After many months of intense and heated political campaigns leading to the September 19 governorship election, the victorious incumbent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu, were sworn in for a second term on November 12, 2020, to begin another four years on the seat of power in the Edo Government House, Patrick Ochoga reports.
The re-election of Obaseki came to many political watchers as a shock, in view of several alleged plots and intrigues by powerful political forces within and outside the state led by his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. Prior to their inauguration, the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the event, was colourfully decorated to befit the epoch event.
Adjoining roads leading to and from the airport road to the stadium were taken over by the army, police, Civil Defence and road safety corps who had a hectic day controlling traffic to the venue.
Guests and important dignitaries started arriving as early as 9am for the inauguration slated for 11am and were ushered in by neatly dressed protocol officers who ensured that the arrangement for the event was strictly followed.
The police band and a special church choir rendered songs in celebration of the victory of Governor Obaseki and his deputy while the police band marched in an orderly manner, thereby attracting applause from guests.
The governor and his deputy who were accompanied by their wives acknowledged cheers from the crowd as the masters of the ceremony poured encomiums on them.
At 11:45am, Governor Obaseki walked to the podium where he was administered the oath of office by the state’s Chief Judge, Esther Edigin.
However, there was a mild drama as Obaseki was reading his inauguration speech when his Aide-de Camp suddenly collapsed on the podium.
Dressed in the police ceremonial regalia, the Superintendent of Police, who stood directly behind the governor, started staggering and later slumped.
While that was going on, Obaseki, who was making his inauguration speech, was apparently oblivious of the incident behind him.
When the police officer slumped, two Department of State Services (DSS) operatives calmly went to rescue him and escorted him to the sitting arena.
That was just as a former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, rushed to give him first aid assistance to stabilise him.
It was gathered that the police officer who is of northern extraction was immediately rushed into the waiting ambulance stationed at the stadium, and taken to a hospital. When contacted on his condition, a senior police officer in the command who pleaded anonymity said the ADC was stable.
The ceremony was attended by Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, a representative of the Rivers State governor, Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry and the Vice Chairman of PDP South-south, Chief Dan Orbih.
Others were the Chief of Staff to former president Goodluck Jonathan, Mike Ogiadome, a former PDP governorship aspirant, Ken Imansuagbon and Edobor Iyamu, a senior aide in the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented the vice president.
Obaseki in his inauguration speech promised to develop the state and restore confidence in democracy and its institutions, noting that Edo State had become a point of reference on how the will of the people can triumph in a democracy that functions properly.
“My re-election represents a new hope and I see myself as a vessel in the redefinition of democracy in Nigeria and I am not unaware that this places enormous responsibility on me.
“It is pertinent to state that there are many sides to the victory we are relishing today. Aside the fact that it restores hope in democracy as a form of participatory governance, our victory also offers an opportunity for us to bridge the gap between a challenged past and a promising future.
“The unfortunate crises we had to endure as a people over the decades had led to deep divisions which resulted in inequality, injustice, underdevelopment, poverty, insecurity and unequal distribution of opportunities.
“However, this is the time to heal. We are kiths and kin with a common destiny. Let us now stop dwelling on the past. It is now time to take our collective destinies in our own hands as Edo people and commence the arduous task of making Edo great again.
“Together, as a people propelled by a common zeal in pursuit of progress and advancement, there is nothing we cannot overcome if we have a consensus on how to move our state forward. What we need is what I call a unity template with which to overcome our challenges.
“The unity template has the ability to help us respond to the economic consequences of the pandemic, to deal with our challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment and to put us on a path to making Edo great again.
“This social contract between government and the people which you redefined in the last election calls for trust and reciprocity. We do not claim to have the solutions to all our problems.
“Before 2025, Edo State will develop and grow its digital economy and operate a digital government. The digital government we are building will plug into the new digital age and ensure that we deliver better and efficient services to all our citizens.
“In realizing our vision as reflected in the MEGA manifesto, we will focus on the following priorities areas; grow our social sector by constantly improving our education, healthcare system, provision of social security and safety nets, caring for the vulnerable and the disadvantaged in our state, rapidly develop our critical energy, housing, digital and road Infrastructure which provides a framework to drive inclusive growth, and build the economy and drive industrialization, trade and investment to solidify our state’s status as the choice investment destination in the country”.