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Disquiet In Edo Over Obaseki’s Endorsements

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The underground jostling for who gets the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) has begun in Edo State as political gladiators have returned to the trenches  ahead of the 2020 governorship. PATRICK OCHOGA, writes

The Edo State 2020 governorship election seems far away but the momentum is mounting. Aspirants are already waiting for direction from the national leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC), especially the national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

Names touted to be eyeing the seat of the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki are former minister of works for state, Engineer Chris Ogiemwonyi, former Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu and Retired General Charles Arhiavbere.

Oshiomhole, it was learnt is under pressure from party leaders to consider the candidacy of any of the three persons who are said to be interested in contesting for the party’s ticket against incumbent governor Obaseki.

Expectedly, the build-up ahead of Edo 2020 has divided the leadership of the party in the state between those said to be loyal to Obaseki and Oshiomhole thereby fuelling rumours of rift between the two leaders.

The battle for the ticket is expected to be intense and intriguing as Obaseki with the recent political development in the state is enjoying home support with the gale of endorsements towards his second term bid.

The endorsements which also generated ripples and discordant tunes came from teachers, pensioners, traders, social crusaders, grassroots political leaders, as well as the state executives and bigwigs of the APC.

A political pressure group, named Edo In Safe Hands that was founded in November 2011 played a critical role for the re-election of former governor Adams Oshiomhole.

The group last week called on the leadership of the party to resist pressure to deny Obaseki/Shaibu ticket to contest the 2020 governorship election. They noted that their reason was premised “on the fact that the administration in the last three years has done well.”

Spokesperson for the group, Mr Nosa Idele Ogbeide, in a statement, explained that the group’s decision “to canvass for the nomination and re-election of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2020 gubernatorial election in Edo State is anchored on the fact that the administration has done well in the three years of its first term in office.

“We insist that the APC in Edo State should ensure that Obaseki/Shaibu gets the party’s nomination. The governor’s re-election in 2020 will be taken care of by Edo people as payback for his visionary and impactful leadership.”

He added, “For prompt payment of teachers and other civil servants who are being paid monthly as and when due, when workers in some other states are languishing in penury, the Obaseki-led administration deserves reelection to continue its mandate to develop the state.

“As things stand today, every Edo person is proud of what the state government represents and the unwavering commitment to improving livelihoods through infrastructural development and socio-economic reforms. Traders cannot forget in a hurry Governor Obaseki’s zero tolerance for illegal collection of levies and taxes by touts in markets. They don’t want a return of the dark days. Anybody who wants to acquire land in Edo State for whatever purpose can do so with ease. This is because of Governor Obaseki’s boldness in stamping out the activities of hoodlums.”

Apparently, to dismiss perception of division among leadership of the state chapter of APC, the party also met and passed a vote of confidence on Governor Godwin Obaseki/Philip Shaibu ticket and assured that the party would sustain support for the governor’s administration and policies.

The support which was contained in a statement signed by the state publicity secretary of the APC, Chris Azebamwan, said, “Members were unanimous in their conclusion that the House of Assembly election results equates to a referendum of the administration and the performance of Mr Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki as Governor.

“It, therefore, amounts to an implicit and explicit vote of confidence on him by the citizens of Edo State who have, in very clear and unmistakable terms, indicated their preference for a House of Assembly that would be supportive of the vision and mission of the Governor without any distraction whatsoever.”

The party executive members, he added, “resolved that in line with the mandate, the party would continue to sustain its avowed commitment to give the government and administration of Mr Godwin Obaseki the needed support to keep it focused and on track.”

Penultimate week, also, leadership of the party at Obaseki’s Oredo local government area, at a meeting unanimously adopted the Obaseki/Shaibu ticket in the 2020 gubernatorial election.

Among the over 90 party members and leaders at the meeting were the Local Government Executive, Councilors, Ward Chairmen and leaders from the twelve (12) wards in the LGA.

Prominent leaders of the party at the meeting were: the Special Adviser to Edo State Governor on Political and Community Matters, Chief Osaro Idah; Secretary, Edo State Chapter of the APC, Mr Lawrence Okah; Chairman, Oredo LGA, Hon Jenkins Osunde and Edo APC Youth Leader, Hon Valentine Asuen, among others.

