I Have What It Takes To Transform Edo – Ize- Iyamu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I Have What It Takes To Transform Edo – Ize- Iyamu

Posted: Mar 13, 2016 at 6:26 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
Cost Of Projects Under  Oshiomhole  Outrageous– Ize- Iyamu
  Osagie Ize- Iyamu is a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in  Edo  State. In this interview with Isaac Olamikan, he speaks on his governorship bid, politics in Edo and his plans to entrench good governance if elected.
You left the APC under very controversial circumstances two years ago. Now, you are aspiring to be governor of Edo State this September, flying the PDP flag. What really happened?
I came into the All Progressive Congress (APC) then known as the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) shortly after strange developments forced me out of my former party, the PDP. You won’t believe it, I was among some of the members of the PD that had curiously been de – registered during a strange verification exercise in Edo State. Then, I had been serving under the Lucky Igbinedion government as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). After moves to have my membership normalized and restored failed, some of us aggrieved party members had no option but to move on. The ACN then provided us the platform to be relevant in the political space. And we did really prove it when we helped current governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole claim his mandate in 2008 after a tortuous court battle. We also replicated the same feat when he achieved a landslide victory enroute to a second term in 2012. But trouble started after a year of his second term. It became clear to me that it would be difficult for some of us to get the party to run effectively without the governor’s undue high handedness. It was therefore not difficult for me to listen to entreaties by PDP, my former party to return. We had returned in large numbers to join those on ground, to deliver Edo State in the last Presidential elections. I was privileged to be ex – President Goodluck Jonathan’s coordinator and we not only captured Edo State for him, we also made sure we snatched from the APC, two of its three senate seats, and five of its nine House of Representative seats. So, it’s been a really interesting journey. And I can say, I have no regrets at all.
 It was alleged that you left the APC because Oshiomhole denied you the party 2016 governorship ticket?
People who say I left the APC because I could not get what I want do not understand what was happening at that time. And of course, people tend to listen to all kinds of stories. But the truth about it is, there was nothing I didn’t really get in terms of recognition from the APC. I was the National Vice – Chairman of the party for many years. Oshiomhole’s first year anniversary, he invited me to chairman the committee that put together, he invited me to be secretary general of his re – election campaign and he also invited me to chairman his second term inauguration. He personally recommended me to be a member of the caucus of the ACN. I was the member appointed at the national level to work out the merger of the CPC, ANPP and ACN together. In fact, in the ACN, I was chairman of the Legal INEC Compliance Committee. Then at the all – party level, I was the vice – chairman. So, that would tell you that in terms of personal recognition, I had it all going for me in the APC. In any event, even as today, the governorship ticket in APC or PDP, for that matter, haven’t been decided. So, for anybody to think that I would have left the APC over two years because of a governorship ticket that was still far off is laughable. Of course, people think they can blackmail you and they can blackmail you with just anything if it was all about governorship ticket, I would have simply waited till this year, 2016. And its a common secret that if there was somebody this present governor promised he would hand over to, that person was me, Pastor Ize – Iyamu. So, if it was strictly on the basis of my own interest, I would have stayed in APC, and put pressure on the governor to keep the promise he made in the presence of so many people. Now, let me use this opportunity to clear the air on the issue. As I said, trouble started in the first year of the governor’s second term in office. I suddenly found the governor unreachably, distant and uncompromising in his stance on many issues germane to the welfare of our people. I remember when he had a running battle with the teachers. There was nothing I didn’t tell him. And he just refused. The most embarrassing thing was, during his inauguration, second term, the present President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Imasuen made a similar appeal and because he assumed I was the one who asked the man to make the appeal, he said in the glare of all, “Bishop, I am sure that this appeal you made, Pastor Ize Iyamu asked you to make it. I will still not agree. It’s not everybody God forgives. Some people God punish. I will not agree!” That will tell you how uncompromising he became. Party leaders would come into his office to see him and they would spend eight, nine hours even on invitation and still go back home, not seeing him. And people started asking questions. Very serious questions were being asked. At a time, Edo people had to come to terms with the reality of seeing their governor travelling almost on a weekly basis abroad, not for business, not for anything beneficial to the state, but for personal aggrandisement. The governor would see an Arik plane, for instance on ground at the Benin airport going to Lagos yet he would still charter a flight to that same destinations at Edo State expense. These and many other things made all of us quite uncomfortable. To add salt to injury, nothing was happening again in the state as far as development went. It was like someone going to sleep. I challenge anybody in government to bring the budget performance of this government in their second term. This is the last year of Oshiomhole’s eight year rule. Another thing that instigated my exit from the party was the manner the party’s ward congresses were manipulated. So that the objective of strengthening the party structure through the election of worthy, capable hands at both the wards and state levels was defeated. Now, seen as a great loyalist of the governor, I was naturally the one aggrieved party members usually ran to lodge their complaints. The irony is that the very things we ran away from – issues of godfatherism, imposition of candidates, lack of internal democracy, internal bickering etc, from the PDP became worse under Oshiomhole. Well, the governor did try to do some form of damage control by promising to retrace his steps and do some fence – mending but at that time, it appeared things had already taken a turn for the worst. Eventually, we had to leave. So these are some of things that played out and not really my personal ambition.
