Interview: Edo APC still intact – Secretary
The Secretary of the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, Lawrence Okah, who was ‘suspended’ by another faction of the party, speaks on his purported suspension and other issues in this interview.
Why were you suspended?
I was never suspended. The issue between Governor Godwin Obaseki, Anselm Ojezua and I was because they asked me to join them to fight our national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. They approached me on several occasions but I told them I was not going to do it because there was no reason why we should be fighting a man who had laboured over the years to keep this party and in fact who made this governor, Obaseki. So, when they discovered that I was not going to play ball with them, they ganged up against me by cooking all sorts of allegations and tried to isolate me. But you know, as the secretary of the party, I am the party, I am the office and the key of the party in the state. So, I remained and I knew how I was relating to the National Secretariat where my bosses are. Of course, they came up one day to say that the governor did not want me. They spent so much money trying to bribe people to go against me in my ward and on every occasion our people kept resisting. Besides, it will even be illegal for anybody to do that unless it takes the proper channel. That was the line we took in removing the former chairman Anslem Ojezua. We are 16 in number in the State Executive Council, 11 signed for his removal.
But they alleged that the signatories to the chairman were kidnapped, how true is that?
That is not true. Am I a kidnapper? Who kidnapped who? They came on their own. The Financial Secretary, Princess Golda Oribhabor-Onwuka came with her boyfriend to sign for the removal of Anselm. The Auditor, Timothy Osadolor, even brought yam and plantain to my house the day they came. They all came willingly. Who am I to kidnap anyone?
What about the allegation of anti-party activities levelled against you?
I am the secretary of the party, what will be my gain if I get involved in anti-party activities? They are the ones involved in anti-party activities with the governor. We try to cover these things because he is the governor of the party but, of course, we know what he did during the presidential election. He worked against them; he has been meeting with PDP leaders in Edo. Of course, I know you are aware of what some PDP people said recently that he promised to give them N6bn for his defection. Let me tell you this, the problem with the governor is that if he doesn’t like you, he will throw up charges against you. That is what happened during the last general elections; because he didn’t like some of our candidates, he worked against them.
What about your suspension from your ward at Oredo?
No, that was a plan that did not work. I told you that they gave my people food, they gave them money and they also gave them a ram so they would suspend me. They took the money and ate their ram but told them that they could not suspend me because I had not done anything wrong. We have been in politics before Obaseki, we brought him up. Does he know how to suspend anybody? All those people carrying thugs and cutlass, it doesn’t work like that in politics. Killing your fellow party members, attacking them or harassing them doesn’t work in politics. So, there is nothing like suspension, nobody suspended me and, of course, you can see that the leadership of the State Executive Council passed a vote of confidence in me and the new chairman, Col. David Imoise. They are the ones who will leave the party not me.
Now that the party is factionalised, don’t you think this can cause trouble in 2020?
There is no faction at all. What has happened is that the bad people need to be weeded out and that is what we have done. These people are not original members of the party.
But you are also accused of hobnobbing with the EPM?
What is the Edo Peoples Movement? We have always had different groups in the party. I am not even a member of EPM but before EPM they started the issue of forming groups at the party.
Oshiomhole has always warned against this idea of forming groups because you will find out that at the end of the day it always leads to crises. They were the ones who as a result of the 2020 election formed the Obaseki Shaibu Movement. It was the formation of that group that triggered all these crises. When they formed the group, they started isolating the leaders of the party, of course, those people were left with no option than to form their own called EPM. There are so many groups in this administration.
What do you think is the way out of this crisis now?
There is no crisis, let me correct that impression again. There is no party without its fair share of crisis, but we believe that by the time the fact-finding team comes and of course we have the national chairman who is the son of the soil and who can bring people together. We believe that with him and other leaders of the party before we get to the election or even the primary every issue in the party will be resolved and everybody will be happy. I have always said that it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war. Punch