Hon John Akhigbe, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo North Senatorial District is the executive director on protocol, to Governor Adams Oshiomhole. In this valedictory interview with PATRICK OCHOGA, he gave insight about his ambition to contest for the seat of Etsako Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives.
Having served Governor Oshiomhole in the last eight years, with the benefit of hindsight how would you describe him?
I graduated few years ago and I found myself back in school without going through JAMB but by appointment as one of his aides, I found myself in another Higher institution, higher than the one I was lectured but it is on this job that I learnt what administration, accountability, management of human resources are all about. But as an accountant, I never learnt that in school even. So, am so enriched by working with him and that is why I keep telling people that Oshiomhole is an institution and am proud to say that I graduated from Oshiomhole’s School of management; Government House and I have just finished my Doctorate Degree.
This is somebody I have been close to since 2006 and I have discovered the kind of person he is. He is a man I can recommend to anybody whether you are in APC or PDP. Oshiomhole is a man that doesn’t give room for any explanation when you make mistakes, he will tell you they are mistakes of the mind but if it is mistake of the brain he will tell you to go back and do it again until you get better results. Those who don’t understand him are quick to say he is a difficult person to work with, he likes it when you impress him with superior argument and challenges, he doesn’t believe in yes sir, yes sir, from his aides. He admits fault when he makes mistakes, unlike other leaders. Oshiomhiole will never tell you sorry. If he wronged you he will tap you on your the back meaning he is sorry and if you have done well tell he will immediately acknowledge you by saying you make me proud. He is such a courageous man, he taught us how to confront political challenges.
What is that particular thing you think the people of the state will miss about him when he is out of government?
I was telling something recently in Abuja that Edo will miss Comrade but I don’t think it is going to be immediately. In the next six months, the euphoria of a new governor will take over the space. Just imagine a governor that walked the street and pick up a little baby from the mother who is frying bean cake (akara) and pick the ‘akara’ and start eating. He has demystified governance so much that people can come on a courtesy visit without appointments, this is rare. My expectation in such situation is that he won’t attend to such visitors but he will simply ask them to wait and he will receive all of them after finishing what he was doing. I know Obaseki has learnt a lot, he is very close to the less privileged. I don’t even want to talk about projects because I know projects will continue.
A man who can just walk into a beer parlour and share drinks with the ordinary masses, the people will surely miss that aspect of him. I recall an instance along Airport Road where he asked the driver to stop on sighting a woman with her baby and he asked me if I had some money with me and I told him I had N500,000 he took the money and gave it to the woman. So, you imagine the excitement, those little gesture matters a lot. We pray that the incoming governor having learnt a lot from Oshiomhole will practice the same.
Your party, the APC few weeks ago came victorious from the tension soaked governorship election, are you not disturbed with the PDP praying the Court to upturn the result in its favour?
Have they filed any petition? We know that tomorrow is the last day for them to do that. They only have intention to challenge the outcome, we are waiting for them. I told people that the election was the most tension soaked since I joined party politics but again it is the most peaceful and easiest election. In my Local Government, Etsako Central, there was no single violence or irregularity and the situation was the same in the entire state. So, I don’t know why the hue and cry by the PDP that the election was rigged. I responded to someone from Ovia North East who accused the APC of rigging the election and I asked him in his unit if the election was rigged? He said no that APC won both at the ward and local government area. He only based his allegation on hearsay. In Ize-Iyamu’s unit and ward if the election was rigged he rigged it. So, I cannot understand the rigging they are all talking about. Imagine in Ize-Iyamu’s unit they recorded four votes for APC, a friend of mine who came all the way from Germany with his family and after they voted were shocked that APC got 4 votes when the results was announced. Even if nobody voted for APC in that unit what about his family members that came with him? He said he is waiting to file a counter-motion against the PDP in court. So APC is not disturbed about the so called petition because we know for sure that they don’t have any ground to file.
Some of your party leaders are calling for total overhaul of the party in the state owning to internal sabotage during the governorship election. What is your take?
Even in the family circle if you find out that some members are not behaving well it is only proper to seat down and address any teething problems. I subscribe to any restructuring or measure that will further refocuse the party for future electoral victories. Somebody told me that at a particular unit in Orhionwon local government where we have four APC agents and they voted but when results was declared, APC scored zero and we asked where were they when the results was been counted? We discovered that some of our agents were working for the opposition; some of them thought that PDP would win the election and they were having all kind of unholy alliance with them. We don’t have to keep a mole in APC; we need to weed them out immediately.
Looking at the records of the Oshiomhole’s administration, what are your expectations of the governor-elect, Godwin Obaseki?
My expectation is continuity and to do better than Oshiomhole. Obaseki has the capability and capacity to perform, I met Obaseki in 2007 and I never thought he would one day contest for governorship. He is also a rugged person and an intellectual because all we need now is to build on the infrastructure on ground and start new ones where necessary. He is committed to make Edo state work like what Oshiomhole did, I expect Edo state to be better off, I expect the people to be happier and he has promised to develop the agro-based sector for food production for the people.
There are fears in some quarters that Oshiomhole might play the godfather over Obaseki, do you subscribe to the notion?
Oshiomhole will not have the time to come and dictate to Obaseki or anybody. I was not elected but appointed and he doesn’t dictate to me. What Comrade wants to do now is to rest. He will be too busy in contributing to the Nigeria Project, he didn’t back Obaseki to cover up anything but because he believes that Obaseki is capable of delivering the goods. Godaftherism is dead in Edo State.
What are your thoughts over the DSS probe and arrest of judges in parts of the Country?
I think it is long overdue. For the fact that a man is a judge does not make him superior or above the law. Are they not the same judges who will tell us that all men are equal before the law? If can be arrested for one thing or the other why not judges? Nobody should argue that the process was bad. An armed robbers or thieves are picked up on a daily basis and manhandled and even in most cased killed, a Judge that can collect money and twist cases is worse than an armed robber and should not be treated as a king. Am even angered to read in the newspapers that the DSS said they treated the Judges with respect, criminals don’t have status.
What are your plans after November 12, 2016?
I have acquired enough knowledge and if God’s permit I have the intention to contest for the federal house of representative and you know Hon Phillip Shaibu is now the Deputy Governor election so there will be vacancy in that constituency.