Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a leading PDP governorship aspirant in Edo State for the forthcoming gubernatorial election in July this year, In this interview with our Correspondent, Nosa Eresoyen, says re-ordering the way things are being done in the state to bring about effective governance in administration of the state is one of his priority.
BEING a pastor, what inspired into politics and aspiration to become governor?
Well, a lot of people have the perception in the past that pastors or Christians should not be involved in politics. Because of that, they distanced themselves even from going and vote. It was a problem and they allowed all kinds of charlatans to occupy the political space. Enlightenment has changed all that because Christians now know that they have a duty and deeply involved in politics and governance in their states.
For me, politics is a Mission field, it is a place that is perceived to be dirty, like darkness and we had a duty to go there and clean it up. We had the duty to encourage decent men and women to get involved. If you manage your time judiciously, you will be able to cope with many activities. Sunday morning that I preach in the church cannot be a time for politics. So, one must have his priority right. Anytime we have important schedules and programmers I make sure nothing conflict with that. I also give to politics the time I should and also give time for my family.
Your principal, Lucky Igbinedion, when you were Secretary to the State Government (SSG), was criticized for poor performance, how do you think people will be convinced to support you?
Well, people have try to use that in negative point but it never takes more than five or six minutes to dismissed that notion because any enlighten person would know that SSG is an appointee and he has its limit. One, he has no financial autonomy. He does not supervise any ministry or parastatals. His job is more of administrative, like secretariat, whatever the advice he gives to the governor is not duty bound on him. In any event it’s not every issue that passes through the SSG some issues go directly to the governor. So, when people say you are part of the government, it’s a sweeping statement.
What is important is that you were never indicted by any panel when anybody comes up with allegation it is personal. I discharged my functions diligently in the various positions I held. People of Edo State elected a Governor and time will tell his story of stewardship. When making comparism you must look at it critically. When he came to office in 1999, some parastatals owed workers salaries almost 27 months in the state, we had a backlog. IGR was at that time was about N30 million and from what all the 18 LGAs generated, it came up to about N160 million. But this present government for seven years has gotten over N1 trillion. If you do a sector by sector analysis, there is no way you will not give chief Lucky Igbenedion Kudos. The only problem he has was on the issue of roads, but the greatest challenges then was flooding; it is not enough to construct drainage without proper channel. The channel of the primary drains to secondary drains was huge capital which the state government could not address at that time. If you look at housing, Agriculture, Education it was better. Igbenedion administration was better than Oshiomhole Government. In terms of propagandas, visibility, this Governor is more lauder than Igbenedion
You once had good relationship with Governor Oshiomhole, why did you part ways?
Things should be done properly, I valued integrity. There are principles that I cherish. I supported a man based on certain assumptions or principles, he only discovered that I am wrong and it is not the truth. There are lots of hypocrisies, which is to say it is not what I say that I do. It means I cannot pretend that all is well. I have never learnt the act of deceiving myself. So, if I found myself in a wrong place or that the relationship is wrong, I try to correct it. If I investigate and find that my assumption was wrong I will take my exit. Oshiomhole case he did not really know who he was. The moment I discovered it, I came back on track. When I realized that what I discovered was the real self, I knew then that I made a mistake. Though some people had warned me from the onset that I should not be deceived, maybe I was carried away but by the time I realized that this is how it is, I had to quit. What has played out in the state has clearly vindicated my exit. If it was personal reasons, I could have stayed because no matter what, I could gain. I was his Director General; we just won an election and I had to leave.
Do you regret your support for Oshiomhole?
No, I don’t believe things must be smooth all the time. Life is a journey and my experience has shown to me that you cannot judge a book by his cover. All that glitters are not gold; you must proceed with due diligent. There are really no regrets, it is a learning process.
Do you think PDP still has what it takes to wrest power from APC in Edo State?
The situation now is even better than before. PDP has an existing structure, all that is needed is to strengthen it and you will be surprised. People have already fed up with the present state of things in Edo and are now clamoring for change. Politics is about people, once people are disenchanted, they have a way of coming together. What is happening in Edo is a mass movement from the opposition; PDP in the state is now the opposition. With free and fair election, APC will be embarrassed.
What are your strategies for getting the PDP ticket among the many aspirants?
There is no unusual strategy; it is the normal process that is telling the delegates what you are capable of doing. Many of them know my capacity; they know I am a serious minded person. This election requires some levels of seriousness to be able to win. Those in government seem to be more desperate staying in power. But some of us don’t need that desperation before we get to power.
Some people have argued that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade is one sided, what is your take on this?
Well, when you see the way the issue is being handled, people feel that we have16 years of waste. People forget that PDP was not in control of the 36 states in the past 16 years. So, where is the
waste or was it just a PDP waste. if we say corruption is pervasive, why is it that only members of PDP appear to be arrested, what about those in APC? At the federal level, the only people we know that have immunity are the president and the vice president; so, what we are seeing is funny. The war against corruption is a welcome development. I am not against the war on corruption but the process must not be corrupted. People tend to think that corruption is only on financial crime. Corruption is also when you corrupt a process, when a process is corrupt, that is corruption. Even the war against corruption can be corrupted if it is selective. We all know that during Obasanjo’s time, the EFCC was active for becoming an attack dog to wipe people out, especially, people who were perceived to be oppositions. EFCC must be independent and the president must encourage them. If there is an allegation, it must be investigated. But to have serious allegation even from the judicial panel, it shows that you are acting scripts.
On the issue of Dasuki, Nigeria is giving wrong impression listening to the former president, it is clear that the money they keep talking about was never budgeted for arms purchase. So, how much was budgeted for arms purchase? The budget for arm is not in the office of NSA but in the Ministry of Defence, the former minister of finance had already explained that she got a request that part of the proceeds from the Abacha loot should be used to purchase more arms to fight the Boko Haram. If they are talking about money spent on the office of NSA, then, they must be talking of security votes. If that is the issue, then, when did we begin to investigate security votes, what we have always been told is that security vote is at the discretion of the chief executive. it is a vote that covers so many things.
For example, from our records in Edo State, the governor has collected over N50 billion as security votes. Can we ask the question if those money were used to equip the police or the SSS; if that is what security is all about. So, we should be very careful not to set the dangerous procedure because if we do many people will cry out in future.