Oshiomhole is more of nomadic politician – Ize-Iyamu

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was a founding member of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Edo state and the amalgamated All Progressives Congress (APC). The clergy recently led thousands of APC members to the rival Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). In this interview, the Director-General of Governor Adams Oshiomhole 2012 campaign organization  explains reasons for leaving the party he labored to build. PATRICK AHANOR reports
Reasons for dumping APC for PDP
You know that we were in the APC and recently we had to resign our membership for reasons which are in the public domain. And after wide consultation, we joined the PDP. The reason we joined the PDP is quite obvious; we are politicians representing our people and our communities. We believe that politics is the best way for us to be able to have a political power that we need to develop our environment and our people. And as at today, in Nigeria and even in Edo state we believe that there are two major political parties; the PDP and the APC. Therefore, if we are leaving the APC, the most viable option is the PDP.

Beyond that, we were also attracted by the reform that we have seen and that we have heard that the PDP is undergoing. As you know in Edo state, the PDP is not content to calling itself the PDP, they call themselves the new PDP, some say it is the reformed PDP. That statement in itself is very endearing because it shows a lot of humility, it shows that they hopefully admit that certain things were not too good in the past and things have changed and from what we have seen in the activities, we have had the opportunity to see them do a lot of things since we left them.
It is clear to us that the PDP is not a one man party. It is a party that has clearly defined rules and regulations; a party very well structured, very well organized; a party that has a better platform for us to be able to engage ourselves and get the dividends of democracy to our people.
So, considering what made us to depart or to resign from the APC, it was because of lack of internal democracy, the autocracy that was now prevalent, the hypocrisy, the deceit; we needed a better place and we looked at the environment. We  looked at the party and all our people, there was no dissention, we were of the view that the logical place to go was the new PDP in Edo state. And that is where we are now started.

Leaving the PDP for APC and back to the PDP
The reason  we left the APC is not something that is strange and I will tell you the truth that we don’t jump from parties to parties. Those on the governor’s side are trying to rubbish us. Some said we were nomadic politicians, others said we are Amajiri, but I said facts are facts. If you look at the governor’s political history, he is more of a nomadic politician and I will tell you why.

He left the NLC and his priority was simply governorship and nothing else. He went to PDP and told them he wanted to run for governorship, they told him he was just coming you can’t just begin to ask for governorship. The moment he knew he couldn’t get it he moved to ANPP. In the ANPP he had resistance. And it is something I also want you people to see. When he left the ANPP, I will like you to please look at your records in 2006 and go and read the press clippings of Godwin Erhahon.

In fact, that time he questioned his qualification to even become the comrade simply because the man left the ANPP. From ANPP, he went to form the Labour Party. For reasons best known to him, he left the Labour Party and he came to us begging us to give him the platform which we did. I listened yesterday (Monday, May 26th) at their APC selection when he mentioned that those of us who are talking why did
we not challenge him in 2007. But I think he belittled himself by that statement because he was so grateful he made one Director General and after the elections he was full of praise.

Apart from making me the chairman of the inauguration, he spent time to thank me for the work I did to put him there. But yesterday, he just danced naked and said that if we felt we were strong, why did we not contest against him in 2007, why did we not contest against him in 2012? But facts are facts; we gave him a platform to contest.

When I came to the PDP I was consistent, I didn’t leave the PDP. People were worried about how vocal I was. At a time when most people were afraid to speak, I was bold enough to question certain decisions. And when they had the opportunity to deregister members some of us were singled out as ‘trouble makers’  and they(PDP) thought that by denying us registration we would be forced to come to them to pledge that we would be of good behavior.

They did not contemplate that that would make us leave; it was just deliberate; let us punish them. There was no other party, the PDP was controlling both the federal, the state the local governments. Not this one that is bragging about because he is just controlling Edo state. We were looking for an alternative when like minds across the country also began to come together because there was an alternative. So when we heard about that we linked up with this new group, bring in our people from all over the state and make a strong platform.

And so, we started the AD, AC, ACN and the rest is history. Oshiomhole came to join us in the group. So how can you be calling us nomads? And the reason we left is very clear. If the house that you have is suddenly being taken over by armed robbers or the tenant that you have; now brings out a gun and says that you can no longer sleep in the master’s bedroom and that in any event you can no longer have a room anymore, you can remain in the house but you must stay in the corridor, be sleeping there; the logical thing to do is to begin to plot how you can leave the house. You don’t quarrel with a mad man, you don’t quarrel with a man who is armed. And whether you like it or not today we have armed a man, he is boasting of state resources and he is deploying it in a very reckless manner.

