By SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
Recently, the Edo State House of Assembly suspended the Chairman of Orhiomnwon Local Government Council, Chief Roland Ibierutowhen and the entire councillors for allegedly travelling to Italy without permission from the state government.
In this interview with the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, Philip Shuaibu gave reasons for their suspension just as he responded to the recent allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the state is indebted to N200billion and other national issues. Excerpts:
Suspension of Orhionmwon chairman and Councillors
We are a party that believes in the rule of law and the wishes of the people. The Orhiomnwon people rose against their leadership for locking up their Local Government secretariat to travel to Italy to go and learn legislative duties. You cannot imagine a chairman, the Vice chairman, secretary of the council and all the councillors going to learn legislative duties in a country that do not speak English. That is crazy, for us may be they want to introduce Italian language to the parliament in their area.
That does not show responsibility and we are not ashamed to fish out any one of us who do not want to follow the trend of development in our area. We are not PDP that covers up corruption in the name of their own, like the Oduah case where they are trying to use a civil servant as a scape goat to save Oduah. I think for us the people matters not individuals.
The chairman of the PDP in Edo state, Chief Dan Orbih recently said the state is indebted to N200billion and that Governor Oshiomhole has received over N19billion as security votes, what is your take on that?
I think that for an opposition to be a strong one it has to be able to work with fact not speaking blindly. Everybody today knows that Edo state is much much better than PDP left it. There is development everywhere but because Orbih is not used to good roads, good hospitals, during their tenure so he sees the good things now as under development.
Now he said Oshiomhole has received N19.5billion security votes. We have never heard of N5billion security votes in this state because we just concluded our Ministerial briefing. The present security vote is N4billion and even the N4billion during the Ministerial briefing, it is about 45 per cent of that N4billion that was expended. I expected that he should have met our colleagues in PDP who has the document before speaking.
The state government today is paying debts incurred by PDP government. The only debt this administration is owing was the N25billion it borrowed from the capital market and as we speak over N14billion has been paid. So from the N25billion the state is owing about N11billion.
So how can about N11billion constitute to N200billion debt? When government took that loan they took it with a repayment plan and that repayment plan has a time lag when the money will be defrayed. About N700.N800million is being deducted from our allocation to service that loan. And when the PDP always raise that alarm that Oshiomhole is owing debt and he will leave it for future government, I want to assure them that before Oshiomhole leaves office, there won’t be any debt to hand over to his successor unlike Oshiomhole who inherited so much debt left behind by Orbih’s PDP.
He also inherited a dilapidated state, the PDP confiscated properties belonging to Edo people including their lands. Before Oshiomhole came the state was run by the PDP like a family business. So Edo state is not owing N200 billion.
They should speak with facts, when we were in the opposition in this state we speak with facts. We have the documents, if they want them we will give it to them. I expected Orbih to speak about the inability of the PDP led government to pay allocations to states. I expect him to speak about the oil theft, to speak about Oduahgate.PDP is out of this state and they are out for good because we have seen they still have some charlatans as leaders.
You discover that the PDP in Edo state especially their chairman, they are confused. When a party chairman does not have statistics to criticise a ruling government then there is a problem. When somebody who calls himself a chairman of a party in a state does not know what development is and under development then there is a problem.
When a PDP chairman can stand up to say Edo state is under developed then that means what constitutes development to him is under development because he has never witnessed development in his life as a party chairman of PDP now development has come to Edo state, he is not seeing it as development he is seeing it as under development.
He is used to untidy classrooms, he is used to bad roads, he is used to all the negative vices of the society. For us we are of the new order and the new order is construction of roads, expanding rural areas, providing the basic amenities that is what governance is. And APC stands for that change, that change is a clear departure of the PDP slogan of under development.
APC belongs to that new generation that believes that those ailing industries that are leaving Nigeria, the UACs, it is time for them to return to Nigeria when APC is in government. Because the PDP has shown that they do not have the capacity to develop our country and they have failed woefully. It is a clear signal from the departure of those governors that the PDP has no medicine to cure the problem of Nigerians and that is why APC is coming at the right time to cure the headache of this country.
Defection of five PDP governors
I think for me it is a good sign for Nigerian politics and also to save this country from the verge of collapse. The PDP cannot develop this country, from 1999 they have been in power, they have been boasting that they were God and in the next 50 years they will continue to rule this country. And obviously man is not God. But is obvious today that the only way Nigeria can survive is when the PDP is out of power and that is the only way Nigerians can have power.
Because today we are in darkness, electricity is not on, so the only way we can have power which will generate employment, create wealth is for the PDP to be out of power. And what we are seeing today is the introduction that PDP initiated in Lagos. You remember when the PDP went to Lagos for a rally they said they have political tsunami but today it is no longer political tsunami in Lagos it is political tsunami in the PDP.
What we are seeing is a clear departure from the old order where people see PDP as the only means to power and the only means to survival. I think I will salute those governors that they have good will and they have courage because for them to be able to defect shows that they have Nigeria at heart and they have seen PDP collapsing and they have seen Nigeria collapsing if PDP is not kicked out of power. Impunity has become the order of the day in PDP and when there is impunity where everybody feels nothing can happen, that they can steal at will and nothing will happen, the danger of that is the sign of a collapse country.
And I think more governors will still defect and honestly we will have a country that is called our own. Look at those involved in the purchase of PHCN you will know that in the next ten years if things are not handled properly, we will be worst than what we are before the privatization of PHCN. So i am very happy that Nigeria is about to have power, that Nigeria is about to enjoy what democracy is all about. This is also a clear signal to the police including the IG that he is the IG of the Nigerian people notthe IG of the PDP.
They should be neutral in this game so that Nigerians will enjoy the police. What is happening today is a clear signal for those people that feels impunity is the order of the day. Nigeria is no longer a one party state, look at the National Assembly it is APC now by the time you have a balance of force i can tell you that the people that will benefit is the Nigerian masses.
But there is this rumour that the EFCC might go after them?
I think Nigerians are wiser now, the EFCC are too. Because the EFCC cannot go after the defected governors when Oduah is still roaming the streets. EFCC cannot go after the governors when Okonjo Iweala has not been investigated over his younger brother that is a consultant millionaire in dollars in Ministry of Finance.
EFCC cannot go after those governors when EFCC has not investigated Deziani the Minister of Petroleum over the theft of our crude oil that is being stolen on daily basis. The EFCC has a duty to tell Nigerians the truth over our oil that they are selling inthe name of theft. So before they go after those governors they should go after Deziani, Oduah and Okonjo Iweala first. EFCC is supposed to be an umpire so they should not allow themselves to be used.
When Farida was there we remembered when even a Minister was using her to chase his political enemies, but I want to tell Lamorde because for me he is a seasoned trained officer and he learnt from the beginning when EFCC was established. I want to advise him that it is for his own interest and that of Nigerians that he balance his forces.
If he wants to tell Nigerians that he is ready for work, he should go after Oduah, Deziani and Okonjo Iweala because these three women unfortunately they are women, they are the major problem we are having in this country. The money Nigeria is losing on daily basis in the name of theft is from a lady. The consultancy programme that is taking millions of dollars in the Ministry of Finance is also from a lady. The car saga, the Airport renovation, all these things we are aware.
I think it is time for Nigerians to sit up, and it is time we ask those questions. And the EFCC must prove that they are actually an agency to fight corruption because the international community is watching us. And the only way we can prove to the international community that we want to fight corruption in this country is when people like Okonjo Iweala, Stella Oduah and Deziani are behind bars.
Anambra election and INEC
I do not have confidence in INEC but I have confidence in Jega. There is difference between Jega as a person and INEC as an institution.
For INEC to have credibility it needs a courageous man to stamp out all those corrupt officers and all those people who are ready to mess him up because for me I believe that Jega means well, I believe that Jega is sincere because for the first time this is the first time an INEC chairman will come out and accept his faults. Before the Iwus will come out to tell you that it was the best election conducted in this country.
But today we have an INEC chairman that accepted responsibility and ready for change. I don’t believe in the system but I believe in the head and the head must stamp his authority. But before 2015 Jega needs to prove to Nigerians that he is actually ready to bring sanity. I want him to remain there but I want him to have that will to whip out those characters that are not ready to flow with the new change that Jega has brought into INEC.