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Edo 2024: You Can’t Be PDP’s New Godfather, Omo-Ojo Tells Obaseki

As Edo 2024 heats up: You can’t be PDP’s new godfather, Omo-Ojo tells Obaseki

HON. Orobosa Omo-Ojo is a political activist and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who, in 2020, moved with Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the PDP when former Governor Adams Oshiomhole allegedly wanted to play godfather after his tenure. In this interview, Omo-Ojo stresses why Obaseki should desist from being the godfather he opposed under the APC by blessing everyone aspiring to succeed him. Excerpts:

With the just concluded off-cycle elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi, what are your thoughts on our electoral process?

It is one step forward and three steps backward. It’s been a journey to nowhere. The politicians have refused to allow our electoral laws to guide the practice or activism of politics. Every meaningful plan the electoral umpire has put in place has been raped and violated by the political class. If we are to do a referendum, many Nigerians would prefer we discountenance our democracy to an alternative rule of engagement in terms of leadership. Being that, it is a poor score for our political process in the country. Politicians have refused to learn that this was what happened before military administrators were attracted to leadership roles. It was the same attitude of waste, excessive corruption, godfatherism, imposition of candidates, in the powers and structure of the judiciary, coercing voters through corrupt practices, encouraging vote buying, and not allowing candidates who would have been suitable for the offices, and the corrupt ones are able to bring money from the pit of hell and buy their way into political offices, and nothing seems to be working.

In other words, do you share the same thoughts with former President Olusegun Obasanjo that liberal democracy is not effective in Africa?

I think President Obasanjo was being economical with his words. Whichever democracy is not working for Africa, Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, was being interviewed by a popular broadcast media. He said western world democracy cannot be the same with Africa. We were democratic before the white men came. I am from Benin; the Benin kingdom is ruled by the Oba of Benin and the council of chiefs. The council of chiefs sometimes disagrees with the Oba. They were democratic to the point that the Oba, before he takes some decisions, has to consult with the kingmakers. They were republican in nature. They have independent, sovereign control over their clans. Democracy is another word for corruption. We are not ripe enough for it. Our formation as black men is different from the western world.


Some are of the view that there’s no perfect system anywhere, not even in the United States of America.

I just said there’s no good democracy in the world. Every country should have a well-defined system that works for it. Do you call what China and North Korea have democracy? No ! They have a system of government that works for them. That’s why you hardly hear about corruption in those countries. For instance, if you are caught with hard drugs, the hearing in court does not last up to two hours. But in democracy, you will be talking about fair hearings. Democracy is alien to us, and the earlier we think of a better way to govern ourselves, the better for us because we cannot continue with the corruption and waste that comes with the presidential system of government.

Being a chieftain of the PDP and an unrepentant sympathizer of Governor Godwin Obaseki while in the APC, what are your thoughts on the internal wrangling within the PDP in Edo State?

It is very tragic because I didn’t expect that we would be at this point again. We were at the point about this same time in 2020 when Governor Godwin Obaseki was expelled from the All Progressive Congress, APC, as a result of discrepancies in his University of Ibadan results. We were left in the dark when the PDP graciously granted him a room to share in the PDP and saved him the embarrassment of serving a single term. So coming down three years plus, the same internal battle that we fought is what we are coming back again to face in the PDP. We suffered both pain and loss. I thought those battles were over and that we would play politics that would better the state, but here we are again. The internal crisis started soon after Governor Obaseki won the election. Soon after the victory, there’s been a crisis, struggling for control of the structure to get to where we are now. The old PDP that we met is now asking for their platform back.

You and I are aware of Obaseki’s faceoff with his Deputy, Philip Shuabu, What is the key issue affecting governor Obaseki and the PDP in Edo State?

