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EDO 2020: Obaseki is a big catch — PDP

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EDO 2020: Obaseki is a big catch  — PDP
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

…We ‘ll give him rousing welcome, special waiver —Atiku, Babatope, George, others
…I’ll return PDP to winning ways — Obaseki
…Obaseki’s defection  to PDP no longer news — APC
…It’s good riddance to bad rubbish — Imuse
…Saraki, Ekweremadu, Reps hail Obaseki
…Battle for states: APC -19, PDP-16, APGA -1

By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Ozioruwa Aliu, Dirisu Yakubu,  Omeiza Ajayi & Tordue Salem

AFTER 12 cold years out of the Edo State Government House, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, without electoral contest, took over the government of the state as Governor Godwin Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, joined the party.

The move ended weeks of permutations on Obaseki’s political future following his disqualification from the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship primary and his    resignation from the party, a few days ago.

Obaseki’s defection means the PDP is now in control of 16 states including all the six states of the South-South zone. The APC controls 19 states and has lost the only state it had in the oil-rich South-South region. The remaining state, out of the nation’s 36, is controlled by the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

The governor’s move generated mixed reactions. While the PDP, its leaders and supporters of Obaseki celebrated and hailed the action, the APC said the development was not news because “we knew he defected long ago.”

Obaseki   was received by the leadership of the PDP in Edo led by the state Chairman, Hon Tony Aziegbemi.

He arrived the state Secretariat of the PDP along 1st East Circular Road by 2:20 pm with many of his followers and appointees and went straight to the office of the chairman, who was already waiting for him.

Some aides who accompanied Obaseki included his Political Adviser, Chief Osaro Idah, his Political Adviser (Edo South), Osaigbovo Iyoha, Special Adviser on Legislative Matters, Rt Hon Kabiru Adjoto and former Political Adviser to the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole when he was governor of the state, Hon Charles Idahosa and some other Senior Special Assistants (SSAs). The ceremony ended in 15 minutes.

I will return PDP to winning ways in Edo — Obaseki

Obaseki said he came to the PDP after much consultation nationwide, promising that he would bring the party to winning ways again and that he visited the secretariat to formally register with the party.

He was received by members of the State Executive of the PDP led by the state chairman. Hon Tony Azegbenmi, the Vice Chairman South-South of the PDP, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi and several other leaders.

Shortly after his departure, his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu,  also visited the secretariat to perform the same ceremony.

Obaseki said: “I am here this afternoon to inform you that upon my resignation from the All Progressives Congress 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 the speech, you will hear from me soon. Today, I am here to go through the formalities of registering as a member of this great party, I know and I understand fully 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. So,   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.”

It’s clear to the blind, Edo is now PDP state— Aziegbemi

On his part, Aziegbemi shortly after he directed Obaseki’s Ward chairman to present the party card to him said: “We as PDP family are very excited the state governor has joined us with all his commissioners, House of Assembly members, and council chairmen.  So with this, it is very clear even to the blind that come September 19, Edo State will be fully a PDP State. We are grateful to God for making this day happen.

Asked the fate of the three aspirants who had earlier been cleared to contest the PDP primary, Aziegbemi said Obaseki will contest alongside the three namely; Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Kenneth Imansuangbon and Gideon Ikhine, adding that nobody was being pressured to step down.

Also speaking, the PDP National Vice Chairman, South-south, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, noted that all the processes leading to the defection of Obaseki were smooth and successful, adding that there was no problem with the negotiation.

“So we are happy that the governor and his deputy are coming in to pick ticket”

Rehash of 2016 contest

With Obaseki’s defection to PDP, the Edo political firmament is a step away from a repeat of the Obaseki versus Ize-Iyamu governorship duel of 2016. Then Obaseki ran on the plank of APC while Pastor Ize-Iyamu contested on the banner of the PDP. Like Obaseki, he joined the PDP in 2016 after losing out in the tussle for the APC ticket to Obaseki.

Pastor   Ize-Iyamu is practically ‘touching’ the APC ticket as the sole candidate in the party’s direct primary on June 22 following the decision of Dr Pius Odubu and Obazee to step down for him.

We’ll give him a rousing welcome—Babatope 

Second Republic Transport Minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope,   described Obaseki’s entry to the PDP as a welcome development promising that PDP members will give him a rousing welcome.

