Prince John Mayaki is the Director of Communication and Media, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation. He is a former Executive Director (Media) to former Governor Adams Oshiomhole and ex-Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godwin Obaseki. In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the controversy trailing the mode of primary to be adopted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the selection of its governorship candidate in Edo state. Excerpts:
What is your take on the controversy trailing the mode of primary to be adopted by the APC in selecting the party’s flagbearer in the September 19 governorship election?
There is no controversy other than the fact that Governor Godwin Obaseki and his co-travelers have continued in their shameful, anti-party act of undermining the leadership of the APC. The National Working Committee (NWC), according to the constitution, is the body empowered to conduct and prescribe the mode of primaries. And they have decided that the more inclusive and democratic direct mode is what should be adopted in Edo State. But because Obaseki is desperate to hide from the assessment of party members he has badly treated since his emergence, he is protesting the decision, disguising concerns for his own personal political survival as a public health issue using COVID-19. If that’s the controversy you’re talking about, it is understandable.
Again, I have also listened to the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governors to come conduct the primaries in the state and I was wondering if the deputy governor lost his mind and being unable to distinguish between internal party politics, democracy and governance especially in the conduct of party primaries which is the responsibility of the party’s NWC.
The Governor too is also said to have been running from one Governor to another among the Progressives’ governors and leaders of the party across the country asking for an indirect party primaries. That’s a man who claims to be fighting ‘godfatherism’, .It is astonishing that Obaseki is now pleading for an ‘enthronement’ instead of a clearly defined democratic process based on popular choice.
And so, to answer your question, I do not see any controversy because those whose responsibility it is to decide the type of primaries the party would conduct in Edo state have gone ahead to say so and we expect Obaseki and Philip Shaibu to prepare themselves for the exercise and stop fidgeting and setting the rules for an examination in which they are students.
18 Local Government chairmen last week Wednesday said that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is not a member of the party in the state. Do you think their argument is valid?
Let’s not attach importance to the political theater that these people are staging. How can you say an aspirant who got the endorsement of virtually all respected and capable leaders of the party in Edo State is not a member? As Vice-Chairman of the Committee that drafted the constitution of the APC at its founding stage when the likes of Obaseki were nowhere to be found, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu has a clear, robust understanding of the party rules. When he made the decision to return home, he satisfied all conditions required to be a registered member and there is an abundance of evidence to back this. What those people did on that day was just borne out of pressure from the Governor. We have it on good authority that they were all induced to sign the said statement and are even being pressured to proceed to court. This was Obaseki’s plan all along and that was why he tried to frustrate the return of Pastor through different means, including using state agencies and issuing arbitrary bans to block a ceremonious rally held by the party last year.
Let me quickly add this, do you need to bribe local government party chairmen to deny a member of party membership? I have it on good record that even members of the state house of Assembly got N100,000.00 each to append their signature in a document disclaiming the membership of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and you begin to ask yourself, why this desperation? It is not in their place to determine the membership of anyone in the party; it is the national secretariat of the party that has the final say on the membership of anyone in the party and not a few hungry guys who sold their conscience tot the governor just to clinch a second term ticket. For me, this is Democracy and it is the more, the merrier. If the governor thinks he has performed, provided the 200,000 jobs he promised, and popular among the people, he should stop these shenanigans and surrender himself for direct primary elections. Governor Obaseki is reported to have been sponsoring his friends to pick the party’s nomination form. We are aware of one Matthew Iduoriyekemwen who was reported to have picked form while others are lined up to also pick on Monday or Tuesday. The reason is not far-fetched – create crisis in the party while planning to run the election on the platform of another political party. We however wish him well in his political voyage to nowhere.
How will you react to their claim that only the NEC can grant waiver to Ize-Iyamu and not NWC?
Proponents of this claim are people who have a poor understanding of the party constitution and they keep exposing their ignorance with this ill-advised challenge of Pastor Ize Iyamu’s membership. To address this issue comprehensively, it must be stated that the NWC has long been given the powers to draw up guidelines for party primaries and this includes the power to grant waivers where necessary to a person who is not ordinarily otherwise qualified to seek elective office on the party’s platform. In the case of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the waiver was just a political act meant to symbolise his reunion with his political family. As a duly registered member of the party, he is already, by party constitution, free to be nominated for elective post on its platform and this has been affirmed by the party leadership with a final say on the matter. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is neither new to politics nor the rules of the APC. He was Vice-Chairman of the Committee that drafted the rules. So these people making ignorant claims should come to him for guidance.
There’s nothing wrong if anyone wants to live in self-delusion over this matter. If Obaseki and Philip Shaibu think they can blackmail the leadership of the party to gain sympathy, they are joking. Obaseki cannot be governor of Edo state and at the same time attempt to be the National Chairman of the party by dictating how his own election should be conducted. It smacks of arrogance, party indiscipline and anti-party activities.
Some party chieftains such as Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Deputy National Chairman, Lawal Shuaibu are claiming the primary will be bias with Oshiomhole as National chairman. What is your reaction to that?
Both men you have mentioned are merely using the situation to voice their personal vendetta against the National Chairman for reasons best known to them. We know that the grouse of Chief Oyegun against Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is still not over; the fact that he lost his position even though under his leadership, the party was thrown into a cesspit of disorderliness, indiscipline, and was on the path of losing the general election but for the quick intervention of members who unanimously agreed that he had to go. The logic they are employing here is, to be blunt, not sound. If we stretch it further, can we also ask Obaseki to relinquish the powers of his office as Governor pending the completion of the election because he is also an active contender and should not have such an advantage? At least, in Obaseki’s case, there are clear proofs of him using the powers of state to tilt the balance in his favour. For all we know, the National Chairman has been fair in his dealings to all. The only person that has a problem with his fairness is Godwin Obaseki who, like in 2016, wants him to use his personal influence to help him win.