As Odubu tenders apology to indicted party leaders
Billionaire business mogul and chairman, Ocean Marine Solutions, (OMS) Idahosa Wells Okunbo, fondly called Captain Hosa, has taken exception to his name been linked to the failed attempt by the faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in Edo State loyal to the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole to pick a consensus aspirant to stand for the party’s primary election against incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki. A meeting called on Thursday in Benin for the purpose of agreeing on a common aspirant ended in chaos. In a postmortem of the event, one Sebastian Okungbowa had blamed Okunbo, Oshiomhole, and a national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as being responsible for the failed exercise because of their alleged support for a particular aspirant, Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Okungbowa who was evidently a supporter of one of the leading aspirants, Pius Odubu, former deputy governor of the state, had particularly fingered Okunbo as “the unseen hand”. Odubu has however promptly tendered an unreserved apology to the trio for being so indicted.
However in a swift reaction to the publication Okunbo, in a personally signed statement titled “Edo 2020: Capt Hosa Speaks: Smear Campaign, Mud-slinging, and Character Assassination – Please Leave Me Alone!!” said it was “the height of mischief and evil” to drag a man who has been quietly minding his business into the political arena, which he said he had chosen to distance himself from. Okunbo, a retired commercial pilot, said “My attention has, once again, been drawn to the attempt by some unscrupulous person (s) to drag my name into the murky politics of the forthcoming Edo governorship polls, scheduled for later this year. It is, from all intents and purposes, infantile, silly and odious. It is the height of mischief and evil to drag a man who has been quietly minding his business into the political arena, which he has chosen to distance himself from. One of such malicious write-ups sprang up in the aftermath of the alleged botched shadow primaries to pick a consensus candidate among APC aspirants, seeking to challenge the incumbent Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. In the said piece, “The True Reason the APC Congress was cancelled”, by one Sebastian Okungbowa, it maliciously claimed that I was the ‘unseen hand’ behind the fiasco, because I plotted to manipulate the process for a favoured aspirant (Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu). The hack writer also posited that not only have I pledged to ‘bankroll’ Ize-Iyamu’s election if he got the ticket, I had also led him to the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s residence for his endorsement. My immediate response? Fake news! Fake news!! Fake news!!! , and could only have emanated from a warped mind bent on sowing the seeds of discord, evil and anarchy. Nothing in what the man and other hack writers have written could be farther from the reality”.
Debunking the allegations, Okunbo said the truth of the matter, as he had restated several times, was that he was neither involved nor a participant in the processes of the primaries or picking aspirants in the Edo governorship 2020 elections. He denied having an anointed aspirant or aspirants, adding that he had not pledged or promised to bankroll any aspirant. “I do not have free or idle funds to bankroll any aspirant(s). I am a businessman minding his business! For the purpose of clarity and setting the records straight, and to respond to the spurious charges of the malicious write-up under reference, I wish to state as follows: 1. I have a close relationship with all the aspirants in the Edo governorship race. First, the governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, is a friend and brother. We are supporting him in the discharge of his electoral mandate. 2. Engineer Ogiemwonyi is my elder brother. I organized a party for him in Benin City when he retired from the NNPC. So, he’s someone I have a relationship with. 3. Dr. Pius Odubu is a brother and friend. I also have a relationship with. 4. Pastor Osagie is a friend and a younger brother also; ditto the other aspirants. So, it is absolutely nonsensical to say that I attempted to manipulate the shadow primaries for a preferred candidate. It is mischief taken too far!” Okunbo posited.
Okunbo, a key player in the oil and gas industry, said another “malicious point raised in the jaundiced write” was that he led Ize-Iyamu to Tinubu’s residence. Refuting the claim, he queried “How low and evil can some people descend in the manufacturing of deliberate falsehoods?” adding that “The truth is, no such thing happened! The last time I saw Asiwaju Tinubu was at the birthday party of Chief Edebiri, the Esogban of Benin kingdom, in Benin City. So, when did this phantom visit take place? I wish to state emphatically that I am not a coward; I have never been. I do not hide behind a finger when I speak or take a position on any issue”.
He insisted that as a bonafide citizen of Edo State and Nigeria, it was his inalienable right to join a party of his choice and support aspirants or candidates of his choice. “However, in the Edo governorship race, I have chosen to stand aside from the fray for personal and private reasons. I do not want to get involved; I am not involved. From 1999 to 2015, when I got involved in the political process, I have learnt my lessons; sometimes hard lessons. I wish to urge merchants of mischief, fake news purveyors, character assassins and smear campaigners to please leave me out of their machinations in their dirty politicking”, he stated.
Okunbo admonished that in this era of rampaging coronavirus pandemic, “I want to be left alone to face my family and business concerns. The COVID-19 issue has placed enormous burden on many businesses globally, especially the oil and gas industry which is my forte, which I am presently engaged in seeking how to navigate the troubled waters. Political distraction is a luxury which I can’t afford at this critical time”. He said his final word for mischief-makers whose pastime is rumour-mongering and spreading falsehoods, was to “Get busy!”
Apologising profusely to the APC leaders indicted in the contentious write-up by Okungbowa, a seemingly embarrassed former deputy governor in a statement he personally signed, said “My attention has been drawn to a misleading story trending on the APC social media platform casting aspersions on very prominent and highly respected members of our society trying to connect them with the recent happenings in our party. I wish to state categorically state that I have no hand in this and neither did I authorize such a despicable write-up. Captain Hosa Okunbo, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu and our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole are men of impeccable character and I have uttermost respect for all of them”.
Disowning the writer, Odubu warned that “Nobody should under any guise associate me with anything that would cast aspersion on their hard-earned reputation. For the embarrassment this might have caused them, I offer my sincere apologies. Please let it be known that the said author is not known to me neither does he have my authority to do what he did. I wish to state categorically that I did not authorize this piece directly or through any of my agents that was intended to cast aspersions on the integrity and highly-earned reputations of the leaders under reference. No doubt this write up which is clearly false is another attempt to paint me in bad light before these very eminent persons. May I therefore confidently reassure our leaders of my maximum respect always”.