Babatope, a PDP chieftain, said: “Honestly, he has made me one of the happiest people on earth. I am happy that Obaseki has joined  the PDP, he is a forward looking and humble politician. I have always admired him while he was in the APC. That he has joined the PDP shows he loves the people and we of the PDP are going to give him a rousing welcome.  I hope our brothers and sisters in Edo State will give us the lead.”

He will be given special consideration—Bode George

Former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Bode George, commended Obaseki and assured the Governor of the party’s support during the election.

READ ALSO: EDO: How PDP cleared way for Obaseki, shifts primary to June 23

George, who described the APC as a congregation of strange bed fellows, said: “Obaseki is welcome to the PDP. I told well meaning Nigerians before now that the APC is a congregation of strange bed fellows. This is a governor who you went out to campaign for four years ago and now, you are saying he doesn’t have papers. The allegation did not even come from the opposition party but from the APC.

“But we have a process and a constitution which we will abide by. We normally have a special consideration   which will enable him to contest on our party platform like a waiver. So, he is welcome to the PDP.”

ADP may support Obaseki

It was gathered that the Action Democratic Party, ADP, is considering throwing its weight behind Governor Obaseki for a second term.

A top leader of the party in Edo State, who spoke to Vanguard in confidence, said that the Edo Governor would get the party’s support during the election.

The ADP leader, who hails from the same senatorial district as the Governor said the decision to support Obaseki “is to spite the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who has carried on as if he owns Edo State.”

It’s no news — APC

However, the APC said Obaseki’s defection to the PDP was not newsworthy.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a short reaction said the ruling party all along knew he was heading for another party having resigned his membership of the APC.

He said; “It has not come to us as a surprise. We knew he had defected long ago because he resigned his membership of the party which we have accepted. So you cannot defect twice. If he is defecting again, we do not know whether what he has just done now is news any longer.”

Atiku, Mandate Forum hail Obaseki’s defection

Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2019 elections, Atiku Abubakar congratulated Governor Obaseki for joining the PDP

Atiku in a press statement by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, urged the people of Edo state to rally behind the PDP for the delivery of democracy dividends.

“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 mobilize the people behind the common cause of deepening democratic ethos in our country and restoring prosperity to our people.

“The PDP that you have come to join today is a reformed and repositioned party – one that lives by its name of being a truly democratic party.

“I have an unflinching conviction that your joining the party would be an asset to the PDP. Together, we can work to extinct every form of undemocratic tendencies in our body politic and realign the good people of Edo state to the moving train of democracy and restoration of good governance to the country”, the statement read.

Similarly, national chairman of the Obaseki/Shaibu Mandate Forum, Chief Nathaniel O. Momoh hailed Obaseki.

In a statement signed by Chief Momoh, who doubles as the Agebhori of Ososo Kingdom,  the forum said it considered the move as one that was long in coming “following the poor handling of his aspiration by the Adams Oshiomhole-led All Progressives Congress.’

The statement read in part: “We believe this is a positive step in the right direction and a clarion call on members of the forum to double our efforts to ensure his victory at the polls.

“We salute his consistency, courage and patience in everything he stands for with the ultimate goal of making sure Edo’s interest is jealously guarded.”

APC now fated to lose Edo — Lekan-Ojo

Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC, Jackson Lekan-Ojo has chided Adams Oshiomhole for frustrating Obaseki out of the party, saying  the former Labour leader was bent on  remaining a godfather in the state “after announcing the death of godfatherism.”

According to Lekan-Ojo, APC is now fated to lose Edo in the September 19 poll the same way “we lost Bauchi, Oyo and Zamfara states,” adding that since his assumption of office as party chairman, Oshiomhole has openly exhibited his labour mentality, which in his words, was at variance with excellent political leadership.”

It’s good devt for PDP — Adams

Former Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon Nosa Adams described the defection as a good development   for the PDP.     “It is a good development for the party and 4 + 4 is sure. PDP is back to Osadebey Avenue. The coming of the governor is a morale booster for our members and we are going to ensure that going to the September 19 governorship election, the PDP is one family”

Good riddance to bad rubbish says Imuse

However, Edo State chairman of the APC faction loyal to Oshiomhole, Col David Imuse, read,  it as “good riddance to bad rubbish. We wish him luck and we shall meet at the polls. Like I said before when he first resigned,  the  party remains the party, we are preparing for our party primaries so by Monday all of you should be prepared to witness the direct primaries which is going to be a seamless operation because the major pollutant and irritant in our party has filtered himself out so the party is in a joyous mood, I believe you can feel it from my voice.”

