•The energy I see in this party is the kind I require to take Edo to the next level
By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and Chuks Okocha
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State yesterday joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with a declaration that he would lead the party to victory in the governorship election scheduled for September.
Obaseki, who arrived the PDP state Secretariat at about 2.15 pm for the official declaration, was accompanied by a retinue of his aides, while raising his hand to signify 4+4.
The governor, who was ushered into the office of the party’s chairman in the state, Dr. Tony Aziegbemi, said “I am here this afternoon to inform you that upon my resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC), I have now decided, having consulted very widely within the state and across the country, to become a member of the PDP.
“The PDP in my view has demonstrated and shown that it is a party that is rooted in democratic practices. The party that believes in justice and fairness; a party that respects its people. Today is not a day I will make many speeches, you will hear from me soon.”
Continuing, he said, “Today, I am here to go through the formalities of registering as a member of this great party. I know and understand full-well the implications of these decisions. I know that upon taking up membership of this party I automatically become the leader of the party in the state. That is the constitution.
I read it thoroughly last night and I want to assure all of you that I am prepared to provide leadership. I am prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory and I am prepared to provide leadership that will not only put PDP in office in Edo State but as the ruling party in Edo state.
“We will make sure that the level of progress, the level of hope and the level of participation in the political system by our party is unrivalled in this country. I am very happy to be here. The reception I have received since I drove in here has been ecstatic. The energy I see in this party is the kind of energy I require to take Edo to the level. We should go to next if indeed we have done anything in the last four years. You haven’t seen anything yet because with the quality of people I see here, the energy of the youths I see, by the grace of God, victory will be possible. I am committing to you that I will not only lead this party to victory in Edo state, but we will now make sure that this party establishes an example of how states will be run in Africa. So, today, it is with great pleasure that I have come to formally take up my membership of this great party.”
The governor was received by the National Vice Chairman, South-south of the PDP, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, in company with Aziegbemi and other party executives, including the governor’s ward chairman.
Speaking, the Edo PDP chairman enjoined the Ward Four chairman to issue Obaseki his membership card which the governor later displayed.
Speaking further, Aziegbemi said PDP members in Edo and beyond are happy to receive Obaseki which signified that he is now a full member of the party, having received his membership card.
“We as PDP family are very excited the state governor has joined us with all his commissioners, House of Assembly members, council chairmen.
“So with this, it is very clear even to the blind that come September 19, Edo State will be a fully a PDP State. We are grateful to God for making this day happen.’
“When asked on the fate of the three aspirants who had earlier been cleared to contest the party primary election rescheduled to hold June 24, Aziegbemi said Obaseki would contest alongside the three – Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Kenneth Imansuangbon and Gideon Ikhine – adding that nobody is being pressurised to step down.
Ogidi noted that all the processes leading to the defection of Obaseki was smooth and successful, adding that there was no problem with the negotiation.
“So we are happy that the governor and his deputy including all his aides, council chairmen have come to join us”, Ogidi said.
Shaibu, joins Obaseki in PDP
Amid the fanfare that greeted Governor Obaseki’s pitching his tent with the PDP to contest for re-election in Edo State, his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, has also led his supporters to the PDP.
Shaibu, who spoke to journalists after obtaining his PDP membership card at the party secretariat in Benin City, expressed disappointment over alleged undemocratic actions and tendencies of Comrade Adams Oshiomole in his management of the APC at the national level.
He stated, “I have a mixed feeling with this action. First, one struggled to form a party and after forming that party, those that benefitted from the party took over the party and became tyrants. It is not always easy that after one helped to form and nurture a party, one individual would say he is an Adolf Hitler in the system and becomes undemocratic. That was what happened in the APC.”
Shaibu, however, expressed his unalloyed loyalty to Edo people, noting that their calls for the governor and his team to join the PDP had been heard.
He assured that Governor Obaseki remains steadfast with his vision and mission to actualise the aspirations of Edo people and that the strides made in social, economic and human capital development of the state must not be compromised.
He said: “Some of us believe in the people. We believe that the people must lead at all times. Because of that, we cannot afford to abandon this state for people like that. That is why we decided to abandon them in APC and join the PDP today.”
Obaseki has since picked his nomination form and expression of interest forms. He paid the mandatory fees of N21 million for the forms.
Ekweremadu Salutes Obaseki
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has joined the list of PDP leaders welcoming Obaseki to the party. He said in a tweet yesterday: “I join other @OfficialPDPNig leaders and faithful in welcoming @GovernorObaseki to our party. No doubt, PDP offers the governor and good people of Edo not only a veritable platform for victory in the guber election, but also a sure path to peace, good governance, and speedy develolment. Together we’ll do it.”
Atiku, Saraki Welcome Obaseki
Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 elections, Atiku Abubakar has also congratulated Obaseki for joining the PDP.
Atiku in a press statement by his media office yesterday, welcomed Obaseki to the PDP, “a truly people’s party.”
The former Vice President expressed confidence that the people of Edo State would be the better for his choice.
He said: “I am happy that you have finally exited the oppressive ruling party and joined the truly democratic party in Nigeria. I have no doubt that your coming into the PDP would further strengthen our party to mobilise the people behind the common cause of deepening democratic ethos in our country and restoring prosperity to our people.”
In his own message, former President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, welcomed Obaseki into the PDP and congratulated him for taking a good step in the right direction.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Saraki noted that the bigger commendation and appreciation should go to the leaders of the Edo State Chapter of the PDP at the various levels for the sense of sacrifice, patriotism and devotion to the progress of the party demonstrated by them in the process of welcoming Obaseki into its fold.
Again, PDP Shifts Edo Primary to Next Thursday
Meanwhile, for the second time in less than 24 hours, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP has shifted its gubernatorial primary election to Thursday June 25.
The party announced this in a late night statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The party had planned to hold its primary between June 19 and 20, but on Thursday moved it to June 23.
Also, the party said that it had granted waiver to Obaseki to contest the Edo governorship election primary.
According to Ologbondiyan, “The action of the NWC is pursuant to Section 29(2)(b) of the PDP constitution and in exercise of the powers of the National Executive Committee (NEC) under Section (50)(3)(b) of the PDP constitution.
“The NWC in exercise of the above powers has ratified the application for waiver by the ward, local government and state executives of the party in Edo state and accordingly grants waiver to His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki to enable him contest the gubernatorial primary of the PDP.”
Obaseki for Screening Today
The PDP NWC yesterday night directed Governor Obaseki to appear before the party’s screening committee at its national secretariat in Abuja today. He is to be screened 10 am According to a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Austin Akubundu, the party’s NWC approved the continuation of the screening exercise.