Controversial politician and prominent member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua who recently ruffled feathers in the polity when he vowed not to work for the re-election of Godwin Obaseki, his party’s candidate in the September 19 governorship election in the state, has fired back at his traducers over his position. Afegbua had in both print and electronic media, criticized the PDP over the manner it “gifted” its party’s governorship ticket to Obaseki for “dollar rain”. The decision by Afegbua to openly campaign against Obaseki had attracted upbraid from leaders and members of the party who poured invectives on him.
Afegbua, a former information and orientation commissioner, in response to the scathing criticisms of his stance, released another salvo which was even more damning, both for the party and its candidate. The press statement defiantly titled “OBASEKI REMAINS A BAD OMEN FOR PDP—-AFEGBUA”, reads: “I have been inundated with phone calls by those who felt my last week outburst against my party’s guber candidate was rather harsh. Rather than controvert my submissions, they tend to pander to undue sentiments to rein me into dropping my gauntlet. This I found somewhat awkward. Between conscience and Party, I will opt for my conscience over party. While party plays a temporary platform for acquisition and abuse of power, conscience defines the content and character of a man in his interaction with fellow beings and human emanations. While I am in constant touch with my conscience, my party abandoned me as it sold away my right of being heard in its negotiation to gift a “stranger” the party’s ticket. That is a bad omen for our collective sufferance and a sad commentary for democracy. It is a contradiction that leaves a gaping hole in the heart of proper democratic practice.
“I have read all manner of responses to my principled stance. Some called me a mole, others said I am a spy, yet others called me unprintable names. For those who know me, they are aware that I am not an Oshiomhole’s lackey. In 2016, as an appointee of the then Governor Oshiomhole, I raised serious queries about the Obaseki project. When I joined others to form R-APC before I joined the PDP in July 2018, I was not a mole. As a member of the APC, I criticised the internal inconsistencies in the party and challenged the lacklustre leadership of Chief Oyegun-led APC then. During the 2019 elections, I was a regular guest on television programmes to interrogate the under-performance of the Buhari-led APC government. At those times, naysayers didn’t see me as neither a mole nor spy, but a good party man who kept PDP in the front burner of national discourse.
“My current position is informed by a number of factors. First, it is utterly wrong for a party to surreptitiously surrender its apparati, privileges, structures and “ideological” stratosphere to a new entrant as though there were no persons in the party. Within 24 hours, scheduled primary elections were postponed, and all processes leading to the scheduled event were disrupted. If the urge was dictated by altruistic intention to feature Godwin Obaseki on account of strong and result-driven leadership, or performance, one could have understood, but anywhere I turned, the motivation was that Godwin Obaseki has state funds to fund the campaigns. Should that be a selling point if truly we are serious-minded opposition?
“Only three months ago, the state chapter of the PDP lambasted Governor Obaseki’s lacklustre leadership in the state, and scored him F9 in all the critical sectors of the Edo economy; health, education, human capital development, infrastructure, and economy. The party mocked his job creation initiative that had yielded no positive result other than recruiting his driver and a few domestic staff. We raised queries about his style of governance that dwells so much on Memorandum of Understanding without concrete implementation. In 2017, I wrote eloquently about the plans of the government based on those espoused ideas, but three years later, they remain a pipe dream, some kind of “OBUBUYAYA” as often said in local parlance, yet, you still want me to support such a leadership because he was gifted the party’s ticket? My conscience bleeds.
“What has changed from the abysmal scorecard of the Obaseki’s governance barely three months ago? For me, that was a holistic appraisal of a regime that has become too combative for the wrong reasons thus putting the state wrongly in the news as one troubled, restive environment. The PDP also challenged his academic claims in 2016 up to the courts until the court said the party filed out of time. This time around, I was expecting the PDP to direct Governor Obaseki to join another party, to create a stronger opportunity for the PDP to fly with older, loyal party members, since his exit from the APC will weaken part of its internal structure. Instead, the party swallowed all its initial vomit, embellished them in a contradictory and double standard manner, and grabbed Governor Obaseki’s trousers by the pocket. It was dollar rain, but it hurts the very soul of the party.
“I have been receiving calls from all quarters, read the boring intervention from the national headquarters of the PDP on the APC campaign council. I found the tenor utterly nauseating. What you accuse the APC of doing, including adding up names of persons who have queries to answer, also apply to the PDP. You complained about Ize-iyamu’s allegations, but you have forgotten it was a PDP government that sent campaign funds to him for the 2015 election. You point one finger forward, three others are pointing backward at you. That is the immorality, lethargy and subterfuge of Nigeria’s party-based democracy, where often times, the opposition is at sea to decipher what the real issues should be. Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s comportment, diligence at delivering responsibilities, sense of organisation and marksmanship, are direct opposite of Governor Obaseki’s combative style, laced with blackmail, pretentiousness and over- sanctimoniousness.
“Democracy talks about constructive engagement and collective bargaining. It preaches inclusion not exclusion. It reinforces participation, involvement and collectivity. Governor Obaseki is the opposite of what an ideal democratic situation should be. His politics is destructive, exclusive, and demonising. He acts alone, intoxicated by the sheer banality of being called the leader of the party, and glamourises in the vainglorious euphoria that he owns life and death.
“He demolishes houses, terrorises the populace, intimidates opponents and radicalises the youths as a mark of magisterial presence. He dishes out ingratitude in place of gratitude; a simple thank you becomes abominable in his elocution, as he gleefully spends tax payer’s money to fight imaginary wars. Such a candidate cannot enjoy my support. I had thought the party would interrogate him on all fronts before it gifted the tickets to him, but alas, in an age of money politics, the pockets speak louder than the mouth.
“Directing my Chairman, ward 5, Okpella to suspend me or scouting for my polling scores in the 2019 election would not suffice because my votes and those of my supporters cannot be suspended. For Edo’s combustible politics of late, occasioned by the intemperate response by Governor Obaseki, it is only human to have a man with subliminal humility and peace to assume the leadership of governance in the state. This is why Osagie Ize-Iyamu fits my endorsement. The man for whom Oshiomhole went above board to call Ize-Iyamu unprintable names has since shown his true colours. Pretenders cannot hide their traits for too long, something must betray their real self. Dr Pius Odubu served the state for eight years; Obaseki, a succeeding government, refused to pay his legitimate severance allowance.
“He fought against Dr. Odubu’s nomination as NDDC chairman, ditto for Victor Ekhator, both of them proud Edo sons. When Honourable Samson Osagie lost his appointment in the Space Technology agency, the Obaseki group celebrated. Till date, 14 duly elected lawmakers are still roaming the streets because the conquistador in Osadebe Avenue won’t allow them to be inaugurated. Where is the place of the Edo collective in the scheme of affairs in Nigeria? Insecurity has taken over the state, whereas security vote has continued to increase geometrically. The roads in my limestone community of Okpella have remained mere eyesore, begging for completion from where Oshiomhole took them; yet, Okpella contributes hugely to the internally generated revenue. Thrice, Governor Obaseki came to promise my people, raised their hopes, and dashed their hopes without qualms. Is that a candidate that should earn my vote? Tufiakwa!. I will come your way again”.