They said, “Considering the pace of development in different sectors of the state from infrastructure to education, industrialisation, civil service and judicial reforms, enterprise development, prompt payment of pensioners and civil servants’ emoluments, among others, we are convinced beyond doubt that the only way to sustain the current rapid growth trajectory is to ensure that Governor Obaseki continues as governor of the state after the expiration of his first four-year term.

“With a full sense of responsibility, call on him to run for a 2nd term and hereby adopt Governor Godwin Obaseki as our sole candidate in the coming 2020 governorship election in the state.”

The leaders are also impressed by the administration’s effort in repositioning the state as a front-line sub-national among those considered to be prudent with resources.

“At the moment, among states in the Federation, Edo State stands out in all development spheres, heads and shoulders above states that are far more privileged than us in terms of federal allocation and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). As the saying goes, the reward for hard work is more work, we, therefore, urge Governor Obaseki to heed our call to take on the responsibility of governing the state for another four years, beginning from 2020,” they said.

As the support base of Obaseki continues to swell, a legal practitioner and a notary public Olayiwola Afolabi also joined the pro-Obaseki’s/Shaibu movement.

Afolabi appealed to the leadership of the APC to give what he described as “the performing governor” a second term adding that such a move will enable the administration to complete the works it has started.

On those pushing for Ambode’s treatment he argued “The Ambode style cannot apply in Edo State because Obaseki is working. The man has worked, and he is working everywhere even during the elections work did not stop. During the presidential election, National Assembly election and state assembly election he kept working. He is working everywhere so Ambode pattern cannot apply in Edo state.

For Afolabi, Obaseki “is not making noise but working everywhere, if he says he is not going to contest, we are going to beg him because we need him, if he says he doesn’t want, we will compel him. He has been able to prove that development is possible. His style is unique from what we are used to and that is why Edo people and residents here believe that he deserves a second term as governor of Edo state.”

Also,  Etsako Solidarity Forum, (ESF)  said that members of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State hoping that the Ambode’s treatment would apply in the state would be disappointed.

The group pointed out that it was wrong for some APC members to push for Obaseki’s removal despite his performances in the last two years adding that the reward for performance should not be removal from office because money was no longer being shared to few individuals.

National president of the ESF, Comrade Saidu Momoh, warned Edo APC against emulating Lagos State in terms of what happened to Governor Ambode but show example that there is reward for performance.

According to him, “It is disturbing to hear Ambode’s treatment for Governor Obaseki as if it is a bad thing to work for the people. Edo people should know that if Obaseki is removed just like Ambode, whoever will come in will be sharing money because he believes that will give him second term ticket and not road construction.”

  But the opposition to Obaseki’s continuation has also rang out in the state. A group within the Edo State APC under the aegis of Concerned Progressives of the Edo State APC (CPEAPC), came out and faulted the vote of Confidence passed on Governor Godwin Obaseki by the state Executive of the party

The group described the vote of Confidence as laughable “particularly when the governor lost his ward, Local Government and senatorial district in the just concluded presidential elections to the PDP. So we are wondering why the accoladesu from the leadership of the party when the governor has failed to deliver all he promised the people”.

In a statement signed by the director of publicity of the group, Mr Lucas Umoru, it stressed the need for the leadership of the party in the state to remain neutral “as we head towards 2019 else the party members will disown them.

“Rather than exhibiting sycophancy, we expect the party leadership to press on the governor to change his leadership style so that the APC will be able to win elections in 2020. We cannot be passing a vote of Confidence or endorsement on a governor that failed to deliver his LGA and senatorial district to the President.

“And you cannot attribute the victory of our party as regards the 24 seats we won in the State House of Assembly to Governor Obaseki. APC fielded solid and popular candidates for the House of Assembly elections and that was why we won 24/24 and not because of the governor.

“The party leadership should rather appeal the governor to be more dedicated in delivering the much publicised Gelegele Seaport project, Benin Industrial park and the 200,000 jobs rather than dissipating energy on second term campaign. It is as a result of sycophancy that APC in Edo state is derailing and we want to use this opportunity to call the leadership, to call the APC leadership to order so that we don’t lose future elections in the state” it pointed out.

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