Sunday, March 15, 2015

PDP governors are scared of defeat – Oshiomhole

Long interview ahead *yawns*, so please grab a popcorn or better still grab a zobo drink. You know these politicians can preach sermon longer than a

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, in this interview, bares his mind on the forthcoming elections. While warning against any attempts to manipulate the polls or sack the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, he says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government has no further ideas on governance.

While reacting to recent comments from PDP governors against the presidential candidate of the APC, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, he declares that the comments indicated that they have conceded defeat.
He describes as untrue the statement credited to Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State that Buhari signed one-term agreement. He lampoons Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, describing his state as the highest indebted state in Nigeria. He says the time is up for the PDP in Nigeria, just as he asserts that the PDP in Edo is dead and buried. Excerpts:
Why presidential election is special
I think every election is important but, in the previous ones, the opposition was not really well organized; so they had not provided a potent challenge to the ruling party as we are doing today. Also, there is the growing level of unemployment, growing level of insecurity, frustration due to poor power supply and the growing culture of impunity.
So, from that point of view, I believe people want a change and, in a democracy when a party has been in power for long, it would seem it has no new ideas, there is nothing more to prove. The overall socio-economic issues are affecting both rich and the poor and, of course have dealt a blow to the middle class. So, again, for the first time, you have a formidable opposition, and ,in terms of the real test of democracy, one man one vote, I think this year’s election is like none other before it. This makes the election unique. You find that the world is anxious to see that Nigeria passes this critical test of ensuring that a free, fair and credible election is conducted.
Card Reader controversy
Well, an armed robber will always be scared of any security device that is capable of detecting or preventing robbery. It is an open secret that rigging has been a major tool in the hands of PDP. I think the best election we have had was the one conducted by the military in 1999. There was a slight improvement in 2011. So, if you have a device that seems to clean up the accreditation system, obviously it effectively demobilizes the rigging machine. For example, it is very common for election observers, the media and other groups to report that the turn out for an election is very low, but, by the time the results come out, you find that 99 per cent of people voted; as if nobody died after the registration exercise.
Even in mature democracies, you don’t get 80 per cent turn out, if you have 55-60 per cent turn out, it is a good day. But, in Nigeria, we have had where one thousand people registered and we are told 999 people voted, sometime everybody voted. But with the Card Reader, if you manipulate and put fake names in the voters register on election day, those ghosts will not be able to vote because the Card Reader cannot read the finger prints. So, for those who survive on election rigging, obviously, they have every reason to be very worried about the damage the Card Reader will do to their apparatus of rigging.
Do you think the postponement of the elections has been justified today with what you have observed?
The postponement was completely avoidable because when you fix a date for an election, people spent money, they have their calculations and, in the last minute, you change the goal post, that is not good enough. But it has also offered those who are into buying PVCs and doing other counter measures more time to perfect their act. But also those who are planning avenues to rig elections, it has given them more time to perfect the bad guys they want to deploy. But I think on the good side, more people have been able to collect their PVCs. But I believe, as they say, a debtor thinks tomorrow is far, its not as far; it is as the debtor thinks, it will come when it will come.
Hate campaign against Buhari
My problem with the media is that they don’t point out some things. If you have three people in a room and one person is making noise, you don’t say these people are making noise, you say why is it that one person is making noise? The campaign of calumny or personalization of the issues, focusing on personalities is basically a PDP problem. They are the ones who wanted to make a whole lot of noise about Buhari’s certificate.
