
When you threw your cap into the ring to contest the governorship election, did it occur to you that one of you had been programmed to emerge as a preferred candidate?
The truth of the matter is no. Before the primaries, I went round the wards, preaching that Governor Adams Oshiomhole will be a man of history because he told me from the beginning that no man is God, he told me that it is one man, one vote and I have spoken with him severally before then and I believed that the man will duly and truly exhibit that which he had preached before. So, I was very shocked that Oshiomhole who said, one man, one vote, who said no man is God, who said death to godfathers would now be the one who appears to be doing otherwise.
There is this argument in the state that the governor’s preference for Godwin Obaseki was to enable him get someone who will be on the same page with him and watch his back?
There is no act yet to tell the mind’s design of the face but when you are profiling, you profile from actions and Oshiomhole’s action seem to tilt towards that but the people are wiser.
From what we have seen playing out, it is Oshiomhole who is going to perpetrate the Biblical hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.
Many people are of the view that the governorship candidates of the two major parties are engaged in campaign of hate and are not addressing issues. How do you react to this?
I don’t truly agree on this because I have not heard Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu come to the open and throw unbridled insults at the other party. It is Oshiomhole that we should blame. Before Ize-Iyamu started his campaign he has given out his agenda to everybody in a book form. When I was growing up especially in the Second Republic when we had the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and others, they all had their agenda. The UPN for instance had its free education, free health, integrated rural services and the NPN green revolution. But this is the first time any of the aspirants will have a published agenda, the SIMPLE AGENDA. So, anybody who wants to know about Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s manifesto for Edo State needs to go through the document; but I do not know what the agenda of the APC is for Edo State.
What will be your advice for the average Edo voter?
If we don’t change this change, what we get will just be a mere exchange, a mere cosmetic make over. My advice to the average Edo voter is guard his vote, protect his vote, make his voice emerge because it is time to make our voices emerge from the dented politics of the past. I will appeal to the voters be they market women, traders, bus drivers and the youths to help re-write the future of Edo State in gold by voting for someone who has the state at heart. I am canvassing seriously for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.