But are you not concerned that Edo people might want to question your credibility for the high office you seek in view of your constant movements from one political party to the other?
You see, nobody can accuse me of not being stable. If there’s somebody who believes in this state, if there’s somebody who has lived here and continues to live here. I was born here, I went to school here and I am working here. I am very passionate about this place. Some people can afford to leave the state but it has never been part of my choice. When I left office, I could have left the state but I stayed. When I left the APC, I could have left the state but I stayed. So, that would tell you that this is a state that I truly believe in. I have been here for a long time. In Lucky Igbinedion’s government, I was Chief of Staff. I was also Secretary to Government. Oshiomhole’s government, right from day one I told him I was not interested in holding any office. I felt as a party man, I’d be able to give him valuable advice which I freely gave. When people tend to say that “Oh, Lucky Igbinedion’s government failed and I was part of it, two questions come to mind. The first one I like asking is, in what area did I fail as Secretary to Government? Do you know the functions of an SSG? Are there things I ought to have done that I didn’t do? When people judge Igbinedion’s government, a lot of times they are not being fair to him. For me, I can tell you the good and bad of that government. To be able to appreciate that government, you must recognize what was on ground at the time he assumed office in 1999. This was seven years of military rule. The military took over in 1992 under the late Sani Abacha and the kind of military administrators that came in, were administrators who came in from disadvantaged states. So, they see Edo State as already advanced and didn’t need any further development. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) when Igbinedion came in 1999 was N30million a month. Apart from the four traditional banks, UBA, Union Bank, First Bank and Afri Bank Bank, there were no functional banks in Edo. Flight had stopped coming to the Benin airport. The New Nigerian Bank had taken over by the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). Bendel Breweries had been handed over to the Churchgate Group. So, literally, everything was zero. But people today easily forget that Igbinedion was able to get the New Nigerian Bank back on stream, and that is why today, they are part of Unity  Bank. Igbinedion was able to encourage banks to begin to come to Edo, the same way he opened the space for airlines to begin to fly the route. He was able to retrieve Bendel Brewery from the Churchgate Group just as he worked to raise the IGR from N30million he met to N300million by the time he left office in 2007.
Sir, should you be nominated to fly the PDP’s flag in the upcoming governorship elections in September, what do you think you can do better than Oshiomhole?
I am coming in not only with a lot of passion and goodwill, I am coming in with experience. I understand the workings of government. The first thing is to streamline the activities of government, by plugging all the loop holes that encourage corruption in the system. The costs of projects under Oshiomhole are quite outrageous. What they are spending billions and billions of Naira to accomplish, in most cases, could have been done with less. As the election approaches, we will begin to open the eyes of the Edo people to the wastages we have seen in the Oshiomhole years. Wouldn’t it surprise you to hear that a renovation project in a secondary school, for instance, would cost as high as N800million? The question is, what would the building of a new school cost? Next thing I would do to open the Edo economy is to actively engage the private sector, under the present administration, the economy has been strangulated as there are no industries to absorb the growing army of unemployed youths in the state. My time as governor, by God’s grace, will be different. I will work with key businessmen and fashion out a way of diversifying our economy in order to move the state forward. Without first ensuring that opportunities are created for more of our people are actively engaged in one form or the other, it would be insensitive on the part of any government to insist on high taxes. Can an unemployed man pay taxes? This has been the lot of Edo people under Oshiomhole in the last seven and half years as governor. Oshiomhole didn’t only fail to support local businesses, he killed them, by outsourcing almost everything the government needs outside Edo State. Do you know that catering services for government functions which could ordinarily have been handled by persons domiciled in the state are given to outsiders at even very outrageous fees? It would also surprise you to know that all the furniture supplied to schools in Edo State were from a company in Abuja. For a state that is renowned for its arts and crafts, it is a major indictment. You can imagine the effect on our economy if all that work comes to our people. Yet you want them to pay those taxes? These are some of the things my government will address. We would ensure we prioritise our spending but won’t restrict ourselves to just one or two priority areas because almost all the sectors of the economy are important.