They are the ones who think that the death of some body’s wife or daughter is a campaign issue. They are the ones who produce jingles and all kinds of documentaries that are completely unacceptable in a civilized setting. They are the ones trying to steer a debate away from issues of the economy, of security, of corruption, of any of those things that really have to do with the lives of our people, they are the ones buffeting us with what Buhari was when he was head of state.
They will rather not discuss the melting of the economy and the endless devaluation of the Naira and the rise in inflation, the growing incident of employer default in payment of salaries including the public sector and the emptiness of the treasury and the sharp drop in our national reserve, the disappearance of funds in the Excess Crude Account. You will understand that the typical Nigerian, when he has no answer to a challenge, seeks cover by evoking primordial sentiments. He will bring in tribalism to divide those asking questions, he will bring in religion to divide those asking for accountability. And he believes that in the confusion that follows, he can then escape. But, I think, on the whole, people are not fooled, I think that many people have already made up their minds.
Unfortunately for the PDP, the postponement has exposed what lies ahead if they stay longer than May 29. Look at the crash of the Naira and foreign investors are bolting with their dollars out of the country. Here in Government House, we have power supply now for not more than two three hours a day, it has gotten worse after the postponement. And out there in the city, we are having more people protesting every day over darkness. So, ideally, if it is a country where the electorate is sensitive to issues, the umbrella now is a very very negative symbol that reminds people of how we have lost since 1999.
But the Federal Government has always reeled out achievements being made in the economy?
If every student has to mark its own script, nobody will make a 3rd Class. Everybody will make a 1st Class. So, awarding yourself marks very generously does not change the fact about what you are worth intellectually. If you say the rails are back, alright, those who have boarded the train will say yes, those who have not entered will say where is the rail they are talking about?. They see it on television but they don’t see it on the track. If you say the roads are very good and I am driving to Akwa Ibom and I am going up and down and I am watching on television that you have done sixty thousand or one hundred million kilometres of road, it is okay, but when I drive I will see whether the road is good.
When Onolememen (Minister of Works) said he had done the road from Benin to Lokoja, when you are going to Lokoja and you see a zig zag situation and you see more accidents on the narrow road, you will wonder, where is this dual carriage way they are showing on television. So Nigerians are no fools, people will vote, not on what they see on television? Worse for these advertisers is that television viewing now is a matter for a small section of the elite because the bulk of the urban people have no light, the bulk of the rural people have no light. The nation is in the dark, only few people can afford generators. And the poor man’s generator cannot carry television, it might just give you one or three bulbs. So he does not even watch those claims.
Each time I go out I ask people, `did you not watch this thing on television?’, they say, `no, I did not see it, we had no light’. On the contrary, in Edo, PDP says Comrade has not done any thing, he is just making noise, doing propaganda. Okay, but people who are driving through the airport, they see a six-lane road, much more beautiful than Abuja roads. They are driving towards Teachers House where PDP told them that there is mermaid, but that it is now being asphalted. It does not matter what people see on television, what matters is what people see on the ground. And that is why I laid emphasis on eye-mark as opposed to ear-mark, what people see. If you look at their contradictions, when an economy is growing, one of the things that happens is that your currency gets stronger because the potency of your currency is a function of the economic fundamentals.
Now, if you say your growth is a non-oil sector, how come that the depreciation in oil price has so much impact on your economy. Because your economy is supposed to grow if indeed we are witnessing so much growth in agriculture, in manufacturing, then oil becomes a fringe player. But yet a little fluctuation in the oil price, your Naira suffers as if it is just an Idi Amin currency. Even to suggest that the misfortune of the Naira is as a result of the falling oil price, is to show very little understanding of the workings of the micro economy because, by 1998 to early 1999, during Gen. Abdulsalami, oil price dropped to nine dollars, exchange rate stabilized at about N70.
