Interviews Politics

2002 Supreme Court ruling on right for political association over rules INEC de registration of NCP, others – Omoragbon

Despite INEC de listing of his political party, National Conscience Party (NCP), Osawaru Peters Omoragbon, insists he is in the race for the September 19, 2020, governorship election in Edo state. In this interview with CYRIACUS NNAJI, the flag bearer of the NCP explains among other things, why he defied INEC to contest in the election to save his people of Edo state
Excerpts:

How do you see your emergence as the NCP governorship candidate in Edo State election

My emergence as the flag bearer for the National Conscience Party in the forthcoming Edo State Governorship Election is a wake-up call for all well meaning people of Edo State to open their eyes to the opportunity God is providing through the NCP for the best alternative for Edo State in the person of Pastor Peters Osawaru Omoragbon. We are all witnesses to the current show of shame of the two actors in the opposing parties-APC and PDP in Edo State as they continue to recycle themselves from their parties interchangeably. What this goes to prove is that there is no difference between the APC and PDP in Nigeria. They are two sides of a coin. Therefore, my emergence is to restore hope and confidence in governance in the people of Edo State with the assurance of an accountable and transparent government. It is to provide the genuine change missing from the rule of PDP and APC since 1999 in Edo State. My emergence is to transform the living standards of the people of Edo State above their current below poverty level by implementing our Party’s Ten Care- Plus One Programme that will abolish poverty from Edo State.

Your party was among the 79 de registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). How far has it gone to ensure that it is enlisted again

It must be recalled that the NCP was a product of the efficacy of the Rule of Law in any egalitarian society, when in 2002, by a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of all Nigerians as enshrined in section 40 of the 1999 Constitution to form and belong to any political party of our choices, by over ruling INEC’s refusal to register the NCP under the then Late Abel Guobadia . As a result, and as law abiding citizens, we have gone to court to challenge the unconstitutionality of the action of INEC under the current dispensation. By a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos, with Suit Number FHC/L/CS/544/20, we have challenged INEC’s current decision to omit our Party’s name from the political parties fielding candidates for the election in September in Edo State. Defendants in the current case are: The Attorney General of the Federation and, the Independent National Electoral Commission.

One of our reliefs being sought is a declaration that the action of the defendants without an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, is unlawful, arbitrary, oppressive, repressive, partisan, undemocratic, an abuse of power and office, and a breach of the Plaintiffs’ right to fair hearing guaranteed in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended (hereinafter referred to, as “the Constitution”), and Articles 2, 3, 4 & 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and is accordingly, null and void and of no legal consequences whatsoever.

But your name was omitted by INEC in the provisional list of parties and candidates for the Edo governorship election. Are you and your party not bothered about the development? What are you doing to ensure that it is included in the final list

We are not bothered because we are already in Court and no matter how long it takes for us to get justice, any outcome of the September 19, 2020 Edo state governorship election without myself and the NCP will be a nullity. Remember Adams Oshiomhole became governor well after Osunbor was sworn in as governor almost a year in 2008 by the ruling of the law court? If we are in agreement that INEC’s action by their crooked reliance on Section 225 negates our fundamental rights of Freedom of Association enshrined even in the amended Constitution of Nigeria, and is currently in Court, then what better way to test the last ‘hope’ of the common man, which is the judiciary by putting political action to our legal action?

Why do you think you will thrive the candidates of APC and PDP in the election

As at today as far as Edo State is concerned, the All Progressive Congress candidate- Ize Iyamu and the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Pastor Gov. Obaseki have lost their credibility before the good people of Edo State. In 2007, Pastor Ize Iyamu decamped from PDP to join the APC until 2016, when he decamped again to PDP when he could not actualize his governorship under the APC. Mr Obaseki was chosen above him by their political godfather-Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Now in 2020, Mr Obaseki was denied his ticket for second term by the godfather and Pastor Ize Iyamu was now the preferred candidate by leaving the PDP to APC. What did Obaseki do? He too decamped to PDP using the resources of the Edo State to buy his way and that of his deputy, Mr Shuaibu.

Here is the catch-22: Legally Obaseki will be disqualified even if he wins because by the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, you cannot contest for nomination in two different political parties in the same election. Secondly, the entire social media is abashed by the confessions of the three dramatis personnel on their corruption-that is Oshomoihle, Obaseki and Ize Iyamu. Edo State is not made for only PDP and APC nor is it the birth right of Obaseki, Ize Iyamu or Oshomoile.

Another reason why I will be better off is the implementation of our Party’s Ten Care Plus One programme. Finally is my experience in the Civil service, the grassroots leaders within the civil society movement both nationally and globally and my experience from the Diaspora, as I intend to transfer my knowledge and experience of the best practices to Edo state. By the end of my Eight years as governor, Edo state would become the role model for every state in Nigeria.

What are the things that Governor Obaseki did not do well, which you will change or improve upon if you win the election

The problems confronting the Edo people did not start with Mr. Obaseki. As such, it is not what he did not do well or did, but what the government of both PDP and APC failed to do since 1999. One major problem these sadistic political parties have foisted on Edo people is the rising debt profile from 1999 to date. According to the 2019 report of the National Bureau of Statistics, Edo state domestic debt was N86,820,254,212.61 (A) in stocks and N69,904,633,299.09 (B) as loans. Whilst the external (foreign) debt was $279,029,896.21 that is @ the rate of N450/$ = 125,563,453,294.50 Billion! (C) Million. Cumulatively in Naira: A+B+C: =N282,288,340,805.20!!! Can you imagine that? That is the total debt incurred on behalf of the state by both PDP and APC. Tell me, what have the people to show for it? Noting. Instead, you have people in government building bullet proof houses, ridding on bullet proof cars, spending billions of naira to purchase ticket to run for public office, someone owing private jet, private universities, building an entire estate that you barely live in maybe once or twice a month, no good roads, erosion has destroyed half of the state, all health institutions remained mere consulting clinics, no program of engagement for the youth after school other than employ them as party thugs. How can we suffer in the midst of plenty?

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