By Ehi Ekhator
It is no longer a secret that the supporters of Chief Solomon Edebiri worked against the emergence of Pastor Ize-Iyamu. For them it was pay back time for the likes of Chief Dan Orbih who through alleged cooked up lies humiliated their principal.
Edebiri and his men had had it for the Peoples Democratic Party, Pastor Ize-Iyamu and Dan Orbih who they described as the chief mastermind of the process that led to what they described as one of the most unfair primaries in the history of Edo state.
A day to the governorship election, NAIJA CENTER NEWS reported that Edebiri men had decamped to the opposition camp, adding that Edebiri may not also work for his party as he had sworn not to have anything to do with PDP as long as Dan Orbih is the state chairman.
An insider who didn’t want to be named finally told NAIJA CENTER NEWS on how the expected dream of PDP was subverted by the aggrieved members of the Edebiri camp.
Narrating the incident, the source said ” For starts, there was no way Pastor Ize-Iyamu was ever going to be governor going by his antecedents and we warned the party leadership about it from day one. Any other candidate but Pastor Ize-Iyamu could easily had won.
“We knew the party leadership would not listen and be funny when they banned members of PDP from criticizing themselves. We obeyed the order because we did not want to give them an excuse for not nominating Chief Edebiri. We however wondered if stopping internal scrutiny will also stop public scrutiny when the time comes. We warned them but they will not listen.”
The insider who is also one of Edebiri aggrieved men described Ize-Iyamu as a common thief and wondered how he could have won an election when he was not a credible candidate.
She said: “I do not get it. How was Ize-Iyamu going to win? Under normal circumstances, a party presents a credible candidate and builds it’s programmes around him. What the Edo PDP did was to reward a common thief with an undeserved mandate. That was standing logic upon its head and they paid dearly for it. They said the pastor was rugged and lied that he had funds which others did not have. Where went ruggedity on the day of the elections? Why did they have to beg for financial assistance when it suddenly dawned on them that they have been conned by Dan Orbih and his co-conspirators until Governors Wike and Okowa rescued them with about four billion naira?.
“Note that in his (POI) character, he only (by our estimation) disbursed about half of that amount. He kept the rest to himself leading to a clash between him and other leaders particularly Dan Orbih. Little wonder his field agents pocketed a larger part of the over three hundred naira per every unit released to induce voters while the APC were dutifully doing the needful only for them to cry blue murder that they were rigged out. Nobody rigged any where. They were flatly beaten to their own game. Who sold the idea of inducing voters to Oshiomole? Pastor Ize-Iyamu when he was in APC. The truth is that both parties were guilty of this anomaly.”
The insider continued that the decision to work against PDP was a reminder of what they did to their principal, Chief Solomon Edebiri who they betrayed and stabbed at the time of the election.
“The APC was already unpopular going by the current economic hardship of the Buhari led government. Governor Adams Oshiomole himself did not help issues with his flagrant abuse of power going by the way Obaseki was imposed on his party members. This also was the PDP’s sin. However, like I told you in previous interviews, Obaseki was a lesser evil to chose from. We had two hugely unpopular candidates from the two major political parties. We sat down and studied the situation and made it clear to Chief Edebiri where we should go. He (Edebiri) is a Democrat. He knew the implication of going against our decision. We had extracted an agreement from him from day one that his aspiration was bigger than him. We told him not to be involved but wait for our decision twenty-four hours to the day of the election. Our plans were to do to the PDP what they did to him. Recall that desperate phone calls were made twenty-four hours to the primaries where delegates were threatened and told not to vote Edebiri who was most favoured to win. The man who was supposed to be his agent; one Hon (Pastor) Johnson Momoh from Akoko-Edo was threatened by Hon Tunde Akogun and told to collapse his structure into Ize-Iyamu’s team after more than one year of hard work. He refused and opted to stay at home instead of betraying his Principal; such is the strong bond of members of the ISE initiative. It is like a family.
“Like I told you (NAIJA CENTER NEWS correspondent), Edebiri is a team player. He respects other people’s views. We knew he was under tremendous pressure to throw his support openly for Pastor Ize-Iyamu who is his mate and friend. We pitied him but it was not about friendship it was about the Edo people. He knew and understood our mood and he respected it.
“Edo people needed to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of the Igbinedions who were already boasting that the next Governor must come from their family. What an insult on Edo people!!! Former governor Igbinedion made that statement twice preceding the election and we laughed. We had perfected our plans unknown to them.”
The insider who seems disappointed by Ize-Iyamu arrogance said the PDP candidate did not extend hand of friendship to Edebiri after the primaries, and could not even invite him on his birthday which was a day after the primaries to have a chat with him.
Meanwhile, Obaseki worked on the division and ran to Edebiri’s house to solicit for his support. She continued “Their arrogance needed to be cut to size. For example, a day after the primaries, Pastor Iyamu was busy celebrating his birthday instead of reaching out to our principal and his other co contestant. He didn’t even extend an invitation to him for the birthday and when we asked Chief Edebiri if he (Iyamu) had called him, he said no. It is on record that Pastor Iyamu did not put a call to Chief Edebiri until after one full week after the primaries. Whereas Godwin Obaseki ran desperately to Edebiri’s house the very next morning after the primaries just as Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was enjoying himself with choice drinks and food. Chief Orbih’s case was even worse. Ask him if he has called Chief Edebiri till now (from after the primaries to after the elections.) Ask him if he eve sent a simple text message. Yet, they expected to have Chief Edebiri endorse the candidate. Even his supporters treated us as conqured fellows in a war. They had shared positions among themselves and did not want us to share from their loot. It was like sharing a cow before it is killed. Their arrogance killed them.
