2020 election is about capacity to move Edo forward — Obaseki

SUNDAY ADEPOJU reports on the sizzling campaign by the governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, being characterised by endorsements and promises, as the countdown to the governorship poll continues.

THE large crowd that welcomed Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Honourable Philip Shaibu as they visited the 64 wards in Edo North senatorial district had put the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of all other opposition parties in the September 19 governorship election in the state. From ward to ward, the PDP candidate and his running mate, in company with party chieftains, received accolades, chieftaincy titles, royal blessings, and unprecedented followership, as they reeled out their developmental plans for the people in the next four years. One of the first royal blessings was from the Otaru of Igarra in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area, Oba Emmanuel Adeche Saiki II, who prayed that God will guide the governor and bless his plans for the state. “We pray that God will guide you in all your ways. You should not be discouraged in advising the youths against violence and political thuggery, because the era of violence and thuggery is gone,” the Otaru said. Similarly, the Olokpe of the Okpe Kingdom in Akoko-Edo LGA, Oba Okhishimede Idogu III; the traditional ruler of Agenebode, Dr George Egabor, and the traditional ruler of Weppa Clan, Moses Etsu, both in Etsako-East LGA, also gave the governor and his deputy their blessings when campaign train berthed in their domains. The Olokpe of Okpe Kingdom said that Governor Obaseki, and Shaibu performed very well and would be re-elected to consolidate on their developmental strides in the state. He said: “By the grace of God, come September 19, we shall know who is who in Edo State. The people and our ancestors will return you to the Edo State Government House.”

Also, the Okumagbe of Uwanno Kingdom, Egabor said Obaseki’s financial dexterity was responsible for his sterling achievements in office. According to Egabor, “You could keep public funds even before you visited my palace to seek election for your first tenur. I wasn’t a magician when I said to you then that you were going to win. But your good financial pedigree in keeping public funds stands you out. We commend you for the successful management of the state’s resources. You have done more with less.” The traditional ruler of Weppa Clan similarly endorsed the governor and his deputy based on their administration’s meritorious achievements since 2016. The Ogieneni of Uzairue, Alhaji Kadiri Imonikhe Omogbai IV, also conferred the Onoshiorena of Uzairue (He that God has crowned) chieftaincy title on the governor, while the royal father installed the deputy governor as the Oshiozekhai (It is God that chooses) of Uzairue. The Uzairue clan consists of over 20 villages:Jattu, Iyamho (Oshiomhole’s village), Afowa, Elele, Ogbido, Uluoke, Ayaoghena, Ayua, Iyuku, Imeke, Afashio, Iyora, Apana, Imonikhe, Yelwa, Ozor, Ikabigbo, Idatto, Ugbenor, Irekpai, and Ayogwiri.

The Ogieneni proudly told Obaseki, “Your deputy is from this place and he is my son, just as you have said earlier. Considering what you have done in the last four years, you have done very well. In terms of infrastructural development, I believe you have done well for the state. You have good men around you. I promise you that Uzairue people will give you a 100 per cent vote. I will also like to make some appeals to you. I want your government to upgrade the Uzairue Market to a modern one. In the area of road construction, I appeal to you to do more for my people. We are impressed with your government, that is a fact and I won’t lie. I like the way you do your things; you must not share money. Your good deeds will speak for you. All we need is prayer; please go close to God and ask him whatever you want, you will get it.” The Odibiado of Sobe, Anthony Ero Aleburu 1, was not left out as also endorsed the PDP governorship candidate on the back of successes recorded by the administration across all sectors of the state. The monarch also conferred the Aideloje of Sobe (You do not change the king) chieftaincy title on Governor Obaseki, noting: “You are already a king and no one can change the king.”

