We Tried Reconciling Obaseki And Oshiomole But We Failed – Ex-Minister says
Former Information and Culture Minister and Yerima of Auchi Kingdom, Prince Tony Momoh, explained in a detailed interview the various moves made by party elders to resolve the rift between Oshiomole and Obaseki.
Here are some highlights of the interview he granted to the Guardian:
When he was asked about the accusations by the Director General of the Progressive Governor’s Forum on the failure of the party elders to reconcile the warring chieftains (Oshiomole and Obaseki), here is what he said:
As an elder of the party, I can tell you that it is not true that party leaders did not look into the matter. I personally held meetings with both of them; four hours with Oshiomhole and another two hours with Obaseki.
They were not communicating before. I resolved the issue of communication and the governor went to see Oshiomhole in his house and they cleared all their issues and resolved all the problems that had to do with the hospital, the stormwater project, the university, debts owed and monies to be paid at the end of the day. I resolved all of them.
First of all, was where some traditional rulers wanted to bring them together to communicate and communication broke down; and the governor would not be where Oshiomhole is. The governor did not go to the long-distance race in Okpekpe because Oshiomhole was there.
There was a particular event in Benin, which the governor refused to attend when he heard that Oshiomhole was there. It was as bad as that. And they told themselves that if they wanted anything important, they should consult their mutual friend. I resolved it and then they came together again.
I must tell you that there was no personal quarrel between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, even till the time we are talking now.
So, how else would party men have done something? All that it needed was the followers to stop expressing their ambitions by looking for patronage from one area or the other. Even those who refused to be sworn-in, I reached out to them; I pleaded with them.
They were in Abuja. I pleaded with them to get down to Benin to be sworn-in. And then they told me that they were negotiating with the governor but they wanted certain things to be settled before they go for the swearing-in. I told them to go and be sworn in; that they will be more effective there because, in the last Assembly, they changed Speaker about three times.
I told them, ‘look, if you are there, you will be effective in the House. When you are outside the House, one, you will not bring any changes; two, you will not be paid or get allowances because there is nobody who is going to pay you for the work you have not done.
You even sign attendance register because you have irreducible minimum days to attend the House sittings, about 181 days in a year. If you fall short of that, your seat will constitutionally be declared vacant.’ And by December, they have failed to meet that minimum qualification.