Members of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Edo State last week paid a courtesy call on Governor Adams Oshiomhole during which he spoke on the just-concluded general election in the state and Nigeria. He said he and a few others in the state had ‘buried’ the ‘godfathers’ and saved the state from their grip. WESTERN POST’s AGENE AKHERE was there and brings transcript of the brief chat…
Sir, what’s your assessment of the just-concluded 2015 elections
I believe across the country democracy has now been formally consolidated because the real test of democracy lies in government changing, government being elected into office of being voted out of office courtesy of the ballot not the gun. Indeed, when President Obama visited Africa and Nigeria was not on the list, a few of us were in the US on the platform of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum and visited the State Department and we expressed our disappointment that Obama would not visit Nigeria. The Secretary of State for Africa now said Obama would not come to Nigeria because they do not encourage bad behaviours. He said those of them who are friends of Nigeria, each time they think we (Nigerians) are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, they will say let us encourage these people to get there, but when you wake up the next day you will find out that the tunnel has been removed. So, it is so disappointing for those of them who see Nigeria as the key to Africa’s development, both politically and economically. He said Obama would go to Ghana because though Ghana haven’t solved all their problems, she has shown some capacity and their democracy has matured. And the test of that maturity is that the people of Ghana have been able to remove a government through the ballot and elect a new government through the same process. A ruling party has been defeated by the opposition party and opposition party that formed the government has been defeated by another opposition party. That is just the test of democracy. Unlike in Nigeria where in one election, you deepen the rigging, in the next election, nobody wants to go and appear or be seen to endorse or support such a situation. That was why Obama will rather not come to Nigeria and will prefer to go to Ghana to encourage them to consolidate their democracy.
Today, we are happy that Nigeria has joined those nation states that can now say it is possible that a government has been replaced by very ordinary people, equipped and armed only by their PVCs. So, as a Nigerian I am very proud of this country. For all those who struggled and also died in the struggle for democracy, we can now say finally we are here. But of course there are still a couple of things to be done, to completely clean up the electoral process so that those part of the country where you still have the miracle votes, where the ancestors come out to vote in the South-East and part of the South-South, those are areas we need to clean up so that over all, Nigeria will begin to grow. And if you recall where we are coming from in this state, you will appreciate how I feel when I came in. Every councillor in this state, local government chairman, House of Assembly member, the governor and of course you have the presidency, now to imagine that from ground zero we came in to challenge this order. And of course we must not forget that when they talk about godfatherism in Nigeria’s politics, when they talk about the power of godfathers, a small powerful, unaccountable, unelected group, Edo is their home base. That is something everybody knows so much that people from outside this state come here for consultation, to consult with the Edo godfathers. To imagine that very ordinary people like me and a few others who are convinced that this order can be overthrown and liquidated and we started fighting with our bare hands and today we have effectively buried the godfathers. For me that chapter is closed.
What lessons are there to be learnt?
For me, the real import of this is that never again will anybody in this state look at anyone and say who are you, because you don’t have a godfather? To now imagine that when we liquidated the godfathers in this state and somehow Abuja put them on life support, they were still able to harass us and even intimidate us and even threaten us even when they are not on ground in the state, but that life support was switched off by Nigerians on March 28, which is why the final political funeral of the godfathers was such an easy task on April 11. To survive these godfathers and preside over their own liquidation only a nation blessed by God can achieve that without any shot, except the PVC. Honestly, I am fulfilled and if I vacate governance today and retire from politics I will be happy. Like I told somebody, right now I have nothing to prove and I thank God for shielding me from the evil machination of the opponents.