Governor Obaseki lacks powers to order my arrest – Oshiomhole boasts

 Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is a former governor of Edo State and in this interview responded allegations that he sponsored the recent violent anti-CBN protests in Benin and other issues.

Allegation of sponsoring riots in Benin City and being declared wanted by the state government

I think the Media has a duty to interrogate those making allegations at least it will not be too much of a reporter to ask a Governor or anybody making allegations to at least attempt to show evidence or some kind of logical basis to arrive at such a conclusion.

  I had the privilege of being a governor in this state for eight years and I have sufficient interest in the peace and stability of this State. As you can see from my own experience governors will come and go but the people remain and if there is one man who has enjoyed the trust and confidence of Edo people I think it is my humble self because I am on record as the only person in our history who won election across the 18 Local Government Area of Edo State scoring 75.6 percent of total vote cast even as I ran that election against a retired General who is said to have deep pockets.

But let me also say that I have led protests in Edo State even before I became a governor on at least two occasions. I led massive protests to Osadebey Avenue, the seat of Edo State Government when I was President of the NLC, we had tens of thousands of people buying into that protest but it is on record that not one person was injured nor one person having his or her property destroyed. I am on record that I have been a victim of the PDP rigging machine in the election that was conducted on the 14th of April 2007, I led a protest across Benin in which tens of thousands of people protested and there was no violence. So I think it is not in the mouth of Obaseki, with all due respect to his very high office, to throw allegations without attempting to show any proof.

   I think we all have a duty to pray for the repose of souls if those who died and whatever anybody has suffered I think it is unfortunate because most of the people who were fell either by the police bullet or those banks that were destroyed or any other properties destroyed belonged to people who are also victims of these policies because as far as I know the banks are also victims so destroying the banks is not a solution, but I am a believer in the right of citizens to protest, there is difference between protest and rioting.

  So when I read it initially in the Social Media and later I saw it in a section of the media that Obaseki had ordered the Police to arrest me I had a very good laugh. First because Obaseki does not know that he does not have the power to order the arrest of a citizen and that is the reason why some people have reservations about when people like Obaseki talk about State Police because the law is clear, if a crime has been committed it is up to the security agencies to investigate and if they find someone who they think may have had the need to invite the person for questioning. The police have not and I will be surprised if they have now degenerated to taking orders from a politician who is faced with the crisis of confidence and the people have been voting against him there are huge issues of the legitimacy of his government and he thinks that he can order police to arrest whoever he considers to be his political opponent.

  So it is unfortunate, but I thought that you Media people would have asked him and if you did not remember it is no not too late to ask him, “Mr. Governor so Comrade also caused the riot in Warri where Okowa is the sitting governor, Comrade also caused the riot in Ibadan, Oyo State, Oshiomhole also went to Kwara State to organize protest in an APC State? So but if you did not ask him maybe you have your reason. But let me say that Obaseki is a victim of his own double standard. He says one thing in the morning he does another the following day.

   I think Obaseki after embarrassing the Central Bank Governor, Emefiele, when he accused him sometime last year or the year before of printing hundreds of billions of Naira to share for states by way of Federation Account and that Emefiele’s policies are going to destroy the Naira even as he admitted that the money was being shared to state Governments, I think he realized that election is coming, Obaseki needs cash and who will give him this cash, o yes the person who has given him before, he took billions from the Central Bank in the name of Agriculture. Ask Obaseki to show you where the farms are. A man who has been abusing the Federal Government, abusing Buhari, abusing anything Federal suddenly decided that a policy that I have denounced even as a former chairman of APC and I did not denounce it secretly, I denounced it on national television is now what he supports.

  In the course of campaigning when I hear people complain to me about the challenges they had I have never hesitated in denouncing it and I will continue to denounce it because it is not the Policy of APC and I can’t be afraid to say the truth. So Obaseki wanting to make money out of this hardship suddenly become pro CBN Governor defending anti- people policy where your people are groaning and he has made the wrong assumption that Edo people do not know their right from their left after all it is part of his misdemeanor and MoU and all the other stuff that he uses to divert the people’s attention which they are manifesting now and even degenerating to a level where he is trying to re-loot the Artefact that the Oba of Benin has been struggling for years to have repatriated to Edo State, back to the Palace where they were looted many years ago.

He even went to Court to challenge the decision of the Supreme Court which had ordered that this suffering, this sudden withdrawal of, confiscation of currencies and the bank refusal to release money that people toiled to earn and the Supreme Court rightly gave an injunction. But for the rule of law what will protect Obaseki from Osadebey Avenue given his crimes against Edo people but because of the Rule of Law he is enjoying himself there even though people have lost confidence in him.

