By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin-City
The campaign train of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, is boosted, each day with the full participation of all the former governorship aspirants of the party led by the deputy governor of the state, Dr Pius Odubu, and several top PDP chieftains who keep defecting to the party at every rally. The war between the Ali Modu Sheriff group and the Ahmed Makarfi-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo has factionalized the PDP, leading to the exodus of the foundation members of the party, such as Chief Samson Esemuede, into the APC.
Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed that over 3,000 members of the PDP in Edo South, including a former Chairman of Oredo Local Government Area, Victor Ebomoyi, and the immediate past senator representing Edo South, Ehigie Uzamere, may soon declare for the APC with a view to helping to deliver Obaseki. Odubu’s participation in the Obaseki campaign had signalled the end of the war between the deputy governor and his boss, Gov Adams Oshiomhole. The duo had, prior to the kick-off of the campaign, reconciled their differences just as Odubu urged his supporters to go ahead and work for Obaseki. Engr.Chris Ogienwonyi also instructed his followers to do same before jetting out to the United States to take a break after the primary.
The deputy governor is leading Obaseki’s campaign in Edo South to the chagrin of the PDP which had expected him to stand aloof in the campaign. You could see the thunderous applause Odubu receives each time he is introduced at each rally. One of his staunch supporters, a former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie, has also joined the campaign train.
The deputy governor, a grassroots politician, and the PDP candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, are both from Orhiomwon and. while Odubu will check the latter’s advances in the axis, the Director General of the Obaseki Campaign Organization and the state Commissioner for Works, Osarodion Ogie, has been unfixing most of the strategies adopted by Ize-Iyamu in the campaign. Ogie was Secretary of Grace Group, a political organization headed by Ize-Iyamu during the administration of Lucky Igbinedion which he used to fight what they described as the tyranny of the PDP then. Ogie operates silently just like Ize-Iyamu and it did not come as a surprise that Ize-Iyamu’s camp lamented when Ogie was made the DG of Obaseki’s campaign. Ogie and Odubu’s commitment to Obaseki’s project has been a torn in the flesh of the PDP.
Ize-Iyamu and Lucky Igbinedion
What is going positively for Obaseki is that majority of the leaders of the APC and even those who are not members of the party have accepted him because, as a non-politician, he really does not have personal issues with anybody and that is why, in this campaign, the PDP has concentrated its attacks on Oshiomhole rather than the APC candidate. But unfortunately for the PDP, Oshiomhole is using the opportunity to remind the people of Edo how PDP underdeveloped the state in the ten years it was in power and the role played by its candidate during the administration of Lucky Igbinedion. While Ize-Iyamu and other PDP leaders have been abusing Oshiomhole, Obaseki has been passing his message to the people, telling how he intends to industrialize the state, empower the youths through agriculture and create 200,000 jobs in four years.
At the party’s rally at Ikpoba Okhai, on Wednesday, Odubu hammered on the need for the people to vote APC, asserting that the PDP was not an alternative. “We Benins know how to thank people for doing something good for the people. In politics, the only way to thank a party that worked for you is to vote it again. The Constitution forbids us to go for third term; if not, we would have continued in office because Edo people will vote Oshiomhole again. But since that is not possible, people must take over from us and our party is presenting Obaseki and Philip Shuaibu. We want continuity and we believe that Obaseki will do more for our people after Oshiomhole. So, please vote APC for continuity. By this time next year, the APC government will complete the Benin water storm project in Egor. In APC, we believe in the welfare of the people, we must vote APC because we don’t want to go back to Egypt. We cannot forget in a hurry what the PDP did in this state and it is not in the best interest of our people to look that way”.
Oshiomhole and Obaseki invaded Okada that same Wednesday, the ancestral home of the Esama of Benin Kingdom and PDP leader, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, where a cousin of the Esama, Mr Ewemade, and his supporters joined the APC. Oshiomhole, who addressed the rally, vowed that the state government has granted waivers to investors so as to encourage them in the bid to industrialise Edo.
Oba of Benin’s position sacrosanct – Oshiomhole‘
He also said he would stop any Benin Chief who intends to take the position of the Oba of Benin as, according to him, the Oba’s position remains sacrosanct.
On his part, Obaseki said Oshiomhole had the foundation for solid development in the state, saying, “My job is to raise the house upstairs because the foundation will carry skyscrappers. We will continue to build on infrastructure, build more roads in the local governments, build more schools and recruit more teachers. We will put more money into Usen Polytechnic to improve the standard of teaching in the school so it can be one of the best in Nigeria. The polytechnic will groom students into becoming land inspectors, surveys that can be employed in the state Ministry of Works. We will give small loans to market women. Our major priority is to create empowerment for women and youths”. The decampees said they decided to dump the PDP due to the developmental projects of the APC-led government in Edo and the factionalization of the PDP. Oshiomhole, who informed the people that Obaseki is the brain box of his administration as Chairman of the Economic Team in the state, urged the people to look at the pedigree of the APC governorship candidate and that of Ize-Iyamu and make their decision.