Governor Godwin Obaseki of Wdo State is not letting down his oars in his quest to secure the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket to run for a second term. Speculations that he planned to dump the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been dismissed, as Obaseki has insisted that he would rather flush out all dissidents out of the Edo APC. True to his words, many ‘disloyal’ party officials have been removed from office.
Last month, leaders of the APC from the 18 local governments endorsed him as the party’s flag bearer for next year’s election. Many of the leaders were former political appointees of the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. They said they carried out the endorsement after assessing the achievements of Obaseki in the last three years, especially the working relationship between him, his deputy Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to Government, Osarodion Ogie.
The argument was that if they listened to Oshiomhole when he told them to support Obaseki for governor, with Shaibu and Ogie as his deputy and SSG, and the trio have performed to the satisfaction of the people, why would the immediate past governor now move to stop them?
It is the belief of Edo APC supporters that Oshiomhole is using the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a pressure group within the Edo APC, to truncate Obaseki’s bid for the second term. The main objective of the EPM is to get a replacement for Governor Obaseki in 2020 and ‘reposition’ the Edo APC.
Observers have faulted the EPM’s style and approach to wrestling power from Obaseki. They said it is obvious that the EPM is out to discredit Obaseki and paint him in bad light before the general public. Issues raised by the EPM were attempt to destroy Oshiomhole’s legacies, by not continuing with some legacy projects, including the Bénin Storm Water project, non-opening of the new five-star hospital, lack of patronage for party supporters, closure of some tertiary institutions and the non-inauguration of some members-elect into the House of Assembly.
Obaseki’s response to the EPM’s agitation helped to win the support of the people to his side. Thus, he managed to secure the control of the Edo APC structure and gained confidence of his cabinet members. The new five-star hospital was opened and work commenced on the Bénin Storm Water project. The reforms he introduced in the area of revenue collection endeared local government workers to his administration.
Attempts by the EPM to build structures in the local government areas were resisted by APC members in the localities. Among those that secured political appointments, those that are not loyal to the governor were identified and sacked. Many leaders of the EPM have since fled to Abuja on the excuse that their lives were no longer safe.
Many have said that Obaseki has a firm grip on Edo APC in 14 out of 18 local government areas. All the five local government areas in Edo Central are in support of Obaseki because it gives politicians from the area the opportunity to contest for governorship in 2023. In Edo North, Obaseki has a strong support base in Akoko-Edo, Owan East, Owan West, Estako Central, and Estako East. In Edo South, the local councils supporting Obaseki’s second term are Ovia North East, Ovia Southwest, Ikpoba-Okha, Uhunmwode, and Egor.
To further show their support for Obaseki’s second term, Edo APC leaders from the 18 local governments met at an enlarged meeting and adopted him as the candidate for next year’s election. At the meeting, Obaseki reeled out his achievements after which the APC leaders expressed satisfaction with his administration.
Among the achievements listed by Obaseki was an investment in the education sector through the Edo BEST initiative, increased revenue through e-ticketing and civil service reforms.
Obaseki, who promised to deliver more dividends of democracy to people, said his administration has engendered good governance through policies and programmes targeted at eradicating poverty and creating jobs in the last three years.
The governor has promised to consolidate his achievements in the next one year. He said: “When we came on board three years ago, 15 of 18 local governments were not able to pay salaries and we met a huge pension arrears burden. But, with your support, we have made a lot of progress.
“For revenue generation, the internally generated revenue (IGR) in Oredo Local Government rose from N1.5 million monthly in December 2016 to N62 million in October 2019. We are emphasising people-oriented projects because APC’s principle is focused on people’s development.
“My administration has created about 107,000 direct and indirect jobs in the last three years. We have been getting a lot of support from the diaspora in this regard.”
Obaseki urged the people to expect more developments in the next year, especially in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, job creation, and social welfare.
The governor reiterated that members of the APC working against the interest of the party would be driven out. He added: “Nobody must feel that they are bigger than the party. How can we build a house and want to pull it down? There were many people who were not part of this house. They were looking for what to benefit. Now that they are not benefiting, they want to pull it down.”
Rev. Michael Egharevba, a chieftain of the APC in Edo South, moved the motion for the endorsement and adoption of the governor for a second term, saying Obaseki has transformed all sectors in the state. He said: “We are solidly behind the governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, for a second term. This is the first time somebody is speaking to our hearts and it is evident in the physical structures he is building across the state.”
Egharevba said Obaseki has performed well and that Oshiomhole is not seeking a third term in office. His words: “Is Oshiomhole contesting the election? Those people saying we benefited from Oshiomhole do not know anything. Oshiomhole will not be on the ballot. He brought Obaseki, he brought Shaibu, and he also brought Ogie. If these people are doing well, why should we not support them?”
A former Chief Whip in the Edo State House of Assembly and a leader of the APC in Edo North, Shaibu Abdullahi, seconded the motion and called for more grassroots mobilisation.
Mrs. Stella Okoro said APC women in the state have agreed to adopt the governor for a second term.
She added: “When a woman carries you on her back, you are protected. We are happy for all the governor is doing. We are carrying him on our back as a sign of our support for his administration.”
The Chairman of Edo APC, Anselm Ojezua, said the chapter has remained strong more than ever before and that the EPM would not be allowed to be an organ of the party. He said: “We will take those steps that will protect the integrity of the APC. Once we are done sanitising our party system, we will be better and stronger.”
Charles Idahosa urged the APC leaders to intensify work at the ward level to defeat the common enemy against the Governor Obaseki-led government. He said: “We have a problem and we need to go back to our respective wards to put things in order. There is a big fight, and it is a win for us. We know our enemy and we must defeat him.”
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