So, if your exchange rate was N70 with oil price at nine dollars, how can you explain that when your oil price is over 50 dollars, your exchange rate is now N230 per dollar. What has happened is that there is so much policy incoherence including some confusion at the Central Bank. And the flood gate has been opened to all kinds of distortion and abuses, leading to the current poor state of the local currency. In my view, it has nothing to do with the drop in oil price because if oil price determines the strength of the Naira, when oil rose to $110, Naira ought to have appreciated.
It never did. So if the Naira did not appreciate by the time Soludo left CBN, the Naira was exchanging for N116 to the dollar and that was when Soludo proposed to tie the Naira at N125 to one US dollar fixed, and of course, he got some knocks and he had to abandon the policy. So you cannot say that the strength of the Naira is a function of the oil price, the issues are far more complex than that.
The PDP governors compared themselves with APC governors. They said they had achieved more than you people. What is your take?
Governor Akpabio is used to talking like that if you know him. Akwa Ibom is the most indebted state in the country, let him publish his foreign and local debt profile and publish his total revenue accruing from the Federation Account. You will find that he is not only the highest earner from the Federation Account, his state is also the most indebted state in the country. I don’t need to say more. Has he ever told you people how much it cost him to build the stadium? I don’t want to talk, we are friends, we know ourselves. Who else was talking?
Ayo Fayose?
I am not ready to dance naked, so I will follow the Igbo man proverb. When a mad man carries your clothes when you are bathing, don’t come out to run after him because if you do, they will say you are mad too. That settles that of Fayose.
The PDP governors also alleged that Buhari signed one-term agreement which will affect the North and other abuses against him?
When a player cannot win a match and he is on extra time and, it is clear to him that he is losing the game, if the player is not in a well trained team or well schooled side, the players, out of frustration, will abandon the ball and begin to go for the legs of their opponents.
So you have to sympathise with our brother governors in the PDP. There is no lie they have not told, so what else do you want them to do? If they think abusing Buhari will give them votes, we wish them luck. But Nigerians are not impressed that they are running away from the issues. What PDP governors should be talking about is how to reconcile the huge expenditure of PDP since 1999 to date on power supply and the hopeless state of power.
The much talked about reform of the power sector, including the over publicised privatization of the distribution companies and the resulting darkness that have enveloped the nation and the impunity measures that the PDP government has endorsed which allows private individuals using state assets that they have not paid for, like in Edo State, our investment in power has not been paid for and yet our people are forced to pay what is called `fixed charge’.
Those are the issues the PDP governors should address. Why the national currency, that is at N75 in 1999, is now N230 and the resulting upward train of prices? How all the manufacturing companies in Ikeja, Apapa, Port Harcourt, Michellin, Dunlop, the Kaduna Textile zone, how they have all disappeared and relocated to Ghana because of the crisis of power supply.
Those are the issues they should address. And how, all of a sudden, a country that was united and secured in 1999 is now fighting what we call insurgency. Those are the issues they should address and those are the issues Nigerians want answers to. So if they say Buhari is a he-goat, we know he is not a he-goat.  They say, `oh, he will Islamize Nigeria’. When he was a military head of state, was there any policy that was formed on religious sentiments? No! So they have no new card to play, let them continue to abuse Buhari. The good thing is that it is not what they say because if a governor can condescend to a level of abusing a former head of state or abandoning issues and descending on a candidate, if they think that is the best strategy for them, good luck. But from all indications, Nigerians are not impressed.
Remember the documentary on AIT, by the time they did opinion poll, they found out that more people are supporting Buhari. I think the real issue is that PDP has never faced real electioneering campaign. They have always balanced the books and announced whatever they wanted. This time they are facing the battle and they are bound to lose their deposits.

