Mr. Patrick Osayimwen is a member of the Edo State House of Assembly and is one of those suspended by the majority members of the House.
Osayimwen who recently defected from the APC, represents Oredo East Constituency in the State House of Assembly. In this interview he advanced reasons why he left the APC, his rapport with the comrade governor, the crisis in the state legislature among other issues. Excerpts
By GABRIEL ENOGHALASE
Why did you leave the APC for the PDP?
I left ACN, not APC. My spirit left the ACN about two years ago. I represent Oredo East Constituency, which is the heart of Benin. You can all recollect that we had the Land Use Bill sometime in November 2012 and some of us spoke our minds on how we felt about it.
I represent Oredo East where we have the Edo State capital and my people in Oredo stood to be hit most by the tax burden. Some of us had reservations about this thing but I think that it was misunderstood that we were trying to play sharp politics, it was not sharp politics. But our grievances were not looked at. But unfortunately, hardly had we left the assembly than the tape of the debate was sent to the Government House to say this was what this said, this was what that said. That was very unfortunate for a parliament, because I believe a parliament should independent.
Less than a week after that, the party constituted a committee to try us for gross misconduct and anti-party activities. They forgot that the only place a legislator has immunity is on the floor of the House as anything you said there cannot be used against you. They set up a committee that was headed by Alhaji Usman Shagadi. The committee also had Mr. Frank Osazuwa and the Attorney-General of the state, Barrister Henry Idahagbon and a few other persons. I want to praise the courage of Alhaji Shagadi and Frank Osazuwa, the committee said what was going wrong and that the young men should not be crucified because they spoke the minds of their people; that they have the rights to voice the minds of their people. The report, however, never came out because the people (committee) told them that what they did was wrong. After that, they started to discriminate against us. As a way of punishment, they striped us of our status as ranking legislators who were on second term in the assembly, we were stripped of our privilege to be chairmen of top House Committees; We were even treated like minority members, though we were founding members of the party in the assembly. That was about 20 months ago. And it did not even end there as we were now even treated like minority members.
Factions within APC
Let’s not deceive ourselves, the factional crisis within the party in Edo State has been there for the past two or three years. There is the Edo Solidarity Movement that is perceived as the governor’s faction. It was well established that there was a Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s faction. No matter the member’s pretence, everyone was tagged with one faction or the other. You cannot lie about those things. I can remember that because of our relationship with the governor, the governor called us for a meeting that was held at about 7:00pm on Monday, May 12, 2014. He said some of us were trying to leave the party. I went to that meeting with Hon Jude Ise-Idehen. We explained to him that we respect him as a friend but we had seen that we were no longer wanted in the party and that we wanted to move on. We assured him that we will continue to support his government to develop the state. We told him that the rumour of impeaching or trying to impeach him was not in our agenda.
He tried to appeal to us not to leave with promises to redress our grievances. We told him that it was not about money or anything but it was about principle. Unfortunately for the governor he was surprised to see that there were still some principled men in the political system. For him, he could only imagine that we had an offer that was better than his own offer. As I speak to you today, PDP has not offered me a dime and I have not asked for kobo. If I wanted to collect money, it would have been from Comrade. But I am a man of conscience and I cannot collect money from a man when I know that I have made up my mind to do something else.
Why we approach the court and genesis of the crisis in the state house of assembly
When it became clear that there were plans to declare our seats vacant, the only option we had was to seek redress from court. We approached the court and the court ordered that our seats should not be declared vacant and that we should not be suspended. However, the Monday after we got this judgment that was granted by a Benin Federal High, thugs barricaded the Ring Road with banners and posters that we have collected money. They also demanded that we must resign. What a cheap blackmail! After seeing that the court had ordered them not to declare our seats vacant, they now went through the back door to suspend us indefinitely. If you suspend a lawmaker indefinitely, have you not declared his seat vacant? That is what we have been going through. However, I want to tell the people of my constituency and the entire people of Edo State that I was never offered money by the PDP neither have I received kobo from the PDP. That is the position of things as it stands today.
So have you moved out of your official residence as well?
I have never lived in that house. Thanks to God, I had already had my home and I have lived in the Legislative a Quarters. It has always been a case of spending one or two nights there occasionally, but I have never really lived there. However, I have some of my colleagues who have had to move their families out of the place because of the problem. I feel sorry for them but I don’t have such problem because I have always lived in my home for about seven years now.
It is unfortunate that some of us who have lived peacefully together for seven or three years, we have allowed politics to divide us. Now, some of them are now trying to drive out the wives and children of their colleagues.
It is indeed shameful because politics will come and go while friendship will remain. In ten months from now, this assembly will come to its end, but there is life after that. When people do things, they should always look at tomorrow because power is transient. It is an unfortunate situation but I believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel.