By Simeon Uzo, Benin City
It was like a carnival in Benin City the ancient city, last Friday when the governorship aspirant of the All progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state and chairman of the Economic Team of the state government, Mr Godwn Obaseki declared his ambition to run for the governorship of Edo state. The traditional Urhokpota hall, at Ring Road was filled with thousands of APC supporters as they sing ‘Obaseki u na we want’, ‘Oshiomhole u do well’. The number of APC leaders across the three senatorial districts of the state was unprecedented. It will be recalled that Obaseki who was supposed to declare his ambition on the 29th of April, 2016, decided to shelve it in honour of the demise of the revered Benin monarch, Oba Erediauwa and his respect for the traditional institution eventually paid off when he finally declared last Friday. His flag off coincided with day the members of the peace committee led by Prince Olagusoye Oyinlola was in the city to reconcile Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his deputy, Dr Pius Odubu. After attending the meeting where the governor was said to have tongue lashed his deputy over what he described as the media war against his person, allegedly perpetrated by the deputy and his supporters, leaders of the party headed straight to the Urhopoka hall to unleash their support for Obaseki.
To tell his opponents that he was fully ready for the race, Obaseki announced the state Commissioner for Works, Osarodion Ogie, a lawyer, to head his campaign. The announcement received a thunderous applause due to the fact that Ogie, one of Oshiomhole’s political war lords, decided to abandon his governorship ambition to support Obaseki as directed by his political god father Oshiomhole. The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs Elizabeth Ativie, led other members of the state House of Assembly to endorse Obaseki. Majority Leader of the House, Folly Ogedengbe endorsed Obaseki on behalf of the Edo North people, former Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Lucky Imasuen endorsed Obaseki on behalf of Edo South while the Deputy Speaker of the House Justin Okonobo endorsed him on behalf of the people of Edo Central. Others who endorsed him include the youth wing of APC led by my Tony Kabaka, ALGON led by Morrison, market women and several leaders of the party. The traditional Urhokpota hall was filled to the brim while members of the state Executive Council were also present. Ogie who endorse Obaseki on behalf of members of the Governor Adams Oshiomhole Political family, said they will not embark on any hate campaign because “we have a good produce. You cannot build your house and abandon it for a tenant to take over.
People are shouting continuity, continuity, what are you going to continue, it is Oshiomhole’s work. Who is the best person to do the work, Obaseki. The game just started, we will not abuse anybody but anybody that abuses us, we will reply. I speak for Oshiomhole political family we have endorsed Obaseki and the game has just began”. Oshiomhole had told his party leaders of his preference for Obaseki whom he believed has the capacity to continue his developmental projects despite the economic hardship being faced by Nigerians. Though his preference for Obaseki did not go down well with some leaders initially but as it seems, most of them have not keyed into the project. However an over joyed Obaseki who expressed his appreciation for the support he received from the people said he decided to join the governorship race to consolidate on the positive achievements of the Oshiomhole led administration.
According to him, “The government of Comrade Oshiomhole undertook one of the greatest revolutions in Education in Nigeria by reconstructing and rebuilding over 50% of primary school infrastructure and over 30% of our secondary school infrastructure within a space of 7 years. We can all bear witness to this Red Roof Revolution. Almost 1,000Km of roads have been constructed statewide, including those roads past governments claimed were plagued by marine spirits (mami water) at Teachers House, Uwelu, Asoro, Queen Ede just to name a few. The ongoing Storm water drainage project was the answer to flooding challenges created by decades of poor urban planning by past governments. In a couple of months, the new 200 bed wing of the central hospital would make Edo State home to one of the most advanced accident and emergency units in Nigeria. As a result of the reforms in governance and improvement in infrastructure undertaken by the current administration, Edo State is 5 now poised to be a hub for investment in Nigeria.
“This is obvious from the almost $2 billion investments which have come in from the Azura Power Plant in Ihovbor/Orhior/ Idunmowina Communities in Uhunwode LGA; Over $1 Billion is being invested in a 6 Million MT cement factory in Estako East LGA by the Dangote Group; Fresh investments by Rubber Estate of Nigeria Ltd (RENL) and Presco Plc in massive Rubber plantations and processing factories in Orhionmwon LGA As you know, electricity and cement are some of the key building blocks for industrialization and job creation. These investment portend a lot hope for jobs and social stability of Edo State. However all these strides are still fragile and they need to be consciously strengthened and entrenched. The good news is that what has been achieved by the present administration are the result of painstaking planning done by my Team. We have a design and template for Edo State beyond the life of the current administration. As the life of this administration comes to an end, we are faced with new challenges. Today, low price of crude oil has reduced the amount of foreign exchange Nigeria earns and our economy is in bad shape. Edo state now gets a lot less from the Federation Account . Consequently, our reality today is Nigeria has to take severe measures in order to fix its economic and social challenges. And Edo State is not an exception. 6 In the face of this challenge, we need leadership with fresh and original ideas to take on these new challenges, so that we can build on and deepen the successes of the current administration.
“There is only one course of action- we must be courageous and determined, we must build on and extrend the successes of the current administration to achieve the aspirations of Edo State. I stand before you today on the shoulder of the success of the Comrade Governor. Over the last 7.5 years we have transformed Edo State and achieved what was said to be impossible, however the Edo Project is still a work in progress and we are at the most delicate part of this journey. We cannot afford any reversals or slowdown in the pace of the achievements we have made to date.
There is a lot more that still has to be done- we still have to construct thousands of kilometers of road into rural communities and farms; scores of schools still need to be renovated; we need to further strengthen our service delivery to our people by training and equipping our civil service; we need to address the issue of massive unemployment especially amongst our youths by providing sustainable jobs; we need to give our people more and better access to healthcare if fact there is still so much more to be done. It will be a huge risk for all of us if we revert political power to those who lack deep understanding of how to link the achievements of the last 7 years with the current situation in Nigeria.
“ What Edo State needs today is someone who has the capacity to raise and access the investments required to build on the past in order to realize the vision. I am very proud and happy that I have been an integral part of the success and challenges of the last 7 years. The knowledge I have garnered in the last 7.5yrs puts me in a unique position to understand what is required to take Edo State to the next level. After 7.5years in the policy cockpit of Edo State, I believe I can fly Edo State higher What Edo needs today is a leader who in addition to political sagacity, has the managerial and intellectual experience to manage the State of Affairs in the difficult and precarious situation we find ourselves. It would be a sin against God and my people to walk away from Edo State with all the knowledge and understanding I have gathered over the last 7.5yrs. It would be unpatriotic not to stand up to be counted because as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, only the tough get going”. . After over 30 years of successful experience in the Private Sector, over 7 years working in the most successful administration Edo State in recent time; with a childhood forged in the warmth, rich and enduring culture of Edo, with education obtained at home and abroad and with the blessings of God; I would like to put all of these attributes and resources at the disposal to serve my people in Edo State. 8 I have consulted extensively with elder statesmen, professional colleagues, my colleagues in Government across board, family and friends, political acquaintances in our great party and delegates in our 192 wards.
I stand before you committed to ensuring that the great work that has commenced and successes recorded in our efforts to build an economically viable and formidable Edo state is not only achieved but sustained so that we can provide a guaranteed future for our children, empowerment for our women, happy retirement days for Pensioners, access to capital for our farmers, improved conditions of service for the Civil Service, modern markets for our traders, skills development for our artisans, finance for small and medium scale businesses and deeper involvement of the Traditional Institutions in our collective development agenda.
“I therefore formally announce that I will be seeking the ticket of the All People’s Congress (APC) during the Party Nomination Congress to fly the flag of APC come September 10, 2016 with a pledge to build an Edo State that has a strong and resilient economy; to provide jobs for our teeming youth and fulfill our social aspirations as a people. I will continue the infrastructure revolution and expand the urban renewal and housing efforts.
I will develop world class human resources by improving our educational institutions and make Edo a hub for healthcare in Nigeria. Power, Housing, agriculture and agro processing; mining and extractive industries including petrochemicals; and information technology will form the bedrock on which Edo State would grow its economy and generate jobs and industries.
I have set up a formidable organization to help me realize my ambition to be governor of Edo State” he stated.