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Edo 2012: ‘Oshiomhole Is Shopping For Cheap Candidate In Pdp’- General Airhiavbere’s Campaign Organisation
Director General, Major General Airhiavbere (rtd) Campaign Organisation, Chief Ewie Aimiewauu, in this interview with UCHECHUKWU OLISAH, speaks on the chances of his principal, among other issues in the coming governorship election in Edo State.
What do you think about the chances of your principal, the governorship aspirant, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), within the PDP, particularly the first hurdle of getting a waiver since he just joined the party and according to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) constitution, he will require a waiver to be able to contest any election?
The national working committee of the PDP, at an emergency meeting held few days ago, has approved General Airhiavbere’s waiver. That is official and his chances against the hurdle with eight or nine contestants to clinch the PDP ticket; he is head and shoulders above them.
A lot of people, particularly in political circles, see him as a green horn in politics; how do you think that even within the party he will be able to overcome the challenge of other opponents?
I have been active on a daily basis within the PDP in the state through thick and thin, since 2005 and I have been in the party since 1998 when it was just an association. So, he has the best hands from every senatorial district to deepen his reach. Therefore, his newness does not have any impact on his chances at the primaries. But let’s be logical in all ramifications, General Charles Airhiavbere is not just eminently qualified, but he is more qualified than every other candidate in every respect.
If it is in terms of education, he has qualifications in the academic circle and he has experience and qualification in the Nigeria Army. Others do not have these qualifications. They might be professors, yes, but they are only professors in their disciplines; they do not have administrative experience like he has, they do not have military training and discipline like he has and then in terms of acceptability, what he lacks in terms of being around is also an advantage for him because he doesn’t have any baggage.
A lot of the other candidates have baggage coming from their antecedents; either they have a lot of enemies within the party because of what they failed to do or what they did not do or what they have done in the past, but he does not have any of that. He does not belong to any group, he doesn’t have special friends.
And beyond that, he also has geographical advantage whether we admit it or not. Even a political neophyte knows that for us to remove an incumbent, then we must go to the senatorial district that has the highest registration; I mean that is a starting point.
But don’t you see a situation where even within your party in Edo south, there is still some form of disillusionment by certain members who think that within the south senatorial district where your candidate comes from, there is perceived division within the party that may threaten his own nomination?
Well, as it is and I speak authoritatively on this issue, there is no faction in the Peoples Democratic Party in Edo State anymore. Anybody, who was a member of our party before who did not participate in the last ward congresses, local government congresses and state congress as organised by the national working committee, is no longer a member of PDP. He must belong to another party and all other people whose names were used to form factions have come out to say that they are now with the PDP under the leadership of Chief Tony Anenih. We don’t have pockets of disaffection anymore.
Don’t you see it as a big challenge that General Airhiavbere is going to face the incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole, if he eventually picks the ticket?
Certainly there is none, the ACN-led government of Oshiomhole is a government of deceit; it is a government of cosmetic development and the Charles Airhiavbere Campaign Organisation has gone out to prove it. We just released a documentary that addressed the infrastructure development and strides of the government in the last three years.
Yes, of course we acknowledge that there has been renovation of schools along the tarred roads; we acknowledge that there has been some cosmetic overhaul of roads that are of commercial and populist nature like the airport road, because everybody who comes to Edo State or through the state and passes through Airport Road can see all that he has done, but then our video has been able to show that even the Ring Road that has the musical water fountain, if you just take two steps into Forestry Road there is no road; if you take two steps into Upper Mission Road there is no road.
You will be surprised that even in Ekpoma Wendo Urban Primary School, which is behind the road, students sit on the floor; they don’t have desks. So, where is the physical development that you say is the advantage that Oshiomhole has over General Airhiavbere? It doesn’t exist because what you see is services to less than 500,000 of a 3.4 million inhabitants of Edo State and the remaining over two million citizens of Edo State have no roads, water, schools and hospitals.
Between now and July 14, we are going to release a documentary that shows this disparity and dichotomy and believe me that the over two million disenfranchised and cheated Edo people will vote out ACN and Adams Oshiomhole.
Besides the documentary evidences you have to counter what Oshiomhole has done, what are the basic things that General Airhiavbere hopes to provide for the people, if voted into office as governor come July 2012?
Our manifesto is from cradle to senior citizenship. The major difference between General Charles Airhiavbere’s manifesto and the ACN led government policy is that for General Airhiavbere, physical infrastructure is taken for granted because that is the duty of government. The reason government manages the resources of everybody is to be able to provide those things that are of a common nature.
If we share our allocation for instance it will be not possible for me to tar the road of my house and you tar the road in from of your house. That is why people manage the resources of others in the first place. So, physical infrastructure is taken for granted, but the advantage that the Edo people will have is that every child born from November 21,when General Airhiavbere becomes governor, will be born for free. All other children will begin to enjoy free qualitative education up to senior secondary school.
Every mother in Edo State will be empowered to practice a trade and groups of women will be encouraged to form cottage industries so that the they can take control of the home and return our family values. Every Edo youth will be given a job and where these jobs are not available in farms settlements, in industries these youths will be retrained and given skills and implements and other inputs to enable them set up their own small industries and small business concerns, among others.
What are the strategies Airhiavbere hopes to apply to be able to deal with the worrisome issues of insecurity and youth unemployment to ensure that the people of Edo State have a positive life and make a positive living?
There must be community policing. Community policing is a volunteer force, not necessarily armed forces, but people knowing their neighbours and what their neighbours do. Communication is one of the most tangible elements that assist in security and then leadership plays a great role.
General Airhivbere is a retired soldier from the Nigeria Army. He is battle-tested and he has agreed that he will personally follow policemen to arrest and to tackle armed robbers and kidnappers even when they are in operation. Such gallantry and other social welfare including insurance for police people is what will encourage them to work hard. Once you have a synergy between the community and the police and the leadership comes strongly and boldly to deal with these problems then that entire security problem has come to an end.
There is this rumour making the rounds that General Charles Airhiavbere appears to be using underhand tactics to get the executive of the PDP in the state to decide with a view to ensuring that he clinches the ticket for the July 2012 governorship election. If that is the case, do you see that as real democracy in action?
Well, I’m afraid that you did not define what underhand tactics would probably entail. But if you are talking about the ward tour, I want to assure you that our national leader, Chief Tony Anenih, has ensured that every member of PDP that has signified interest to run for the office of governor on our platform is given equal opportunity to participate on the ward tour.
All other aspirants like Professors Ihonvbere and Osunbor, Barrister Ken Imansuangbon, Retired Police Commissioner A.C.K Aigbe and General Charles Airhiavbere have participated equally on the ward tour. So, MKO Abiola said you don’t cut somebody’s hair in his absence. There is no underhand tactics. I don’t want to say that they don’t have the resources.
Only recently incumbent governor, Adams Oshiomhole said Professor Osunbor remained the PDP best for now and even at that, the best in Oshiomhole’s estimation is ‘grossly incompetent,’ an evaluation which suggests that the likes of your candidate are nowhere near Professor Osunbor?
Let me tell you, the governor is very good at rhetorics and what would you expect him to say? Naturally, he would encourage the PDP to support a candidate that is easy for him to win. If you remember that as executive governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole chased Osunbor out of office, then you will not be surprised that he wants him back. If he could chase him out as governor, then it is not a problem at all now that he is not a governor. So, I think he is shopping for a cheap candidate that will not give him trouble.