By Michael Egbejule (14 July 2019)
Anslem Ojezua is Edo State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with MICHAEL EGBEJULE, he spoke on the current crisis rocking the State House of Assembly and the APC, among others.
Why did the APC-led state government decide to inaugurate the state Assembly at midnight?
I don’t agree with you. It appears you have already reached a conclusion and made your own judgment on the issue. So, what do you want me to say on matter I consider doubtful, when you have already reached a conclusion?
The duty to inaugurate the state House of Assembly does not rest on the party. Your duty first of all is to go to the Clerk of the House, who will give you the facts. What you are telling me is different from what the Clerk told me. The Clerk of the House will lecture you on how they inaugurated the House.
But the aggrieved members-elect said they were not invited to the inauguration…
They told you that they were not invited, but the Clerk of the House notified them. How do you reconcile that? I heard on Channels TV, when their spokesperson said the Clerk notified them. Is telephone not notification? What notification do you want again? Have you asked from the Clerk of the House? Have you got a response from the Clerk?
You only heard from people that lost out in a political battle, and you reached a conclusion. The man who should have given you a balanced account, who would have no interest in one way or the other, you did not hear from him.
Why do you say they lost out? Was it really a political battle?
Of course, it was a political battle between them, their colleagues and the party, because prior to the inauguration, the party had taken a decision together with them. But the following day, they went behind the party to take a contrary position and statement. They said the Governor was trying to impose speakership on the House.
Don’t you think it is the duty of the House to elect its leadership?
But in accordance with the wishes of the party that sponsored them, on the platform they were elected, it has always been the case. It was the case with the National Assembly. Why should it be different in Edo State?
The state party leadership threatened to sanction members of other faction, rather than finding ways to end the crisis. Is that the right step?
If you act against the party’s interest, it is against the party’s Constitution, and we cited those relevant sections and they are entitled to be heard. I have instructed that they be queried and they are entitled to respond. They have to explain it. In fact, events as they unfold, indicate that there is a third party interest. Obviously, they are not alone, but whoever is sponsoring them will reveal himself or herself very soon.
The party has a way of carrying out its processes. We don’t have both sides. We have one House of Assembly and we have told them what we want. The House leadership has been installed and it is in accordance with the party’s wishes. So, I’m not complaining
Don’t you think the crisis rocking the party is connected to Governor Obaseki’s second term bid?
The party’s position is that Governor Godwin Obaseki has the time to run his government until his first term is over. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not fixed a date for Edo State election. So, why do you want to run a race that has not even been fixed?
So, all this talk about Obaseki’s second term is just to distract the man, because they know Governor Obaseki has a very good stand with the citizens. It is just that those who should be supporting him to do more, have for personal reasons, refused to do so. But let me also warn that those who throw stones into the market place should know that their mother could just be there.
Events of last few months have shown that the party leadership is equally polarised along the pro-Oshiomhole and pro-Obaseki groups. Which side are you?
I don’t know about pro-Oshiomhole and pro-Obaseki groups. We have one government in the state, which is led by Governor Godwin Obaseki. So, if you are a true party man and the party put Obaseki in place, we have a duty to support him. If you are not a true party man, then you can do every thing to reverse and retract what the government is doing. But then that will be selfish. However, I believe at the appropriate time, those who have the real power, the people of Edo State, will speak.
But some notable party leaders are kicking against Obaseki’s second term bid…
Let them go and contest, when the time comes. But in the meantime, Obaseki is the Governor. So, they should keep quiet and let the man work. I think Edo people are running out of patience with some of these people, because we are having a good ride and they cannot come and stop the progress. They are not used to Obaseki’s style of governance, but unfortunately, I love it and it is yielding result. I am not the only one who has that opinion.
So, whether Obaseki is going to have second term or not will be determined by the people of Edo State. It is not some leaders you are calling notable. I don’t know what is notable about them. I don’t know what is notable about retrogression. What makes them notable? Who are they? Most of these people came to join APC, when the party was already made a government. They came to join us from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
You recently called on the party’s National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole to call the 19 members-elect to order. Are you in any way indicting him?
Of course, the National Chairman is from Edo State. I am not suspecting anymore and I know he is in contact with these people. That is why in my statement, I said he should talk to them. One of them is his brother. I don’t know if they call it crisis, but there is no crisis anywhere. I don’t see any crisis. The leadership of Edo State House of Assembly has been established. So, where is the crisis? Some people are not happy about it.
What is the fate of the party come 2020 gubernatorial election?
I don’t know. It depends on how we manage it. Before the just concluded election, how many states did we have? How many do we have now? ln Zamfara and Rivers States, APC did not contest election legally, and its boils down to how we managed the party’s affairs.