   Assuming that I was the one who ordered the protest, without conceding, those huge numbers of people that came out even if they we’re taking orders from me who have left government since 7 years ago and incidentally if I have that power to move those market women, elderly people like I saw in those videos, boys and girls, if I have those powers to order them and they respect my orders, it just means that Obaseki is no longer the governor of the State,  he may be governor in the eyes of  the law but the legitimacy to govern, he has lost it.

  A governor that benefited by votes casted for him by people who queued under sun and rain to vote for you, your reward for them is that the  moment like this when they are in distress, when their businesses, small businesses; many of these people there is no presence of government in their lives, it is they, God and weather, they toiled to make 5,000 and they were told it is safe to keep money in the bank, some of them their total savings in a year is not up to 100,000, they want to take 20,000 that even Governor Emefiele promised, they can’t take and they are saying the banks are holding the money but they have not named any bank, no bank MD is known to have been invited for questioning, they say it  is an unknown banker, Nigerians are not stupid. So let me be very clear, I said nobody should misunderstand me, I, Adams Oshiomhole, I believe Nigerians have a right to protest against anything that they are not happy about but I also want Nigerians to understand that there is a huge difference between protest and rioting. And that the problem of rioting is like shooting a gun into the market, you don’t know who it will hit but when you peacefully decide to protest that is what distinguishes a free people from slaves. I have no hand in it my position is very clear it has not changed, I still believe the Supreme Court has sensibly made a decision that in terms of balance of convenience you cannot confiscate our currency or refuse to give to us the currency that we gave to the bank to keep, it does not belong to the bank, it does not belong to the Central Bank, I hold those views very seriously, I am on tape I can send it use it as generously as you can.

Supreme Court injunction

The issue that led to the Supreme Court injunction was filed by APC governors so when I say it is not APC policy I mean it. I spoke to the evil, the dehumanizing implication of this policy, Nigerian Government including its agencies cannot superintend over official extortion of citizens. It is extortion when a citizen goes to a POS Operator and is asked to part with 1,000 if he wants 5,000, if the POS operators tell you their own story you will also be sympathetic with them, even the POS operators are victims the real culprit is the CBN, you don’t pursue policies before you put necessary infrastructures. Even when making a transfer from your bank sometimes it takes some time.

 This means  CBN did not plan nor did it encourage the banks  to put the necessary infrastructure in place to take the massive traffic that will result in the transfers. The huge Nigeria’s informal sector is what is being wiped off by this senseless policy. And you have an Obaseki who somehow manages to tell people that he is an economist and says there will be long term benefit, what is long term about it, after death what next.

  Everywhere I go I am in circulation and I am very grateful for that. There are lots of Nigerians who live on what they call tips, they are not employed they go to markets, motorparks, Airports, if they see you have load to carry they help you then you give them money, now you can’t even give tips to this army of people who on account of their being unemployed have resorted to this way of life, some have wives and children, they do pay rent I wonder how some people can justify this.

On Election

Everywhere I go when I hear and the people talk about the hardships arising from this policy and the twin evil of scarcity of PMS what I tell them always and all our security agencies are present when we do those rallies my message has been clear, my people may this pain you are going through be the incentive you need to insist to vote, don’t play into their hands have something to protest because what many of them want, people like Emefiele is for this Election not to take place because if there is massive uprising there will be no elections what does that mean for the poor people. Now you have the opportunity to vote and choose who you want, in my own case  the Jagaban of the universe Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu if you prefer another person that is your choice but the right to exercise that choice don’t let anybody provoke you into doing things to postpone the election.

This situation is a major setback to our journey towards cashless policy because by denying people access to their money you are sending a message and that message is don’t keep your money in the Bank because one day they can wake up and say don’t take your money again. They assume that because the masses are not PhD holders they don’t have native intelligence.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast

My position is I associate myself with the injunction by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the ultimate Court if there are disputes between government and citizens or between citizens and citizens. So the pronouncement by the Supreme Court in my view I abide by Law and having had the opportunity in the course of being a Governor to swear to uphold the Nigerian Constitution that oath is still binding on me.

 The way forward

My advice is that when there is a policy that is designed to provoke you, resist provocation because the timing alone brings politics into it, and when you hear analysts now saying it is meant to prevent vote buying, they are the ones who are now publicizing the issue.My appeal to Nigerians is that first there is a huge difference between peaceful protest and violence or rioting. No society benefits from rioting, innocent people will always be the victims.

Culled from Vanguard Newspapers

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