Despite being dealt a bad hand in Edo State following the defection of the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) is gaining political traction in the state as more supporters and associates of the governor are returning to the party fold.
An ally of the governor, Prince Emmanuel Odigie, yesterday officially announced his resignation from the Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Area Development Commission (EDOSOGPADEC) and his defection to the APC together with his supporters.
Odigie, two other commissioners and a special adviser had earlier in the week, hinted about their exit from the Edo State government, but yesterday, he declared his support for the APC and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The governor’s special adviser, Hon. Bright Njor of Ugbeka Ward 03 had also resigned his position.
Odigie and the two other commissioners as well as the special adviser all said they will now be working relentlessly to ensure the emergence of APC and Ize-Iyamu as governor of the state in the resignation letters they sent in.
Announcing his exit from the state government and the PDP yesterday, Odigie explained that the lack of issue-based campaign and lack of human face of the PDP government in the state was the reason he left.
He said: “When Obaseki came to Edo, he told us he is an investment banker. He knows how to raise funds and attract investors. Look at Edo in the past four years, there is nothing to show. I will give you a list of the industries we have in Edo; they are dead till date. When Obaseki was coming on board, a lot of us were happy that at last we have a technocrat governor.
“What did we get? Why is Ewu Flour Mill not functional? Where is Okpella Cement Factory? Not functional. Where is Eghor Juice Factory? Not functional. Where is Cassavita Uromi? Where is Bendel Pharmaceuticals, Edo Line? The list is endless. As an investment banker that he said he is, we expect by now all these industries will be functioning. He would have brought investors to partner with the state government to create jobs for Edo youths.
“Where are all the schools? The school of nursing shut down, College of Education, Ekiadolor, shut down, College of Agriculture, Iworahen shut down, and College of Education, Igueben shut down. The list is endless,” he said.
In a statement he issued yesterday, after addressing the press on his resignation, which was made available to LEADERSHIP Friday, Odigie lamented that the health sector had not fared better. He said that the governor had refused to open the Central Hospital built and equipped by his predecessor for Edo people to use.
He added: “Godwin obaseki appears to be an over ambitious man and an ambitious man is a desperate man and a desperate man is a very dangerous man. Since the fallout of Godwin with his predecessor, Comrade Adams Ali Oshiomole, Obaseki has been on the drive like he will say, ‘crush them, pepper them’. That is his language.
“If you are not supportive of his election bid he is ready to take on you. He has demonstrated it again and again. He started with Oshiomhole, he deployed Edo tax payers’ resources to fight Oshiomhole, mobilised people from Benin to Abuja to protest.
“Oshiomhole showed him to Edo people. Some members of his family didn’t even know him. So, why this trouble, why this tension? Why this ‘pepper them, crush them slogan?’ Whom does he seek to crush; those he wants to govern? You must first love the people; you must deal with the people with empathy, and with a human face. The governor is taking these things too far,” he stated.
He regretted that the APC, a party that fought for the governor and gave him the ticket, was the same party he tore apart.
“Fourteen members of the House of Assembly, he refused to swear in. The National Assembly, the national leadership of APC, state chapters, traditional rulers, everybody appealed to the governor, ‘swear this people in’. He refused to listen to anything,” Odigie lamented.
On governance, Odigie said that Obaseki is not a transformational leader, noting that “that was a mistake Edo people made.”
“You must know somebody before you vote that person into an exalted office. We didn’t know him, APC didn’t know him. Even Oshiomhole who showed him to the people because of his goodwill didn’t know him. The people bought into Obaseki. He is not accessible,” he alleged.
Comparing the last APC administration with Obaseki’s, he said, “let’s compare the last administration of Obaseki and why people are resigning from his government today. It may interest you to know that some of the commissioners have no official vehicles. He refused to approve any for them.
“You may also know that the council chairmen had no operational vehicles. Their tenure elapses in March 2021. Obaseki factionalised the party. He has nothing to campaign with. That is why his campaign slogan is ‘pepper them, crush them’. I expect that by this time Obaseki should be busy showing people his report card like Oshiomhole did on his re-election. The only achievement of Obaseki in four years is the Edo BEST initiative. Apart from that, everything is audio.
“Obaseki left our party when he was refused the ticket because the party believes that he has not done well. The mandate given to him, he has not performed to expectation. He has not met his campaign promises and we accept as a party man to accept the decision of the party. When you look at his achievement, you will see that he has failed even in his profession.”
Odigie, however, apologised to the APC national leadership and one of its leaders, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Obaseki’s slogan, “Edo is not Lagos”.
He said: “I would like to apologise to Jagaban Bola Ahmed Tinubu that it is not in Edo’s people’s character to insult elders. We respect our elders. We have cultures and traditions. We also apologise to the governor of Kano State for our governor to put such a video at the centre of the city. It is the height of intolerance and lack of respect.”