Chief Charles Idahosa, a former Commissioner for Information in Edo state is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the reconstitution of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, National reconciliation committee and other issues. Excerpts:
President Buhari last week ordered the recomposition of the board of the NDDC. What is your take on the controversy that has trailed the issue?
On the dissolution of the NDDC board by President Muhammadu Buhari, a panel must be set up to look into who gave Mr. President the advice which turned out to be an embarrassment to him eventually. As far as I am concerned, the President has been thoroughly embarrassed by the situation.
First, the President was outside the country when the list was announced. Also, the President was not in the country when it was submitted for confirmation. I think somebody was playing smart to do things. If there is any major suspect involved in this, it is no other person than Adams Oshiomhole. There is no question that Oshiomhole has been dishing out instructions to the leadership of the National Assembly that he assisted to emerge, so they are sheepishly loyal to him.
He has committed a lot of atrocities such as lack of respect for the constitution of the party. He made use of the national assembly members to hurriedly confirm the members of the NNDC board. So, the president must set up an investigation to find out how this thing happened because even a primary school pupil will know that the names were in alphabetical order. How did the names come in?.
How did the nine governors of the oil-producing states who are members of the advisory council have no input? So, it is most embarrassing to the President and there is a need for it to be investigated and checked so that it does not happen again. The governor of Edo had no say in the list. The person who masterminded the whole thing was Adams Oshiomhole.
A lot people believe that there is no unity among Binis on the appointment of Odubu as the NDDC chairman. What can you say about that?
There is nothing like that. There is no problem between Benin ethnic groups. Like I said in my previous interviews, Odubu is eminently qualified to occupy the NDDC position but the right thing wasn’t done. So, they should stop giving the impression that we hate each other. That is not true.
The NDDC Act explicitly states that the office of the chairman shall rotate amongst member-states of the commission in alphabetical order. The immediate past chairman of the board is Senator Victor Idoma-Egba, who hails from Cross River State. Adherence to the provisions of the Act means that Delta State was in line to produce the next chairman and not Edo State as has now happened.
The first chairman of NDDC, Chief Onyema Ogochukwu from Abia state was my friend. We both served in the National Publicity Secretary of PDP in 1998. Odubu was Oshiomhole’s deputy for eight years, he didn’t see anything good in him to make him succeed him as governor. But now that he wants to fight Obaseki, he now remembers Odubu.
What do you think is the way forward?
The President should just ask Oshiomhole to step aside, he has embarrassed him a lot since taking over as national chairman. He has been causing the President great embarrassment and I don’t see what is special about him that everybody are not bold enough to tell him the truth and are looking the other way. Here was a man that inherited almost 25 states when he became national chairman, now he has reduced it to 20. He has been suspended from the party from the ward, local to the state level.
A court in Benin last week has granted a request of the state chairman of the party, Anselm Ojezua to publish in national newspapers because Lanre Issa-Onilu, the national publicity secretary partook in illegality. They took a man that has been restrained from parading himself as the state chairman of the party and presented him to President Buhari as APC chairman in Edo state. I am aware that President Buhari will not know who is the party chairman in any of the states except maybe in his home state of Katsina.
Why will Oshiomhole continue to break laws and causing one problem after another? He came to Benin and turned this place to a war zone. We thank God for the intervention of the Presidency and the IGP, only God knows what would have happened by now. But rather than be happy that a lawful order was made which saved the state from violence and chaos, Oshiomhole started abusing the IGP. There are several national chairmen in this country. Oshiomhole is just one of them. it is just that he happens to be the national chairman of the ruling party.
Does that bestow any immunity or special status on him? I think he needs to be told that ‘enough is enough. He cannot continue to embarrass the President. The only thing Buhari has to offer this country is his integrity and his good name. A former governor who decamped from PDP to APC and even got turbaned in Daura, the President’s home state is in prison today. We are all aware that the APC governorship candidate who lost out in Adamawa is a senior brother to his wife, yet the President did not interfere. We won all the election in Zamfara but because of the illegality of Oshiomhole, we lost everything to PDP.
Why does he think he can continue to engage in illegality and get away with it thinking the President is not aware of it? He was the first person to show contempt and embarrassment for the President when he said ‘if President Buhari can tolerate his ministers to talk to him anyhow, he as the national chairman will not tolerate it’. He said that one and got away with it but he must be made to realise that he cannot continue to get away with any illegality.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan was recently announced as head of a 10-member National Reconciliation Committee. Do you think this committee will achieve the purpose for which it was set up?
On the issue of the national reconciliation committee, it is very embarrassing because how can you be a judge in your own matter? He came up with Ganduje reconciliation committee but he was made to understand that he cannot be a judge in his matter. Then the President said he will set up a reconciliation committee. While we are waiting for the President’s list, Oshiomhole sent his boy, Lanre Issa- Onilu to go and announce Ahmed Lawan the Senate President as head the reconciliation team.
These people are interested parties. This was a national assembly that came to Edo in private jet procured for them to come and say they will take over the Edo state House of Assembly? How can Lawan head the reconciliation committee when he already took a decision that a Federal High Court in Kaduna turned down and said the Edo state House of Assembly was properly constituted? He took sides in the crisis in Edo as a meddlesome interloper, so what crisis is he coming to settle now? We are appealing to Mr. President on the need for neutral people to be in the reconciliation committee. Oshiomhole shouldn’t be the one to announce those on the list.
This is not NWC but a NEC decision headed by the President. Oshiomhole is making it look as if he bigger than every other person in this country; why he is doing that I don’t know. Some have said maybe it’s due to his size because people who are smallish in stature like attempting big things. We don’t have faith in that national reconciliation committee.