Nov 3, 2013

Why I attacked Jonathan’s confab- Oshiomhole

Why I attacked Jonathan’s confab, by Oshiomhole

Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has insisted that he acted within his rights to express his views on the proposed national conference when he hosted the committee members in Benin.

He also said that he was scheduled, contrary to some critics, to speak at the town hall meeting organised for the committee to interact with stakeholders of the state and other representatives from adjoining south-south states.

He was heckled, when he spoke, by Col. Tony Nyam (Rtd.), whose shouts of “no, no,’ interrupted proceedings.

The committee has since apologised to the governor for Nyam’s remarks.

The committee is moving across the country to collate views.

Col. Nyam was absent at its meeting in Lagos.

The governor had expressed his reservations about the mission of the committee, saying that Nigeria does not need a conference.

He also asserted that what was of significance was not a gathering to determine whether Nigeria wants to stay together but how to tackle poverty and other social and economic challenges facing the nation.

He responded to those who said the meeting he held with members of the committee as private, saying that “it was not a secret meeting,” adding that it was a meeting for the records.

“Once you speak and what you say is recorded, it cannot be private,” he said, adding that it was covered by the print and broadcast media.

He said he only reiterated what he had said earlier to the committee at the hall meeting.

The governor said he was scheduled to speak but listened to about three persons who spoke before he asked for the permission of the chairman to take the floor, which was granted.

He said the only speaker who irritated him was the one who questioned why Nigeria should be together.

“I don’t think we should discuss whether anyone wants to leave Nigeria,” he remarked.

He added that the remarks he made were not new and had been consistent with those views since his days in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

“I feel strongly about them,” he said. “If we are not a nation, we should start building.”

He reflected on his years in the textile industry and how it systematically collapsed.

He said the workers have lost their jobs and issues of how to revive the industrial base of Nigeria and bring welfare to Nigerians should be the focus of Nigeria today.

Oshiomhole said the obsession with oil had drifted attention from the economic and industrial base of Nigeria to an attitude of sharing.

He also spoke on the controversy over the proposed sale of Edo House in Lagos.

He accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) members of mischief, explaining that the issue was brought up for discussion at a town hall meeting that comprised several stakeholders, including traditional rulers from all the local governments, social groups, market leaders, ethnic groups as well as social groups.

He said he explained why the government wanted to sell it.

“Speaker after speaker said the state had a history of selling government properties without consultation and they appreciated the fact that he was making it a matter for collective decision.”

He said that the hall had been rented out for the past five years and the tenant was not paying the rent but was using court action to stave off his responsibility.

He also said Lagos state government demanded that the state pay ground rent and other charges of over N60 million.

“Should we take tax payers’ money to Lagos and the rent is not enough to manage the property?”, adding that the state would “divest from Lagos and invest in Edo.”

He said the building was built when Lagos was capital, explaining further that the state has built one in Abuja, which makes the Lagos building superfluous.