Obaseki draws battle line against Oshiomhole


*dares APC national chair’s loyalists to stop him

  • Workers, NLC, TUC, ALGON, teachers, others rally for gov

Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday, vowed to ruthlessly deal with those out to scuttle his government and make the state ungovernable.

Addressing a crowd of supporters who converged on the Kings Square on the popular Ring road, Benin City, the state capital, Obaseki said with a strong team comprising himself; the deputy governor, Hon. Philip Shaibu and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, the “state is in safe hands,” and that the administration would not be distracted.

The rally had civil servants, leaders and members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), teachers, market women and traders as well as other support groups, who gathered to express support for the governor and to condemn those perceived as enemies of the state government.

The move is in the wake of the raging feud between Obaseki and his estranged political godfather and National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over control of the party’s structure and the state House of Assembly.

Obaseki, who defied the rain to make it to the rally ground, told the crowd that: “You already know that with the three of us, Edo is in safe hands. When I resumed as governor, pensioners were always protesting in the streets because they were not being paid. I am happy that you no longer protest today.”

While thanking the crowd for their support and solidarity as well as “for knowing what is happening and coming out to support their government,” Obaseki assured them that “political activities in the last several months will not distract us. We will continue to be focused. Our focus is you the people of Edo and not any individual.”

He further said: “Our focus is to use the money we have in Edo to develop the people and Edo State. Our focus is to continue to build roads and infrastructure as well as make sure Edo continues to maintain leadership in education.

“We will continue to produce the best manpower for our country. I will continue to be committed to my electoral promises to you. I promised to create 200,000 jobs in my first four years and today we have created over 100,000 jobs.

“What I will not do as governor is to chop the seed yam. The seed yam is meant to be cultivated, so that we can have a bumper harvest. I will not allow anybody chop the little money we have today. That money is meant to be invested, so that we can have a better future. That is the fight; that is the struggle. The struggle started 12 years ago in this state. The struggle has not ended. It has entered gear two; the same thing that happened 10 years ago. Nothing has changed.

“It is unfortunate that some people who were with us 12 years ago, we do not know what has happened to them. It is a struggle we will win. It is a struggle that says that the people must lead. Democracy is about people. Whatever we are doing as a government is for you. This is just the beginning. All the plans we have in place will come to fruition. Construction work will start in the industrial park. Before the end of my first tenure, work will start at the Benin River Port. These are long term projects.

“We have tried to do so much work within the last two and a half years. I did not meet a lot of money; we have been struggling. I did not buy official car for myself until after 18 months in office because we do not have the money.”

He also lauded Edo teachers for starting a revolution in education as other Africa countries visit the state to understudy what the state is doing.

His words: “We are building our technical schools so that everybody will have a trade. After 20 years of democracy, we cannot continue to behave as if we do not have democracy. In states where they have released election calendar, they have not started heating up the politics as they are doing in Edo.

“Those people who are parading themselves singing everywhere for themselves and their pockets, Edo people are watching you. Those of you who have gone to Abuja to say people should come and invade Edo and seize our House of Assembly, we are waiting for you. We have no fear at all. We have resolved to continue to do what is best for our state and for our country. We have no doubt that we are on the right course.

“We know that Edo is with us. We know that the people are with us. We know that teachers, traditional rulers, labour unions are with us. Anybody that tries to stop us, come here and you will see. We dare you that nobody can stop the progress in Edo State. I assure that you have a government that is resolved to make Edo number one.

“Help us maintain peace. Without peace there will be no prosperity. They know that if we continue to have the peace we had in the last two years, nobody will catch up with us. In few years’ time those of them parading themselves as democrats whereas they are not; people who say they represent us in Abuja, but stay there and throw stones at home. Those Abuja politicians who we refused to send back and those who got there by mistake want to disturb the peace of Edo. We will not let them.

“Go about your businesses peacefully. There is nothing they are doing now that will stop us from continuing to construct your roads. We will build our schools and create jobs for you. Whatever they try and do will not stop us. As long as you have us in government and in government house, Edo will continue to move forward.”

Speakers after speakers at the rally lauded the governor for his efforts towards turning the fortunes of the state around.

Chairman of the state chapter of the NLC, Comrade Sunday Osayende, said: “There is no godfather anymore and anybody who wants to take Edo back to the days of godfatherism, we will join hands together to fight them.”

The chairman of the state chapter of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Marshal Owe; said: “What is good is good and what is bad is bad. Godwin Obaseki is good today, Godwin Obaseki is using Edo State resources for Edo people. He has modernised the way taxes are collected, he has come, he has seen and he will conquer.”

The state chairman of ALGON, Comrade Lazarus Aderolor, on his part, said: “Today, I can tell you that before 2016, local government workers were owed 15 months arrears of salaries, but today, Governor Obaseki has given a marching order that salaries of local government workers must be paid promptly.”

The leader of Edo market women body, Mrs. Blackky Omoregie, said: “We thank Comrade Oshiomhole for giving us Obaseki, he told us then that he will work more than him, that whatever he was doing will be small compared to what Obaseki will do and Obaseki has not disappointed us, we will follow him to wherever he is going. We were enjoying before, we are enjoying more now. In every market now, we have light and water.”

Also speaking, a representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said: “If you are in darkness and somebody comes with light, are you not supposed to follow the light? Obaseki is the light and we are following him, we watched him for one year and discovered that he is focused and has the people at heart and we named him God’s Servant Governor.”

On his part, the Chief Imam of Edo State, Abdul Fatah Enabulele, said: “Governor Obaseki has done well, he has been taking care of our pilgrim activities; our secretariat in Dumez road is nearing completion because of his support. We are with him, we support him and he should be given a second term. But, if they chose not to give him, we will follow him to form a new party.”

Mrs. Isoken Ehighe, who spoke on behalf of primary school teachers noted: “We have been trained by this government. We grew from analogue to digital all kudos to Obaseki,” while the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) helmsman in the state, Comrade Osahon Obasuyi declared that “youths in the state are behind you and we will continue to be with you to the end.”

Meanwhile, the stage is set as the 13-member probe panel set up by the National Assembly arrives the state today to investigate issues surrounding the crisis, which led to the inauguration of nine lawmakers out of the 24 members-elect on the platform of the APC into the state House of Assembly and the subsequent split of the House into two with 12 of them holed in Abuja since the past one month, while 12 others under Speaker Frank Okiye taking charge of proceedings in the state.

The committee is expected to hear from all the parties in the crisis and make appropriate recommendations necessary for peace within the state chapter of the APC and the House of Assembly.