Chief Dan Osi Orbih, is the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State. In this interview, he spoke on its party’s preparation and chances in the forthcoming governorship election in the state and how the lingering crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo is affecting governance, amongst other issues.
How prepared is your party for the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State?
We are set to take back the state to the umbrella of the PDP so that we would have a full PDP family in the South-South region.
Looking at the outcome of the 2016 governorship poll in Edo, do you think your party stands any better chance in the coming election?
Our chances are very bright. Our recent performance in the state during the 2019 election will tell you that our chances of winning back the state are very bright. When the APC was united during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s election, we defeated them. When the APC was united, we won two out of the three senators and five out of the House of Representative seats. Even in the 2019 presidential election, with Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC and Godwin Obaseki as governor, we also defeated them again. We get two senators and some Reps. Even in the state assembly, the APC had 10 members and the remaining 14 are still waiting for the PDP to claim. You can see that with what is on ground, our party is well positioned to win back Edo State to the PDP’s umbrella.
What is your take on the recent defection of some PDP top brass and other members to the APC?
In my tenure as the PDP chairman in Edo state, I have witnessed a lot of movements from the Alliance for Democracy and Action Congress to PDP and from the PDP to the APC. It has also assumed the character that one would be forced to say that some people will always move because they are driven by their own ambition. For us as a party, we are even more formidable than when we won presidential election for Atiku. So, a united APC could not defeat us during the presidential election and a united APC could not win more than one senatorial seat, not to talk now that they are in disarray. The APC today in Edo is worse than “Fuji House of Commotion”. There are lots of crises in the party to the extent that it is now affecting governance in the state. That was what forced me to extend invitation to both Oshiomhole and Obaseki to come for me to reconcile them in the interest of the state.
What is your take on the internal crisis in your party over zoning?
Unlike the APC, there is no crisis in the PDP. All that is happening is just agitations by Edo North, Edo Central and Edo South people and it is normal in politics to agitate based on interests. But at the end of the day, there are laid down procedures for the emergence of people in various positions. As a party, we keep to those rules, procedures and guidelines so that at the end of the day, whoever emerged would have been chosen in strict compliance with the laid down constitutional provision of our party.
Arising from the fallouts of the ward congresses of your party, aggrieved members went to court and the conduct of local government congresses was stopped. What is your take on this?
We had ward congresses in 192 wards and under our constitution; we have our own internal mechanism for resolving issues. The people you are referring to, those that went to court did not avail themselves of the constitutional provision of addressing complaints arising from congresses. However it will interest you to note that out of the 18 local governments, the appeal panel received petitions from less than five local governments. To that end, you can see that ours is truly a democratic party where we play by the rules. I believe that the appeal panel and other organs responsible for addressing complaints are already working seriously to ensure that issues are addressed.
What is you take on the lingering crisis in the ruling APC in the state?
As a party, we don’t have any interest in their internal crisis but as Edo people, when we see that the crisis is now affecting governance and the peace of the state, we feel very concerned and to that extent, we extended invitation to them since they cannot resolve their crisis. For the sake of the state, I will go the extra mile to let them know that there is no need for their fight. What is clear to every person is that the APC as a party has failed in Edo and the people are waiting for the opportunity to vote them out. So, this fight about second term or no second term ticket or no ticket is totally unnecessary when you know that getting the ticket is not sure victory. They came into power with much promises and expectations but today, the people feel betrayed and disappointed by their failure to live up to their promises. You will recall that at some point, it was normal for them to explain that their failure arises from the many years of the PDP rule but having spent closed to 12 years; they can no longer blame the PDP for their failure. What is now obvious to the people is that they don’t have the capacity to rule the state and the honourable thing to do is to accept this and start preparing handing over note to the next PDP government rather than fighting over who gets second term ticket or who doesn’t get it. The issue has gone beyond the level of selfish political interest.
How does the PDP intend to exploit the crisis to its advantage?
Even without crisis, the APC is already in trouble but their crisis has worsened the situation. Pertaining to our strategy, we will keep that closed to our chests and we don’t discuss political strategy on the pages of newspapers.
In many states of the federation, there are frictions between governors and their so-called godfathers. What do you think is responsible for this?
This question can be better directed at Adams Oshiomhole because he came into Edo politics, saying no to godfatherism, but if you look closely at what is going on today, you see that the fight is between Oshiomhole, the godfather, and Obaseki, the godson. I believe that both of them have not been able to come out and tell us what the real issues are because the way they are going, people are beginning to think that there may be other issues outside political interests. They may border on economic and other interests which they have not been able to make public. But I believe that the time has come where both of them have a duty to speak up for us to know the exact issue they are quarrelling about. Come to think of it, some are saying that the assembly was not properly inaugurated while the other said it was beyond the assembly.There are other issues, but in all this, considering the relationship they both had before now that led Oshiomhole giving him 100 percent support against others to be the candidate and eventually the governor of the state, you will be forced to believe that there are more issues than what they are saying. So, it is time for them to speak up and save the state from unnecessary crises.
But this is not peculiar to only Edo State, as the friction also happened in PDP controlled states.
I don’t know how many the PDP-controlled states that have this friction. It is essentially in the APC-controlled states. You are aware that since the APC came to power, they have been going after known members and leaders of the PDP using instruments of state to intimidate and harass them. For some who don’t have strong mind, the easy way to go is to defect to the APC.
What is your assessment of the Obaseki-led administration in Edo?
As at now, whether you blame it on the crisis or not, there is very little to show Edo people in the last three years. You cannot point to a single project that was started by him and commissioned by him. The only thing is going to Malaysia and other countries to sign MOUs and also invite people to the state to look at the economic potential of the state and also sign MOUs. So, this government has signed more MOUs than initiating projects and commissioning them. To that extent, I score him low. But a lot of people had attributed his low performance to the unending crisis in the APC. However, the moment you are made governor, you must be able to distinguish between politics and governance because you are no longer an APC governor but governor of the entire state. It is your achievements that will speak for you.
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