By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”A chieftain of Action Congress, AC, and Senior Special Assistant to Edo State governor on Foreign Matters and Diaspora, Mr. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, Tuesday faulted the criticism that trailed the invitation extended to former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, by Governor Adams Oshiomhole, for the â€˜one man, one voteâ€ rally in Benin.
According to him, the governor will not be intimidated by anybody over his efforts to deepen democracy in the country.
Agbonayinma, who stated this in his reaction in Benin City, stressed that the invitation was extended to other former heads of state and presidential aspirants and not only IBB, regretting that those who criticized the invitation of IBB failed to understand the effort being made by Governor Oshiomhole to lead the campaign for a free and fair election in the country.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, through a statement signed by the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, and a group, Edo StateÂ Elders Consultative Forum, had described the rally as â€œwaste of tax payers’ funds,â€ and urged the state government to focus on the myriad of problems in the state.
It would be recalled that Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Asiwaju Tinubu, National Chairman of the Action Congress, Chief Bisi Akande and other AC leaders boycotted the event due to IBB’s presence.
However, Agbonayinma asserted that â€œIBB is a free born citizen of this country and he was invited like other past leaders to the rally.”
He has the right to be invited to any political gathering.
â€œThis rally was not IBBâ€™s rally as I read in some papers. The governor did not lure anybody to the stadium to come and support IBBâ€™s presidential campaign. This rally was not AC, Labour or PDP rally; it was a project that we desperately needed, that the era of rigging and godfatherism in our electoral system should be put to an end.â€
Commending the governor for organizing the rally which he described as very successful, Agbonayinma, however, regretted the absence of the AC leaders at the event, noting that the Comrade governor had great respect for Tinubu and Wole Soyinka.
â€œSoyinka even flew in to Benin from the United States to attend this rally. So, it is unfortunate that he was convinced by others to shun the rally. And let me tell you that Governor Oshiomhole cannot be intimidated because he means well for this country and he did not do anything wrong in inviting IBB to the rally,â€ he said.