After much prevarication, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki has formally joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Until this Friday when he took the bold step, Obaseki had been floating politically with no party affiliation since he resigned from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC on Tuesday, June 16 following his disqualification from contesting in the primary election by the screening committee constituted by the National Working Committee, NWC of the party.
Obaseki who was ushered into the PDP secretariat at 2.15 pm by a mammoth crowd of excited party faithful and leaders of the party, said he was at the secretariat to inform them that he was joining the party upon his resignation from the APC, and having consulted very widely within the state and across the country. Obaseki, who picked his party card and was presented with a constitution of the party, assured that as the leader of the party in the state, “I am prepared to provide leadership. I am prepared to provide leadership that will lead this party to victory, and I’m 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 growth and the level of participation in the political system by our people is unrivaled in this country”.
Boasting of his performance, the new PDP leader stated that “If you think we have done anything in the last four years, you haven’t seen anything yet because with the quality of people I am seeing here, the quality of people who are running this party, the energy of the youths I see, by the grace of God who made today possible, I am committing to you that I will not only lead this party to victory in Edo State, but will now make sure that this party establishes an example for how states will be run in Africa”.
Eulogising the PDP, Obaseki said the party had “demonstrated and has shown that it is a party that is rooted in democratic practices; a party that believes in justice and fairness, a party that respects its members”. The governor, who explained that he was at the secretariat to go through the formalities of registering as a member of “this great party”, said “I understand fully well the implications of this decision. I know that upon taking up membership of this party, I automatically become the leader of this 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 very, very happy to be here”.
Obaseki said he was ecstatic at the reception he had received since he drove into the party secretariat, adding “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, today, it is with great pleasure Mr. Chairman that I have come to formally take on my membership of this great party”.
Receiving the governor into the party, the state chairman, Tony Aziegbemi, acknowledged him as the leader of the party. According to Aziegbemi, “As he has rightly said, the leader of the party in Edo State is the governor of the state so that we are all on the same page on this. Your Excellency, you are welcome. Just know that as a leader of the party, we look up to you for direction, for what you want us to do and we are ready to follow you. We now present to you one of the things that make this party tick, and that is we abide by the provisions of the constitution”.
Conspicuously absent at the event were the three governorship aspirants of the party, namely Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, a member of the House of Representatives, Kenneth Imasuangbon, a lawyer and educationist, and Gideon Ikhine, an engineer. The magazine gathered that they had been under intense pressure by national leadership of the party to step down to accommodate Obaseki and his deputy.
Speaking to journalists after the defection, Emmanuel Ogidi, national vice-chairman, South-south of the PDP, explained that all the processes leading to the defection of Obaseki was smooth and successful. Ogidi said there was no problem with the negotiation, “so we are happy that the governor and his deputy have come to joy us”.
Also reacting to the governor’s defection to the party, Aziegbemi said “We as PDP family are very excited the state governor has joined us with all his commissioners, House of Assembly members, council chairmen. So, with this, it is very clear even to the blind that come September 19, Edo State will be a fully a PDP State. We are grateful to God for making this day happen”.
Commenting on the fate of the three aspirants who had earlier been screened by the party, Aziegbemi said Obaseki would contest alongside the trio, insisting that nobody was being pressurised to step down.