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Obaseki touts strong points against APC’s forces

By Leo Sobechi (Assistant Politics Editor) and Michael Egbejule (Benin City)
02 July 2020   |   3:07 am
With the conclusion of nominations by the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the stage is set for the Edo State

PDP wasted its ticket, says APC chieftain

With the conclusion of nominations by the two major political parties, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the stage is set for the Edo State gubernatorial showdown on September 19.

In quick succession, two eminent leaders of APC, President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu underscored the crucial nature of the governorship poll.

Following the backlash that trailed the disqualification of incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki and the dissolution of APC’s National Working Committee (NWC), President Buhari reminded party faithful that Edo State was too critical for APC to lose.

Also, reacting to his perceived loss of relevance in the unfolding scheme of things in the governing party, Tinubu charged the fallen former national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, to go back to Edo and assist Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu to win the governorship election.

But while speaking to reporters after receiving his certificate of return at the PDP headquarters in Abuja, Governor Obaseki, disclosed that standing on a stable party platform and his track record of achievements in the past four years are very potent weapons to deflect any challenge from the opposition.

The governor lamented that after his stint in the APC and the past few days in PDP have convinced him that PDP is indeed where he ought to have been all these years. He remarked that apart from the fact that PDP stands for those values he cherished so much, the party also serves a credible platform to market his lofty achievements in the service of Edo people as governor.

Comparing PDP to APC, where he said he was pushed out to the rain, the governor noted that PDP cares, stressing: “When we entered, we realized that this was the house we should have been in the first instance.

“We now saw that the values in the house are values we cherish and lived for. Values of justice, law and order, care for people and putting the people first.”

While remarking that those are the same values his administration has always been pursuing, Governor Obaseki disclosed that the people of Edo State assured him that they would always follow him to whichever political party he chose to belong.

“My decision to join PDP was a product of wide consultations with Edo people,” he explained, even as he assured PDP leaders of massive votes and victory for the party in the September 19 gubernatorial poll.

Obaseki extolled the commitment of PDP governors, pointing out that their brotherly love revived his political career, assuring that he would promote the ideals of the party.

Earlier, the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said PDP has learnt from its past mistakes and praised Governor Obaseki for his monumental achievements.

“Everybody believes that for Governor Obaseki to join PDP was a miracle and we are going to have a miracle governor, who will win elections for us because the hand of God is on the governor and his deputy,” Secondus declared.

Chairman of PDP Electoral Committee, which conducted the Edo governorship primary, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, stated that based on Obaseki’s achievements and what he saw on the ground in Edo State, he said Edo already a PDP state.

“I am very sure and confident that Edo State is going to fall in line within the realm of good governance of PDP,” the Bauchi State governor stated.

Perhaps, as its response to APC’s boasts, a socio-cultural group called the Edo Unity League (EUL) commended Governor Obaseki for quitting the APC and joining PDP. Describing the governor’s decision to cross over to PDP as a step in the right direction, EUL Director, Diaspora Relations Office, Deacon Henry Olovba, said leaving APC was the best way to achieve a second term in office.

EUL pointed out that apart from the fact that Governor Obaseki has “left the hawks that were after the state’s common patrimony,” he needed a second term in office to consolidate on his sterling performance. While stressing that Governor Obaseki’s second term would enable him to continue and consolidate his good works, EUL pointed out the many areas of excellent performance by the governor.

The group noted that the governor’s giant strides were noticeable in the areas of public infrastructure spread across the state, education, economic empowerment and job creation, industrialization and power generation initiatives.

According to him, “In the past four years, Governor Obaseki has excelled through prudent use of state resources, particularly the reduction of official corruption. His approach to governance stands out as very entrepreneurial.

“The administration has dismantled extortionist and oppressive private taxation and excesses of touts and hooligans. The governor has also re-engineered agriculture and food production by establishing agro-allied factories for value-addition,” the group noted.

While contending that APC shot itself in the foot by pushing out Governor Obaseki, Edo Unity League said the prompt payment of salaries and pensions, as well as the government’s unique initiatives in the educational development of Edo State, have endeared him to the electorate.

Regretting that the major setback in Edo State and Nigeria, in general, is lack of continuity, EUL commended the governor for sustaining traditional institution with innovative ideas as exemplified at Emotan Gardens.

The group stated: “Governor Obaseki’s defection to the PDP is APC’s loss and they will never recover in Edo State. The party has degenerated into a playground immediately Obaseki left. He was a priceless asset that APC lost and that would be demonstrated during the election.”

EUL noted that the rot in APC came to light in Edo State when one man decided to play god, stressing that unlike Lagos State, Edo people have completely rejected godfathers and their excesses. 

They wondered why Oshiomhole, who spent eight years in office planned to stop Obaseki from a second term when the governor’s achievements were there for everybody to see.

The group said that as a performing governor, Obaseki should be allowed to complete the two terms allowed by the constitution, adding that thereafter Edo Central Senatorial zone would have the opportunity to serve the state.

But an APC chieftain in the state, Chief Francis Inegbeneki, faulted the claims of excellent performance by governor Obaseki, saying that during campaigns the party would challenge him on cost and status of certain projects. Inegbeneki said PDP has already wasted its ticket by fielding Obaseki, adding that in the unlikely event that he wins the election, he said the courts were there to throw him away.

Describing Obaseki’s achievements as a creation of the media, the APC stalwart said the governor would be tasked to explain his Agripreneur programme and the money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“All you hear is Obaseki has worked,” he said, “let Edo people prepare to ask questions. Where is the work? I challenge the governor to publish in five reputable national newspapers the jobs he has done in the state as governor and the total allocation collected.

“We are aware of what is happening at the various local government councils. Most of the small roads he claims to have done, were actually executed by SEEFOR, a World Bank project, where the government contributed just 10 per cent.”

Inegbeneki argued that instead of being a loss to APC, Obaseki’s exit has made the party focused and poised to win the governorship election.

On the massive movement of Edo people to PDP in solidarity with the governor, the APC bigwig said all those leaving with the governor will not make any significant impact on the party.

According to him, “Some of them will return to APC before the September 19 election. We have told them to work with him and get some money because he is so tight-fisted.”

All said, given the near unanimity of voices of Edo people against godfathers and in support of Governor Obaseki, particularly the singsong that Edo is not Lagos, the election would be between the forces for and those against the people.