The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State on Tuesday engaged in a final show of political strength in the countdown to Saturday’s governorship election in the state with governors of the party across the country storming Benin City, the state capital for the grand finale of its campaigns.
Led by Nyesom Wike, Rivers State governor and chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council, and joined by Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, who is also the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, and Ifeanyi Okowa, chairman of the South-south Governors’ Forum and governor of Delta State, the PDP sent a strong message to its major opponent, the All Progressives Congress, APC, that it was all out to win the election.
Also present at the rally were Seyi Makinde, Ben Ayade, Duoye Diri, Victor Ikpeazu, Udom Emmanuel of Oyo, Cross-River, Bayelsa, Abia and Akwa Ibom states respectively, among other dignitaries.
Speaking at the event at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the governors boasted that with the massive turnout of supporters and party faithful, the election was as good as won. They however charged the electorate not just to turn out in their numbers to vote, but to protect their votes.
Noting that Obaseki had done his best in going round the 192 wards in the state to solicit for the votes of the people, Wike posited that the large number of persons that thronged the rally was a clear attestation that he had done what he needed to do. Wike said going by the number of persons at the rally, the governor had already won the election and that the electorate must compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to announce the election result in his favour.
According to the governor, the electorate must cast their votes for Obaseki to end godfatherism in the state. He insisted that Edo State must be a starting point in ending godfatherism in Nigeria.
The Sokoto State governor, advised Edo people to rise up to protect their votes and not to be intimidated nor allow themselves to be enticed by money so as to sell their votes. “I hear that somebody is coming here with a bullion van. Do not sell your vote. Do not be intimidated; vote and let it be counted. Vote for continuity.
“I am appealing to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a free, fair and credible election. I also want to appeal to all the security agencies not to intimidate anybody on election day. Even when you are being intimidated, don’t run home, stay back and protect your votes,” he said.
Okowa on his part, commended Obaseki for his “zealousness” in taking his campaigns round the 192 wards, a feat he claimed, that had not been done in the country. Okowa said those who were calling him an outsider trying to dabble into Edo State politics should have a rethink because he is part and parcel of the state. According to him, his grandmother is from Igbanke while his father-in-law is also from Igbanke.
The former vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, and ex-Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, said voting Obaseki the second time would guarantee Edo people a brighter future for them and their unborn children.
The national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, tasked the European Union and other lovers of democracy all over the world to rise to the occasion by seeing to it that Edo State governorship election is free, fair and credible. While describing as a welcome development the visa ban recently placed on some political leaders in the country, Secondus suggested that such should also be extended to any politician who tended to carry out such act in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Addressing the crowd, Obaseki said his campaigns round the 192 wards had opened his eyes to some of the challenges faced by most of the communities in the state. He promised to address the situation in his second tenure.
The governor said “I don’t have anything to say to you my Edo people but to thank you; you have been wonderful especially as we went through the 192 wards to seek your support for re-election.
“We will win this election because so far, over 100 groups have endorsed me for the race. With groups like the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Trade Union Congress, (TUC) Nigeria Union of Teachers, (NUT), Nigeria Union of Pensioners, (NUP) and other groups in the state behind me, tell me how we will lose the election?”
Continuing, Obaseki said “Democracy is not a government of godfathers but a government of the people, by the people and for the people. In Edo, we have been fighting godfatherism and by Saturday we will put an end to it; and after that, go to Lagos and put an end to godfatherism in Nigeria.
“The godfather disturbing Nigeria came up this morning; he is afraid because he knows when we finish that of Edo, we will come for him in Lagos and finally end godfatherism in Nigeria”.
Obaseki stated that his joining the PDP had made him to know the importance of a brotherhood, stressing that the PDP governors have shown him love and concern in this recent times.