- I won’t disappoint, says governor
Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The governorship contest in Edo State in September will be a battle of two familiar combatants: the incumbent governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the man he defeated in 2016, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
However, this time, the duo will be swapping platforms as Obaseki thursday picked the ticket of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a few days after Ize-Iyamu emerged the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In 2016 when they vied against each other, Obaseki was the APC’s candidate and Ize-Iyamu, PDP.
Obaseki was affirmed as the candidate of the PDP, having polled 1,952 votes after three other aspirants of the party stepped down for him before the commencement of voting.
A total number of 2,024 delegates were accredited as voters while 72 votes were voided.
Declaring Obaseki as winner of the party’s primary and candidate of the party in the September 19 governorship election, Chairman of the Election Committee and Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, said: “By the powers conferred on me as chairman of the party’s primary election, I hereby return Governor Godwin Obaseki as the declared winner and candidate of PDP in the Edo State governorship election slated for September 19 this year.”
Yesterday’s primary was an anti-climax following intrigues by the other aspirants to ensure that Obaseki, who defected to the PDP last Friday, after he was disqualified from vying for the APC’s ticket, did not participate in the primary.
However, with the intervention of party leaders, two of the aspirants, including Hon.Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who had secured a court injunction to restrain the governor from running in the primary, stepped down for Obaseki.
The remaining aspirant, Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon, was adamant until the eve of the primary when he stepped down too.
It was learnt that he recanted on Wednesday night during a meeting attended by the Bauchi State governor.
At the meeting that was attended by PDP stakeholders with the Oyo State governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde and the Governor of Zamfara State, Mr. Bello Mattawalle and two other members of the ad hoc elect committee, it was agreed that Imasuagbon would be at the Ogbemudia Stadium venue of the primary to enable him officially announce that he had stepped down for Obaseki for the overall interest of the party in the state.
According to the source, “he had to step down when the person that owns the structure accepted to become the National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-south (referring to Dan Orbih).
“When eventually Hon.Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama agreed on Tuesday night to withdraw his suit at the Port Harcourt Federal High Court against Obaseki and Dan Orbih accepted to be the national vice chairman of the PDP in the South-south, we knew that it is just a matter time for Imasuagbon to step down. So, what happened on Wednesday night was not surprise for some of us.”
However, despite his stepping down for the governor, voting still went on to affirm Obaseki’s candidacy.
Three candidates: Mr.Gideon Ikhini and Imasuagbon from Edo central senatorial zone and Ogbeide-Ihama bought the governorship and nomination forms but none of them eventually contested against Obaseki who came in as aspirant due to the waiver extended to him and his deputy, Mr. Philip Shaibu.
THISDAY, however, gathered that when some of the delegates learnt that Imasuagbon had stepped down, they went back to their homes.
The Ogbemudia stadium venue witnessed a heavy presence of security.
Entrance into the venue was based on accreditation and washing of hands as well as use of hand sanitisers, after the delegate’s temperature was measured with thermometers.
Reacting to his victory, Obaseki said he would not disappoint the people of the state for the confidence reposed in him.
The Edo governor said he believed that by the grace of God, he would win his second term bid.
“Today marks a defining moment for our dear state. With today’s election result, it is clear that there is no mountain. I thank my family for the encouragement.
“I salute all our party members for standing tall when it became necessary to do so.
“I almost quit running for second tenure all because of an over-bearing godfather, but the PDP cover provided us with the umbrella when it was heavily raining.
“I appreciate former contenders in the election, Mr. Gideon Ikhine, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama and Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon, who stepped down and declared their support for me.”
Earlier, Mohammed had said the PDP had learnt in a hard way from its past mistakes and would not allow a repeat of history.
He said the party would prove to the world that it was the only party that they could trust.
He described Obaseki as God-sent and resourceful person, noting that what he has seen at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium was a clear attestation to that.
On his part, Dan Orbih said the dream of having the entire South-south states as a PDP state was about to be realised.
Earlier, in his speech, the Edo State Chairman of PDP, Mr. Tony Aziegbemhin, had said he had promised that he was going to return the party to the Osadebe Avenue, adding that he has kept his promise.
Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees of the PDP has congratulated Obaseki for emerging as the party candidate ahead of the September 19 governorship election.
The BoT, in a statement by its Chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, called for unity among party members so that PDP will emerge as the ruling party in 2023.