By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
Business mogul, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo (Capt. Hosa), has derided Governor Godwin Obaseki for talking to him on one occasion like an emperor and on another occasion as a classroom teacher.
Capt. Hosa said in a syndicated interview with some journalists in Abuja that it was Governor Obaseki’s way of expressing his happiness when he realized that he (Capt. Hosa) was not interested in contesting for Edo governorship position.
The Benin-born billionaire said the governor and his cronies orchestrated a series of attacks against him in the media because they thought he was eyeing the governorship seat.
According to him, “The write-ups started coming out; they started attacking me. I finally wrote “Captain Hosa Speaks, Leave Me Alone and Out of (your) Politics.” It was well published and circulated.
“My brother (Governor Obaseki) called me and like an Emperor, he said, ‘Capt., this is what I have been expecting from you.
“And I said, ‘Your Excellency, I have told you I was not contesting,’ and he said ‘very good,’ like he was my classroom teacher.”
Capt. Hosa stated that some persons in the government of Edo State called him to thank him for issuing the widely-circulated advertorial.
He said: “My son that works in his government, Osaze Uzamere, also called me and said ‘daddy, thank you for coming out, I have been defending you and telling them you are not doing this thing.
“Igbinidu, the Head of his Tax (office), and several others called me, thanking me for coming out. I said wow, I did not know the matter was this serious.
“I then I called him, and said you too write: ‘Captain Hosa is my brother; he is not a politician; leave him alone’ and that will put a stop to everything.”
Capt. Hosa continued: “He (Governor Obaseki) told me he has so many support base at home and abroad and he doesn’t know those who were attacking me and gave excuses.
“I felt he had attacked my business and didn’t succeed. Coming from the private sector, he knows the only thing he can do was to damage my integrity, compliance and competence by writing all these things.
“I am not a politician. If you throw stones at a politician, he may not reply but as a businessman, when people throw stones at you, a day will come when they will ask you: when you were accused of this, how did you respond?
“So, as they kept attacking me, I kept responding. I said this man wanted to destroy my business not physically but through compliance; that is why at a point, I threw everything into the papers.
“You saw me in the papers every day, showing people exactly who I am. I started exposing myself; I have done business for over three decades (and) only a few knew me.
“Friends called me and said Captain, what is going on? You are in the news every day. I had to tell them that I was defending myself. My brother exposed me.”
He stated further: “When the attack got too much. I wrote an open letter. One of the boys that wrote a libelous article against me, I filed a complaint and he was arrested and was to be charged to court but his lawyer came to me to apologise. I have many children, biological and many others that I look after. I am a role model; I mentor these children.
“I was not readý to destroy this young child who should have been positively engaged but was set up in a room to be abusing his fathers. When I finished speaking to him, the guy broke down and was crying. He said he never knew this is the kind of person I am. The guy was even abandoned. Nobody came for his bail even though he was SA to the Governor. I took care of him. He still calls me father till today.
“What I believe is that my brother, Godwin, actually thought I was going to run against him so he set up a war room against Capt. Hosa and when he knew I wasn’t running, he still needed to deploy it.
“So, I wrote an open letter to the President and the Edo people and I catalogued all my actions to everyone, and everything I said there before my God is the truth. I wanted people to ask him what I’ve done to deserve this?
“At least even the tomato seller or the beggar on the street has a right to choose who he wants to be and who he wants to support in politics. Up to this moment, the same man that came to me in 2016, begging me for support, hasn’t come to me to tell me that he was interested in a second term, no discussion.
“And I kept telling him that instead of him to read the letter and come to terms with the situation and find a way of brokering peace, on the same day, another libel was fired that I was gathering people, buying guns that I wanted to come and disrupt the election, and this was sent out on the Government letterhead. There is no way my business partners will take that lightly.
“I instructed lawyers immediately. We are in court and the whole thing escalated. Also when it became obvious to friends, my people that the governor was after me, his government started crumbling and people started resigning. And that was what I wanted him to avoid.”
Capt. Hosa said: “I called him and said all these statements you are writing and referring to me as billionaire, billionaire, I don’t have money, what I have is goodwill which is more than money.
“I never place emphasis on money. I was brought up from a very humble background; my father was an educationist and my mother a teacher. We were not rich but my father gave us good values and he was a man of truth.
“As a young man, I watched my father settle disputes in our home. They used to say if you want to hear the truth, go to Okunbo’s house.
“And rich men’s children were brought to our house for correction. My father will treat all of us as one. He was a man of truth and in that truth, the light in me has come out. So, my values have never been money-oriented.”
He explained: “In that same vein, throughout my life though I never went to school in Benin, but I had always related back to my roots. And in my own little way, I have blessed my people with whatever God has blessed me with.
“I sent words to him; we have built very strong goodwill in this environment; you were in Lagos; the money you are talking about I don’t have because I can never compete with any government when you talk of resources. But we have goodwill.”
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