Obaseki and others should be quarantined — POI

The Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation said Obaseki and all those who were at the defection meeting should be quarantined because they flouted the physical distancing regulation established by the state governor.

A statement by the Director of Media and Communication of POI Campaign Organisation, John Mayaki, also noted that Obaseki was now enjoying exactly what he tried to frustrate Ize-Iyamu of when he joined the APC.

He said: “While we note interestingly that this is the same right the Governor, in his usual autocracy and abuse of power, tried to deny Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu last year when he returned to the All Progressives Congress through the sponsorship of physical and media attacks, and the institution of baseless court cases, we, as democrats and staunch believers in the rule of law, unlike Godwin Obaseki, hold nothing against it.

“However, we observed with great concern the dangerous and reckless actions of the Governor and his supporters at the venue of his defection. Without any observance of the social distancing rules, or the use of face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mr. Godwin Obaseki assembled hundreds of Edo youths that his administration failed to gainfully engage following his failure to create 200,000 jobs as promised, and assigned them the demeaning task of singing his praises at great risk to their health during a pandemic.

“Apart from violating the guidelines of the Presidential Task-Force on COVID-19 on social gathering, Mr. Godwin Obaseki also openly disregarded the stipulations of his ill-conceived gazette which, among other things, held that no gathering of more than 20 persons shall take place in a single location.

“Consequently, to protect the people of the State and ensure that the work of the Federal Government in curbing the spread of the viral disease is not undone by the irresponsibility of a vain Governor who prioritizes politics over public health and human lives, we call on the Nigeria Police Force and other relevant security agencies to aid the Nigeria Center for Disease Control in the commencement of an immediate identification, tracing, and arrest of everyone present at the event for immediate quarantine at nearby isolation centers.

It is mass movement for liberation says group

An Edo socio-cultural group, Esan Club 30, said it would stand shoulder to shoulder with Obaseki for the continuity of his sterling performance and consolidation of good governance in the state.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, Engr. Francis Oriakhi and three officials on behalf of other members of the group, the Port-Harcourt-based group described Governor Obaseki as a man of scalable intellect and a man of class with a dignified personality, adding, “It would be distasteful or out of mischief for anyone not to notice and acknowledge the even-handedness of the governor as well as the equitable distribution of infrastructural amenities in the state.”

Saraki, Ekweremadu Welcome Obaseki to PDP, Congratulate Edo PDP

Former Senate President, Dr. 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.

In the statement by Yusuph Olaniyonu, the former Senate President  also thanked “Obaseki’s colleagues, the PDP Governors, for their role and for ensuring that while bringing him into the party, they carried along the local chapter and refrained from just unilaterally taking decisions without the input of the leaders of the party in Edo State. The process our Governors adopted in working with the local chapter to bring in the Governor is a better approach than the system in many of the other parties where the National Working Committee (NWC) would simply just give him a membership card.”

“That is why my appeal will, at this point, go to all of us, the leaders and stakeholders, who gave assurances that agreement will be honoured, we need to ensure that the NWC of our party plays its own supervisory role by making sure that those agreements entered into by the Governor and the local chapter should be kept, particularly since I am very sure they are all lawful and in the interest of peace and development of the state. That is the only way to keep our integrity intact,” he added.

In like manner, former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu hailed Obaseki.

Writing on his Twitter handle, he said:  “I join other @OfficialPDPNig leaders & faithful in welcoming @GovernorObaseki to our party. No doubt, PDP offers the Governor & 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 development. Together we’ll do it”.

Reps Hail Obaseki

The   Minority Caucus of the House of Representatives, has welcomed Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki to the PDP.

The Minority leader of the House, Rep. Ndudi ELumelu in a statement on Friday described Obaseki’s decision “as a step in the right direction”.

Elumelu noted that “Edo state has been an unquestioned stronghold of the PDP” and described the action of Governor Obaseki as “home coming”.

The minority leader commended members of the party in Edo state for receiving Governor Obaseki with open hands.

vanguardngr.com

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