“They underestimated Chief Edebiri’s popularity and paid dearly for it. They looked at him as a man who had a few thousand votes four years ago forgetting that he had built tremendous goodwill across the state over the years. While they were celebrating in Pastor Iyamu’ house, Governor Oshiomole was also celebrating the failure of the PDP to give Edebiri the ticket. They had to be thought a lesson and we are happy with what we did. We did what we had to do and if necessary we shall do it again given similar circumstances. We have no regrets.
“Our plans were simple; we knew the APC needed help. We agreed to provide the help unsolicited and without cost. We deliberately targeted the following persons and their L.G.As 1 Chief Osawaru Igbinedion, 2. Chief Tom Ikimi, 3. Senator Yisa Braimah, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and 4. We told our supporters to help reduce the margin of defeat for the APC in other L.G.As in Ishan where the APC was obviously not strong but Igueben had to fall at all cost. Infact, Igueben, Owan East and the two Ovia were top priorities. In Owan East, we knew the APC was already very strong but we vowed that the margin of defeat must be huge.
“These so called leaders conspired amongst themselves to deny Chief Edebiri the ticket. They employed lies, deceit, threats and intimidation to achieve their ignoble act. For example, they got to a key member of the Edebiri Media team and after promising him some millions, a jeep and the local government chairmanship of his L.G.A if Pastor Iyamu wins, he along others embarked on campaign of calumny and lies against Chief Edebiri to Chief Anenih. The former Edebiri Media man was key. He was a known insider of the Edebiri’s campaign structure. He was very close to him and one of the very few who could go into the Chief’s bedroom un-hindered. He had free access. When they discovered that they could not get Chief Anenih to drop Chief Edebiri as his choice, this guy was conscripted to tell lies. He was asked to make some non-existent revelations and falsehoods about his person. He was the one who told Anenih that Chief Edebiri was clandestinely meeting with out going governor Oshiomole when in actual fact, Chief Edebiri was in Ghana on the said night. He cooked up the story that Chief Edebiri had no money when he had made so much millions just by being with him. Everybody knows him. He is a kinsman of Chief Anenih and very close to former minister Mike Onolememe. It was so easy for him to convince people with his lies because of his perceived closeness to Edebiri. His betrayal for financial gains of which little was fulfilled was a painful one but he forgot their was pay back time. It was better you had a black snake in your pocket than have this character in your memory as a friend. They all had to pay for their sins and we are happy we had the last laugh. Pastor Iyamu was not the target but these anti-People’s traitors. Unfortunately, he was the beneficiary. What we did was like a counter coup.
One very important thing I said before was that the APC needed help. The PDP on the other hand unknown to outsiders was now under the burden of defending the character of her candidate. The reasons were obvious;
- He could not defend the source of his wealth,
- His ties with the Igbinedion’s failed government,
- The numerous persons he had offended politically (he had a doctorate degree in rigging of elections) and finally
- The dangerous slip he made during his godfather’s (Esama) birthday. So we moved in and struck a mortal blow.
“It is very easy to analyse. Strong APC Chieftains Like..Chief Odigie Oyegun, APC National Chairman, Mr Lucky Imasuen, APC Chieftain and Former Deputy Governor, Mr Anselm Ojezua, Edo APC Chairman as well as Mr Matthew Atamah another APC Chieftain and former APC Governorship aspirant amongst many APC chieftains all Lost their various Units, and in some cases wards/L.G.As. Note also that the governor-elect himself lost his Local government.
“On the other hand, Dan Orbih lost his L.G.A and entire senatorial zone woefully, the Esama Chief Gabriel Igbinedion lost his L.G.A, Chief Tom Ikimi lost his L.G.A, Senator Yisa Braimah lost his L.G.A as well as Chief Raymond Dokpesi who also lost his L.G.A amongst others self acclaimed strong men of the PDP. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu himself was lucky to have won his own Local government albeit narrowly.
“However, Chief Edebiri and all his key men delivered their units and Local governments for Godwin Obaseki. A look at the list below will prove this fact:- Hon Monday Ihama and Nosa Black from Ovia South West (where Chief Igbinedion hails from), Hon Monday Oisagbovo Ovia North East, Odion Omokhudu: Owan East (where Senator Yisa Briamah hails from), Bar Okhai coordinated the fall of Igueben, Col (Dr) Imuse Rtd: Esan West, Hon Pastor Johnson Momoh was in charge of Akoko Edo, Avan Harvey and Hon Iyobo were in Ohrionmwon, Mr Osagie Idehen: Oredo and of coure Chief Edebiri along with his army of supporters were in his native Uhumuode.
“We must however get on fact very clear. These men were not responsible for all the votes majority of which came from the APC leaders and supporters themselves but they added value. By our projection, we intended to add and we did add not less than sixty thousand votes to Godwin Obaseki’s votes from our modest efforts. We have a data base of all our supporters. It was easy to reach out to them. If you take away those votes and add to Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s votes, then you will understand that we were the determining factor. We needed to tell the Igbinedions that the people and not his family owns papa’s land. We swing the votes and rescued the people of Edo from the Igbinedions, the Ikimis and their likes. It was just the business of the liberation and redemption of our beloved state (Edo). We are a proud group of people. It would have been unfair to submit our freedom and allow ourselves to be sold into slavery. We have no regrets. Rather than say sweat victory, we prefare to say sweet defeat.”
IT could be recalled that APC won Edebiri’s ward with a landslide. According to report, in Uhunmoude Local Government Ward 8, Unit 2, APC was 329 while PDP 29.