The major issue is about Governor Obaseki doing everything to become the new godfather. For us in Edo State, remember in 2020 rebuff the President, Bola Tinubu, who did everything as APC leader then to try and win the state for APC, came through the airport; he could not enter Benin; he had to fly back because of the strength of the youth that were protesting. The governor is not a generous person in terms of giving money. He’s trying to build structure, trying to have a successor; it has not worked for him, and primaries are just in February 2024. He has a preferred candidate, which he’s trying to unveil, but the original PDP members who accommodated him with some friends of the governor who identified themselves as the legacy coalition PDP are insisting that the old order must be thrown away. We don’t want to encourage another godfather. Comrade Adams Oshohmole said he has repented of the error he made in 2020. We don’t want it to be seen that Obaseki is the new godfather because people like us who stood our ground would be ashamed of ourselves. We said to let the best aspirant be a PDP candidate next year. You don’t victimize somebody again.

You are aware of the misunderstanding between Governor Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuabu.

Philip asked Obaseki to tell him who he intends to support between himself and SLG, and Obaseki said it’s not time yet to wait till November, and Philip said November will be too late.

So that’s the fight you have been seeing. Godwin Obaseki was not Oshiohmole’s preferred candidate in 2016. The candidate we had in mind was the present secretary to the state government. Barrister Osarodion Ogie and Philip Shuabu as the deputy governor. That was the ticket we had before Comrade called the two of them, asked Ogie to step down for Obaseki. That is how to go about it. You lobby. Edo people are not as primitive as people you can coarse with a whip to make decisions.

 But with this move by Obaseki, where do you see the crisis going as Edo heads to the polls in 2024?

Why the Benin case is dynamic is that even without doing meetings, we have a way of making up our minds about where we want the pendulum to swing. There are three major political parties contesting the election in Edo: the Labour Party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), depending on how the PDP decides to organize themselves, especially during the primaries. Which will guarantee a place for the PDP to continually have their grip on the political structure in Edo State, but if what is developing now is allowed to have roots, it may signal a very dangerous trend for the party, and the PDP is capable of losing its grip on the state. For instance, the case is that the state party chairman, Mr. Tony Aziegbemi, is leading a peace committee that was formed by the governor to go around the state to appeal to agrieved party members, especially after the last election where many leaders, including the governor, lost their units to the Labour Party and APC. In one of those sections in Edo Central, the chairman told leaders of the PDP from Edo Central, where the governor wants to zone it, that they should do everything possible to work with the governor and that the governor’s candidate emerges as the PDP candidate, which has overtaken other crises. that for a state chairman who said that the PDP membership register would pass through the state party chairman, we are of the opinion that we can no longer trust Tony Aziegbemi, the state party chairman, with the register of the members of the party because he’s capable of distancing the register as he has openly campaigned for the governor’s choice from Edo Center in a contest. We already have more than 15 members of our party who are asking to be considered in a primary contest. The governor has not yet come out to say so; it is the party chairman who is promoting the governor’s candidate. I feel the PDP national working committee should, as a matter of urgency, ask the state party chairman to step aside. The Deputy State Party Chairman should take charge of the primary because I cannot trust the State Party Chairman to handle the register of our members because that is like the INEC voter register of the PDP in Edo State. The State Party chairman has a history of doctoring the delegate lists during the local government elections. So leaving the register of the PDP in his hand to transmit the same would be risky for other aspirants wanting to contest in the primaries. If Tony Aziegbemi is allowed to hand out the primary, we will go to court. Whoever wants to ensure that limps are not broken should first ensure there’s no fight. Because limps will be broken, heads will be broken. We want Tony Aziegbemi to be removed or suspended. He advised him to step aside. He can come back after the primaries. Unwilling to do so, the PDP will be jeopardizing their chances in the governorship election in 2024.

What is the way forward?

The way forward is that Obaseki should consider all aspirants aspiring to get the PDP ticket to contest the 2024 election because they are all part and parcel of the PDP. He should drop the idea that the PDP legacy group is a dangerous group. He should start preparing himself in such a way that if he enters the state after his tenure, people will embrace him. He knows what has happened; he should reconcile with the interest group and equally put a voice to what we are demanding that Tony Aziegbemi step aside.

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