Quitting because of your speculated governorship ambition?
That cannot be correct; because we have not even reached that yet; governorship is still very, very far and anybody talking about that is just cheap blackmail. It is too early in the day for anybody to say that is being tilted on the governorship race.
I know in politics, a day can make a lot of difference. So we are too experienced in this game to be leaving our party just simply because of governorship. The reality is that even before we left, a lot of people were already going. I recall that even before we gave an ultimatum and what has now become the Wesley Conference, our people and leaders in three Etsakos had met on their own and they had given the governor a two week ultimatum for reasons which were very similar to the reasons we also articulated.

So, our reasons for leaving were quite clear and when you look at the array of those who are leaving, you will know that they cannot be described as Pastor Ize-Iyamu followers. I am just privileged to be one of the leaders in the group. But a group where you have the first chairman of this party, Prince Tony Omoaghe, a place where you have a man like the Eson of Benin Kingdom who was the senatorial leader in Edo south, a man like Alhaji Usman Shagadi, who was not just the deputy state chairman of the party but was the leader of the party, in the governor’s senatorial district; when you look at the array of those who are there; Bright Omokhodion former speaker is part of the group, commissioners are there; Hon. West Idahosa three time member of the House of Representatives is part of the group; Mrs Evelyn Omokhodion, a leader of the party, Engr. Abubakar Momoh is part of it.
When you look at these people how can you say that the reason why they left was simply because of Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s governorship ambition?

Abuja visit
Thank you. Well, if you follow the sequence of events, you will know that even when the ultimatum had expired, we still tarried. We waited for another four days; and during the four days our people became very restless, asking whether we were actually taking a position and there were even stories going round that government had settled us and that was why we were not ready to proceed.
But to answer your question, the meeting we held at Wesley was well covered by the press. And if you recall the mandate we were given were two folds; one, go and discuss the issues you have raised with the governor, number two, go and discuss with the PDP about the possibility of working with them because at the time we held that meeting, a lot of people were even of the opinion that there was no need for further discussions; that meeting arose simply because those who ought to listen have refused to listen.

You will remember that we had even done congress twice and all with the same result. So there was a lot of anger, a lot of disenchantment but some of us said that to call the first meeting and just announce that we were leaving would give the impression that we did not even care for the house that we built. So. in spite, of the overwhelming view that we should leave the party, we were able to moderate the opinion and we agreed that let us take a two pronged approach. Let us discuss and let us go to the PDP and see if it was possible for us to work with them.

Now, one interesting point I want you to take note of was when we went to Abuja, it was not a secret visit. We went with the full knowledge of the governor and those that matter. There were pressmen and they would have been able to announce to the whole world that we have moved, but we would make no comment. And when we came back we still had a meeting with the governor and he knew that there was no commitment in Abuja.
This was because he made a passionate appeal that we should try to be patient with him. that all the things we have mentioned he had taken note of them and he would take steps to rectify them. I will give some examples; he took our intervention to make them realize that even in the party guidelines, there was room for an appeal panel. We told the governor, you on your own cannot be the one announcing I cancel; I cancel, go and do this.

There is an appeal panel; follow the provision in the guideline which says when there are grievances they should be addressed to an appeal panel that will be constituted and they will be the ones that will make pronouncement on what will happen. And based on that observation which we made they set up an appeal panel; till today we have not heard a single report of that appeal panel. Even if our observation and our petitions were all frivolous, it would have been nice to hear the appeal panel say all the petitions they wrote we have received all of them; they were frivolous they have no merit.
We tried to follow all the processes but unfortunately there was nothing strange. We came back from Abuja, we deliberately waited to see whether the governor had done anything and the man was still  talking about ooh let us see how we can patch up  the arrangement. Is  it not possible to harmonize? Is not possible to do this? But it was clear to us that he was determined to consolidate on what he had perfected and all he just needed was our participation in the process and that of course was not acceptable.

Harmonization and consensus
I have no problem with harmonization, I have no problem with consensus but you know consensus is when everybody agrees.. People have been unanimously elected before, no problem with that but to tell me that you select to avoid trouble because it’s the policy of the party, that is strange. If that is the situation why don’t we allow Jonathan to remain to avoid trouble? If we are all afraid of elections as a sure way of bringing trouble, then let’s avoid it and just simply sit down and continue to select. If a party cannot democratically elect those that will preside over their affairs there is something fundamentally wrong.

Untitled-3By problem with this congresses started when the governor invited me and said in Orhionmwon where you come from; you will take five wards, deputy governor will take five wards, we will give Dr. Amadasun one, we will give Comrade Erhahon one, making twelve. I said Comrade Governor, are you from Orhionmwon? On what basis will you just sit down this one take one and this one take one. And a man like Erhahon was overjoyed saying, thank you sir! thank you sir!! But for me, it was an insult. Why should the governor tell me to take five out of twelve in my own local government and I told him, Mr. governor you are starting something that is very strange and you can’t sustain it when you sit down and decree what people will take in different local governments.  I said please don’t even allow these things to play out.