Beyond royal blessings, the campaign train received financial assistance from a former aide to the ex-governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Mr Andrew Momodu. Momodu pledged the sum of N5 million to support the reelection of Obaseki. He also pledged on behalf of Anwain Progressives Union (APU), the umbrella Union of Anwain Clan, at the campaign in Ward 8, Anwain in Etsako-West LGA, where hordes of APC leaders and members defected to the PDP. He assured the governor of 6,000 votes from the ward for the PDP to appreciate the governor for attracting development to the area, particularly the ongoing Agbede-Anwain Road construction. The Obaseki/Shaibu ticket equally received unalloyed loyalty from thousands of supporters in Avbiosi Ward 5, Owan West LGA who defied the heavy downpour to listen to the candidate on his manifesto. Addressing the supporters, he commended them for their resilience and commitment, assuring that his administration would continue to pursue policies and reforms to better the livelihood of the people. In Ukhuse Ward 6, still in the same Owan-West LGA, Obaseki urged voters in the state to vote en-masse for the PDP in the election and ensure they defended their votes by keeping an eagle-eye on the process and the results as they unfold.

A chieftain of the PDP and former governorship aspirant, Kenneth Imansuagbon, charged the electorate not to be intimidated but to turn out en masse with their PVCs to vote for the PDP and ensure that their votes counted. Imansuagbon, who painted a grim picture of how he was victimised by political godfathers in the state for 16 years, urged the people to remain vigilant and support Obaseki in the fight against godfatherism in the state. The PDP chieftain further charged security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in the state. Chairman of Edo PDP Governorship Campaign Council, Chief Dan Orbih, said: “This election is about having the capacity to move Edo forward and Obaseki has the tools to achieve that. For better education, healthcare system, good roads, and other infrastructure, you need to vote Obaseki for continuity.”

It was another victory for the campaign train when security operatives foiled an attack on Obaseki’s convoy as team arrived in Ward 10, Apana, where the sacked national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, hails from. The hoodlums were allegedly dislodged by a combined team of security personnel and vigilante groups, while the deputy governor, in a rare show of bravery, jumped out of his Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), to challenge the hoodlums, stunning members of the campaign team including Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, the former Chief of Staff to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Addressing members of the PDP and supporters at Apana Village Square, Obaseki recalled several attempts by Oshiomhole to scuttle his reelection efforts. He promised not to succumb to the antics of some members of the main opposition party in the state to plunge the state into chaos, which could result in the postponement of the election.

There was a major boost for the Obaseki/Shaibu ticket when in Otuo Ward 9, Owan-East LGA, the APC youth leader, Emma Egbeido, led over 2500 members of the APC to defect to PDP. Egbeido and his followers, who were received by Obaseki, declared their support for the governor’s second term bid based the recorded of his administration in all sectors. “Nobody can convince me not to follow Governor Obaseki. Even the blind can see his developmental strides across the 18 local government areas of the state. I am not here to announce his developmental strides to us because they are there for everyone to see; his people nicknamed him ‘the wake and see governor’ because of how he has delivered his campaign promises in the first term. You sleep, wake, and see that your roads are tarred the next morning. He will continue to be the governor of this great state in the next four years,” told the mammoth crowd at the event. Obaseki also received a retired CSP, Stephen Iriabjeh in Ward 9, and Oje Ehire in Ward 8, from the APC to PDP, as both defectors assured the governor of their full support in the forthcoming election.

It was a success story in several other places that the campaign train berthed in the Edo North senatorial district. No wonder the APC tried to put a clog in the wheel of progress on August 7, when they attempted to distract the campaign train in the northern district by using federal might to attempt taking over the state House of Assembly. The deputy governor had, while addressing supporters in Lampese, asked the people of Akoko Edo people to ask their representatives at the state’s House of Assembly, Honourable Yekini Idiaye and Honourable Emmanuel Agbaje, to give accounat of their stewardship. Governor Obaseki said the ward-to-ward campaign embarked upon by his party is designed for assessing the needs of Edo people at the community level, in order to bring more impactful projects closer to the people. He noted that during his rally at the headquarters of Etsako-West LGA that the ward campaign provided an opportunity to ascertain the impact of government’s projects in the last three years at the grassroots in the state.



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