One of the seven governorship aspirants belonging to the Adams Oshiomhole faction of the Edo State All Progressives Congress, APC, which had formed a coalition to stop the second term bid of incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki has withdrawn from the race. Tell gathered that more aspirants are expected to drop from the race as days go by as horse-trading and negotiations to arrive at a consensus aspirant continued in Abuja with some party leaders. Solomon Edebiri, a serial governorship aspirant and itinerant politician, announced his withdrawal on Tuesday in a personally signed statement. Edebiri was in 2007 a governorship aspirant of the Peoples Progressive Party, PPP, which he founded, and the governorship candidate of the then All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP in 2012. He joined the All Progressives Congress, APC, following the merger involving the ANPP, ACN and other parties and, in May 2014, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where he also jostled for the ticket of the party ahead of the 2016 governorship election but lost to Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Edebiri, 58, a business mogul and an active player in the oil and gas industry, dumped the PDP to return to the APC in July 2016. When he jumped ship from the APC to the PDP in 2014, Edebiri cited alleged dictatorial tendencies of leaders of the party as a reason for his action. He said “My major reason is lack of internal democracy in APC. The party is a one-man show. Democracy in APC is not participatory. Everything in APC is imposition. I know that APC does not provide a fair environment for me to practice true democracy. I have consulted widely and I decided to leave. They imposed a candidate on me in my local government. I met with all the leaders about it, but at the end of the day, nothing was done about it.
“We did our ward congress, the governor canceled the first one because his cronies were not favoured. They did a second congress and people who never participated in the congress emerged winners. That was flagrant abuse of democracy and for me that is unacceptable. So I believe I do not belong to that environment”. When asked if he thought the PDP was a better alternative, Edebiri said “I spent time consulting with most leaders in PDP and after my consultation, the explanation I received from the leaders indicated that the dictatorial tendencies in the PDP before is no longer there. PDP has democratized in Edo State and it is a lot better party to deal with than the APC”.
Interestingly, when about two years later he was returning to the APC after failing to pick the PDP governorship ticket, he said his resignation “followed the dishonesty of the party leadership who reneged on its pledge to provide a level-playing field for all aspirants at the primaries”. According to Edebiri, though all the aspirants had pledged to move with the party beyond the primaries, “provided the primary was free, fair and just, there were reports that the party’s institution gave a specific instruction to party chairmen at the local government level for members to vote for a particular aspirant, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. So my understanding is that the primary was not free, fair, and just”.
He however said he would not hold Ize-Iyamu responsible “but the party leadership. And I neither want to fight anyone nor remain in the party”. Edebiri also disclosed how the erstwhile former Board of Trustees, BOT, Chairman of the party, late Tony Anenih, reached out to him. According to him, “I refused to honour the invitation to his Abuja residence because of what happened in 2012. In 2012, he offered me money to dump my aspiration and join the PDP but I declined. In 2016, he still referred to that episode, accusing me of joining forces with Adams Oshiomhole to fight the party. Not knowing what he might also say after meeting with him, and to keep my sanctity and integrity, I thought the best decision was to avoid meeting with him or any other leader of the party”.
And now in 2020, Edebiri is back in the same familiar turf, but this time without bitterness. Announcing his withdrawal from the June 22, 2020, Edo APC gubernatorial primary election, he said “First of all, I would like to thank my esteemed supporters, many of whom have toiled night and day in the course of our campaigns. Your belief in my electoral aspirations and your faith in me have continually left me humble. I am much delighted that Edo State can boast of such dedicated men, women, and youths whose conscience and personal pursuits still centre around progress, enlightenment, and the well being of the people. I will not also fail to thank the leaders, stakeholders, and members of my party, the APC, for their unflinching support and reception during this long walk.
“In the course of our campaigns we have engaged in several forms of consultations with relevant stakeholders. We have had sleepless nights in a bid to chart a political course that would benefit not just the platform under which our ambition is projected but also the people whom we intend to serve.
“We have taken our time carefully to marshal out clear-cut objectives, should fortune and circumstance warrant our ascendancy to the hallowed seat at the Dennis Osadebe Avenue. These plans are in consonance with universal objectives, our Party’s manifesto, and also in line with global best practices.
“These objectives which are centred around salient societal needs in Agriculture, Economy, Industrialization, Health, Security, Education, etcetera, are meant to be achieved under a practical framework driven by the cardinal moral doctrines of Responsibility, Integrity, Transparency and Accountability (R.I.T.A), a pet project of ours which has been patented by the Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri Centre for Change (SIECC).
“However, the political scenario at the moment seems somewhat tense that it tends to inhibit the pursuit of these collective goals within the framework of our agenda. In a race such as this, the stakes are often high, and because politics is not and should not be a do-or-die affair, we feel players within the sector should coordinate themselves with the highest sense of decorum, candour, and sportsmanship with the hope that even if the schemes and outcome of the consultation process do not favour their political drive today, they will tomorrow.
“Therefore, after due consultations with my esteemed supporters, my campaign team, family and friends, and without any form of grievance against my party, the APC, its leaders or members, I, Chief Dr. Solomon Iyobosa Edebiri JP, MON, hereby withdraw from the Edo 2020 Gubernatorial race. This is done in good faith to my party the APC and all the aspirants vying for the number one position in Edo State under the APC platform. I have decided to support whoever my party the APC adopts as its candidate for the Edo 2020 gubernatorial election.
“To all our supporters, I say to you, our chance will certainly come; for the race is not to the swift, neither is the battle to the strong; but time and chance happen to us all. Like the author and essayist, Ayn Rand, “I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”
“Our plans for Edo will certainly materialise. The future for us is yet pregnant; our time will come. Let us not despair. Let us keep hope alive, with the belief that power belongs to God only”.