Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki midnight on Friday emerged the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, a party he joined on Friday June 19, 2020. He was declared winner by Bala Mohammed, chairman of the Edo State People’s Democratic Party, PDP Governorship Primary Election Committee, and governor of Bauchi State. Obaseki, who was on June 12 disqualified from participating in the primary election of the All Progressives Congress, APC because of discrepancies in his educational qualifications, was eventually granted political asylum in the major opposition party after strenuous shuttles across the country consulting with governors on the platform of the party and negotiating his entry with the national leaders.
Three aspirants who had previously been cleared by the party had resisted pressures to step down for Obaseki. Gideon Ikhine, an engineer, was the first to throw in the towel. But Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, a member of the House of Representatives, vowed not to sacrifice his ambition for Obaseki after labouring to sustain the party and investing time, energy and resources especially in the past one year, in pursuing his dream. Kenneth Imasuangbon, a lawyer and educationist, was equally adamant. The duo had until Wednesday night insisted on participating in the party’s governorship election primary which began on Thursday.
Overnight however, the story changed and the duo started singing a new song. The climax was the public announcement at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium venue of the primary election where they gave reasons why they stepped down. They eulogized Obaseki to high heavens as the best thing that had happened to the PDP.
At the end of the exercise which ended around 12.07 am on Friday, Obaseki carried the day garnering 1,952 votes. Announcing the results, Mohammed, the returning officer, said “I have the honour and privilege of declaring the result as follows: the total number of delegates for Edo State as per the list given to us is 2,234. We have taken all the pains and the processes and have accredited delegates numbering 2,202. The actual delegates that turned out for the election with the total votes cast is 2,024” while 72 votes were invalid. He consequently declared Obaseki winner of the election. Mohammed was joined by the governors of Oyo and Zamfara States, Seyi Makinde and Bello Muhammad Matawalle respectively.
In his acceptance speech, Obaseki said history was being made in Nigeria because “the victory we are celebrating today has been a long and strenuous one; a strenuous journey to political freedom which has culminated in my election as the flag bearer of our great party. By the grace of God, I will be governor again for another for years. I whole heartedly accept this responsibility which has been entrusted on me by representatives of our great party. Today marks a defining moment in the political history of our state and indeed, our country. Our story is one of courage in the midst of contrived crisis, and ultimate triumph over retrogressive forces that were determined to hijack our state for their own selfish endeavours.
The visibly elated governor said “With today’s election, we have demonstrated again that no mountain is too high to stop the aspirations of the people that have put their faith in God and are in one accord to make life better for the greater majority of their people. I must admit that there were moments during this recent struggle when, as a mere mortal, I was almost tempted to quit. But I thank God for my family, friends; my brother governors”. He said his desire to improve the quality of life of millions of Edo people had been his main driving force and also his greatest incentive, adding “Our team is convinced about this and our faith in our people and in our God remains unshaken”.
According to the new PDP flag bearer who boasted of his achievements in the areas of education, health, infrastructure, job creation security, amongst others, posited that he was determined to do more in the coming years. Taking a swipe at his predecessor and benefactor, Adams Oshiomhole, former national chairman of the APC, Obaseki said “I salute all Edo people at home and abroad as well as our friends from other states for standing by the belief that a better Edo State is possible if we allow the people, not an overbearing godfather to lead.
“We are eternally grateful to all PDP governors, leaders of our great party who gave us shelter under that large umbrella in a storm when we were pushed out. We are equally grateful to those who emphatically told me Governor Godwin Obaseki, anywhere you go, we will go. That was such an encouragement. You told me I was not alone in the struggle. I want to say thank you; and happily, we are here today. Please help me thank the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. I was humbled by this call to action and I am challenged by it to confront any man-made barriers that would stand in our way to progress in Edo State. Today is not a day for long speech making but for us to undertake the journey to start the next four years’ work. As we’re still going on board, we will be magnanimous in victory; but we will not forget that when the rains were beating us PDP provided us with the umbrella”.
Obaseki appreciated co-aspirants for their sacrifices and stepping down for him “without demanding anything from me”.