It was pomp in Benin recently, when the chairman of the Edo State Economic Team, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, declared his interest for the governorship of the state. CAJETAN MMUTA reports

The political atmosphere in Edo State is becoming more intriguing and interesting by each day as the clock ticks to the September 10 governorship election in the state. Hopes of the people are rising each minute while it is optimism for the top contenders in the race for the big shoes of Governor Adams Oshiomhole.

The governorship aspirants are not allowing any opportunity to slip as they relentlessly intensify lobbies, consultations, sensitisation and mobilisation of delegates and party leaders across the 192 wards, 18 local government areas and nine federal constituencies in the three senatorial districts of the state.

The delegates both real and imaginary, no doubt, have suddenly turned the beautiful brides for the aspirants. With the build up to the June 18 party primaries and the high expectations of the people, there is no mincing word that the path to the tall dreams the various aspirants have set for themselves is tortuous and breathtaking too.

For the incumbent Governor Oshiomhole, the ovation has for eight years remained loudest and it is time to leave the stage. The testimonial of over seven years of the administration of the former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the saddle at the Osadebay Avenue Government House is revealing. He has indeed written his name on the sand of time.

What is however the rumble within the ruling party is Oshiomhole ‘rightful’ choice of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, for the tasking job against others who have lined up for his big shoes. It is however solely not about the shoes but possession of ideal vision, mission, drive and ideas.

While the governor has restated his irreversible stand of choice of the chairman of his economic team even in the face of undue criticisms, Obaseki at the popular Urhopota hall, penultimate week reeled out what put most of his critics and opponents in the race mouth-gaping.

The milling crowd of APC faithful and fans who graced his formal declaration for the governorship race, were instructive of the direction of the political pendulum. It was as though the battle has been fought and won as individuals, groups including members of the Oshiomhole’s cabinet, lawmakers, elders, youths, market women and traders endorsed Obaseki’s ambition for the state’s number one seat.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant, pledged to take over from where Governor Oshiomhole stops at the end of his eight years in office. He said the present problems confronting the nation and the states need “a leadership with fresh and original ideas to help us face these challenges, so that we can build on the success of the Oshiomhole led administration.”

Obaseki tasked Edo people on the importance of being “courageous and determined to achieve the goals we (his team/government) want for our people.” He also expressed the strong desire and commitment to put Edo State on the front burner in terms of development and growth through empowerment of women, youths and artisans so that they can compete favourably to further rebuild the state.

His words: “I announce to you all that I am seeking the ticket of the APC so that I can fly the flag of the party come September 10. I pledge to build Edo State that has a strong economy and I will continue to build the infrastructural revolution that we have started.”

He noted that the state for so long witnessed lack of development occasioned by bad and irresponsible governments, stressing that the resources and opportunities squandered in the past are inexcusable.

He also observed with deep concern that this ugly trend was what led some professionals and the indigenes in Diaspora and at home to take up the challenge of participation in the governance of the state.

He explained further that the opportunity for him to serve his state came shortly after Oshiomhole decided to contest for the position of governor, maintaining that he has supported the governor in diverse ways as part of the renewed effort to build and reconstruct the state, which according to him was “vandalised and almost dislocated by previous administrations.”

Obaseki, who listed some of his roles in the success of Oshiomhole’s government, said he has worked as chairman of the Edo State Economic Team without any salary or compensation.

“We have been able to manage the finances of Edo State better and ensured that there is transparency in government. We have improved service delivery to our people through the use of ICT,” he said.

He added that the state government has executed several projects in all aspects, noting that it is because of transparency that Edo State remains one of the few states that have been able to pay salaries of workers.

On his vision for the state, Obaseki said: “As this administration comes to an end, we are faced with new challenges, as you all know the price of crude oil has reduced significantly, therefore Nigeria is not able to earn enough foreign exchange to import its goods and services.

So, we need a leadership with fresh and original ideas to help us face these challenges, so that we can build on the success of the Oshiomhole-led administration. “We must be courageous and determined to achieve the goals we want for our people.

I therefore stand before you today, on the shoulders of the successes built by the current administration over the last seven and half years that we have transformed Edo State in all aspects.

However, the Edo project is still work in progress and we are now in the most delicate part of the journey. “We cannot afford any reversal in the achievements we have made.

There are a lot more we still need to do. We still have to construct thousands of kilometres of roads into our rural communities and into farms. We still need to improve our school infrastructure.

We need to further strengthen our service delivery to our people; we need to address the unemployment problem which is facing us. “It will be a huge risk for all of us if we reverse political powers to those who lack the deep understanding of how we got to where we are and how we have achieved what we have achieved and how we will make the link between what we have achieved and our future.

If we make the mistake of giving power to such people, we will go back and suffer more than we have ever suffered before. By the grace of God, that will never happen in Edo State.” Obaseki pointed out that he was very proud and happy that he is an integral part of the success achieved by the Oshiomhole administration in Edo State.

His words: “The knowledge I have gained in the last seven and half years have put me in a unique position to understand what is required to take Edo to the next level. I believe that I can fly Edo higher.

What Edo State needs today is a leader, who in addition to political sagacity has the managerial and intellectual experience to manage the state in this difficult time. “Over the last 16 weeks, I have consulted extensively with elder statesmen across the state, with my colleagues in government, with my family and friends and with delegates in the 192 wards of Edo State, I stand before you today with the commitment to ensure that what we have achieved is not only sustained but to guarantee the future of our children by empowering our women, pensioners, civil servants, market women, artisans as well as have a deeper involvement with our traditional institutions.”

The mammoth crowd at venue of the event was overwhelmed when the Director-General of the Obaseki Campaign Organisation, Barr. Osarodion Ogie, said: “You cannot build your house and abandon it for a tenant to take over.

People are shouting continuity what are you going to continue, it is Oshiomhole’s work.” He admonished the people and APC delegates to reflect on “who is the best person to do the work, adding: “The game has just started, we will not abuse anybody but anybody that abuses us, we will reply.

I speak for the Oshiomhole political family as we have endorsed Obaseki.” No doubt, the Oshiomhole’s political family is a complex one and has its structure spread across the state but it must be cohesive to make its dream winning the governorship poll come true.

Obaseki takes the bold step

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