A lawmaker-elect in Edo State, Washington Osifo, has accused the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, of “bringing back gangsterism” into the state politics.
Mr Osifo, who is to represent Uhunmwode State Constituency, said Mr Obaseki has also brought “arrogance” into his administration in the state.
“I have told people, this is not the governor I used to know,” Mr Osifo told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday.
“The governor I used to know when he came (into power) was against any form of gangsterism.
“But because he is now gunning for a second term, all those things he came out to condemn, he is now the one welcoming them – arrogance, gangsterism – he has brought them back into the system,” the lawmaker-elect said.
Mr Osifo was among the 15 lawmakers-elect who were excluded from the ‘inauguration’ of the state assembly.
The Edo assembly has 24 members, all of who belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The ‘inauguration’ of the assembly was said to have been hurriedly done at night, at about 9:30 p.m., with only nine members, in order to prevent perceived loyalists of the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, from taking control of the state legislature.
Mr Oshiomhole, a former governor of Edo State, helped Mr Obaseki to succeed him as the state governor in 2016, against all the odds.
Both leaders are now locked in a political battle that some people fear could affect the political fortune of APC in the state.
Mr Obaseki is likely going to seek re-election next year, but it appears he does not enjoy the backing of Mr Oshiomhole.
Mr Osifo said after the controversial ‘inauguration’ of the state assembly, the governor’s security aide led thugs to molest lawmakers-elect who were holding a press conference.
“The next day, we held a press conference in Benin City to condemn and reject what was done, and demand that the right thing be done. While we were there, they sent armed thugs, led by governor Obaseki’s CSO from the government house to embarrass and molest lawmakers-elect,” he said.
He said the governor has the right to support his choice for speaker, but that he did not have the right to collaborate with the clerk of the house to exclude him and others from being inaugurated.
“Having been voted for by my people, it is my right to be there – in the assembly,” he said.
The lawmaker-elect accused the governor of not doing much to bring development to Uhunmwode Local Government Area of the state, in the past three years of his administration.
Mr Osifo vowed to remain steadfast in protecting the interest of his people.
“For me, I will use these four years to work for my people and demand that my locality and people be developed.
“That is what the governor owes us, it is non-negotiable. That is why we voted for him, and he must do it. I am sure he will do it, and I will continue to ask for it. If that is what is offending them, it is just the beginning, they will hear more.”
Mr Osifo said his ‘suspension’ from the APC was “fraudulently orchestrated” by Charles Idahosa, a chieftain of the party in the state.
He said Mr Idahosa picked an attendance sheet of a non-related meeting, then attached it to a letter to make it appear as though the people on the list endorsed his alleged suspension.
According to him, those whose names appeared on the notice of his suspension “have called him to disassociate themselves from it”.
Mr Idahosa, he said, is not a member of the APC.
“Charles Idahosa, the acclaimed leader of Uhunmwode withdrew from the party on account of a misunderstanding he had with the governor.
“I have not seen when he returned to the party, because you cannot leave ceremoniously and come in unceremoniously.
“For me, in my record, he is not even a member of the party, so he doesn’t even have the right to suspend me.”
Mr Osifo said he learnt Mr Idahosa boasted to people he would stop him from returning to the house for a second term.
“You see, for me, God has been very nice to me, I come from a very humble background. One of the things my parents told me was that ‘never you sell people to buy your future’.
“As a Christian, I have also been brought up to know that power belongs to God alone. My life is in God’s hand, my destiny is in God’s hand. Whatever I will be in the future, God will decide.”
Mr Idahosa declined to comment on the issue when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him, Thursday.
“I don’t dignify little kids with a reply,” he said. “It will even be a burden on me to mention his name.”
Mr Obaseki’s spokesperson, Crusoe Osagie, in a response to a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry, said Mr Osifo’s problem was with the state assembly, and not the governor.
Mr Osagie said Mr Osifo could very well approach the court of law if he feels the Nigerian constitution has been violated by the assembly, instead of “jumping from newspaper to newspaper” to make allegations.’
“The chief security officer of the governor is a policeman, the governor cannot send him (to molest lawmakers-elect).
“That is absolute nonsense. These are lies that these people tell. Is the chief security officer not a policeman? Does the police not have rules to guide the way they operate?”
Mr Osagie challenged the lawmaker-elect to provide proof of his allegation.
“Washington Osifo is crying over milk that is not even spilt. The House of Assembly is there, and to the best of my knowledge members who have done their paperwork notify the leadership of the house and they are inaugurated,” he said.
He said Mr Obaseki’s administration has done several roads and other projects in Uhunmwode, contrary to Mr Osifo’s claims.