Governor Aliyu of Niger State alleged that Gen. Buhari signed one-term agreement with APC leaders. How true is this?
I think it is very interesting that the statement is coming from Niger State, because it is the same Niger governor who claimed that President Jonathan signed one term agreement, I think he is a one-term specialist.
He said they had an agreement with the President of his party that it is one term, now he has moved to Buhari. He is my friend. I don’t want to be too hard on him, but you will recall that he was reported as saying that a good politician is a master liar.
Then I said I pray I am never a politician because if a country is led by liars, then that country is doomed. But that was his view. But if he believes that a politician must be a liar even if you do not agree with his argument you have to agree, then he himself is one because he must be speaking from his own understanding. And that is why he has no difficulty in lying about his one term stuff about Buhari. But I think what is important about what Aliyu said is that he conceded defeat and, to us, that is what is important for the purpose of the coming election.
Those of us who think that leadership requires a degree of honesty, that you need to command the trust of your people and that a man who cannot be trusted cannot lead, are shocked by Governor Aliyu’s comment and, to me, he has conceded defeat. Like when Babangida Aliyu was saying that Buhari signed one term agreement and that he will be short changing the North, I said he is a poor student of history because great men that have bailed out their nations didn’t have to do ten years in office. Mandella did four years and he is respected all over the world.
I have never advised the President not to contest, he has a right to contest and we have the right to contest against him and that is what we are doing. The point I want to make in regard to what Governor Aliyu said is that the place of leaders in history is not determined by the length of their tenure but by the impact of their policies in the life of a nation.
Rumour over Jega’s removal
I don’t know why people talk like that. We have to talk about institutions. I don’t think the tenure of INEC is purely at the discretion of the President. There are things the President cannot do, it is a very powerful office but he does not have absolute powers. I also believe that power must go with wisdom, I don’t think that anybody, right now, in Nigeria, will take that seriously. I prefer to believe the President has no such plans. When people talk about hidden agenda, I always say let it remain hidden, the one that is open, lets discuss that.
How prepared is the APC in Edo State in the forthcoming elections with the boasting of the PDP in the state?
I think PDP is boasting that they will rig elections not that they will win elections. What have they achieved that they will use to mobilize votes? Only two years ago I defeated them, they lost their deposits in all the local governments. What has changed between now and that time? If anything, the PDP is worse off now because, by 2012, since they could not defend their records of performance in office, their most smartest explanation was to say, no, this is a new PDP, that the bad guys that destroyed the PDP were in APC or in then ACN.
Go and play back the tape. My argument then was, what was new, because the head is still the same? Then they said it was some people around me who gave PDP a bad name in this state. Now that those people are back to them, they don’t even have any basis to pretend. Each time we see those people who have returned to them, we remember the bad state of things then in Edo. And they are back in PDP because their expectations in APC could not be realized.
So how can they win? You have heard leading opinion leaders in Benin saying PDP cannot win elections here; yes, they could have had one or two people to contradict, but even those ones you should listen carefully to what they are saying. But again PDP has always boasted and, like a witch, they have always threatened. But we, like sons of God, have always defeated them.
Even the one they are planning to rig, we want to see how they want to do it. People boasting openly to use the armed forces, that they have recruited five thousand Civil Defence, we are waiting to see whether Edo is a he-goat to be captured. All those things are empty boasts. Edo people are very aware now. And I am happy they recognize that they cannot write results and that is why they are fighting against the Card Reader. PDP is finished in this state and there is no question. They are dead and buried.
I read Ize-Iyamu where he said when I go out people no longer troop out, that is funny. You people know that each time I go out; people, both young and old troop out, not only singing but praying for me and dancing.
My complaint with the media is that when you guys know the truth, when people like pastor make such remarks, you can always say, you observed this or that, because the media must not always parrot what people say, they must also write what they observed. I am glad that pastor said we worked in first tenure, but did they work in their own first tenure? Did they work in their second tenure? As we speak today, while many PDP governments are not paying salaries, by the special grace of God, we are paying salaries as and when due; as we speak, they are asphalting Upper Siluko.
This evening, I went to look at the asphalting of Upper Mission Road. Last week, we completed work on Uwasota Road. As we speak, they are working on Uwelu Road. In the GRA, we have completed many of the roads including Ihama Road, Adesuwa Grammar School Road, Boundary Road. Our tractors are working at St Saviours, you name it.
This past one month or two, we have commenced work at Queen Ede erosion site, a major problem. We are working in Auchi erosion site, Ekenwan erosion site. Our Central Hospital is having a new look. All these are ongoing jobs. Outside the state, our contractors are working, schools are under construction. But the good news is that it is not what PDP says that matters, it is what we do. When Dan Orbih said we are planting only flowers, people were laughing at them.
Projects such as the Airport Road, second term, we completed the five junctions, second term, we completed several streets connecting Upper Lawani and Upper Mission, many of them. If I walk round the streets, you will see how people jump out in a minute. There is no PDP in this state, none of their leaders can walk round the streets the way I do because people will lynch them. My popularity rating is today better than what it was in December.
And even with the postponement, it has even helped us do more work. I saw pastor complaining that we have flagged off construction of Okpella Road, he was virtually crying that we are doing something for Okpella people. But look at what they did to Okpella people, they published it in their magazine as one of the projects PDP has done through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, spending N800million.
The community people went to Abuja to say `which Okpella did you give water? The only water we have is the borehole Oshiomhole provided’. The same thing they did in Esan.  What is PDP going to tell anybody? They have reparation to pay to Edo people. Every day people are decamping from Igueben, all over the state from PDP to APC because they have seen that PDP has not done anything for the people. Between the time the elections were postponed and today, PDP has lost about ten thousand people in this state. Those that pastor took to PDP are all back.

1 comment :

  1. Thatz the typical PDP

    Meanwhile they are all the same. Always praising themselves extensively and you start wondering " Did they really achieve all this"?